Formerly a prospering city-state, Mogadishu is the capital, and a major port of Somalia. Mogadishu has had a long history and many colonial influences. The city is known as Muqdisho in Somali, Maqdishu in Arabic and Mogadiscio in Italian. With a population reaching a million, it is also the largest city of Somalia.
Founded in the 10th century, Mogadishu has had an eventful history. It 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. The city-state flourished in the 13th century, and the mosque of Fakr al Din and the minaret of the Zgreat Mosque were built then.
The city's location made it attractive to traders. It traded across the Indian Ocean with Persia, India and China. This is what ultimately attracted the Portugese during the 16th century. While it was never conquered outright by the Portugese, the city soon began its decline in spite of commercial relations with the Portugese and the Imams of Muscat.
In the late 19th century, and the early part of the 20th century, the city came under the influence of Zanzibar and Italy. Ultimately, Somalia became independent in 1960 and Mogadishu became its capital. A National University was founded, along with hospitals and institutes for teacher training, industrial arts, public health and veterinary science.
However, the civil war in the 1980's and 1990's have caused massive destruction - much of the city is now in ruins.
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