The most prominent of the coastal people, the Swahili are not a ‘tribe’ but the product of centuries of inter- marriage between indigenous Kenyans and incoming waves of Persian, Portuguese and Omani conquerors. First, around the 7th century, came Arab traders from the Persian Gulf, who plied the Kenyan coast in their dhows and gradually intermarried with the local people. Next, in the 16th Century, the conquering Portuguese arrived, establishing an empire, and intermarrying with the locals. Finally, in the 18th century, the Sultans of Oman took over as rulers, and their people intermarried with the locals just as their predecessors had done. The result was a colourful mix of ethnicity and language, which came to be known as ‘Swahili’, which literally translates as ‘of the coast’. Although the majority of Kenya’s coastal people are Muslims, their relaxed way of life is worlds away from the stricter Islamic practices of the Middle East. Enjoying a colourful culture, they excel in literature, art, and architecture while the Swahili craftsmen are famous for their beautiful triangular-sailed dhows. Swahili cuisine, meanwhile, is a glorious mix of cultural influences; exuberantly spiced, steeped in coconut and cooked with fresh lime and coriander.