Biggest Cities In Somalia

Mogadishu​ is Somalia's biggest city. Editorial credit: M DOGAN /
Mogadishu​ is Somalia's biggest city. Editorial credit: M DOGAN /

Mogadishu is the largest city in Somalia with a population of at least 1.7 million. Somali has a population of over 10 million, 60% of whom are estimated to live in rural areas. The rest of the residents live in the country’s cities and towns.

Due to political unrest, it is rather difficult to accurately assess the population of the towns and cities in Somalia. These numbers come from UN estimates

Biggest Cities In Somalia


Mogadishu is home to at least 1.7 million inhabitants, 85% of whom are Somali by ethnicity while the rest are Bantu, Arabs, and immigrants. Mogadishu started off as a trade center when it was established in the 10th century by the Arabs. Strategically located on the Indian Ocean’s shoreline, Mogadishu became a chief port in the region and grew wealthy due to trade in ivory, gold, slaves among other commodities. The lucrative trade attracted invaders keen to capture the port such as the Portuguese in the 16th century. Mogadishu became the capital of Italian Somaliland in 1905 after the Italians purchased it from the Sultan of Zanzibar. Somali became an independent state in 1960, with the capital being Mogadishu.

Mogadishu, due to its white beaches and popularity as a tourist destination, gained the nickname white pearl. However, the Civil War that broke out in 1990 has devastated the city and reduced its global popularity. Although the city has been rebuilding, it still lacks necessary amenities such as health, education, and housing facilities. The informal sector employs most of its inhabitants, 43% of whom are estimated living in conditions of extreme poverty. A positive trend in the last few years has been the return of refugees and migrants to the city, most of whom have skilled labor in various fields.


Hargeysa has a population of around 779,000 people. It is the capital city of Somaliland. Hargeysa is known for being a retail hub and center for industry. The city has a education system and is home to multiple universities.


Merca is a city of around 524,000 located south of Mogadishu. It is found around 70 miles southwest of Mogadishu. The city was an important center for food and trade during the time of Italian Somalia. 


Berbera is a city in Somaliland. It is estimated that around 393,000 people live in the city. Berbera has a deep history as an important spot in the Horn of Africa. It has a harbour on the Gulf of Aden that 


Kismaayo is in southern Somalia, in a state called Jubaland. It is estimated to be the fifth-largest city in Somalia by population. 

Rebuilding of Cities

Although devastated by the civil war, Somali’s cities have been undergoing reconstruction to become economic, tourist, and cultural hubs in the country as well as in East Africa.

Biggest Cities In Somalia

RankCityPopulation (thousands)
1Mogadishu 1 783

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