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Berbera (; so, Barbara, ar, بربرة) is the capital of the Sahil region of
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Somaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a self-declared sovereign st ...
and is the main sea port of the country. Berbera is a coastal city and was the former capital of the
British Somaliland British Somaliland, officially the British Somaliland Protectorate ( so, Dhulka Maxmiyada Soomaalida ee Biritishka), was a British protectorate in present-day Somaliland. For much of its existence, the territory was bordered by Italian Somaliland ...
protectorate before
Hargeisa Hargeisa ( so, Hargeysa, ar, هرجيسا) is a city in the Maroodi Jeex region of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. It is the capital and largest city of Somaliland. The city later succeeded Berbera as the capital of the British Somaliland Protect ...
. It also served as a major port of the Ifat and
Adal Adal may refer to: *A short form for Germanic names in ''aþala-'' (Old High German ''adal-''), "nobility, pedigree"; see Othalan **Adál Maldonado (born 1948), Puerto Rican artist **Adal Ramones (born 1969), Mexican television show host **Adal Her ...
Sultanates from the 13th to 16th centuries. In antiquity, Berbera was part of a chain of commercial port cities along the Somali seaboard. During the early modern period, Berbera was the most important place of trade in the Somali Peninsula. It later served as the capital of the
British Somaliland British Somaliland, officially the British Somaliland Protectorate ( so, Dhulka Maxmiyada Soomaalida ee Biritishka), was a British protectorate in present-day Somaliland. For much of its existence, the territory was bordered by Italian Somaliland ...
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign ...
from 1884 to 1941, when it was replaced by
Hargeisa Hargeisa ( so, Hargeysa, ar, هرجيسا) is a city in the Maroodi Jeex region of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. It is the capital and largest city of Somaliland. The city later succeeded Berbera as the capital of the British Somaliland Protect ...
. In 1960, the British Somaliland protectorate gained independence as the
State of Somaliland The State of Somaliland (, ) was a short-lived independent country in the territory of present-day Somaliland. It was the name assumed by the former British Somaliland protectorate in the five days between June 26, 1960 and July 1, 1960, when t ...
and united five days later with the
Trust Territory of Somalia The Trust Territory of Somaliland, officially the "Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian administration" (in Italian: ''Amministrazione fiduciaria italiana della Somalia'') was a United Nations Trust Territory situated in present-day Somalia ...
(the former
Italian Somalia Italian Somaliland ( it, Somalia italiana, ar, الصومال الإيطالي ''Al-Sumal Al-Italiy'', so, Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy in present-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sulta ...
) to form the
Somali Republic The Somali Republic ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliyeed, it, Repubblica Somala, ar, الجمهورية الصومالية ) was the name of a sovereign state composing of Somalia and Somaliland, following the unification of the Trust Territory of Som ...
.Encyclopædia Britannica, ''The New Encyclopædia Britannica'', (Encyclopædia Britannica: 2002), p.835 Located strategically on the
oil An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic (does not mix with water, literally "water fearing") and lipophilic (mixes with other oils, literally "fat loving"). Oils have a ...
route, the city has a deep
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, which serves as the region's main commercial harbour.


History


Antiquity

Berbera was part of the classical Somali city-states that engaged in a lucrative trade network connecting
Somali Somali refers to an East African tribe (ethnic group) native to Somalia, Somali Region in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somaliland, or North Eastern Province in Kenya. Horn of Africa * Somalis, an inhabitant or ethnicity associated with Greater Somali Region ...

Somali
merchants with
Phoenicia Phoenicia (; from grc, Φοινίκη, ') was an ancient Semitic-speaking thalassocratic civilization that originated in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily modern Syria and Lebanon. It was concentrated along the coast of ...
, Ptolemic Egypt,
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity ( AD 600). This era was immediately followed by the Early Middle ...
, Parthian Persia,
Saba Saba (; ) is a Caribbean island which is the smallest special municipality (officially “public body”) of the Netherlands. It consists largely of the potentially active volcano Mount Scenery, which at is the highest point of the entire Kingd ...
,
Nabataea The Nabataean Kingdom ( ar, المملكة النبطية, al-Mamlakah an-Nabaṭiyyah), also named Nabatea (), was a political state of the Arab Nabataeans during classical antiquity. The Nabataean Kingdom controlled many of the trade routes of t ...
and the
Roman Empire#REDIRECT Roman Empire#REDIRECT Roman Empire {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Roman Empire
. Somali sailors used the ancient Somali maritime vessel known as the ''
beden The Beden, badan, or alternate type names Beden-seyed and Beden-safar, is a fast, ancient Somali single or double-masted maritime vessel and ship, typified by its towering stern-post and powerful rudder. It is also the longest surviving sewn boat i ...

beden
'' to transport their cargo.''Journal of African History'' pg.50 by John Donnelly Fage and Roland Anthony Oliver Berbera preserves the ancient name of the coast along the southern shore of the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒌𐒖𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒏𐒖 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒑𐒜𐒆) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera'' is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the wes ...
. It is believed to be the ancient port of ''
Malao Malao ( grc, Μαλαὼ) was an ancient proto-Somali port city in present-day Somaliland. The town was situated on the site of what later became the city of Berbera. It was a key trading member involved in the Red Sea-Indian Ocean commerce in the ...
'' ( grc, Μαλαὼ) described as 800
stadia Stadia may refer to: * One of the plurals of stadium, along with "stadiums" * The plural of stadion, an ancient unit of distance * Stadia (Caria), a town of ancient Caria, now in Turkey * Stadia mark, marks on a telescopic sight's reticle that permi ...
beyond the city of the
Avalites Avalites (also spelled Avalitês, from grc, Αβαλίτες, Abalites) was an ancient port city in present-day Somaliland. It corresponds with what later became the city of Zeila. According to the ''Periplus of the Erythraean Sea'', Avalites was ...
, described in the eighth chapter of the
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea The ''Periplus of the Erythraean Sea'' ( grc, Περίπλους τῆς Ἐρυθρᾶς Θαλάσσης, ', modern Greek '), also known by its Latin name as the , is a Greco-Roman periplus written in Koine Greek that describes navigation and tra ...
, which was written by a Greek merchant in the first century AD. In the ''Periplus'' it is described as:


Middle Ages

Duan ChengshiDuan Chengshi () (died 863) was a Chinese poet and writer of the Tang Dynasty. He was born to a wealthy family in present-day Zibo, Shandong. A descendant of the early Tang official Duan Zhixuan (, ''Duàn Zhìxuán'') (-642), and the son of Duan Wen ...
, a Chinese
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. His ...
scholar, described in his written work of AD 863 the
slave trade Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
,
ivory trade The ivory trade is the commercial, often illegal trade in the ivory tusks of the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, mammoth, and most commonly, African and Asian elephants. Ivory has been traded for hundreds of years by people in Africa and Asia, res ...

ivory trade
, and
ambergris Ambergris ( or , la, ambra grisea, fro, ambre gris), ''ambergrease'', or ''grey amber'', is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. Freshly produced ambergris has a ma ...

ambergris
trade of Bobali, which is thought to be Berbera. The great city was also later mentioned by the Islamic traveller
Ibn Sa'id Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Mūsā ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī ( ar, علي بن موسى المغربي بن سعيد) (1213–1286), also known as Ibn Saʿīd al-Andalusī, was an Arab geographer, historian, poet, and the most important collector of p ...
as well as
Ibn Battuta Ibn Battuta (; 24 February 13041368/1369); fully: ; Arabic: was a Muslim Berber-Moroccan scholar, jurist and explorer who widely travelled the Old World, largely in the lands of Dar al-Islam, travelling more than any other explorer in pre-mode ...
in the thirteenth century. In
Abu'l-Fida Ismāʿīl b. ʿAlī b. Maḥmūd b. Muḥammad b. ʿUmar b. Shāhanshāh b. Ayyūb b. Shādī b. Marwān ( ar, إسماعيل بن علي بن محمود بن محمد بن عمر بن شاهنشاه بن أيوب بن شادي بن مروان), ...
's, ''A Sketch of the Countries'' ( ar, تقويم البلدان), the present-day
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒌𐒖𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒏𐒖 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒑𐒜𐒆) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera'' is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the wes ...
was called the Gulf of Berbera, which shows how important Berbera was in both regional and international trade during the medieval period. Legendary Arab explorer
Ahmad ibn Mājid Aḥmad ibn Mājid ( أحمد بن ماجد), known as "AmirAl Bahr Alarabi" in Arabic (أمير البحر العربي) which means "the prince of the sea" and known also as the ''Lion of the Sea'', was an Arab navigator and cartographer born ...
wrote of Berbera and a few other notable landmarks and ports of the northern Somali coast and referred to what is now the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒌𐒖𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒏𐒖 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒑𐒜𐒆) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera'' is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the wes ...
as the Gulf of Berbera. He also included
Zeila Zeila ( so, Saylac, ar, زيلع, Zayla), also known as Zaila or Zayla, is a Somali port city in the western Awdal region of Somaliland. In the Middle Ages, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela identified Zeila (or Hawilah) with the Biblical loca ...
and it's archipelago,
Siyara Siyara ( so, Siyaara) was a historic coastal settlement and fort located in the Sahil region of Somaliland. It served as the first capital of the Adal Sultanate following the Muslim resurgence spearheaded by Sabr ad-Din II.Pankhurst, Richard. ''The ...
, Heis,
Alula The alula , or bastard wing, (plural ''alulae'') is a small projection on the anterior edge of the wing of modern birds and a few non-avian dinosaurs. The word is Latin and means "winglet"; it is the diminutive of ''ala'', meaning "wing". The alu ...
,
Ruguda Ruguda, also known as Rakudah ( so, Ruguuda) is a historic coastal port town located in the Sanaag region of Somaliland, near Heis. Overview Ruguda is a coastal town approximately 38km away from the larger Heis town nearby. Other nearby cities and ...
,
Maydh Maydh (also transliterated as Mait or Meit) is an ancient port city in the eastern Sanaag region of Somaliland. History Antiquity According to Augustus Henry Keane, Maydh represents an early center of dispersal of the Somali people. National gene ...
, El-Sheikh and
El-Darad El-Darad ( so, Ceel Daraad) was a historic coastal settlement and fort located in the Sahil region of Somaliland. History Legendary 15th century Arab explorer Ahmad ibn Mājid wrote of El-Darad and several other notable landmarks and ports of th ...
. Berbera was an important and well built settlement that served as a major harbor port for several successive Somalis, Somali Kingdoms in the Middle Ages like the early Adal Kingdom, Ifat Sultanate and Adal Sultanate. Berbera, along with
Zeila Zeila ( so, Saylac, ar, زيلع, Zayla), also known as Zaila or Zayla, is a Somali port city in the western Awdal region of Somaliland. In the Middle Ages, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela identified Zeila (or Hawilah) with the Biblical loca ...
, were the two most important ports situated inside the Adal Sultanate, and they provided vital political and commercial links with the wider Islamic World:
''Original Text:'' To Adea belongs a very good Port, call’d Barraboa, whofe chief City is Arat, obeys a King, who is an enemy to the Abiffines. Barraboa and Zeila are places of great Trade, by reafon of the conveniency of their Ports, towards the entry into the Red-Sea. ''Modern English:'' To Adel belongs a very good port, called Barbara, whose chief city is Harar, obeys a King, who is an enemy to the Abyssinians. Barbara and Zeila are places of great trade, by reason of the conveniency of their ports, towards the entry into the Red Sea.
Along with other ports and settlements in East Africa and the Horn, explorers Duarte Barbosa and Leo Africanus wrote brief accounts of the port town of Berbera in the early sixteenth century, detailing her historic trading links with Aden and Khambat (Cambay):
Further on, on the same coast, is a town of the Moors [Muslims] called Barbara; it has a port, at which many ships of Adeni and Cambay touch with their merchandise, and from there those of Cambay carry away much gold, and ivory, and other things, and those of Aden take many provisions, meat, honey, and wax, because, as they say, it is a very abundant country.
At Barbara many ships of Aden and Cambay arrive with their merchandize for exchange; from whence they receive much flesh, honey, wax and victuals for Aden; and gold, ivory and other things for Cambay.
According to Selman Reis, an ambitious Ottoman Red Sea admiral, Berbera was rich with pearls, and the amount of merchandise and trade consisting of "gold, musk and ivory" present at Berbera, on the Somali coast, was described by Selman as "limitless".


Early Modern to Pre-Colonial

One of the earliest pre colonial accounts comes from Ibrahim Punkar, who wrote a memoir in 1801 and letter in 1809 to the Governor of Bombay Jonathan Duncan (Governor of Bombay), John Duncan. Noting that Berbera had 5-6 fortifications, towers with armed guards, he would go to describe the trade and general outlook of the city. Further noting the Somalis, Somali inhabitants adhering to the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam significant trade came from Harar in the interior alongside Gondar and Shewa. Cloth, rice and tobacco came from Kutch district, Kutch in Gujarat and Muscat with Mocha, Yemen, Mocha, Jeddah and Al Mukalla being the source of dates and tin. Punkar stated that the Somalis of the area were skilled musketeers and possessed powerful cavalry and knowledge of archery, but were often internally divided except for when united against common enemies. All foreigners including Arabs and Indian people, Indians who often frequented Berbera were prohibited from venturing further inland, lest they access the lucrative trade of Harar directly and bypass the Somalis. One certainty about Berbera over the following centuries was that it was the site of an annual fair, held between October and April, which Mordechai Abir describes as "among the most important commercial events of the east coast of Africa." The major Somali sub-clans of the Isaaq in
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Somaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a self-declared sovereign st ...
, caravans from Harar and the interior, and Banyan merchants from Porbandar, Mangalore and Mumbai gathered to trade. All of this was kept secret from European merchants. Lieutenant C. J. Cruttenden, who wrote a memoir describing this portion of the Somali coast dated 12 May 1848, provided an account of the Berbera fair and an account of the historic environs of the town: "an aqueduct of stone and chunam, some nine miles [15 km] in length", which had once emptied into a presently dry reservoir adjacent to the ruins of a mosque. He explored part of its course from the reservoir past a number of tombs built of stones taken from the aqueduct to reach a spring, above which lay "the remains of a small fort or tower of chunam and stone ... on the hill-side immediately over the spring." Cruttenden noted that in "style it was different to any houses now found on the Somali coast", and concluded with noting the presence in "the neighbourhood of the fort above mentioned [an] abundance of broken glass and pottery ... from which I infer that it was a place of considerable antiquity; but, though diligent search was made, no traces of inscriptions could be discovered." Berbera was the most important port in the Somali Peninsula between the 18th–19th centuries. For centuries, Berbera had extensive trade relations with several historic ports in Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. Additionally, the Somali and Ethiopian interiors were very dependent on Berbera for trade, where most of the goods for export arrived from. During the 1833 trading season, the port town swelled up to 70,000 people, and upwards of 6,000 camels laden with goods arrived from the interior within a single day. Berbera was the main marketplace in the entire Somali seaboard for various goods procured from the interior, such as livestock, coffee, frankincense, myrrh, acacia gum, saffron, feathers, wax, ghee, hide (skin), gold and ivory. In the trading season of 1840, French explorer Charles-Xavier Rochet d'Héricourt visited Berbera and estimated the total exports of the season to be around thirteen times greater than that of Massawa. According to a trade journal published in 1856, Berbera was described as “the freest port in the world, and the most important trading place on the whole Arabian Gulf.”:
“The only seaports of importance on this coast are Feyla [Zeila] and Berbera; the former is an Arabian colony, dependent of Mocha, but Berbera is independent of any foreign power. It is, without having the name, the freest port in the world, and the most important trading place on the whole Arabian Gulf. From the beginning of November to the end of April, a large fair assembles in Berbera, and caravans of 6,000 camels at a time come from the interior loaded with coffee, (considered superior to Mocha in Bombay), gum, ivory, hides, skins, grain, cattle, and sour milk, the substitute of fermented drinks in these regions; also much cattle is brought there for the Aden market.”
Historically, the port of Berbera was controlled indigenously between the mercantile Reer Ahmed Nur (Ayyal Ahmed) and Reer Yunis Nuh (Ayyal Yunis) sub-clans of the Sa'ad Musa, Habr Awal. These two sub-clans effectively administered the trade of the town, especially in the dealings of all transactions and brokerage between various parties to issuing protection agreements towards the foreign Arab and Indian traders. In the year 1845, the two sub-clans had a dissension over the control of the trade of Berbera, which lead to a wider altercation where each side sought outside support. With the backing of Haji Sharmarke Ali Saleh, the Reer Ahmed Nuh drove out their kinsmen and declared themselves the sole commercial masters of Berbera. The defeated Reer Yunis Nuh moved westwards and established the port of Bulhar which later, for a brief period, became a trading rival to nearby Berbera.
Before this, and prior to the British settlement at Aden in 1839, the Ayyal Yunis and Ayyal Ahmed lineages of the Habr Awal clan had held Berbera and jointly managed its trade, sharing in the profits on all commercial transactions as ‘protectors’ (abans) of foreign merchants from Arabia and India. When under the stimulus of developments at Aden the port’s prosperity markedly increased, the numerically dominant Ayyal Yunis drove out their rival kinsmen and declared themselves commercial masters of Berbera. This led to a feud in which each side sought outside help; the defeated Ayyal Ahmed turned to Haji Shirmarke ‘Ali and his Habr Yunis clansmen for support. With this backing, they were then able to re-establish themselves and to expel the Ayyal Yunis who moved to the small roadstead of Bulhar, some miles to the west of Berbera.
However, Sharmarke Ali Saleh, Sharmarke's actions was ultimately a political ruse to control Berbera for himself, which he ultimately achieved for several years. Berbera commanded most of the trade traffic with the Somali and Ethiopian interiors. The two main caravan trade routes from Berbera extended to Harar and Shewa in the west, and to the Shebelle River, Shebelle basin in the south (although some caravans traveled to/from as far as the Jubba River). Moreover, the inland caravan trade routes were also concurrently used as pilgrim routes during the trading season by Somalis, Somali Hajji, Hajj pilgrims who resided in the deep interior:
“The two routes to East Africa mentioned, namely that by the sea-board, and the second by way of Berbera, through Somali-land, are essentially trade routes, and are only subordinately and accidentally pilgrim routes. The Berbera route is that usually taken advantage of by the Somali pilgrims (except those living near the coast); and when the season of the pilgrimage agrees with the period when the annual caravans depart for Berbera, as it did in 1865, this route is always preferred; but when the seasons do not agree, the pilgrims strike off from the caravan route, and make their way direct to Mussuah, their course being to the east of Abyssinia.”
Mocha, Yemen, Mocha, Aden, Jeddah and several other ports in Arabia had constant contact with Berbera in regard to general trade and commerce:
Berbera was a major port of considerable antiquity which traded, with Shoa, Harar and the country of the interior, as well as with Jeddah, Mocha, Aden and other ports of Arabia and lands to the east even further afield.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, the local Somalis of Berbera (Habr Awal clan) had a navigation act where they excluded Arab vessels and brought the goods and produce of the interior in their own ships to the Arabian ports:
Berbera held an annual fair during the cool rain-free months between October and April. This long drawn out market handled immense quantities of coffee, gum Arabic, myrrh and other commodities. These goods in the early nineteenth century were almost exclusively handled by Somalis who, Salt says, had "a kind of navigation act by which they exclude the Arab vessels from their ports and bring the produce of their country either to Aden or Mocha in their own dows."
In much of the 19th century, the trade between Berbera and Aden was so important to the later that when disturbances effected the Berbera trading season, Aden too suffered as a result. According to Captain Haines, who was then the colonial administrator of Aden (1839-1854), 80% of Aden's revenue in 1848 was derived from duties charged on imported goods from Berbera. Additionally, most of the coffee imported by Mocha (centre of the coffee trade in early modern times) arrived from Habr Awal Somali merchants from Berbera, who procured the coffee beans from the environs of Harar. Although the coffee beans were grown in Harar (present-day Ethiopia), the coffee was named ''Berbera Coffee'' in the international market, and the beans were considered superior to the locally grown varieties in Yemen.
Among the exports which went out from Berbera and other similar fairs on the Somali coast was coffee which came from far inland at Harrar. Haines claimed that two thirds of the coffee shipped at Mocha came from this source. There was also a rising export of gum arabic which was much in demand in Europe and the United States. There were small quantities of those ancient and still valuable products, myrrh and frankincense. And there were hides and skins and flocks of sheep and goats for which the Aden garrison created a substantial demand. In the 1840s this trade was so important to Aden that when disturbances in Somaliland on occasion delayed the closing of the Berbera fair until after the end of Aden’s financial year, Haines regarded the trade figures for that year as totally unreal. And well he might, for no less than 80% of Aden’s revenue as late as 1848 came from duties charged on products brought in from Berbera.
According to Richard Francis Burton, who visited both Berbera and Harar during his travels, he repeated a famous Harari saying he heard in 1854:
"He who commands at Berbera, holds the beard of Harar in his hands."
The British explorer Richard Francis Burton, Richard Burton made two visits to this port, and his second visit was marred by an attack on his camp by a group of local Somali warriors, and although Burton was able to escape to Aden, one of his companions was killed. Burton, recognizing the importance of the port city wrote: By 1869, a sub-clan of the Reer Ahmed Nur (Ayyal Ahmed, Habr Awal) were operating a fort in the city and it was manned by several hired guards armed with muskets and fiercely loyal to them. A British officer visiting the city from Aden noted the guards would not betray the Reer Ahmed Nur save death.


Battle of Berbera

When a British vessel named the ''Mary Anne'' attempted to dock in Berbera's port in 1825 it was attacked and multiple members of the crew were massacred by the Habr Awal. In response the Royal Navy enforced a blockade and some accounts narrate a bombardment of the city. In 1827 two years later the British arrived and extended an offer to relieve the blockade which had halted Berbera's lucrative trade in exchange for indemnity. Following this initial suggestion the Battle of Berbera 1827 would break out. After the Habr Awal defeat, 15,000 Spanish dollars was to be paid by the Habr Awal leaders for the destruction of the ship and loss of life. Later in the 1830s, the Isaaq Sultanate, Isaaq Sultan Farah Guled and Haji Ali penned a letter to Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Ras Al Khaimah requesting military assistance and joint religious war against the British. This would not materialize as Sultan Saqr was incapacitated by prior Persian Gulf campaign of 1819 and was unable to send aid to Berbera. Alongside their stronghold in the Persian Gulf & Gulf of Oman the Qasimi were very active both militarily and economically in the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒌𐒖𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒏𐒖 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒑𐒜𐒆) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera'' is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the wes ...
and were given to plunder and attack ships as far west as the Mocha, Yemen, Mocha on the Red Sea. They had numerous commercial ties with the Somalis, leading vessels from Ras Al Khaimah and the Persian Gulf to regularly attend trade fairs in the large ports of Berbera and
Zeila Zeila ( so, Saylac, ar, زيلع, Zayla), also known as Zaila or Zayla, is a Somali port city in the western Awdal region of Somaliland. In the Middle Ages, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela identified Zeila (or Hawilah) with the Biblical loca ...
and were very familiar with the Isaaq.


British Somaliland

After signing successive treaties with the various clans of the northern Somali coast between 1884–1886, the British established a
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign ...
in the region referred to as British Somaliland. The British garrisoned the protectorate from Aden Settlement, Aden and administered it from their British Indian Empire, British India colony until 1898. British Somaliland was then administered by the Foreign Office until 1905 and afterwards by the Colonial Office. Despite Berbera's strategic location, being the only port with a sheltered harbor on the southern side of the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒌𐒖𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒏𐒖 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒑𐒜𐒆) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera'' is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the wes ...
(the gateway to the Suez Canal), the British later came to regret their nominal control of the region. In fact, Winston Churchill once visited Berbera in 1907 when he was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and he noted the protectorate be abandoned, since it was "unproductive, inhospitable, and the people are very hostile to occupation." The stated purposes of the establishment of the protectorate were to "secure a supply market and to exclude the interference of foreign powers." The British principally viewed the protectorate as a source for supplies of meat for their British Indian outpost in Colony of Aden, Aden through the maintenance of order in the coastal areas and protection of the caravan routes from the interior. Colonial administration during this period did not extend infrastructure beyond the coast (which left the Somali clans within the protectorate with greater autonomy), and contrasted with the more interventionist colonial experience of
Italian Somalia Italian Somaliland ( it, Somalia italiana, ar, الصومال الإيطالي ''Al-Sumal Al-Italiy'', so, Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy in present-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sulta ...
. However, there were plans in the early days of the protectorate to invest in major infrastructure projects such as the abandoned Berbera-Harar Railway initiative, which was vetoed by parliament on the grounds that it would harm the cordial agreement (entente cordiale) between France and Britain.
A railway from Berbera to Harrar in Abyssinia was suggested as a means of bringing the interior of the protectorate within easy access, and at the same time of catering for the trade of Abyssinia; but it was vetoed on the ground that to compete with the French railway from Jibouti to Adis Ababa would be poor policy at a time when the entente cordiale had just been firmly cemented.
In August 1940, during the East African Campaign (World War II), East African Campaign, British Somaliland was briefly Italian conquest of British Somaliland, occupied by Italy after a large invasion force defeated British colonial troops at the Battle of Tug Argan. During this period, the British rounded up soldiers and governmental officials to evacuate them from the territory through Berbera. In total, 7,000 people, including civilians, were evacuated.Playfair (1954), p. 178 The Somalis serving in the Somaliland Camel Corps were given the choice of evacuation or disbandment; the majority chose to remain and were allowed to retain their arms.Wavell
p. 2724
/ref> In March 1941, the British forces recaptured the protectorate during Operation Appearance after a six-month occupation. The Hugh Sweeny, first WW2 Australian POWs were taken hostage here in 1940. The British Somaliland protectorate gained its independence on 26 June 1960 as the
State of Somaliland The State of Somaliland (, ) was a short-lived independent country in the territory of present-day Somaliland. It was the name assumed by the former British Somaliland protectorate in the five days between June 26, 1960 and July 1, 1960, when t ...
, before uniting as planned five days later with the
Trust Territory of Somalia The Trust Territory of Somaliland, officially the "Trust Territory of Somaliland under Italian administration" (in Italian: ''Amministrazione fiduciaria italiana della Somalia'') was a United Nations Trust Territory situated in present-day Somalia ...
(the former
Italian Somalia Italian Somaliland ( it, Somalia italiana, ar, الصومال الإيطالي ''Al-Sumal Al-Italiy'', so, Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy in present-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sulta ...
) to form the
Somali Republic The Somali Republic ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliyeed, it, Repubblica Somala, ar, الجمهورية الصومالية ) was the name of a sovereign state composing of Somalia and Somaliland, following the unification of the Trust Territory of Som ...
.


Modern

In the post-independence period, Berbera was administered as the part of the North-Western province of the
Somali Republic The Somali Republic ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliyeed, it, Repubblica Somala, ar, الجمهورية الصومالية ) was the name of a sovereign state composing of Somalia and Somaliland, following the unification of the Trust Territory of Som ...
. It served as the main livestock port of the republic and in the 1970s and 1980s, nearly all of the livestock exports went out through the port of Berbera via Isaaq livestock traders. The entire livestock exports accounted to upwards of 90% of the Somali Republic's entire export figures in a given year, and Berbera's exports alone provided over 75% of the nation's recorded foreign currency income at the time. The main consumers were the wealthy gulf states and Saudi Arabia in particular. As early as 1962, The Soviet Union agreed to assist the nascent
Somali Republic The Somali Republic ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliyeed, it, Repubblica Somala, ar, الجمهورية الصومالية ) was the name of a sovereign state composing of Somalia and Somaliland, following the unification of the Trust Territory of Som ...
towards the construction of modern port facilities and a military base, which was completed in 1969 and was called on by sixteen Soviet Ships in 1971. Coinciding with the Ogaden War between The Somali Republic and Ethiopia in 1977, the Soviets left Berbera and the nation as a whole due to a disagreement, leaving the United States to arrive with a $40 million investment and new health facilities in 1980. By 1985, the city had an estimated population of 70,000, with the outbreak of the Somali Civil War the Somali National Movement (SNM) ousted government troops from the city following aerial bombardments and extrajudicial killings inflicted on the population by the government. With the downfall of General Siad Barre in 1991, the Northern region of the Somali Republic, declared the national independence of the Republic of
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Somaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a self-declared sovereign st ...
. A slow process of infrastructural reconstruction subsequently began in Berbera and other towns in the region. The city remains a competitive regional port and in 2016 a US$442 million agreement was reached between DP World and the government of
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Somaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a self-declared sovereign st ...
. The deal involves enhancing and operating the regional trade and logistics hub at the Port of Berbera. The project, which will be phased in, will also involve the setting up of a Free economic zone, free zone. On 1 March 2018, Ethiopia became a major shareholder following an agreement with DP World and the Somaliland Port Authority. DP World holds a 51% stake in the project, Somaliland 30% and Ethiopia the remaining 19%. As part of the agreement, the government of Ethiopia will invest in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway for the inland country, which is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. There are also plans to construct an additional berth at the Port of Berbera, in line with the Berbera master plan, which DP World has started implementing, while adding new equipment to further improve efficiencies and productivity of the port. The agreement comes as part of a larger government-to-government Memorandum of understanding between Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Somaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a self-declared sovereign st ...
to further strengthen their strategic ties. Somalia's attempts to obstruct and block the deal were frustrated and failed to stop the project from commencing. A rail link to Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia has remained a point of discussion and may materialize


Geography


Location and habitat

Berbera is located in coastal region of Somaliland Republic. An old port city, it has the only sheltered harbour on the southern side of the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒌𐒖𐒋𐒖𐒒𐒏𐒖 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒑𐒜𐒆) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera'' is a deepwater gulf between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the wes ...
. The landscape around town, along with Somaliland's coastal lowlands, is semi-arid land. Popular local beaches, such as Bathela and Batalale, have earned the city the nickname ''Beach City''.


Climate

Berbera features a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification ''BWh''). It has long, very hot summers and short, hot winters, as well as very little rainfall. Average high temperatures consistently exceed (104 °F) during nearly four months of summertime (June, July, August and September). Daytime heat on summer nights is high, with average low temperatures of around (86 °F). During the coolest months of the year, average high temperatures remain above (84.2 °F) and average low temperatures also surpass (68 °F). Although precipitation is low, the relative humidity is very high throughout the year and the atmosphere is simultaneously moist. The combination of the desert heat and the excessive moisture make Heat index, apparent temperatures reach extremely high levels. Annual average rainfall is minimal, with only (2.05 in) of precipitation. There are between 5 and 8 rainy days on average annually. Bright sunshine likely occur during about 84% of the total daytime hours and average annual cloudiness is very low.


Demographics

Historically, Berbera was inhabited by the Reer Ahmed Nuh and Yunis Nuh lineages of the Sa'ad Musa, Habr Awal. In more recent times, however, the Issa Musse, Issa Musa sub-clan of the Habr Awal have come to make up the majority of the town's inhabitants, as well as a significant Habr Yunis minority belonging to the Musa Abdallah branch.


Education

There are 30 primary schools operating in Berbera city totaling 63,641 students. The broader Berbera district has 49 schools serving 90,310 students.


Economy

A number of products are exported through the Port of Berbera, including livestock, gum arabic, frankincense, and myrrh. Its seaborne trade is chiefly with Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and Aden in Yemen, to the north. Additionally, goods from Ethiopia are also exported through the facility. The seaside boasts watersport tourist activity such as scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing and coral reefs.Somalia attractions, Berbera Seaside
retrieved 29 November 2013


Transportation

Berbera is the terminus of roads from
Hargeisa Hargeisa ( so, Hargeysa, ar, هرجيسا) is a city in the Maroodi Jeex region of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. It is the capital and largest city of Somaliland. The city later succeeded Berbera as the capital of the British Somaliland Protect ...
and Burco. The city has one of Somaliland's major class seaports, the Port of Berbera. It historically served as a naval and missile base for the Somali government. Following an agreement between the Somali Republic and the USSR in 1962, the port's facilities were patronized by the Soviets and was later significantly upgraded in 1969. The Berbera seaport was later expanded for U.S. military use, after the Somali authorities strengthened ties with the American government. For air transportation, the city is served by the Berbera Airport. It has an extensive runway.


References


External links

{{Commons category, Berbera
Berbera - Coordinates
Populated places in Sahil, Somaliland Gulf of Aden Port cities in Africa Cities in Somaliland Articles containing video clips Cities of the Adal Sultanate British Somaliland in World War II Isaaq Sultanate