Mombasa is said to be founded at around 900 A.D. as a trading centre between East Africa and the Middle East. It is the second-largest city in Kenya, with a population of about one million. A regional cultural and economic hub, Mombasa has a large port and an international airport, and is an important regional tourism centre. Administratively, Mombasa is the capital of, and is coincident with, Mombasa County.
Mombasa is a major trade centre and home to Kenya's only large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour. Kilindini is an old Swahili term meaning "deep". The port is so-called because the channel is naturally very deep. Kilindini Harbour is an example of a natural geographic phenomenon called a ria, formed millions of years ago when the sea level rose and engulfed a river that was flowing from the mainland.
Mombasa is a centre of coastal tourism in Kenya. Mombasa Island itself is not a main attraction, although many people visit the Old Town and Fort Jesus. The Nyali, Bamburi, and Shanzu beaches are located north of the city. The Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani beaches are located south of Mombasa. Several luxury hotels exist on these beaches, while the less expensive hotels are located further away.