Mogadishu, or Mogadiscio,, Somalia, the country's capital and main port. It is in eastern Africa on the Indian Ocean, 700 miles (1,100 km) northeast of Zanzibar. The sultan of Zanzibar sold this area to Italy in 1905. It was administered by Great Britain during 1941–50. Mogadishu became the capital of the trusteeship of Italian Somaliland in 1950 and of independent Somalia in 1960.

Famine and civil war in the late 1980's and early 1990's decimated Mogadishu and its government collapsed. In 1999 Mogadishu remained without a government. The city remained divided between rival political factions into the early 2000s, and periodic violence continued. In 2007 and 2008 violence increased as various Somali groups fought against each other, as well as against Ethiopian forces and international peacekeeping troops. Hundreds of thousands of Mogadishus people fled the fighting.