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The island of Kilwa Kisiwani is located in the south of Tanzania, a short boat ride from the mainland. It was once a thriving seaport; from the eleventh century the sultans of Kilwa grew rich from control of the gold trade. Gold was mined at Great Zimbabwe far off in the interior, and carried by caravan and then by boat to Fatimid Cairo, passing through Kilwa on its way north. (...)

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Kilwa Fort has been ravaged by the elements and threatened by coastal erosion and rising sea levels exacerbated by the reduction of mangrove forests that helped regulate the impact of the water. The fort was included on the World Monuments Watch in 1996, and the historic sites on the island were included collectively on the Watch in 2008. (...)

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Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara are among the most significant historic sites along the Swahili coast of East Africa and both were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. (...)

World Monuments FundWorld Monuments Fund and the U.S. State Department
September, 2013

Overseen by the U.S. Department of State, The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation supports the conservation of cultural sites in more than 120 developing countries around the world. By taking a leading role in preserving cultural legacies, the program illustrates America’s deep and enduring respect for the diversity embodied in our shared global heritage.World Monuments Fund has been fortunate to work closely with the State Department on several recent projects, highlighted in this brief video.

World Monuments FundConservation at Kilwa
September, 2012

The island of Kilwa Kisiwani is located in a large bay on the coast of southern Tanzania, a six-hour drive from the capital, Dar es Salaam. Reachable only by boat from the small mainland town of Kilwa Masoko, the island is home to extensive ruins dating from three different periods of occupation. The earliest standing ruins are from the eleventh century, when the first Sultanate was established at Kilwa by a Persian prince. Two important structures dating from this era still stand. The first is the Great Mosque, which was built in the fourteenth century and was once the largest mosque in sub-Saharan Africa. The other is the palace at Husuni Kubwa, built between 1315 and 1330 and renowned for its spectacular pools and courtyards.

World Monuments FundWorld Monuments Fund and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
April, 2012

Over the course of World Monuments Fund’s forty-seven-year history, many of our projects have been at UNESCO World Heritage sites. Our engagement has ranged from catalytic support, helping local groups prepare site for World Heritage inscription, to conservation work at sites already on the list. World Heritage cultural sites reflect the achievements of communities over time and this vast array of special places recognizes that our planets is filled with extraordinary sites that range from the humble and obscure to the grand and famous.