History of Mogadishu
The city is a commercial and financial center with principal industries including food and beverage processing and textiles, especially cotton ginning. The main market offers a variety of goods ranging from food to electronic gadgets.
Mogadishu was established by Arab immigrants from the Persian Gulf, and was one of the earliest in the long range of Arab settlements all over the East African coast. Its location attracted traders who traded across the Indian Ocean with Persia, India and China.
Mogadishu prospers with trade with the interior, which spread Islam throughout Somalia. Trade increased among the Swahili cities of coastal East Africa in 1000 hence driving the Mogadishu economy by the early 1100s.
Trading across the Arabian Sea enabled major ports like Mogadishu to prosper during the later Middle Ages. Portugal controlled Mogadishu during the 1500s. In 1871 the sultan of Zanzibar occupied the city and he leased it to Italy in 1892. In 1905 Italy purchased the city and made Mogadiscio (Italian for Mogadishu) the capital of Italian Somaliland. The surrounding territory came under Italian control in 1936.
British forces operating from Kenya during World War II captured and occupied Mogadishu. In 1941, the capital of Italian Somaliland fell to the British. The British continued to rule until Italy returned in 1952 to administer their former Somali protectorate. In 1960 Somalia achieved independence with Mogadishu as its capital.
During the 1991–92 civil war, much of the city was devastated and many thousands killed. From December 1992 UN peacekeeping troops were stationed in the city to monitor a ceasefire and to protect relief operations but mounting clashes between UN and Somali rebel forces in 1993 resulted in the withdrawal of most UN troops in March 1994.
The civil war effects are still seen in the crippled economy. The population decreased due to famine and movement of refugees. With the 1991 collapse of central governance in Somalia, Mogadishu has seen 15 years of fighting by rival militias.
The Shebelle River (Webe Shabelle) rises in central Ethiopia and comes within 30 km of the Indian Ocean near Mogadishu before turning southwestward. The river is usually dry in February and March. It provides water essential for the cultivation of sugarcane, cotton, and bananas. Features of the city include the Hammawein Old Town, the Bakara Market, and the former resort of Gezira Beach.