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Merca (Somali: Marka, Arabic: مركة) is an ancient port city in the southern Lower Shebelle (Shabellaha Hoose) region of Somalia. Facing the Indian Ocean, it is the main town in the province. It is located approximately 109 km (68 mi) to the southwest of the nation's capital, Mogadishu.
Merca was established in the 5th century by the Biyomaal of present day Somalia. The first Somalis arrived in the city in the 3rd century BCE and gained control of the area and the local trade. 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 southern half of the Horn region.
The Bimaal Sultanate of Marka fought against the Italian colonialists of Italian Somaliland in a twenty-year war known as the Bimaal revolt in which many of their warriors assassinated several Italian governors. During the Bimaal Revolt, several prominent leaders were killed as well. Monuments erected in their memory can still be found in Marka.
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.
- Herbert S. Lewis, "The Origins of the Galla and Somali", in The Journal of African History. Cambridge University Press, 1966, pp 27–30.
- Somalia City & Town Population. Tageo.com.
- "Istanbul conference on Somalia 21 – 23 May 2010 - Draft discussion paper for Round Table "Transport infrastructure"". Government of Somalia. Retrieved 31 August 2013.