Mogadishu is the largest city and capital of Somalia. The city is by the Indian Ocean, and is one of the country’s major ports and commercial and financial centres. In Somalia’s civil war (1990–94), the city was devastated but had to cope with a huge number of refugees. Large parts of the city are still in ruins.
Mogadishu was one of the first Arab settlements on the East African coast. The city was founded in the tenth century and by the twelfth century it had become a trade centre. During the sixteenth century it was governed by Portugal. In 1871, Mogadishu was taken over by the sultan of Zanzibar, who leased it to the Italians in 1892. The Italians bought the city in 1905. It was then the capital of Italian Somaliland until 1960. In World War II, Mogadishu was occupied by the British. Following Somalia’s independence in 1960, the city remained the capital.
Much of Mogadishu’s manufacturing was destroyed in the civil war. Exports include bananas,...