How Old is Mogadishu Somalia?

Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, is situated on the horn of Africa, near the Red Sea. The majority of the population is Sunni Muslim, and Somali is the official language.

However, Arabic, Italian, and English are also spoken. Mogadishu’s population was estimated to be 1.3 million in 2009.

mogadishu somalia
Liido Beach, Mogadishu, Somalia

Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital and main harbor, was founded by Arabs in the 10th century. Families of Arab and Persian origin dominated Somalia after their arrival, fueling widespread conversion to Islam.

Mogadishu flourished in the thirteenth century by selling gold, animals, slaves, leather, and ivory. 

Here in this guide, we will discuss how old Mogadishu Somalia is by describing its ancient history.

Let’s dive in!

History of Mogadishu

By 1871, the Sultan of Zanzibar had taken control of Mogadishu, and in 1892, the Italians had leased the city’s harbor. The Italians purchased the port city in 1905, and it became the capital of Italian Somaliland. In 1960, Mogadishu, a city of 94,000 people, became the capital of independent Somalia.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the city’s economy developed to include soft-drink bottling, textile manufacture, and milk processing, which had previously been based on exporting fruit, meat and animal skins, cotton, and sugar cane.

Despite the city of Mogadishu’s rising wealth, the country suffered from political instability during President Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime, which lasted from 1969 to 1991.

Siad Barre ordered his soldiers to seize Mogadishu after anti-government riots in 1989 when his authority was increasingly threatened.  After a four-week army rampage, most of the city was destroyed, and 50,000 people were killed.

Siad Barre departed Mogadishu after his ouster in 1991, leaving behind a devastated country with a reputation for harsh governance. When a severe famine struck Somalia in 1992, the political situation became even more precarious.

The UN intervened to guarantee that aid was distributed equally and prevent the new corrupt administration from abusing its authority. The operation was a failure, and the United Nations withdrew from the port city in 2002 after one of its officers was abducted at gunpoint.

According to authorities, nearly half of the city’s population, or over one million people, had fled to the countryside by 2008.  Since 2008 approximately 3,000 African Union peacekeeping forces have patrolled the town to maintain order and provide medical help.

Mogadishu was once a powerful and commercially significant port city. Still, more than two decades of war and political instability have caused irreversible harm to its people, economy, and infrastructure, according to many analysts.

mogadishu beach, Somalia beaches
Liido Beach, Mogadishu

Foundation and Origins of Mogadishu

Mogadishu’s founding ethnicity and succeeding Sultanate have long been a source of debate in Somali Studies. I.M Lewis thought that a council of Arab and Persian households created and controlled the city.

The reference I.M Lewis obtained, on the other hand, comes from a 19th-century document known as the Kitab Al-Zunuj, which has been deemed unreliable and unhistorical by current academics.

More significantly, it contradicts oral tradition, old written records, and archaeological evidence of pre-existing civilizations and cultures thrived along the Somali coast.

The forebears of Mogadishu and other coastal towns belonged.  As a result, the “myths” of the Persian and Arab foundation are seen as an out-of-date false colonialist reflection on Africans’ abilities to build complex nations.

It is now commonly acknowledged that there were previously established communities on the Somali coast, led by native African leaders, from whom Arab and Persian families had to seek permission to settle in their cities.

Local Africans have maintained their political and demographic dominance, while Muslim immigrants would ultimately adapt to the prevailing African culture.

It is supported by the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st-century AD Greek document that describes numerous affluent port cities in ancient Somalia and the identification of ancient Sarapion with Mogadishu.

In the 14th century, when Ibn Battuta visited the Sultanate, he recognized the Sultan as being of Barbara descent, an old name for the Somali people’s forefathers. According to Ross E. Dunn, neither Mogadishu nor any other coastal city could be termed Arab or Persian enclaves instead of African cities.

Battles of Mogadishu (1993)

Operation Gothic Serpent included the Battle of Mogadishu, popularly known as the “Black Hawk Down” incident. It took place in Mogadishu, Somalia, on the 3rd and 4th of October 1993, between US soldiers supported by UNOSOM II and Somali militias loyal to Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

It was part of the larger Somali Civil War, which had escalated since 1991 and threatened famine; the UN had been sent in to deliver food supplies, but their purpose later turned to restoring democracy and restoring a stable government.

Aidid, who refused to cooperate with the UN, obstructed the process. During a conference in the city, the American Task Force Ranger was deployed to apprehend two of Aidid’s high-ranking lieutenants.

The operation’s aim was accomplished, but it was a pyrrhic victory, and the situation deteriorated into the fatal Battle of Mogadishu.

The first operation on October 3, 1993, which was supposed to take an hour, turned into an overnight standoff and rescue operation that lasted until the morning of October 4, 1993.

An air and ground phase was planned for the attack. Somali fighters used RPG-7s to shoot down two American Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters during the expedition.

The downed helicopters were defended in a desperate manner, depicted in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down. Supporting the survivors of the accidents lasted all night, involving the insertion of two US Army Delta Force operators who would later be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

A UNOSOM II armored convoy battled its way to the helicopters in the morning, suffering further losses but finally rescuing the survivors.

There were 19 American soldiers killed and 73 injured, with one Malaysian soldier killed, seven Malaysian forces wounded, and one Pakistani soldier killed and two wounded. The raid killed anywhere from 315 to 2,000 Somalis.

The battle changed American foreign policy and resulted in the resignation of the UN mission. Al-Qaeda, which may have been responsible for training the rebels who shot down the helicopters, mocked the American retreat.

Following the fight, Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets, broadcast on American television, causing widespread outrage.

According to some academics, fear of a recurrence of the battle played a role in the Clinton administration’s decision not to engage in the genocide in Rwanda six months later.


The Somali battle, known as Black Hawk Down, had changed US strategy in Africa. Elite American forces conducted a disastrous attack upon Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in October 1993.

Their goal was to apprehend Gen Mohamed Farah Aideed, a strong Somali warlord.

We have emphasized the history of Mogadishu Somalia in this guide, which demonstrates how old Mogadishu Somalia is. You will also learn about the battles, the foundation, and the origins of Mogadishu, Somalia.

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