country of E Africa, on the Indian Ocean & the Gulf of Aden: formed by the merger of British Somaliland & Italian Somaliland (1960): 246,201 sq mi (637,657 sq km); cap. Mogadishu
A country of extreme eastern Africa on the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Arab and Persian traders established outposts in the region starting in the 7th century. European colonization began in the late 19th century, with hegemony over the region passing several times between Britain and Italy before the establishment of the independent republic of Somalia in 1960. A coup in 1969 led to military rule, which collapsed in 1991 with the outbreak of a civil war. In subsequent years, no single faction succeeded in establishing a unified government over the country. Mogadishu is the capital and the largest city.