Locally known as Xamar or Hamar, Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia. For millennia, the city has served as an important port connecting traders all around the Indian Ocean. It is one of the earliest Arab settlements on the East African coast, dating back to the 10th century.
In 1871, the country fell under the control of the sultan of Zanzibar. The port was then sold to Italians under pressure from the British, who had established a protectorate over the Sultanate of Zanzibar, becoming the capital of Italian Somaliland. After independence in 1960, the civil war in Somalia caused widespread destruction throughout the city, which remained the site of fierce fighting among warring clans into the 21st century.