Merca ( so, Marka, ar, مركة) is an ancient port city in the southern Lower Shebelle province of
Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the Northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Oce ...
. It is located approximately to the southwest of the nation's capital
. Merca is the traditional home territory of the 12 Koofi and Bimal clan and was the center of the Bimal Revolt or Merka Revolt.http://www.landinfo.no/asset/2736/1/2736_1.pdf Marka is the traditional home territory of the Dir clan Biimaal (Lewis 2008, p. 5).



The city of Essina is believed to have been the predecessor state of Merca. It used to be an ancient Proto-Somali Marketplace, emporium city-state. It is mentioned in the ''Periplus of the Erythraean Sea'', a Greek travel document dating from the first century AD, as one of a series of commercial ports on the Somali littoral. According to the ''Periplus'', maritime trade already connected peoples in the Merca area with other communities along the Somali Sea coast.

Medieval Period

According to 12th century author Muhammad al-Idrisi, Al-Idrisi the Hawiye occupied the coastal areas between Ras Hafun and Merca, as well as the lower basin of the lower Shebelle River, Shabelle river. Al-Idrisi's mention of the Hawiye is the first documentary reference to a specific Somali group in the Horn. Later Arab writers also make references to the Hawiye clan in connection with both Merca and the lower Shabelle valley. Ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi, Ibn Sa'id (1214–74), for instance, considered Merca to be the capital of the Hawiye, who lived in fifty villages on the bank of a river which he called ''the nile of Mogadishu'', a clear reference to the Shabelle river. Yaqut al-Hamawi, another thirteen-century Arab geographer also mentions Merca, which he says belonged to the ''Black Berbers'' considered ancestors of modern Somalis. During the Middle Ages, the area was one of several prominent administrative centers of the Ajuran Sultanate. The polity formed one of the largest kingdoms in the Horn of Africa, Horn region. Various pillar tombs exist in the region, which local tradition holds were built in the 15th century, when the Sultanate's Somali aristocratic and court titles, naa'ibs governed the district. According to Ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi, Ibn Sa'id in the thirteenth century described nearby Merca as one of the three most important cities on the East African coast along with
and Barawa all serving as the commercial and Islamic centers for the Indian Ocean. Following the decline of Ajuran Sultanate. In the vicinity of Merca, a mysterious group known as the El Amir believe to be from the Abgaal origin made its appearance in the late 17th century. According to an account collected by Guillain in 1847, a leader known as Amir formed a following which invaded the territory of Merca and expelled the Ajuran (clan), Ajuran clan. The El Amir then ruled for thirty-four years until the Biimaal expelled them and definitively occupied Merca.

Early Modern

One of the most powerful sultanates to have emerged from Southern Somalia called the Geledi Sultanate centered in Afgooye in the late 17th century. It incorporated the Merca territory into its kingdom until the Bimaal rebelled in the mid-1800s for independence. The Sultanate of Geledi tried to attack and destroy the Bimaal clan many times to try and re-capture the coastal city of Merca. But the Bimal of Merca managed to defeat the Geledi Sultanate 2 times. In 1843 Yusuf Mahamud Ibrahim, Yusuf Mahamud, Sultan of Geledi, vowed to destroy the Bimaal for once and for all and mobilizes the Geledi army. In 1848 the sultan of the Geledi, Yusuf Mahamud was is killed at Adaddey Suleyman, a village near Merca, in a battle between the Bimaal and Geledi Sultanate. His son Sultan Ahmed Yusuf (Gobroon), Ahmed Yusuf tried to see revenge but was also killed in 1878 at Agaaran, near Marka by the Bimal. This caused a steady decline in the Geledi Sultanate.

Bimal Revolt

The ''Bimal revolt'', ''Bimal resistance'', or ''Banadir resistance'' was a guerrilla war against the Kingdom of Italy, Italian Somaliland in southern
Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the Northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Oce ...
. It was fought from the years 1896 to 1926 and largely concentrated in the Lower Shebelle, Banadir Region, Banadir and Middle Shebelle. The war was centered around Merka and Danane. It is compared to the war of the Mad Mullah in northern Somalia. Named after the Bimal clan since they were the major element in the resistance. For more about Bimal or Merca revolt see:


In the 1930s a group of Italian Somalis established residency in Merca. The Port of Merca was the second in Italian Somalia and was nicknamed the "port of bananas" due to its status as a key exporter of bananas from Somalia to Europe. In the city of Merca there was a huge economical development in the 1930s, due mainly to the growing commerce of the port of Merca connected by small railway to the farm area of Genale Dorya, Genale. Merca was abandoned by government forces and captured by Al-Shabaab (militant group), Al-Shabaab in February 2016. It was recaptured by the Somali National Army along with African Union Mission to Somalia, African Union troops, a few days later. A small battle was fought in which a Somali soldier, several militants, and four civilians died.


According to the UNDP in 2005 Merca had a population of around 63,900 inhabitants. it is primarily inhabited by Somalis from the Bimaal sub-clan of Dir (clan), Dir.


Merca has a jetty-class seaport, the Port of Merca. The nearest airport to the city is the K50 Airport in the Lower Shebelle province.

Notable people

*Asha Jama, social activist, and former TV reporter and journalist. *Sheikh Abdi Abikar Gafle, Sheikh Abibakar Gafle, described as one of the best known resistance leaders in Southern Somalia and from Merca. *Ali Maow Maalin, the last person known to have been naturally infected by ''Variola minor'' smallpox

See also

*Port of Merca *


External links

Marka, Somalia
{{Authority control Ajuran Sultanate Populated places in Lower Shebelle Populated coastal places in Somalia