ZEILA, SOMALILAND – NOVEMBER 26: ruins from buildings destroyed during the civil war, Somaliland is a former Somali province that declared independence shortly after the Somali Civil War, in the early 1990’s, but is not internationally recognized yet, on November 26, 2011 in Zeila, Somaliland. Located on the Coast on the Northwestern part of Somaliland near to former French colony Djibouti, the port of Zeila is known for its beautiful natural setting: a large coral reef, mangroves as well as the cliffs and beaches surrounding the little port give Zeila a peculiar aspect.
With a population varying between 3,000 up to 7,000 in the cool season, it is a picturesque and cosmopolitan trading city since the 19th century, although Zeila port has been dethroned during the colonial time by French Somaliland port Djibouti and Southern Berbera port.
In the past, Zeila was the capital city of the Ifat sultanate, an influential power over the region from the 9th century on. It became a trade and learning hub in the 14th century, under the influence of Arab merchants settlement along the coast. The latter, supported by the coming of Muslim scholars from the Arabic peninsula, peacefully converted their trade partners to Islam. This is one of the ways Islam spread throughout Africa.
Later, Zeila was among the cities that flourished under the influence of Adal kingdom’s golden age with the construction of courtyards, mosques, shrines, and walled enclosures. The heyday was topped with the conquest of Christian Abyssinia in the 16th century. But it did not last and the Ethiopians eventually recouped the lost territories, leading to the displacement of Adal’s capital to Harar and the fall of Zeida.
Hardly anything remains of the old city since it was the bombed during the Somali civil war. Zeila hosts few tourists every year, who notably come for Scuba diving activities.
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