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Coordinates: 1°13′3″S 41°50′16″E / 1.21750°S 41.83778°E / -1.21750; 41.83778 Burgabo (Somali: Buur Gaabo) is a port town in Lower Jubba province in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya. Other names and variants of the town include Berikau, Bircao,[1] Birikao, Birikau, Bur Gabo, Bur Gao, Bur Gavo,[1] Hohenzollernhafen, Port Dunford, Port Durnford[1] and Wubushi.

Burgabo lies at the mouth of the Burgabo River and is connected via a dirt road to Kamboni, the southernmost town in Somalia, 55 kilometres (34 mi) away at the Kenyan border. The connections with the sparsely populated inland and towards the north consist of barely accessible paths. The district capital Badhaadhe lies 43 kilometres (27 mi) to the northwest. Offshore are reefs and the Bajuni Islands, which extend northeastward to Kismayo.

On the northern edge of the town, there are extensive charcoal storage sites; charcoal is produced in the hinterland and exported from Burgabo to the Arabian Peninsula via dhow. This export is banned by the United Nations Security Council because the Islamic terror group Al-Shabaab is financed by the proceeds.[2]

Burgabo has a tropical savanna climate with an average annual temperature of 27.2 °C. The hottest month is April with an average of 28.8 °C; the coolest month is July, averaging 25.6 °C. The annual precipitation amounts to approximately 474 millimetres (18.7 in). The dry season is from January to March, followed by a rainy season from April to July. After that, rainfall regularly falls with a small peak in October. The wettest month is May when there is then about 130 millimetres (5.1 in), more than a quarter of the annual total. The annual fluctuations can also be considerable.[3]



Map of Burgabo, then Port Durnford, in Tanaland province of the British East Africa Protectorate in 1898

Following an agreement between the German East Africa Company and Sultan Ali ibn Ismail of Kismayo at the end of 1886, a German trading station called Hohenzollernhafen[nb 1][5] was established[6] at Wubushi (Burgabo) Bay. At that time, the entire southern part of the Somali coast was nominally in the hands of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, but the Germans circumvented that problem by concluding a protection treaty with Ali ibn Ismail, who was hostile to Zanzibar.[citation needed]

After the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty of 1890, the area came under British suzerainty and the port was renamed Port Durnford[nb 2][8] (also Port Dunford or Wubushi[9]).

In 1905, the area was described as follows:

"To the south of Kismayu the coast presents a series of small islands, but no feature of importance, except Port Durnford, a harbour of some size and depth. It was formerly a Government station, it being thought unadvisable in the old slaving days to leave a long stretch of coast without any officer ; but now that the slave trade has been abolished, this station has been closed, though the buildings still remain in the charge of a few police. There are a few inhabitants, but the scrub and sand begin immediately round the village, and give one a good idea of the desolation of the district."[10]

Port Durnford formed part of the East Africa Protectorate (first part of Tanaland province and later Jubaland) until, along with the rest of Jubaland, was ceded to the Italians in 1924 when it became known as Bur Gavo. First part of Trans-Juba, it became part of Italian Somaliland in 1926 and, with independence in 1960, part of Somalia.[citation needed]

At the beginning of the 20th century, the town numbered about 3,500 residents, and at the beginning of the 21st century, just under 4,000. In the Somali Civil War, the city was a haven for various Islamist groups, and the population fell to around 300 in 2011. Expeditionary Kenya Defence Forces and Somali Armed Forces of the Federal Government of Somalia, supported by French naval artillery and U.S. air strikes, occupied the area of Burgabo at the end of October 2011 in the campaign against Al-Shabaab terrorists.[11][12]


  1. ^ Hohenzollernhafen was named for Germany's ruling House of Hohenzollern. However, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck thought the naming premature and called it "arbitrary and not generous" (willkürlich und nicht genehrn).[4]
  2. ^ Port Durnford was probably named after Midshipman Edward Philip Durnford (1803–1824), who died at sea on HMS Leven off Madagascar.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "Africa" [map]. 1:15,840,000. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, September 1960, Plate 54.
  2. ^ "Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2182 (2014): Somalia.", Document S/2015/801, 10 October 2015. p. 42. (Photos of storage locations on pages 310–313.)
  3. ^ Climate data at
  4. ^ Jutta Bückendorf. "Schwarz-weiss-rot über Ostafrika!": deutsche Kolonialpläne und afrikanische Realität. Münster: LIT Verlag, 1997. p. 231. Note 166. ISBN 9783825827557
  5. ^ "Port Durnford." Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1905.
  6. ^ Jutta Bückendorf. "Schwarz-weiss-rot über Ostafrika!": deutsche Kolonialpläne und afrikanische Realität. Münster: LIT Verlag, 1997. p. 231. ISBN 9783825827557
  7. ^ "The Mystery of Punta Durnford" and "Famous Durnfords" at The Durnford Family website. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  8. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica Tenth Edition. Volume 34: Maps. Plate 56.
  9. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica Tenth Edition. Volume 34: Maps. p. 490.
  10. ^ Charles Eliot. The East Africa Protectorate. Psychology Press, 1966. (First Edition 1905). p. 38.
  11. ^ "Kenyans head for showdown in Somalia." UPI. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Another town falls to Kenyan military." Daily Nation. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2018.

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