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Merca (Somali: Marka, Arabic: مركة) is an ancient port city on the coast of southern Somalia, facing the Indian Ocean. It is the main town in the Lower Shebelle (Shabellaha Hoose) region, and is located approximately 109 km (68 mi) southwest of the nation's capital, Mogadishu.
Merca was established in the 5th century by the Biyomaal clan. The first Somalis arrived in the city in the 3rd century BCE and gained control of the area and the local trade. The city of Merca was one of several prominent administrative centers in the Ajuuraan Empire.
The Biyomaal of Merca fought against the Italian colonialists of Italian Somaliland in a twenty-year war known as the Biyomaal in which many of their warriors assassinated several Italian governors. During the Biyomaal 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. On 13 November 2008, Al-Shabaab took control of the city. It was later recaptured on 27 August 2012 by Somali National Army (SNA) forces assisted by AMISOM troops.
As of 2000, Merca had a population of around 230,100 inhabitants. Local residents hail from various clans and ethnic groups, with the Biyomaal well-represented.
Although visual art is not popular in Somalia due to prevailing beliefs that it contradicts Islam's proscription on all forms of idolatry, 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.
- Alan Boswell, Abdi Ibrahim (27 August 2012). "Al Shabab flees Somali port of Merca ahead of African Union troops". McClatchy Newspapers. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Somalia City & Town Population. Tageo.com. Retrieved on 2011-12-15.
- "Istanbul conference on Somalia 21 – 23 May 2010 - Draft discussion paper for Round Table "Transport infrastructure"". Government of Somalia. Retrieved 31 August 2013.