Bagamoyo borders the Indian Ocean along the East Coast of Tanzania. It is about 75 kilometres (47 miles) north of Dar-es-Salaam on the coast of the Indian Ocean, close to the island of Zanzibar. It was Tanzania‘s coastal area that first felt the impact of foreign influence as early as the eighth century, when Arab traders arrived. Tanzania then became a German colony, and subsequently a British one until 1961. Even today, Bagamoyo and other areas along the East Coast reflect an East Asian influence in architecture, language, and food. Many people know that Western Africa played a large role in the slave trade, but the slave trade flourished in Bagamoyo and other places on the East Coast as well. The area was also known for trading commodities such as ivory, gold, textiles, and beads.
Because of its varied history and proximity to Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo has more diversity than some other areas of the country. The town is home to many ethnic groups, including the Wakwere, Wazaramo, Wazigua, Wamaasai, and Waswahili. And, although Swahili culture dominates, many different peoples and cultures coexist in Bagamoyo — including people of Arab descent.