1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mukdishu
MUKDISHU (Magodoxo), a seaport of Italian Somaliland, East Africa, in 2° 1' N., 45° 24' E. It is built on the sandy coast which separates the Webi Shebeli from the sea. The harbour is open. Mukdishu, formerly extensive, is largely in ruins; it consists of two villages, Hamarhwin to the south and Shingani to the north. There are some houses in the Moorish style and a mosque among the ruins bears date 636 A.H. (i.e. A.D. 1238). Between the two settlements is the governor's palace and north of the town is a massive square tower built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The population, about 5000, is mainly composed of descendants of negro slaves known as Abesh. There are also Somali, Arab and Hindu settlers. Mukdishu is mentioned by Marco Polo and described by Ibn Batuta as an “immense” city. This was in the early part of the 14th century. It was a flourishing port and had many fine mosques when captured by the Portuguese (about 1510). Under Portugal the place fell into decay. It passed in the 17th century into the possession of the imams of Muscat, but in the 18th century became practically independent. It was reconquered by Seyyid Said c. 1830, and on the division of his dominions fell to Zanzibar. In 1892 it was transferred to Italy (see Somaliland, Italian). The name of the town is spelt in a great variety of ways, including Madeigascar, whence the name of the island of Madagascar. Alfred Grandidier points out that the Portuguese, misled by Marco Polo's description of Mukdishu as an island, fancied they had discovered the land of which he wrote when they touched at Madagascar.