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The Swahili are a Bantu ethnic group living along the Eastern Coast of Africa. From about the 9th century onwards the region, at the crossroads of Islamic and African cultural influences, saw the rise of Swahili city states, including Zanzibar, Kilwa Kisiwani, Mozambique and Sofala. The cities grew to prominence thanks to their ivory, gold, slave and spice trade. The arrival of the Portuguese around 1500 coincided with the decline of the Swahili polities, but the Swahili remained a dominant cultural element in Eastern Africa. Today, the Swahili language (Kiswahili) is used as lingua franca by more than 50 million people in Eastern Africa and is an official language of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the Comoros and the African Union.