Between the two rift valleys lies a plateau that comprises most of Uganda and western Tanzania and includes Lake Victoria.
The volcanic massif of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, reaches 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) in northeastern Tanzania.
There is little information concerning the period until the 8th century. The first identifiable building sites are dated from this time, and, according to Arab geographers, the East African coast was then generally thought of as being divided into four: (1) Berber (Amazigh) lands, which ran down the Somalian coast to the Shabeelle River, (2) Zanj proper, (3) the land of Sofala in present-day Mozambique, whence gold was beginning to be shipped by about the 10th century, and (4) a vaguely described land of Waq waq, beyond.
Greek and Roman coins have been found, and there are some accounts of overseas migrations to the coast. The only island that is mentioned is Qanbalu, which appears to have been what is now Tanzania’s Pemba Island.
The ethnic fabric in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda is much more fragmented, with many smaller peoples intermingled or occupying discrete territories.
The largest numbers of Nilo-Saharan speakers belong to the Luo, Lango, Kalenjin, Maasai, and Karimojong peoples, while the principal Bantu-speaking ethnic groups are the Kikuyu, Chaga, and Kamba.
For discussion of the physical and human geography of individual countries in the region and of their late colonial and postcolonial history, describes in some detail the shore of what was to become northern Somalia.
The region’s vegetation ranges from woodlands and grasslands in the wetter regions to thornbushes in semiarid areas.Most of the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia—and some of those in Tanzania and Kenya—speak languages belonging to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages.Speakers of Nilo-Saharan languages populate Uganda and the rift valley portions of Kenya and Tanzania, while speakers of Bantu languages constitute much of the remainder of these countries’ population.The main coastal settlements were situated on islands, largely, no doubt, because of the greater security these provided against attacks from the mainland; and their populations seem mostly to have been made up from migrants from the Persian Gulf—some from the great port of Sīrāf, others from near Bahrain—though conceivably some too came from Daybul, at the mouth of the Indus River, in northwestern India.They exported ivory (some of it went as far as China) and also tortoiseshell, ambergris, and leopard skins.Eastern Africa, part of sub-Saharan Africa comprising two traditionally recognized regions: East Africa, made up of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; and the Horn of Africa, made up of Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.