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Overview of Kismayo
Overview of Kismayo
Kismayo is located in Somalia
Location in Somalia
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country  Somalia
Regional State Jubaland
Region Lower Juba
District District
 • Total 183,300
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Kismayo (Somali: Kismaayo; Arabic: كيسمايو‎‎, Kīsmāyū) is a port city in the southern Lower Juba (Jubbada Hoose) province of Somalia. It is the commercial capital of the autonomous Jubaland region.

The town is situated 528 kilometres (328 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, near the mouth of the Jubba River, where the waters empty into the Indian Ocean. As of 2011, the local population is estimated at 183,300 inhabitants.[1]

During the Middle Ages, the influential Somali Ajuran Sultanate held sway over the territory, followed in turn by the Sultanate of the Geledi. From 1836 until 1861, Kismayo and other parts of Jubaland were claimed by the Sultanate of Muscat (now in Oman), and were later incorporated into British East Africa. In 1925, Jubaland was ceded to Italy, forming a part of Italian Somaliland. On 1 July 1960, the region, along with the rest of Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland, became part of the independent republic of Somalia.

Kismayo was later the site of numerous battles during the civil war. In late 2006, Islamist militants gained control of most of the city. To reclaim possession of the territory, a new autonomous regional administration dubbed Azania was announced in 2010 and formalized in 2011. In September 2012, the Somali National Army and AMISOM troops re-captured the city from the Al-Shabaab insurgents.[2] The Juba Interim Administration was subsequently officially established and recognized in 2013.[3]


Middle Ages and the early modern period

Flag of the Ajuran Sultanate, an influential Somali empire that held sway over Kismayo and the larger Jubaland region during the Middle Ages.

The Kismayo area was originally a small fishing settlement.[4]

During the Middle Ages, the region came under the rule of the influential Ajuran Sultanate, which utilized the Jubba River for its plantations.

After the collapse of this polity, the House of Gobroon was established and the Sultanate of the Geledi held sway over the area. The dynasty reached its apex under the successive reigns of Sultan Yusuf Mahamud Ibrahim, who successfully consolidated Gobroon power during the Bardera wars, and Sultan Ahmed Yusuf, who forced regional powers such as the Omani Empire to submit tribute.

In the latter half of the 19th century, Somali pastoralists from the northern Harti Darod clan settled in Kismayo's interior. The city subsequently evolved into a major hub of the livestock trade.[4] The main Harti representatives to establish themselves in Kismayo were Majeerteen traders from the northeastern Ras Hafun promontory, who were referred to as Hafuuni. In the first two decades of the 20th century, during Mohammed Abdullah Hassan's ("Mad Mullah") Dervish resistance, members of the Dhulbahante Harti sub-clan followed suit.[5]

Colonial era

Pact between the Somali authorities from the Harti and Ogaden clans (1925).

On 7 November 1890, Zanzibar became a British protectorate, and on 1 July 1895, the Sultanate ceded all of its coastal possessions in continental East Africa to Britain. Together with the Zanzibar Sultanate's other former possessions in the area, Jubaland became part of the British East Africa colony.

The ascendancy of the Harti merchant community crystallized under the British administration. They became the first Somali employees of the state, establishing themselves as an educated, urban professional class.[5]

In 1925 local authorities from the Harti and Ogaden Somali clans reached an agreement, with the British acting as enforcer. The signatories each had different accounts of the agreed to partition. According to the Ogaden, the pact gave their Sultan Ahmed Magan control of Jubaland at large. The Harti maintained that the agreement stipulated that the part of the city south of the Liboi–Kismayo road would remain under their control, while the Ogaden, and its Mohamed Zubeir subdivision in particular, would administer the area to the north of this. The pact also allowed the Mohamed Zubeir access to the port.[5]

The territory was subsequently ceded to Italy, purportedly as a reward for the Italians having joined the Allies in World War I,[6] and had a brief existence as the Italian colony of 'Trans-Juba (Oltre Giuba). The Italians subsequently referred to the city as Chisimaio. Kismayo and the northern half of the Jubaland region were then incorporated into neighboring Italian Somaliland on 30 June 1926. The colony had a total area of 87,000 km² (33,000 sq mi), with a population of 120,000 inhabitants. Britain retained control of the southern half of the partitioned Jubaland territory, which was later called the Northern Frontier District (NFD).[7]

Under Italian administration, the Harti retained their position as the professional elite. After independence in 1960 and the establishment of a civilian administration, the 1968 parliamentary elections saw Harti MPs win all four of the seats earmarked for Kismayo.[5]

Somali Civil War

Following the breakdown of central authority that accompanied the civil war in 1991, various local militias fought for control of the city, including supporters of Mohammed Said Hersi ("General Morgan") and Col. Omar Jess' Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM). In March 1993, a United States Marine amphibious group arrived in the city in an attempt to keep the peace as part of the United Nations intervention in Somalia. By December 1993, General Morgan's troops controlled Kismayo, despite the presence of peacekeepers. The last UN troops left the city in December 1994.[8]

The Kismayo panorama just prior to the civil war.

General Morgan briefly declared Jubaland independent on September 3, 1998.[9] Political opponents of his subsequently united as the Allied Somali Forces (ASF), seizing control of Kismayo by June of the following year.[10] Led by Colonel Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale, the ASF administration renamed itself the Juba Valley Alliance in 2001.[11] On June 18 of that year, an 11-member interclan council decided to ally the JVA with the newly forming Transitional Federal Government.[12]

In 2006 the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist organization, assumed control of much of Jubaland and other parts of southern Somalia and promptly imposed Shari'a law. The Transitional Federal Government sought to re‑establish its authority, and, with the assistance of Ethiopian troops, African Union peacekeepers and air support by the United States, managed to drive out the rival ICU and solidify its rule.[13]

On January 8, 2007, as the Battle of Ras Kamboni raged just south of Kismayo, the TFG relocated from its interim location in Baidoa to the nation's capital, Mogadishu. This marked the first time since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991 that the federal government controlled most of the country.[14]

Following this defeat, the Islamic Courts Union splintered into several different factions. Some of the more radical elements, including Al‑Shabaab, regrouped to continue their insurgency against the TFG and oppose the Ethiopian military's presence in Somalia. Throughout 2007 and 2008, Al‑Shabaab scored military victories, seizing control of key towns and ports in both central and southern Somalia. By January 2009, Al‑Shabaab and other militias had managed to force the Ethiopian troops to retreat, leaving behind an under-equipped African Union peacekeeping force to assist the Transitional Federal Government's troops.[15]

In September 2012, the Somali National Army and AMISOM troops re-captured the city from the Al-Shabaab insurgents during the Battle of Kismayo (2012).[2]

In 2013, autonomy was agreed.



Kismayo is located in the fertile Juba Valley in southeastern Somalia, on the Indian Ocean coast. Nearby settlements include to the northeast Xamareyso (5.0 nm), to the north Dalxiiska (1.3 nm), to the northwest Qeyla Dheere (6.4 nm), to the west Saamogia (0.9 nm), to the southwest Iach Bulle (10.0 nm), and to the south Qandal (6.5 nm).[16] The largest cities in the country most proximate to Kismayo are Jamaame (52 km), Jilib (97 km), and Merca (337 km).[17]


Kismayo has a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh). Weather is hot year-round, with seasonal monsoon winds and irregular rainfall with recurring droughts. The gu rains, also known as the Southwest Monsoons, begin in April and last until July, producing significant fresh water and allowing lush vegetation to grow. The gu season is followed by the xagaa (hagaa) dry season.

Climate data for Kismayo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.4
Average low °C (°F) 23.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 0


A new municipal district administration was established on 6 September 2008. Its members reportedly represented the ICU and Al‑Shabaab (three members each) in addition to a local clan (one member) which had played a part in the military assault.[19] Representatives of the Islamic Courts Union questioned the legitimacy of the authority.[20] On 1 October 2009, Al Shabaab took full control of the city, after Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, a senior commander of Ras Kamboni Brigade (then a part of Hizbul Islam), challenged Al‑Shabaab's control.[21]

With the subsequent ouster of the Al-Shabaab rebels in September 2012, the Somali government began preparing mediations between the city's various stakeholders in order to establish an inclusive local administration.[22] On 28 August 2013, the autonomous Jubaland administration signed a national reconciliation agreement in Addis Ababa with the federal government. Endorsed by the federal State Minister for the Presidency Farah Abdulkadir on behalf of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the pact was brokered by the Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia and came after protracted bilateral talks.

Under the terms of the agreement, Jubaland is administered for a two-year period by a Juba Interim Administration and led by the region's incumbent president, Ahmed Mohamed Islam. The regional president serves as the chairperson of a new Executive Council, to which he appoints three deputies. Additionally, the agreement includes the integration of Jubaland's military forces under the central command of the Somali National Army (SNA), and stipulates that the Juba Interim Administration will command the regional police.[3][23]


Kismayo is divided into four districts or degmo (see map). Of these, Calanleey is the oldest:

  • Calanleey
  • Faanoole
  • Farjano
  • Shaqaalaha


Kismayo is inhabited by a diverse group of people. Prior to the civil war, Somalis in the city were mainly represented by the Harti (Majeerteen, Warsangali, Dhulbahante), Ogaden, and the Marehan.[5]

Besides Somalis, the city also has a very large constituency from the Bantu ethnic minority group,[24] as well as various Bajuni peoples.[25]


Main schools and sites in Kismayo.

As Somalia's third largest city, Kismayo is home to a large population, which is served by a number of local high schools, skills training centers and tertiary institutions.

The Farjarno Elementary School is located in the northern Farjarno district, in between the main bus station and the Fanoole factory. The Gamal Abdel Nasser School lies further south, in the Alanley district, near the Governor's Quarters and the Indian Cemetery.

Institutions of higher learning in the city include Kismayo University (KU). Established in August 2005, it is situated about 1 km north, along the Kismayo–Mogadishu main road.[26]


In October 2008, the daily labor rate was estimated at 157,500 Somali shillings (approximately $4.50), up from 52,000 shillings (approximately $2.21) in January 2008, while kilogram of red rice rose from 14,170 (approximately $0.61) to 46,000 (approximately $1.31).[27] A liter of diesel cost 43,000 shillings (approximately $1.23) and a camel costs over 15 million shillings (approximately $435). Total cereal production as of 2008 was estimated to be 780MT.[28]

Before the war, there were a meat-tinning factory, as well as a tannery, and a modern fish factory. There were also two sugar refineries, one at Jowhar and another situated near Jilib.[29] As of January 2007, the market was bustling, although the city's infrastructure had incurred considerable damage.[30]



Kismayo's air transportation needs are served by Kismayo Airport, which is situated about 10 km from the city. It was formerly a Somali Air Force training base. Following the outbreak of the civil war, the airport was closed down for a period of time and its infrastructure was significantly damaged. However, the facility was reopened in October 2008 by the Islamic Courts Union after undergoing some renovations.[31] That same year, the airport was also renamed after Imam Ahmed Gurey, a 16th‑century Somali military leader.[32]

The Kismayo Airport was officially brought under the Juba Interim Administration in August 2013. Per agreement, management of the facility is scheduled to be transferred to the Federal Government after a period of six months. Revenues and resources generated from the airport will also be earmarked for Jubaland's service delivery and security sectors as well as local institutional development.[3]


Three main thoroughfares connect Kismayo to other major areas in the country. The 600 km Highway 3 runs the length of the Juba Valley. Starting in Beled Hawo, it goes through Garbaharey, Bardera and Buale before finally reaching Kismayo.

A paved 528 km freeway links the capital Mogadishu with Kismayo. A third highway extends northwest from Kismayo to Afmadow, then turns toward Dhobley in the eastern part of the Gedo region.

In January 2015, the Interim Juba Administration launched a transport beautification and cleaning campaign in Kismayo. Part of a broader urbanization drive, the initiative includes the clearing of clogged streets and lanes, razing of illegal buildings therein, and further development of the municipal road network.[33]


Kismayo's large docks are situated on a peninsula on the Indian Ocean coast. Formerly one of the Bajuni Islands, the peninsula was subsequently connected by a narrow causeway when the modern Port of Kismayo was built in 1964 with U.S. assistance. The port served as a base for the Somali Navy as well as the Soviet Navy after the military coup in Somalia in 1969.[34] Somalia and the United States jointly refurbished the port in 1984 after significant wear to the 2,070-foot-long (630 m) four-berth, marginal wharf at the harbor required major renovations to maintain operations.[29]

The Port of Kismayo was officially brought under the Juba Interim Administration in August 2013. Per agreement, management of the facility is scheduled to be transferred to the Somali Federal Government after a period of six months. Revenues and resources generated from the seaport will, like the Kismayo airport, be earmarked for Jubaland's service delivery and security sectors as well as local institutional development.[3]

Notable residents

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1 "Somali, AMISOM forces on the outskirts of Kismayo" (PDF). AMISOM. Retrieved 30 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Somalia: Jubaland gains recognition after intense bilateral talks in Ethiopia". Garowe Online. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lee V. Cassanelli, The shaping of Somali society: reconstructing the history of a pastoral people, 1600-1900, (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1982), p.75.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Greenstone - Kismayo
  6. Oliver, Roland Anthony (1976). History of East Africa, Volume 2. Clarendon Press. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Osman, Mohamed Amin AH (1993). Somalia, proposals for the future. SPM. pp. 1–10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. N.Y. Times, World News Briefs; Last U.N. Peacekeepers Prepare to Leave Somalia, December 12, 1994
  9. Footnotes to History: G to J Footnotes to History
  10. Somalia Assessment, September 1999 Country Information and Policy Unit, Immigration & Nationality Directorate, Home Office, UK
  11. "Somalia". World Statesmen. Retrieved March 9, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> - also shows Italian colonial flag & links to map
  12. Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Somalia, 11 Oct 2001, Document S/2001/963 United Nations Security Council
  13. "Ethiopian Invasion of Somalia". 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2010-06-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Somalia President, Parliament Speaker dispute over TFG term
  15. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2009-05-01). "USCIRF Annual Report 2009 – The Commission's Watch List: Somalia". Retrieved 2010-06-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Kismaayo, Somalia". Falling Rain. Retrieved 7 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Kismayo (Chisimayu, Kismayu)". Weather-Forecast. Retrieved 7 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Climate: Kismayo - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 1 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Garowe Online 2008, 'Somalia's Islamists appoint Kismayo administration', Garowe Online, 6 September. Retrieved on 7 September 2008.
  20. All Africa, Islamic Courts Reject Administration Formed By Al-Shaabab in Kismayu Town, Sep. 8, 2008
  21. Garowe Online, 'Al Shabaab seize control of Kismayo after battle', Garowe Online, 1 October. Retrieved on 4 October 2009.
  22. "African troops enter Somali port of Kismayo". AFP. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Wendoson, Abera. "Somalia gives recognition to Jubaland interim administration". Ethiopian Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Bantu ethnic identities in Somalia
  25. "Bajuni: People, Society, Geography, History and Language" (PDF). Retrieved 9 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. [1]
  27. Food Security Analysis Unit - Somalia, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2008 Commodities Prices
  28. Food Security Analysis Unit - Somalia, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Southern Regions Analysis, September 12, 2008
  29. 29.0 29.1 R. Lee Hadden, Topographic Engineering Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Geology of Somalia: a Selected Bibliography of Somalian Geology, Geography and Earth Science, February 2007
  30. Gettleman, Jeffrey (8 January 2007). "Islamists Out, Somalia Tries to Rise From Chaos". New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Abdulkadir Khalif, Somalia: Flights Carrying Khat Banned From Kismayu Airport, 6 October 2008
  32. AFP, Somalia Islamists rename Kismayo airport, 6 October 2008
  33. "The police commission of Kismayo plans to bulldoze the illegal buildings along the main roads". Goobjoog. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. UPI, U.S. Will Spend $38.6 Million To Refurbish Port in Somalia, September 20, 1984

External links