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Mombasa City and seaport on the Indian Ocean, sw Kenya, partly on Mombasa Island and partly on the mainland (to which it connects by causeway). From the 11th to 16th centuries, Mombasa was a centre of the Arab slave and ivory trades. From 1529 to 1648, the Portuguese held the port. Taken by Zanzibar in the mid-19th century, the city passed to Britain in 1887, when it became capital of the British East Africa Protectorate. Kenya's chief port, Mombasa exports coffee, fruit and grain. Industries: tourism, food processing, glass, oil refining, aluminium products. Pop. (2002) 707,400.