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Banaadir (Somali: Banaadir, Arabic: بنادر, Italian: Benadir) is an administrative region (gobol) in southeastern Somalia.[2] It covers the same area as the city of Mogadishu, which serves as the capital. It is bordered to the northwest by the Shabelle river, and to the southeast by the Indian Ocean.[3] Although by far the smallest administrative region in Somalia, it has the largest population, estimated at 3,650,227 (including 369,288 internally displaced persons) in 2014.[4]

Banadir State
Mogadishu street scene
Mogadishu street scene
Flag of Banadir State
Location in Somalia
Location in Somalia
Coordinates: 2°2′59″N 45°15′44″E / 2.04972°N 45.26222°E / 2.04972; 45.26222Coordinates: 2°2′59″N 45°15′44″E / 2.04972°N 45.26222°E / 2.04972; 45.26222
Country Somalia
 • TypeFederal
 • GovernorOmar Mohamud Mohamed
 • Total370 km2 (140 sq mi)
 • Total4,500,000
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)
HDI (2017)0.448[1]
low · 1st

The territorial extent and scope of the term Benadir has varied in definition throughout its history, with medieval usage extending Benadir to huge swaths of coast adjacent to Mogadishu stretching as far as hundreds of miles. The early modern period which extended the meaning of Benadir to the interior midway towards the Hirshabelle region, to the contemporary period wherein sometimes the nonstandard misnomer of usage being interchangeable with the city of Mogadishu. This Banaadir municipality is bordered to the north by Hirshabelle and to the southwest by South West, and is the only Somali gobol (administrative region) which is both a municipality and a gobol known as a region.


The Banaadir region is bordered by the Middle Shebelle (Shabeellaha Dhexe) and Lower Shebelle (Shabeellaha Hoose), as well as the Indian Ocean.

"Benaadir" is derived from the Somali banaadir, which means "coast", in reference to the southern Somali coastal cities of Mogadishu, Merka and Barawa. The place name reflects the region's medieval position as a key trade center with Persia, Arabian peninsula and the Swahili coast.[5]

Its capital is Mogadishu known as Xamar (pronounced: Hamar), although the administrative region itself is coextensive with the city. Benaadir is much smaller than the historical region of Benadir, which covers most of the country's central and southern seaboard opposite the Indian Ocean and up to the Juba River, including Mogadishu.[citation needed]

Thabit M. Abdi was appointed mayor of Mogadishu and governor of Banaadir in 2017, succeeding Yusuf Hussein Jimale who held that post since November 2015.[6]


The 3,650,227 residents of Benaadir are 50.7% female and come from 303,021 households.[4] It has the highest percentage of residents who are internally displaced persons among the regions of Somalia, because of its relative safety, economic opportunities and availability of resources.[4]



Tradition and old records assert that southern Somalia, including the Mogadishu area, was historically inhabited by hunter-gatherers. These were later joined by Cushitic-speaking populations, who would go on to establish local aristocracies. During its medieval Golden Age, Mogadishu was ruled by the Muzaffar dynasty, and later by the Ajuran Sultanate. This is found mainly in Banaadiri oral tradition, who are considered the native population. It subsequently fell under the control of an assortment of local Sultanates and polities, most notably the Sultanate of the Geledi. The sultanate of the Geledi were in an alliance with the Zanzibar Dynasty. The city later became the capital of Italian Somaliland (1889–1936) in the colonial period. When the Italians arrived in Mogadishu the city had two towns only. These towns were Xamar Weyne and Shingaani. The people who lived in these towns were known as "reer xamar" who were the original population and the people that lived outside these towns, what is modern day Hodan, Boondhere and all the districts were known as Xamar Daye. These tribes mainly included Reer Mataan sub tribes. The Xamar Daye, being nomadic people used their lands as grazing lands and used them for things such as camel herding. They sold their cattle in bulk to the reer xamar merchants, who were urban dwellers and seafarers; they in turn traded these items throughout the Indian Ocean and brought back luxury goods such as ivory. After the Somali Republic became independent in 1960, Mogadishu became known and promoted as the White Pearl of the Indian Ocean. After the ousting of the Siad Barre regime in 1991 and the ensuing Somali Civil War, various militias fought for control of the city, later to be replaced by the Islamic Courts Union in the mid-2000s. The ICU thereafter splintered into more radical groups, notably the al-Shabaab, which fought the Transitional Federal Government (2004–2012) and its African Union Mission to Somalia allies. With a change in administration in late 2010, government troops and their military partners had succeeded in forcing out Al-Shabaab by August 2011. Mogadishu has then subsequently experienced a period of intense reconstruction.


In 694 AD the Benadir towns of Mogadishu, Merka, Brava and Kismayo sprang into historical existence thanks to the enterprise of Abdul Malik bin Muriami. He placed one of his own followers as governor in each town and declared himself the Sultan. These towns on the Benadir coast of the Indian Ocean share, to a great extent, the characteristics of the Swahili culture further south. The trading centres, welcoming Arab, Persian and other immigrants, evolved into distinctive amalgams, both of people groups and languages, with tangible forms of settled government and the presence of Islam as the main religion. The famous explorer Ibn Battuta gave us the best description of the city of Mogadishu and its society in the Horn of Africa during the tenth century.

From the tenth century, settlers in the region, of Arab and Persian origin settled and mixed with the local populations.

Shamsud-Din Abu Abdalla Muhammed known as Ibn Battuta during his visit to the area in 1331 AD noted that Arabic, Swahili and Somali was the language of commercial and literary people on the Benadir coast and islands. Mogadishu, was the center of a thriving weaving industry known as toob benadir (specialized for the markets in Egypt and Syria),[7] together with Merca and Barawa also served as transit stops for Swahili merchants from Mombasa and Malindi and for the gold trade from Kilwa.[8] Jewish merchants from the Hormuz brought Indian textiles and fruits to the Somali coast in exchange for grain and wood.[9]

The "Banaadir" (around Mogadishu) in actual Somalia.

The Portuguese reached Benadir by the end of the fourteenth century. Barawa (Brava) was sacked for three days in 1499 and burnt. In 1516, the Portuguese Duarte defined Mogadishu as a city of black inhabitants named Magadoxo that was ruled by a sultan. The Portuguese wanted to occupy the coast of Benadir, but never succeeded. The Portuguese finally left the region after 1698 AD.

Successive Somali sultanates dominated the regional trade of Benadir, including the Ajuran kingdom, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. In the XVII century the entire Benadir coast was controlled by the Omani Sultan and when this sultanate was divided into the Sultanate of Muscat and the Sultanate of Zanzibar, Benadir went under the jurisdiction of Zanzibar. In 1861, Zanzibar and Oman were divided into two separate principalities: Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid became the Sultan of Zanzibar, while Sayyid Thuwaini bin Said al-Said, became the Sultan of Oman. The Sultan of Zanzibar controlled a large portion of the African Great Lakes Coast, known as Zanj, as well as trading routes extending much further across the continent, as far as Kindu on the Congo River, and reaching the Benadir.

The Italian penetration of the Benadir coast of Somalia began in 1885 by a commercial company (called "Compagnia del Benadir") which leased the Sultan's territory of Obbia. The territory embraced between 4 degrees latitude north of the Juba river, which bordered British East Africa, was also administered by a private company. The main river was the Ueli Xebeli (Wadi Shebeli) and the major cities were Mogadishu, Merka, Brava (Barawa) and Warseij.

The (Benadir) ports management, initially done by the "Compagnia Filonardi" (1893–96) and later by the "Società Anonima Commerciale Italiana del Benadir" (1899–1905) was finally taken by the Italian government that obtained the control of the entire region through an agreement with the British government and the payment of 144,000 British Sterlings to the Zanzibar sultane (London treaty, January 1905).[10]

The Benadir colony was renamed on 16 March 1905 and became Italian Somaliland with the Italian administration directly in control of Benadir, and with the protected Sultanates of Obbia (Hobyo) and Majertenia (Majeerteen). In 1926 the territory of Benadir was between the "Basso Uebi-Scebeli", Mogadishu and the "Alto-Uebu Scebeli".

The Italians settled in huge numbers and named the city as Mogadiscio (known as the "White Pearl of Indian Ocean" and was practically a fully Italianised city with over 40% of inhabitants being Italians or descendants of Italians) and the 3 main cities in the Shebelle river farm area (Villabruzzi with 3000 colonists, Genale with 700 and Vittorio with 400). But little communities of Italian colonists existed also in the Benadir cities of Merca (250 Italians), Brava (150), Chisimaio (120), Baidoa (300) and Itala (50).

In the 1930s, the Benadir section inside the "triangle Mogadiscio-Merca-Villabruzzi" was the most developed area of "Somali Italiana", with a 114 km railway and many paved roads with the Petrella international airport and the Mogadiscio port. Most of the Italian Somalians lived in this area.

In 1951 the "Basso Uebi-Scebeli" and Mogadishu were united in the District of Benadir, and as such, integrated into the Republic of Somalia after obtaining independence in 1960. The district existed until 1982 when it was renamed as the Banadir region.


The Banaadir region consists of seventeen districts.[11] Warta Nabada District was previously known as Wardhigley District until it was officially renamed in 2012.[12] Kahda District was formed in 2013 and is still absent from most maps.[13]


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Somalia". The World Factbook. Langley, Virginia: Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  3. ^ Eno, Omar A., Mohamed A. Eno, and Dan Van Lehman. "Defining the problem in Somalia: perspectives from the southern minorities." Journal of the Anglo-Somali Society 47 (2010): 19-30.
  4. ^ a b c "Population Estimation Survey 2014 for the 18 Pre-War Regions of Somalia" (PDF). United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  5. ^ Njoku, Raphael Chijioke (2013). The History of Somalia. ABC-CLIO. p. 69. ISBN 0313378576. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Thabit Abdi named as the new Mayor of Mogadishu". Hiiraan Online. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  7. ^ Gujarat and the Trade of East Africa p. 35
  8. ^ The return of Cosmopolitan Capital:Globalization, the State and War p. 22
  9. ^ The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century By R. J. Barendse
  10. ^ Benadir
  11. ^ Districts of Somalia
  12. ^ Somali president renames Mogadishu district to foster peace,, 10 April 2012. Accessed on 23 October 2016.
  13. ^ See: "Somali Voices" Radio Program Connects Families, Fosters Dialogue on Tough Issues Archived 2016-04-16 at the Wayback Machine, Internews, 27 February 2014. Accessed on 7 October 2015.
  14. ^ so:Kaxda

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