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date: 06 December 2023

Long Distance Trade in Somalia, 1st–19th Centuries adlocked

Long Distance Trade in Somalia, 1st–19th Centuries adlocked

  • Alfredo González RuibalAlfredo González RuibalIncipit-CSIC


For over two millennia, the shores of Somalia have been the scenario of intense long distance interactions that reached as far away as India and China. The resources of the region and its strategic geographic location—a crossroads between Africa, Asia, and Europe—explain its prominent role in the Indian Ocean trade. Somalia was intensely integrated in this network, but at the same time developed its own forms of trade. From early on, the regions in the north (today’s Somaliland and Puntland) and the south (the Benadir coast) followed divergent trajectories, with the Benadir developing a strong urban tradition, while on the northern coast, trade remained associated with open seasonal fairs. At the same time, some elements were common to both regions and persisted through time, including local protectors (abbaan), trading diasporas (from Arabia, Iran, and India), caravans, and nomadic communities. Drawing on historical and archaeological research, this article examines the evolution of long distance relations in the Somali territories from the time of the Indo-Roman trade to the onset of colonialism in the late 19th century.


  • East Africa and Indian Ocean

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