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Africa 2006,

While early civilizations were flourishing in the lower Nile Valley several thousand years ago, there was a migration southward into this region. Most of these early settlers were Cushites of caucasoid origin such as the Berbers and the ancient Egyptians and Nubians. About 1,500 years ago Negroid peoples arrived from the west and in the course of time extensive intermixing occurred. Arab and Persian merchant mariners founded the port of Mogadishu in the 10th Century and subsequently Merca, Brava, Kismayu, Lamu, Kilwa and other settlements further to the south. First the Hawiya Cushite clan near Mogadishu and in the ensuing years most others adopted the Muslim faith. In the 16th Century the area bordering the Gulf of Aden was part of the Turkish Ottoman empire. The Portuguese controlled the coastal centers in the south but were driven out early in the 18th Century by the Omani Arabs who gained control of the coast from Zanzibar and Mombasa to Mogadishu. Through all this activity the Somali peoples remained divided. At the height of the colonial era at turn of the 19th Century the Somalis were ruled by three European powers-France, Britain and Italy-and Ethiopia, in five separate regions. By mutual agreement, Italian and British Somaliland were united and given their independence as the united Republic of Somalia in 1960, while French Somaliland became the independent Republic of Djibouti in 1977. Somalis continue to live in Kenya's North-West Frontier province and in Ethiopia's Ogaden desert. After a brief period of democracy, the Republic of Somalia fell under the power of General Mohammed Siad Barre, who nationalized the economy as part of his economically disastrous policy of "scientific socialism."