Mogadishu Capital and chief port of Somalia, on the Indian Ocean. Mogadishu was founded by Arabs in the 10th century. In the 16th century, the Portuguese captured the city and it became a cornerstone of their trade with Africa. In 1871, control passed to the Sultan of Zanzibar, who first leased (1892) and then sold (1905) the port to the Italians. Mogadishu became the capital of Italian Somaliland. During World War II, the British the British the city from 1941. In 1960, Mogadishu became the capital of independent Somalia. During the 1980s and early 1990s, civil war devastated the city, its population swelled by refugees escaping famine and drought in the outlying regions. In 1992, UN troops flew into Mogadishu to control aid distribution but withdrew in 1995 after little success. Pop. (2002) 1,183,100.
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