Merca
Overview
 
Merca is a port
Port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

 city on the coast of southern Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, facing the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. It is the main town in the Shabeellaha Hoose
Shabeellaha Hoose
Lower Shebelle is an administrative region in southern Somalia.-Overview:It is bordered by the Somalian regions of Banadir, Middle Shebelle, Hiran, Bay and Middle Juba, and the Indian Ocean...

 region, and is located approximately 70 km (43.5 mi) southwest of the nation's capital, Mogadishu
Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

.
Merca was established in the 5th century by the Biyomaal
Dir (clan)
The Dir , or Theyr bin Abdalla as mentioned in the book "Futuh al-Habasha", is a Somali clan. Its members mostly live in northwestern Somalia and Djibouti, in addition to southern and central Somalia and the Ogaden....

 clan. The first Somalis
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...

 arrived in the city in the 3rd century BC and gained control of the area and the local trade. The city of Merka was one of several prominent administrative centers in the Ajuuraan Empire.

The Biyomaal and the Ashraaf
Ashraaf
Ashraaf comes from Arabic and is the plural form of Sharif or Shareef , which literally means "noble" or "privileged". In some countries it used as a term to denote descendants of Muhammed . Among South Asian Muslims it used as a term for the Muslim gentry in South Asia, usually claiming Arab or...

 of Merca fought against the Italian colonialists of Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland , also known as Italian Somalia, was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy from the 1880s until 1936 in the region of modern-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sultanate of Hobyo and the Majeerteen Sultanate, the territory was later acquired by Italy through various...

 in a twenty-year war known as the Biyomaal and Ashraaf Revolt in which many of their warriors assassinated several Italian governors.
Encyclopedia
Merca is a port
Port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

 city on the coast of southern Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, facing the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. It is the main town in the Shabeellaha Hoose
Shabeellaha Hoose
Lower Shebelle is an administrative region in southern Somalia.-Overview:It is bordered by the Somalian regions of Banadir, Middle Shebelle, Hiran, Bay and Middle Juba, and the Indian Ocean...

 region, and is located approximately 70 km (43.5 mi) southwest of the nation's capital, Mogadishu
Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

.

History

Merca was established in the 5th century by the Biyomaal
Dir (clan)
The Dir , or Theyr bin Abdalla as mentioned in the book "Futuh al-Habasha", is a Somali clan. Its members mostly live in northwestern Somalia and Djibouti, in addition to southern and central Somalia and the Ogaden....

 clan. The first Somalis
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...

 arrived in the city in the 3rd century BC and gained control of the area and the local trade. The city of Merka was one of several prominent administrative centers in the Ajuuraan Empire.

The Biyomaal and the Ashraaf
Ashraaf
Ashraaf comes from Arabic and is the plural form of Sharif or Shareef , which literally means "noble" or "privileged". In some countries it used as a term to denote descendants of Muhammed . Among South Asian Muslims it used as a term for the Muslim gentry in South Asia, usually claiming Arab or...

 of Merca fought against the Italian colonialists of Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland , also known as Italian Somalia, was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy from the 1880s until 1936 in the region of modern-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sultanate of Hobyo and the Majeerteen Sultanate, the territory was later acquired by Italy through various...

 in a twenty-year war known as the Biyomaal and Ashraaf Revolt in which many of their warriors assassinated several Italian governors. During the Biyomaal and Ashraaf Revolt, several prominent leaders were killed. Monuments erected in their memory can still be found in Merca.

In the late 20th century, the town gained a reputation as a beach resort, although it was subsequently severely damaged during the Somali Civil War
Somali Civil War
The Somali Civil War is an ongoing civil war taking place in Somalia. The conflict, which began in 1991, has caused destabilisation throughout the country, with the current phase of the conflict seeing the Somali government losing substantial control of the state to rebel forces...

. On 13 November 2008, Al-Shabaab
Al-Shabaab (Somalia)
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen , more commonly known as al-Shabaab , is a terrorist group of militants fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia. As of 2011, the group controls large swathes of the southern parts of Somalia, where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia law...

 took control of the city.

Art

Although visual art is not popular in Somalia due to prevailing beliefs that it contradicts Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

's proscription on all forms of idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

, a lot of the known visual art in the country derives from the small historical town of Merca. Known for its beautiful white sandy beaches and orange dunes, the city's picturesque contrast of colors serves as an inspiration for local visual artists.
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