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Muqdisho (so)
مقديشو (ar)
From Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Mogadishu City View, Banaadir Government Building, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mosque of Islamic Solidarity Bakaaro Market and Liido Beach
From Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Mogadishu City View, Banaadir Government Building, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mosque of Islamic Solidarity Bakaaro Market and Liido Beach
Nickname(s): White Pearl of the Indian Ocean
Mogadishu is located in Somalia
Location in Somalia
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country  Somalia
Region Banaadir
 • Mayor Yusuf Hussein Jimaale
 • Urban[1] 91 km2 (35 sq mi)
Population (2015)
 • Capital 2,120,000[1]
Demonym(s) Mogadishan
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
Climate BSh

Mogadishu (/ˌmɔːɡəˈdʃ/;[2][3] Somali: Muqdisho; Arabic: مقديشو‎‎ Maqadīshū), known locally as Xamar (English: Hamar), is the largest and capital city of Somalia. Located in the coastal Banaadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries. As of 2015, it has a population of 2,120,000 residents.[1]

Tradition and old records assert that southern Somalia, including the Mogadishu area, was historically inhabited by hunter-gatherers. These were later joined by Cushitic agro-pastoralists, who would go on to establish local aristocracies. During its medieval Golden Age, Mogadishu was ruled by the Muzaffar dynasty, a vassal of the Ajuran Sultanate. It subsequently fell under the control of an assortment of local Sultanates and polities, most notably the Geledi Sultanate. The city later became the capital of Italian Somaliland (1889-1936) in the colonial period. 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 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 Al-Shabaab, which fought the Transitional Federal Government (2004-2012) and its AMISOM 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 subsequently experienced a period of intense reconstruction.

As Somalia's capital city, many important national institutions are based in Mogadishu. It is the seat of the Federal Government of Somalia established in August 2012, with the Somalia Federal Parliament serving as the government's legislative branch. Yusuf Hussein Jimaale has been the Mayor of Mogadishu since October 2015. Villa Somalia is the official residential palace and principal workplace of the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. In May 2012, the First Somali Bank was established in the capital, which organized Mogadishu's first ever Technology, Entertainment, Design (TEDx) conference. The establishment of a local construction yard has also galvanized the city's real-estate sector. Arba'a Rukun Mosque is one of the oldest Islamic places of worship in the capital, built circa 667 (1268/9 CE). The Mosque of Islamic Solidarity in Mogadishu is the largest masjid in the Horn region. Mogadishu Cathedral was built in 1928 by the colonial authorities in Italian Somaliland in a Norman Gothic style, and served as the traditional seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mogadiscio. The National Museum of Somalia is based in Mogadishu and holds many culturally important artefacts. The National Library of Somalia is undergoing a $1 million Somali federal government funded renovation, including a new library complex.

Mogadishu is home to a number of scholastic and media institutions. As part of the municipality's urban renewal program, 100 schools across the capital are scheduled to be refurbished and reopened. The Somali National University (SNU) was established in the 1950s, and professors from the university later founded the non-governmental Mogadishu University (MU). Benadir University (BU) was established in 2002 with the intention of training doctors. Various national sporting bodies have their headquarters in Mogadishu, including the Somali Football Federation and the Somali Olympic Committee. Mogadishu Stadium was constructed in 1978 during the Siad Barre administration, with the assistance of Chinese engineers. It hosts football matches with teams from the Somalia League and the Somalia Cup. Additionally, the Port of Mogadishu serves as a major national seaport and is the largest harbour in Somalia. Mogadishu International Airport, the capital's main airport, is the hub of the relaunched national carrier Somali Airlines.


The name Mogadishu is held to be derived from the Persian Maq'ad-i-Shah (مقعد شاه), which means "the seat of the Shah." This is a reflection of the city's early Persian influence.[4] It is known locally as Xamar (English: Hamar).[5]


Early history

Engraving of the 13th century Fakr ad-Din Mosque built by Fakr ad-Din, the first Sultan of the Sultanate of Mogadishu

Often regarded as being founded in the 10th century, the city is much older than that. Tradition and old records assert that southern Somalia, including the Mogadishu area, was inhabited in early historic times by hunter-gatherers of Khoisan descent. Although most of these early inhabitants are believed to have been either overwhelmed, driven away or, in some cases, assimilated by later migrants to the area, physical traces of their occupation survive in certain ethnic minority groups inhabiting modern-day Jubaland and other parts of the south. The latter descendants include relict populations such as the Eile, Aweer, the Wa-Ribi, and especially the Wa-Boni.[6][7] By the time of the arrival of peoples from the Cushitic Rahanweyn (Digil and Mirifle) clan confederacy, who would go on to establish a local aristocracy, other Cushitic groups affiliated with the Oromo (Wardai) and Ajuuraan (Ma'adanle) had already formed settlements of their own in the sub-region.[6][7]

The ancient city of Sarapion is believed to have been the predecessor state of Mogadishu. It is mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a Greek travel document dating from the first century CE, as one of a series of commercial ports on the Somali littoral.[8] According to the Periplus, maritime trade already connected peoples in the Mogadishu area with other communities along the Indian Ocean coast.[9]

Flag of the Ajuran Sultanate, a Somali empire of which medieval Mogadishu was an important vassal.

The Sultanate of Mogadishu later developed with the immigration of Emozeidi Arabs, a community whose earliest presence dates back to the 9th or 10th century.[10] This evolved into the Muzaffar dynasty, a joint Somali-Arab federation of rulers, and Mogadishu became closely linked with the powerful Somali Ajuran Sultanate.[11] Following his visit to the city, the 12th century Syrian historian Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote that it was inhabited by dark-skinned Berbers, the ancestors of the modern Somalis.[12][13]

For many years, Mogadishu stood as the pre-eminent city in the Bilad-ul-Barbar (بلاد البربر), meaning "Land of the Berbers," which was the medieval Arabic term for the Horn of Africa.[14][15][16] By the time of the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta's appearance on the Somali coast in 1331, the city was at the zenith of its prosperity. He described Mogadishu as "an exceedingly large city" with many rich merchants, which was famous for the high quality fabric that it exported to destinations including Egypt.[17][18] Batutta added that the city was ruled by a Somali Sultan, Abu Bakr ibn Sayx 'Umar,[19][20] who was originally from Berbera in northern Somalia and spoke both Somali (referred to by Battuta as Mogadishan, the Benadir dialect of Somali) and Arabic with equal fluency.[20][21] The Sultan also had a retinue of wazirs (ministers), legal experts, commanders, royal eunuchs, and other officials at his service.[20]

Additionally, there appears to have been a strong Persian presence in both Mogadishu and Zeila for a time. A Shi'a influence can still be seen in some areas, as in the southern Somalia veneration of Fatimah, the Prophet Muhammad's daughter.[22] This fact is also reflected in the etymology of the city's name, which derives from the Persian Maq'ad-i-Shah (مقعد شاه) and means "the seat of the Shah.[4]

The Portuguese would subsequently attempt to occupy the city, but never managed to take it.[11] In his journal of an expedition to the region in 1497-1499, the explorer João de Sá, who accompanied Vasco da Gama on the voyage, wrote that Magadoxo (Mogadishu) was controlled by Moors. A big town surrounded by four towers, it had houses several storeys high and large palaces in its center. De Sá and his men bombarded the city before continuing southwards along the seaboard.[23] The Hawiye Somali, however, were later successful in defeating the Ajuran State and bringing about the end of Muzaffar rule.[11]


Downtown Mogadishu in 1936, Arba'a Rukun Mosque to the centre right. Nearby can be seen the Catholic Cathedral and the "Arch of Umberto"

By 1892, Mogadishu was under the joint control of the Somali Sultanate of the Geledi and the Omani Sultanate of Zanzibar.[24] The Geledi Sultans were at the height of their power. They dominated the southern ivory trade, and also held sway over the Jubba and Shebelle valleys in the hinterland. The Omani Sultans' authority in Mogadishu, however, was largely nominal. When Imam Azzan bin Qais of Oman sought to build a fort in the city, he was thus obligated to request permission from Sultan Ahmed Yusuf of Geledi.[25] This Fort of Garessa was eventually constructed in 1870.[25][26] The Sultan of Zanzibar later leased and then sold the infrastructure that he had built to the Italians, but not the land itself, which was Somali owned.[27]

Italian rule to 1960

In 1905, Italy made Mogadishu the capital of the newly established Italian Somaliland. The Italians subsequently referred to the city as Mogadiscio. After World War I, the surrounding territory came under Italian control with some resistance.[28]

Thousands of Italians settled in Mogadishu and founded small manufacturing companies. They also developed some agricultural areas in the south near the capital, such as Janale and the Villaggio duca degli Abruzzi (present-day Jowhar).[29] In the 1930s, new buildings and avenues were built. A 114 km (71 mi) narrow-gauge railway was laid from Mogadishu to Jowhar. An asphalted road, the Strada Imperiale, was also constructed and intended to link Mogadishu to Addis Ababa.[30]

In 1940, the Italo-Somali population numbered 22,000, accounting for over 44% of the city's population of 50,000 residents.[31][32] Mogadishu remained the capital of Italian Somaliland throughout the latter polity's existence.

After WWII Mogadishu was made the capital of the Trust Territory of Somalia, an Italian administered fiduciary political entity under the ONU mandate, for ten years (1950–1960).


File:Mogadishu city centre - 1960s.jpg
An avenue in Mogadishu in 1963

British Somaliland became independent on 26 June 1960 as the State of Somaliland, and the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) followed suit five days later.[33] On 1 July 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, with Mogadishu serving as the nation's capital. A government was formed by Abdullahi Issa and other members of the trusteeship and protectorate governments, with Haji Bashir Ismail Yusuf as President of the Somali National Assembly, Aden Abdullah Osman Daar as President of the Somali Republic, and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke as Prime Minister (later to become President from 1967 to 1969). On 20 July 1961 and through a popular referendum, the people of Somalia ratified a new constitution, which was first drafted in 1960.[34] In 1967, Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal became Prime Minister, a position to which he was appointed by Shermarke.

On 15 October 1969, while paying a visit to the northern town of Las Anod, Somalia's then President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards. His assassination was quickly followed by a military coup d'état on 21 October 1969 (the day after his funeral), in which the Somali Army seized power without encountering armed opposition — essentially a bloodless takeover. The putsch was spearheaded by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, who at the time commanded the army.[35]

Metropolitan Mogadishu in the 1980s

Alongside Barre, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) that assumed power after President Sharmarke's assassination was led by Lieutenant Colonel Salaad Gabeyre Kediye and Chief of Police Jama Korshel. Kediye officially held the title of "Father of the Revolution," and Barre shortly afterwards became the head of the SRC.[36] The SRC subsequently renamed the country the Somali Democratic Republic,[37][38] arrested members of the former civilian government, banned political parties,[39] dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.[40]

The revolutionary army established various large-scale public works programmes, including the Mogadishu Stadium. In addition to a nationalization programme of industry and land, the Mogadishu-based new regime's foreign policy placed an emphasis on Somalia's traditional and religious links with the Arab world, eventually joining the Arab League in 1974.[41]

After fallout from the unsuccessful Ogaden campaign of the late 1970s, the Barre administration began arresting government and military officials under suspicion of participation in the abortive 1978 coup d'état.[42][43] Most of the people who had allegedly helped plot the putsch were summarily executed.[44] However, several officials managed to escape abroad and started to form the first of various dissident groups dedicated to ousting Barre's regime by force.[45]

Civil war

By the late 1980s, Barre's regime had become increasingly unpopular. The authorities became ever more totalitarian, and resistance movements, encouraged by Ethiopia's communist Derg administration, sprang up across the country. This eventually led in 1991 to the outbreak of the civil war, the toppling of Barre's government, and the disbandment of the Somali National Army. Many of the opposition groups subsequently began competing for influence in the power vacuum that followed the ouster of Barre's regime. Armed factions led by United Somali Congress commanders General Mohamed Farah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, in particular, clashed as each sought to exert authority over the capital.[46]

Aerial view of a residential area in Mogadishu (1992)

UN Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 led to the creation of UNOSOM I, the first stabilization mission in Somalia after the dissolution of the central government. United Nations Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed on 3 December 1992, which approved a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States. Forming the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the alliance was tasked with assuring security until humanitarian efforts were transferred to the UN. Landing in 1993, the UN peacekeeping coalition started the two-year United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) primarily in the south.[47]

Some of the militias that were then competing for power interpreted the UN troops' presence as a threat to their hegemony. Consequently, several gun battles took place in Mogadishu between local gunmen and peacekeepers. Among these was the Battle of Mogadishu of 1993, an unsuccessful attempt by US troops to apprehend faction leader Aidid. The UN soldiers eventually withdrew altogether from the country on 3 March 1995, having incurred more significant casualties.[48]

In 2006, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist organization, assumed control of much of the southern part of the country and promptly imposed Shari'a law. The new Transitional Federal Government (TFG), established two years earlier, sought to re-establish its authority. With the assistance of Ethiopian troops, AMISOM peacekeepers and air support by the United States, it managed to drive out the rival ICU and solidify its rule.[49] On 8 January 2007, as the Battle of Ras Kamboni raged, TFG President and founder Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a former colonel in the Somali Army, entered Mogadishu for the first time since being elected to office. The government then relocated to Villa Somalia in Mogadishu from its interim location in Baidoa, marking the first time since the fall of the Barre regime in 1991 that the federal government controlled most of the country.[50]

Former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo)'s technocratic administration is credited with having started the city's pacification, a process completed by his successor Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

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. At the end of 2008, the group had captured Baidoa but not Mogadishu. 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.[51]

Between 31 May and 9 June 2008, representatives of Somalia's federal government and the moderate Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) group of Islamist rebels participated in peace talks in Djibouti brokered by the UN. The conference ended with a signed agreement calling for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in exchange for the cessation of armed confrontation. Parliament was subsequently expanded to 550 seats to accommodate ARS members, which then elected a new president.[52] With the help of a small team of African Union troops, the coalition government also began a counteroffensive in February 2009 to retake control of the southern half of the country. To solidify its control of southern Somalia, the TFG formed an alliance with the Islamic Courts Union, other members of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a, a moderate Sufi militia.[53]

In November 2010, a new technocratic government was elected to office, which enacted numerous reforms, especially in the security sector.[54] By August 2011, the new administration and its AMISOM allies had managed to capture all of Mogadishu from the Al-Shabaab militants.[55] Mogadishu has subsequently experienced a period of intense reconstruction spearheaded by the Somali diaspora, the municipal authorities, and Turkey, a historic ally of Somalia.[56][57]


Mogadishu as seen from the International Space Station

Mogadishu is situated on the Indian Ocean coast of the Horn of Africa, in the Banaadir administrative region (gobol) in southeastern Somalia.[58] The region itself is coextensive with the city and is much smaller than the historical province of Benadir. The city is administratively divided into the districts of Abdiaziz, Bondhere, Daynile, Dharkenley, Hamar-Jajab, Hamar-Weyne, Heliwa, Hodan, Howl-Wadag, Karan, Shangani, Shibis, Waberi, Wadajir, Wardhigley and Yaqshid.[59] Features of the city include the Hamarwein old town, the Bakaara Market, and Gezira Beach. The sandy beaches of Mogadishu have vibrant coral reefs, and are prime real estate for the first tourist resorts in many years.[60]

The Shebelle River (Webiga Shabelle) rises in central Ethiopia and comes within 30 kilometers (19 mi) of the Indian Ocean near Mogadishu before turning southwestward. Usually dry during February and March, the river provides water essential for the cultivation of sugarcane, cotton, and bananas.[61]


The Mogadishu beachfront

For a city situated so near the equator, Mogadishu has a relatively dry climate. It is classified as hot and semi-arid (Köppen climate classification BSh), as with much of southeastern Somalia. By contrast, towns in northern Somalia generally have a hot arid climate (Köppen BWh).[62]

Mogadishu is located in or near the tropical thorn woodland biome of the Holdridge global bioclimatic scheme. The mean temperature in the city year round is 27 °C, with an average maximum of 30 °C and an average minimum of 24 °C. Mean temperature readings per month vary by 3 °C (5.4 °F), corresponding with a hyperoceanic and subtype truly hyperoceanic continentality type. Precipitation per year averages 429.2 millimetres (16.9 in). There are 47 wet days annually, which are associated with a 12% daily probability of rainfall. The city has an average of 3,066 hours of sunshine per year, with 8.4 hours of sunlight per day. Mean daylight hours and minutes per day are 8h 24'. The annual percentage of sunny versus cloudy daylight hours is 70 and 30, respectively. Average sun altitude at solar noon on the 21st day of the month is 75.[63]

Climate data for Mogadishu
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 40
Average high °C (°F) 30
Average low °C (°F) 23
Record low °C (°F) 19
Average rainfall mm (inches) .1
Average rainy days 0 0 0 5 6 10 9 7 3 2 4 1 47
Average relative humidity (%) 78 78 77 77 80 80 81 81 81 80 79 79 79.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 266.6 249.2 282.1 261 272.8 219 226.3 254.2 264 266.6 261 257.3 3,066
Source: Weltwetter Spiegel Online[64]



The Federal Government of Somalia has its seat in Mogadishu, the nation's capital.

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was the internationally recognized central government of Somalia between 2004 and 2012. Based in Mogadishu, it constituted the executive branch of government.

The Federal Government of Somalia was established on 20 August 2012, concurrent with the end of the TFG's interim mandate.[65] It represents the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war.[65] The Federal Parliament of Somalia serves as the government's legislative branch.[66]


The Mogadishu Municipality Headquarters

Mogadishu's municipal government is currently led by Yusuf Hussein Jimaale Who replaced Former Mayor Hassan Mohamed Hussein Mungab, a former military court chairman.[67]

Former Mayor of Mogadishu Hassan Mohamed Hussein Mungab

Among these new development initiatives are a US$100 million urban renewal project, the creation of garbage disposal and incineration plants, the launch of a city-wide cleanup project, the creation of asphalt and cement plants, rehabilitation of the Town Hall and parliament buildings, reconstruction of the former Defence Ministry offices, reconstruction of correctional facilities, rehabilitation and construction of health facilities, establishment of a Police Training Center and a permanent base in Jasiira for the new Somali Armed Forces, rebuilding of the Somali Postal Service headquarters, and rehabilitation of public playgrounds in several districts.[68] In January 2014, the Banaadir administration launched the House Numbering and Post Code System.[69] It also began distributing national identity cards in March of the same year.[70] In addition, the municipal authorities started renovating important local government centers in September 2014, including the capital's former Fisho Guverno compound.[71] In January 2015, the Benadir administration also opened a new Health & Safety Office to supervise health and safety practices in the city,[72] and launched a municipal beautification campaign ahead of various international conferences that are slated to be held there.[73]

In March 2015, the Benadir administration completed the SECIL project in conjunction with the EU and UNHABITAT. The 3.5 million EUR initiative lasted three and a half years, and saw the establishment in Mogadishu of a new sustainable waste collection system, a Technical Training Centre, water quality testing laboratories, ameliorated access to clean drinking water, improved employment and livelihood opportunities in the low-cost fuel production sector, strengthened skills training and regulation in the construction sector, and laboratories for the testing of construction material quality.[74]

Diplomatic missions

The embassy of Turkey in Mogadishu

A number of countries maintain foreign embassies and consulates in Mogadishu. As of January 2014, these diplomatic missions include the embassies of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Uganda, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Japan, China,[75][76] and Qatar.[77] Embassies that are scheduled to reopen in the city include those of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and South Korea.[75]

In May 2015, in recognition of the sociopolitical progress made in Somalia and its return to effective governance, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a preliminary plan to reestablish the US embassy in Mogadishu. He indicated that although there was no set timetable for the premises' relaunch, the US government had immediately begun upgrading its diplomatic representation in the country.[78] President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke also presented to Kerry the real estate deed for land reserved for the new US embassy compound.[79] Mohamud concurrently signed an Establishment Agreement with the EU Head of Delegation in Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso, which facilitates the opening of more embassies in Mogadishu by European Union member states. The EU also announced that it had opened a new EU Delegation office in the city.[80]

In February 2014, Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdirahman Duale Beyle announced that the federal government was slated to reopen the former Institute of Diplomacy in Mogadishu. The center historically served as one of the most important national institutions for diplomacy and international relations. Beyle also pledged to reestablish the institute's diplomacy department, its information and broadcasting department, as well as its library.[81]


Mogadishu traditionally served as a commercial and financial centre. Before the importation of mass-produced cloth from Europe and America, the city's textiles were forwarded far and wide throughout the interior of the continent, as well as to the Arabian peninsula and as far as the Persian coast.[82]

Mogadishu's economy has grown rapidly since the city's pacification in mid 2011. The SomalFruit processing factory was reopened, as was the local Coca Cola factory, which was also refurbished.[68] In May 2012, the First Somali Bank was established in the capital, representing the first commercial bank to open in southern Somalia since 1991.[83] The Somali civil engineer and entrepreneur Nasra Agil also opened the city's first dollar store.[84] Additionally, the Historic Central Bank was regenerated, with the Moumin Business Center likewise under construction.[68]

Hormuud Telecom is one of many firms with headquarters in Mogadishu.

The galvanization of Mogadishu's real estate sector was in part facilitated by the establishment of a local construction yard in November 2012 by the Municipality of Istanbul and the Turkish Red Crescent. With 50 construction trucks and machines imported from Turkey, the yard produces concrete, asphalt and paving stones for building projects. The Istanbul Municipality was also scheduled to bring in 100 specialists to accelerate the construction initiative, which ultimately aims to modernize the capital's infrastructure and serve it over the long-term.[85]

In mid-2012, Mogadishu concurrently held its first ever Technology, Entertainment, Design (TEDx) conference. The event was organized by the First Somali Bank to showcase improvements in business, development and security to potential Somali and international investors.[83] A second consecutive TEDx entrepreneurial conference was held the following year in the capital, highlighting new enterprises and commercial opportunities, including the establishment of the city's first dry cleaning business in several years.[86]

A number of large firms also have their headquarters in Mogadishu. Among these is the Trans-National Industrial Electricity and Gas Company, an energy conglomerate founded in 2010 that unites five major Somali companies from the trade, finance, security and telecommunications sectors.[87] Other firms based in the city include Hormuud Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in southern and central Somalia. Telcom is another telecommunications service provider that is centered in the capital. The local Somali Energy Company specializes in the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power to residents and businesses within its service area in Banaadir.[88] Villa and Mansion Architects, an international architectural firm founded by the Somali-British architect Alexander Yusuf, likewise has its regional offices in Mogadishu.[89] Additionally, the International Bank of Somalia, which opened downtown in 2014, offers Islamic finance and international banking services via a swift code system.[90] The Islamic Insurance Company (First Takaful and Re-Takaful Insurance Company) was concurrently established, and is the city's first full service insurance firm in many years.[91] The Central Bank of Somalia, the national monetary authority, also has its headquarters in Mogadishu.

In June 2013, former Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon signed a new foreign investment law. The draft bill was prepared by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in conjunction with government attorneys. Approved by the Cabinet, it establishes a secure legal framework for foreign investment in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country.[92]

In October 2014, the firm Tawakal Money Express (Tawakal) also began construction of the seven-storey Tawakal Plaza Mogadishu. The new high rise is slated to be completed by the end of 2015, and will feature a Tawakal Global Bank customer and financial services center, a large, 338 square meter supermarket, a 46-room luxury hotel, restaurant and coffee shop facilities, and conference and event halls.[93] In addition, the Nabaad Supermarket provides major retail service to local shoppers. Open daily until 10 pm, the convenience chain imports most of its products from the United Arab Emirates and China.[94] The Al Buruuj firm also launched a major real estate project in January 2015, Daru-Salam City. Financed by the Salaam Somali Bank, the new urban complex includes town houses, apartment flats, a mosque, recreational areas, playgrounds, a supermarket and roads. It is slated to be erected just outside the northern part of the capital, within a 7 kilometer radius of the Industrial Road.[72]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1936 50,000 —    
1941 72,000 +44.0%
1944 72,000 +0.0%
1947 73,000 +1.4%
1950 55,000 −24.7%
1953 63,000 +14.5%
1956 75,000 +19.0%
1959 104,332 +39.1%
1962 116,222 +11.4%
1965 171,312 +47.4%
1968 172,700 +0.8%
1972 230,000 +33.2%
1982 500,000 +117.4%
1984 570,000 +14.0%
1991 900,000 +57.9%
Sources: Italian Somaliland, British Military Administration, United Nations and Mogadishu municipal estimates and censuses; Population size may be affected by changes on administrative divisions.[95][96]
File:Little Somali girl.jpeg
An ethnic Somali girl in Mogadishu

Mogadishu is a multi-ethnic city. Its original core population consisted of Bushmen aboriginals, and later Cushitic, Arab and Persian migrants.[7][10] The mixture of these various groups produced the Benadiri or Reer Xamar (“People of Mogadishu”), a composite population unique to the larger Benadir region.[97] In the colonial period, European expatriates, primarily Italians, would also contribute to the city's cosmopolitan populace.

The main area of inhabitation of Bantu ethnic minorities in Somalia has historically been in village enclaves in the south, particularly between the Jubba and Shebelle river valleys as well as the Bakool and Bay regions. Beginning in the 1970s, more Bantus began moving to urban centres such as Mogadishu and Kismayo.[98] The displacement caused by the onset of the civil war in the 1990s further increased the number of rural minorities migrating to urban areas. As a consequence of these movements, Mogadishu's traditional demographic makeup changed significantly over the years.[98]

Following a greatly improved security situation in the city in 2012, many Somali expatriates began returning to Mogadishu for investment opportunities and to take part in the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction process.[99] Through both private efforts and public initiatives like the Somali Diaspora Corps, they have participated in the renovation of schools, hospitals, banks and other infrastructure, and have played a leading role in the capital's recovery.[99][100] They have also helped to propel the local real estate market.[101]

According to Demographia, Mogadishu has a population of around 2,120,000 residents as of 2015. It is the 222nd largest city in the world by population size. The urban area occupies 91 square kilometres (35 sq mi), with a population density of around 23,400 inhabitants per square kilometre (61,000/sq mi).[1] As of September 2014, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation is scheduled to launch the first population census for Somalia in over two decades. The UNFPA assisted the Ministry in the project, which is slated to be finalized ahead of the planned plebiscite and local and national elections in 2016.[102]


Places of worship

Arba'a Rukun Mosque is one of the oldest Islamic places of worship in the capital. It was built circa 667 (1268/9 CE), concurrently with the Fakr ad-Din Mosque. Arba'a Rukun's mihrab contains an inscription dated from the same year, which commemorates the masjid's late founder, Khusra ibn Mubarak al-Shirazi (Khusrau ibn Muhammed).[103][104]

The Mosque of Islamic Solidarity was constructed in 1987 with financial support from the Saudi Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Foundation. It is the main mosque in the city, and an iconic building in Somali society. With a capacity of up to 10,000 worshippers, it is the single largest masjid in the Horn region. In 2015, the federal authorities completed formal refurbishments on the mosque's infrastructure. The upgrades are part of a larger governmental renovation campaign aimed at all of the masjids in Mogadishu.[105] To this end, the municipal authority is refurbishing the historic Central Mosque, situated downtown.[68]

The Mogadishu Cathedral was built in 1928 by the colonial authorities in Italian Somaliland. Known as the "Cattedrale di Mogadiscio", it was constructed in a Norman Gothic style, based on the Cefalù Cathedral in Cefalù, Sicily. The church served as the traditional seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mogadiscio.[106] It later incurred significant damage during the civil war. In April 2013, after a visit to the site to inspect its condition, the Diocese of Mogadiscio announced plans to refurbish the building.[107]


Villa Somalia is the official residential palace and principal workplace of the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. It sits on high ground that overlooks the city on the Indian Ocean, with access to both the harbour and airport.[108] The Governor's Palace of Mogadishu was the seat of the governor of Italian Somaliland, and then the administrator of the Trust Territory of Somalia.

Museums, libraries and theatres

Zainab Hassan, Director of the National Library of Somalia.

The National Museum of Somalia was established after independence in 1960, when the old Garesa Museum was turned into a National Museum. The National Museum was later moved in 1985, renamed to the Garesa Museum, and converted to a regional museum.[109][110] After shutting down, the National Museum later reopened. As of January 2014, it holds many culturally important artefacts, including old coins, bartering tools, traditional artwork, ancient weaponry and pottery items.[111]

The National Library of Somalia was established in 1975, and came under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education. In 1983, it held approximately 7,000 books, little in the way of historical and cultural archival material, and was open to the general public.[112] The National Library later closed down in the 1990s. In June 2013, the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies organized a shipment of 22,000 books from the United States to Somalia as part of an initiative to restock the library.[113] In December of the year, the Somali authorities officially launched a major project to rebuild the National Library. With Zainab Hassan serving as Director, the $1 million federal government funded initiative will see a new library complex built in the capital within six months. In preparation for the relaunch, 60,000 additional books from other Arab League states are expected to arrive.[114]

The National Theatre of Somalia opened in 1967 as an important cultural landmark in the national capital. It closed down after the start of the civil war in the early 1990s, but reopened in March 2012 after reconstruction.[115] In September 2013, the Somali federal government and its Chinese counterpart signed an official cooperation agreement in Mogadishu as part of a five-year national recovery plan in Somalia. The pact will see the Chinese authorities reconstruct the National Theatre of Somalia in addition to several other major infrastructural landmarks.[116]


Bakaara Market in the heart of Mogadishu

Bakaara Market was created in late 1972 by the Barre administration. It served as an open market for the sale of goods and services, including produce and clothing. After the start of the civil war, the market was controlled by various militant groups, who used it as a base for their operations. Following Mogadishu's pacification in 2011, renovations resumed at the market. Shops were rehabilitated, selling everything from fruit and garments to building materials.[117] As in the rest of the city, Barkaara Market's real estate values have also risen considerably. As of 2013, the local Tabaarak firm was renting out a newly constructed warehouse at the market for $2,000 per month.[118]

In February 2014, the Benadir administration began renovations at the Ansaloti Market in the Hamar Jajab district. It was one of the largest markets in the city before closing down operations in the early 1990s. In September 2014, the municipal authorities officially reopened the Ansaloti to the public, with officials supervising all parts of the market. According to the Benadir Political Affairs Vice Chairman Mohamed Adan "Anagel", the facility is now open for business and will compete with other regional markets.[119]


The Regional Somali Language Academy is an intergovernmental regulating body for the Somali language in the Horn region. In January 2015, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that the institute was slated to be finalized in conjunction with the governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia.[120] Among the scheduled projects was the construction of a new headquarters for the Academy in Mogadishu, in recognition of Somalia's traditional position as the center for the development and promotion of the Somali language.[121] In February 2015, the foundation stone for the new Regional Somali Language Academy was officially laid at an inauguration ceremony in the city.[122]


Jazeera Palm Hotel

Mogadishu has a number of hotels, most of which were recently constructed. The city's many returning expatriates, investors and international community workers are among these establishments' main customers. To meet the growing demand, hotel representatives have also begun participating in international industry conferences, such as the Africa Hotel Investment Forum.[123]

Among the new hotels is the six floor Jazeera Palace Hotel. It was built in 2010 and officially opened in 2012. Situated within a 300m radius of the Aden Adde International Airport, it has a 70-room capacity with a 70% occupancy rate. The hotel expects to host over 1,000 visitors by 2015, for which it plans to construct a larger overall building and conference facilities.[123] A new landslide hotel within the airport itself is also slated to be completed by the end of the year.[124]

Other hotels in the city include the Lafweyn Palace Hotel, Amira Castle Hotel, Sahafi Hotel, Hotel Nasa-Hablod, Oriental Hotel, Hotel Guuleed, Hotel Shamo, Peace Hotel, Aran Guest House, Muna Hotel, Hotel Taleex, Hotel Towfiq, Benadir Hotel, Ambassador Hotel, Kuwait Plaza Hotel, Safari Hotel Diplomat, Dayax Hotel, Safari Guesthouse and Bin Ali Hotel.[125]


Mogadishu is home to a number of scholastic institutions. As part of the government's urban renewal program, 100 schools across the capital are scheduled to be refurbished and reopened.[68]

The Somali National University (SNU) was established in the 1950s, during the trusteeship period. In 1973, its programmes and facilities were expanded. The SNU developed over the next 20 years into an expansive institution of higher learning, with 13 departments, 700 staff and over 15,000 students. On 14 November 2013, the Cabinet unanimously approved a federal government plan to reopen the Somali National University, which had been closed down in the early 1990s. The refurbishing initiative cost US$3.6 million,[126] and was completed in August 2014.[127]

Mogadishu University (MU) is a non-governmental university that is governed by a Board of Trustees and a University Council. It is the brainchild of a number of professors from the Somali National University as well as other Somali intellectuals. Financed by the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as well as other donor institutions, the university counts hundreds of graduates from its seven faculties, some of whom continue on to pursue Master's degrees abroad thanks to a scholarship programme. Mogadishu University has established partnerships with several other academic institutions, including the University of Aalborg in Denmark, three universities in Egypt, seven universities in Sudan, the University of Djibouti, and two universities in Yemen. As of 2012, MU also has accreditation with the Board of the Intergovernmental Organization EDU.[128]

The Hamar Jajab School in Mogadishu

In 1999, the Somali Institute of Management and Administration (SIMAD) was co-established in Mogadishu by incumbent President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The institution subsequently grew into the SIMAD University, with Mohamud acting as dean until 2010.[129] It offers a range of undergraduate courses in various fields, including economics, statistics, business, accountancy, technology, computer science, health sciences, education, law and public administration.[130]

Benadir University (BU) was established in 2002 with the intention of training doctors. It has since expanded into other fields. Another tertiary institution in the city is the Jamhuriya University of Science and Technology. The Turkish Boarding School was also established, with the Mogadishu Polytechnic Institute and Shabelle University campus likewise undergoing renovations. Additionally, a New Islamic University campus is being built.[68] In April 2014, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed also laid the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the former meteorological school in Mogadishu.[131] A new national Aviation Training Academy is likewise being built at the Aden Adde International Airport.[132]

City University Established in 2012, City University of Mogadishu (CU) is a Not-For-Profit foundation university located in Mogadishu, Somalia that is pioneering quality instruction, research, and service to society as well as an executive team of experienced Managers from the Diaspora. The university came about in response the need for quality education and was started by a number of professors who have received the highest academic credentials from the US and Canada and taught at North American Universities. The university is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of Academics and prominent Businessmen.City University has introduced a number new features including the foundations program that teaches the language of instructions (English) in a professional format, physical and digital libraries, laboratories for science and computers, instructors with a minimum requirement of a master's degree from a recognized institution of higher learning, cutting edge curricula, and more. The facilities and equipment and their student centric pedagogy at CU are making a tangible difference in the lives of young people in Somalia. City University is authorized as a degree granting institution by the Somali Ministry of Education Directorate of Higher Education and Culture and is a member of the Somali Research and Educational Network (SomaliREN).


Mogadishu Stadium was constructed in 1978 during the Barre administration, with the assistance of Chinese engineers. The facility was mainly used for hosting sporting activities, such as the Somalia Cup and for football matches with teams from the Somalia League. Presidential addresses and political rallies, among other events, were also held there.[133] In September 2013, the Somali federal government and its Chinese counterpart signed an official cooperation agreement in Mogadishu as part of a five-year national recovery plan in Somalia. The pact will see the Chinese authorities reconstruct several major infrastructural landmarks, including the Mogadishu Stadium.[116]

The Konis Stadium is another one of the capital's major sporting facilities. In 2013, the Somali Football Federation launched a renovation project at the facility, during which artificial football turf contributed by FIFA was installed at the stadium. The Ex-Lujino basketball stadium in the Abdulaziz District also underwent a $10,000 rehabilitation, with funding provided by the local Hormuud Telecom firm.[134] Additionally, the municipal authority oversaw the reconstruction of the Banadir Stadium.[68]

Various national sporting bodies also have their headquarters in Mogadishu. Among these are the Somali Football Federation, Somali Olympic Committee and Somali Basketball Federation. The Somali Karate and Taekwondo Federation is likewise centered in the city, and manages the national Taekwondo team.[135]



Newly constructed roads and buildings in Mogadishu (2015).

Roads leading out of Mogadishu connect the city to other localities in Somalia as well as to neighbouring countries. The capital itself is cut into several grid layouts by an extensive road network, with streets supporting the flow of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. In October 2013, major construction began on the 23 kilometer road leading to the airport. Overseen by Somali and Turkish engineers, the upgrade was completed in November and included lane demarcation. The road construction initiative was part of a larger agreement signed by the Somali and Turkish governments to establish Mogadishu and Istanbul as sister cities, and in the process bring all of Mogadishu's roads up to modern standards.[136] Following the treaty, the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) launched a citywide cleaning project in conjunction with the municipal cleaning department. The initiative saw around 100 rubbish collection vehicles and other equipment operated by TIKA clean the city's roads, with the Benadir municipality taking over operation of the cleaning project in March 2015.[137]

In 2012–2013, Mogadishu's municipal authority in conjunction with the British and Norwegian governments began a project to install solar-powered street lights on all of the capital's major roads.[124][138] With equipment imported from Norway, the initiative cost around $140,000 and lasted several months. The solar panels have helped to improve night-time visibility and enhance the city's overall aesthetic appeal.[138]

Minibuses are the most common type of public transportation in Mogadishu. The next most frequently used public vehicles in the city are auto rickshaws (bajaj). They number around 3,000 units and come in various designs. The auto rickshaws represent a lower cost alternative to taxis and minibuses, typically charging half the price for the same distance, with flexible rates. Due to their affordability, capacity to negotiate narrow lanes and low fuel consumption, the three-wheeled vehicles are often appealing investment opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs. They are generally preferred for shorter commutes.[139] In June 2013, two new taxi companies also started offering road transportation to residents. Part of a fleet of over 100 vehicles, Mogadishu Taxi's trademark yellow cabs offer rides throughout the city at flat rates of $5. City Taxi, the firm's nearest competitor, charges the same flat rate, with plans to add new cabs to its fleet.[140]

In January 2014, the Benadir administration launched a city-wide street naming, house numbering and postal codes project. Officially called the House Numbering and Post Code System, it is a joint initiative of the municipal authorities and Somali business community representatives. The project is part of the ongoing modernization and development of the capital. According to former Mayor Mohamed Ahmed Nur, the initiative also aims to help the authorities firm up on security and resolve housing ownership disputes.[69] In March 2015, the Benadir administration likewise launched a renovation project on the Hawo Asir-Fagah major road in Mogadishu. The government-public partnership aims to facilitate vehicle access in the area. According to Karaan district commissioner Ahmed Hassan Yalah'ow, the reconstruction initiative will also make the road all-weather resistant and is slated to be completed shortly.[141]


During the post-independence period, Mogadishu International Airport offered flights to numerous global destinations.[142] In the mid-1960s, the airport was enlarged to accommodate more international carriers, with the state-owned Somali Airlines providing regular trips to all major cities.[143] By 1969, the airport's many landing grounds could also host small jets and DC 6B-type aircraft.[142]

A Somali Airlines Boeing 707-338C in flight (1984). The Mogadishu-based national carrier was relaunched in late 2013.

The facility grew considerably in size in the post-independence period after successive renovation projects. With the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, Mogadishu International Airport's flight services experienced routine disruptions and its grounds and equipment were largely destroyed. In the late 2000s, the K50 Airport, situated 50 kilometers to the south, served as the capital's main airport while Mogadishu International Airport, now renamed Aden Adde International Airport, briefly shut down.[144] However, in late 2010, the security situation in Mogadishu had significantly improved, with the federal government eventually managing to assume full control of the city by August 2011.[55]

In May 2011, the Ministry of Transport announced that SKA-Somalia had been contracted to manage operations at the re-opened Aden Adde International Airport over a period of ten years.[145] Among its first initiatives, worth an estimated $6 million, SKA invested in new airport equipment and expanded support services by hiring, training and equipping 200 local workers to meet international airport standards. The company also assisted in comprehensive infrastructure renovations, restored a dependable supply of electricity, revamped the baggage handling facilities as well as the arrival and departure lounges, put into place electronic check-in systems, and firmed up on security and work-flow. Additionally, SKA connected the grounds' Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorological Agency (SCAMA) and immigration, customs, commercial airlines and Somali Police Force officials to the internet.[145] By January 2013, the firm had introduced shuttle buses to ferry travelers to and from the passenger terminal.[146]

In December 2011, the Turkish government unveiled plans to further modernize the airport as part of Turkey's broader engagement in the local post-conflict reconstruction process. Among the scheduled renovations were new systems and infrastructure, including a modern control tower to monitor the airspace.[147] In September 2013, the Turkish company Favori LLC began operations at the airport. The firm announced plans to renovate the aviation building and construct a new one, as well as upgrade other modern service structures. A $10 million project, it will increase the airport's existing 15 aircraft capacity to 60.[148] In January 2015, a new, state-of-the-art terminal was opened at the airport.[149] Featuring modern passenger facilities and a glass façade, it will enable the airport to double its number of daily commercial flights to 60, with a throughput of around 1,000 passengers per hour.[124]

As of January 2015, the largest airline services using Aden Adde International Airport include the Somali-owned private carriers Jubba Airways, Daallo Airlines, and African Express Airways, in addition to UN charter planes, Turkish Airlines,[147] and Felix Airways (Al Saeeda Airlines).[150] The airport also offers flights to other cities in Somalia, such as Galkayo, Berbera and Hargeisa, as well as to international destinations like Djibouti, Jeddah,[151] and Istanbul.[147]

In July 2012, Mohammed Osman Ali (Dhagah-tur), the General Director of the Ministry of Aviation and Transport, also announced that the Somali government had begun preparations to revive the Mogadishu-based national carrier, Somali Airlines.[152] The first new aircraft were scheduled for delivery in December 2013.[153]


The Port of Mogadishu serves as a major national seaport.

The Port of Mogadishu, also known as the Mogadishu International Port,[154] is the official seaport of Mogadishu. Classified as a major class port,[155] it is the largest harbour in the country.[156]

After incurring some damage during the civil war, the federal government launched the Mogadishu Port Rehabilitation Project,[154] an initiative to rebuild, develop and modernize the port.[156] The renovations included the installation of Alpha Logistics technology.[68] A joint international delegation consisting of the Director of the Port of Djibouti and Chinese officials specializing in infrastructure reconstruction concurrently visited the facility in June 2013. According to Mogadishu Port manager Abdullahi Ali Nur, the delegates along with local Somali officials received reports on the port's functions as part of the rebuilding project's planning stages.[156][157]

In 2013, the Port of Mogadishu's management reportedly reached an agreement with representatives of the Iranian company Simatech Shipping LLC to handle vital operations at the seaport. Under the name Mogadishu Port Container Terminal, the firm is slated to handle all of the port's technical and operational functions.[156]

In October 2013, the federal Cabinet endorsed an agreement with the Turkish firm Al-Bayrak to manage the Port of Mogadishu for a 20-year period. The deal was secured by the Ministry of Ports and Public Works, and also assigns Al-Bayrak responsibility for rebuilding and modernizing the seaport.[158] In September 2014, the federal government officially delegated management of the Mogadishu Port to Al-Bayrak. The firm's modernization project will cost $80 million.[159]


There were projects during the 1980s to reactivate the 114 km (71 mi) railway between Mogadishu and Jowhar, built by the Italians in 1926 but dismantled in World War II by British troops. It was originally intended that this railway would reach Addis Ababa.[160] Only a few remaining tracks inside Mogadishu's harbour area are still used.


Mogadishu has historically served as a media hub. In 1975, the Somali Film Agency (SFA), the nation's film regulatory body, was established in Mogadishu.[161] The SFA also organized the annual Mogadishu Pan-African and Arab Film Symposium (Mogpaafis), which brought together an array of prominent filmmakers and movie experts from across the globe, including other parts of Northeast Africa and the Arab world, as well as Asia and Europe.

In addition, there are a number of radio news agencies based in Mogadishu. Radio Mogadishu is the federal government-run public broadcaster. Established in 1951 in Italian Somaliland, it initially aired news items in both Somali and Italian.[162] The station was modernized with Russian assistance following independence in 1960, and began offering home service in Somali, Amharic and Oromo.[163] After closing down operations in the early 1990s due to the civil war, the broadcaster was officially re-opened in the early 2000s by the Transitional National Government.[164] Other radio stations headquartered in the city include Mustaqbal Radio, Radio Shabelle, Radio Bar-Kulan, Radio Kulmiye, Radio Dannan, Radio Dalsan, Radio Banadir, Radio Maanta, Gool FM, Radio Xurmo, and Radio Xamar, also known as Voice of Democracy.[165]

The Mogadishu-based Somali National Television (SNTV) is the central government-owned broadcaster. On 4 April 2011, the Ministry of Information of the Transitional Federal Government officially re-launched the station as part of an initiative to develop the national telecommunications sector.[166] SNTV broadcasts 24 hours a day, and can be viewed both within Somalia and abroad via terrestrial and satellite platforms.[167]

Somali popular music enjoys a large audience in Mogadishu, and was widely sold prior to the civil war.[168] With the government managing to secure the city in mid-2011, radios once again play music. On 19 March 2012, an open concert was held in the city, which was broadcast live on local television.[57] In April 2013, the Waayaha Cusub ensemble also organized the Reconciliation Music Festival, the first international music festival to be held in Mogadishu in two decades.[169][170]

Notable Mogadishans

Born in Mogadishu, supermodel Iman was the first Somali woman to appear on the cover of Vogue in 1979 and to sign a cosmetics contract.

Sister cities

Country City
 Kazakhstan Coat of arms of Kazakhstan.svg Alma-Ata[171]
 Turkey TurkishEmblem.svg Ankara[172]


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