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Merca (Somali: Marka, Arabic: مركة‎) is an ancient port city in the southern Lower Shebelle province of Somalia. It is located approximately 109 km (68 mi) to the southwest of the nation's capital Mogadishu.


Merca beachside
Merca beachside
Merca is located in Somalia
Location in Somalia
Coordinates: 01°41′00″N 044°45′00″E / 1.68333°N 44.75000°E / 1.68333; 44.75000Coordinates: 01°41′00″N 044°45′00″E / 1.68333°N 44.75000°E / 1.68333; 44.75000
Country Somalia
RegionLower Shebelle
 • Total230,100
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)



Minaret and moonrise in Merca

. The first Somalis arrived in the city in the 6th century and gained control of the city and trade of the region.[2]

The 13th-century Arab geographer Ibn Sa'id described Merca as the "capital of Hawiyya country". During the 12th century, the cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi may have referred to the Hawiye as well, as he called Merca the region of the "Hadiye", which Herbert S. Lewis believes is a scribal error for "Hawiye", as do Guilliani, Schleicher and Cerulli.[3] During the Middle Ages, the area was one of several prominent administrative centers of the Ajuran Sultanate. The polity formed one of the largest kingdoms in the southern half of the Horn region. During the Middle Ages, the Merca area was part of the Ajuran Sultanate's realm. The polity formed one of the largest kingdoms in the southern half of the Horn region. Various pillar tombs exist in the region, which local tradition holds were built in the 16th century, when the Sultanate's naa'ibs governed the district. During the early nineteenth century Biimaal pastoralists and farmers were the main inhabitants of Merca.

In the 1930s a group of Italian Somalis established residency in Merca. The Port of Merca was the second[clarification needed] in Italian Somalia and was nicknamed the "port of bananas" due to its status as a key exporter of bananas from Somalia to Europe.[4] In the city of Merca there was a huge economical development in the 1930s, due mainly to the growing commerce of the port of Merca connected by small railway to the farm area of Genale.[5]

Merca was abandoned by government forces and captured by Al-Shabaab in February 2016.[6] It was recaptured by the Somali National Army along with African Union troops, a few days later. A small battle was fought in which a Somali soldier, several militants, and four civilians died.[7]


According to the UNDP in 2005 Merca had a population of around 63,900 inhabitants.[8]


Merca has a jetty-class seaport, the Port of Merca.[9]

The nearest airport to the city is the K50 Airport in the Lower Shebelle province.

Notable peoplesEdit

Asha Jama, social activist, and former TV reporter and journalist.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Population of Cities in Somalia (2019)". Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  2. ^ Kariye, Badal W. (2016-11-27). The Kaleidoscopic Lover: The Civil War in the Horn of Africa & My Itinerary for a Peaceful Lover. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781452004631.
  3. ^ Herbert S. Lewis, "The Origins of the Galla and Somali", in The Journal of African History. Cambridge University Press, 1966, pp 27–30 (not scholarly peer reviewed).
  4. ^ "La colonizzazione agricola nella Somalia italiana 1920/39". March 30, 2015.
  5. ^ "Map of Genale (green area was the farm concessions) and Merca in the 1930s".
  6. ^ "Al-Shabaab militants retake Somali port". February 5, 2016 – via
  7. ^ "Somali troops 'retake' key port city of Merca from al-Shabab - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  8. ^ "Population data" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  9. ^ "Istanbul conference on Somalia 21 – 23 May 2010 - Draft discussion paper for Round Table "Transport infrastructure"" (PDF). Government of Somalia. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

External linksEdit