Mogadishu (; Somali: Muqdisho [mʉqdɪʃɔ]; Arabic: مقديشو, romanized: Muqadīshū [muqaˈdiːʃuː]; Italian: Mogadiscio), locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital and most populous city of Somalia. Located in the coastal Banadir region on the Somali Sea, the city has served as an important port for millennia.
A devastating civil war ruined this once beautiful city, leaving little but ruins. Beginning in 1991, various Islamist-, clan-, or warlord-affiliated militias had control over different parts of the city. In 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took full control, implementing their harsh version of islamic law. That same year, Ethiopia sent in troops to liberate the country, which, with help from local resistance fighters, saw the UIC ousted and the reinstatement of the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government. When Ethiopian forces withdrew in 2009, the hard-line Islamist group al-Shabaab, formed from UIC militiamen, saw an opportunity. Al-Shabaab began gradually taking control over Mogadishu, leaving the government to control only a paltry few square blocks. A counter-offensive, supported by African Union and Kenyan troops, cleared the city of militants in August 2011. Bombings and shootings are still commonplace, but open warfare has ceased for now. A major shortage of food and thousands of refugees have put enormous stress on the few government offices that are able to function. (This does not include Somaliland, which is an autonomous region in the north of Somalia. Somaliland is currently peaceful, and has been for the past 24 years. Somaliland has its own government and is said to be the most stable part of Somalia, despite not being internationally recognized.)