Sites & cities that bear the name of Quelimane


Today in : Kenya
First trace of activity : ca. 14th century C.E
Last trace of activity : today

Description : Quelimane is a seaport in Mozambique. It is the administrative capital of the Zambezia Province and the province's largest city, and stands 25 km (16 mi) from the mouth of the Rio dos Bons Sinais (or "River of the Good Signs"). The river was named when Vasco da Gama, on his way to India, reached it and saw "good signs" that he was on the right path. The town was the end point of David Livingstone's west-to-east crossing of south-central Africa in 1856. Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique, and many residents of the areas surrounding Quelimane speak Portuguese. The most common local language is Chuabo. Quelimane, along with much of Zambezia Province, is extremely prone to floods during Mozambique's rainy season. The most recent bout of severe flooding took place in January 2007. Pre-colonial era The town originated as a Swahili trade centre, and then grew as a slave market. Quelimane was founded by Muslim traders (see Kilwa Sultanate) and was one of the oldest towns in the region. Etymology The origins of the name 'Quelimane' are obscure. One tradition alleges that Vasco da Gama, in 1498, inquired about the name of the place from some inhabitants laboring in the fields outside the settlement. Thinking he was asking what they were doing, they simply replied kuliamani ('we are cultivating'). An alternative explanation is that when the Portuguese reached the settlement, they were welcomed by a notable Arab, or half Arab, who acted as interpreter between them and the natives. The name which the Portuguese applied to this individual, and his settlement, was 'Quelimane' (pronounced Kelimãn), because in the corrupt Arabic spoken on the East African coast 'Kalimãn' is the word for 'Interpreter'. In Swahili it is 'Mkalimani'. In 1761, the city became a town. Until 1853 trade was forbidden to any other than Portuguese. Sisal plantations were organized by Swiss planters in the beginning of the 20th century, namely Joseph Émile Stucky de Quay. The town started to grow and attracted several communities from different backgrounds, including Muslims and Indians, and new infrastructure was built by the Portuguese authorities. Its busy port had tea, grown and processed in the district of Zambézia (particularly important in the region around Gurúè, former Vila Junqueiro), as its major export. Coconut was also produced and transformed in the city. By 1970, Quelimane had 71,786 inhabitants.

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