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Giohar, Villabruzzi
(Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi)
Jowhar is located in Somalia
Location in Somalia
Coordinates: 2°47′N 45°30′E / 2.783°N 45.500°E / 2.783; 45.500
Country Somalia
RegionMiddle Shabelle
 • TypeMayor-Council-Commission
 • Total10 sq mi (25 km2)
300 ft (100 m)
 • Total16,000
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)
Area code(s)061
Shebelle River

Jowhar (Somali: Jowhaar, Arabic: جوهر‎, Italian: Giohar, formerly Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi or simply Villabruzzi) is the capital city of Hirshabelle state of Somalia. Jowhar is also the administrative capital of Middle Shabelle region of Somalia.

Along with Baidoa, it used to form the joint administrative capital of the Transitional Federal Government, which it captured from the Islamic Courts Union.

The city lies 90 km (50 mi) along a major road north of the national capital of Mogadishu.


Middle Shabelle

It is an administrative region in Southern Somalia that consists of four districts: Jowhar (the regional capital), Balad, Adale, Aden Yabal. Middle Shabelle is named after the Shebelle River which passes through the region for 150kilometers. It borders Galgaduud to the North, Hiraan to the West, Lower Shabelle and Banadir region to the South and the Indian Ocean to the East.

The region supports livestock production, rain-fed and irrigated agriculture and fisheries. The total population in the region is estimated at 514, 901. As of September 2014, the region hosts an estimated 51,000 IDPs (UNHCR total IDPs per region report, September 2014). The Middle Shabelle region has faced multiple hazards and calamities ranging from floods, low rainfall resulting in chronic food security and clan conflicts by

Jowhar is a place in southern Somalia, located on the Shabeelle River, about 90 kilometers north of the capital Mogadishu.

Jowhar has about 68,000 inhabitants. It is the main place in the Shabeellaha Dhexe region. Jowhar was founded by Luigi Amadeo of Savoy and was named during the colonial era Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi or Villabruzzi.

It became a regional capital in the mid-1980s since the capital Mogadishu was broken out of the province and formed its own administrative unit.

During the Middle Ages, Jowhar and much of the surrounding area in southern Somalia was governed by the Ajuran Empire.[1] The town later came under the administration of the Hiraab Sultanate in the late 17th century after the collapse of the powerful Ajuran Empire. At the turn of the 20th century, Jowhar was incorporated into Italian Somaliland protectorate. After independence in 1960, the city was made the center of the official Jowhar District.

The Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi was founded by a senior member of the Italian Royal Family, H.R.H. Principe Luigi Amedeo, Duca degli Abruzzi in 1920, who first came to the African continent in 1905 and liked the place. The Duke raised funds to build dams, roads, a railway, schools, hospitals, a church and a mosque. He eventually married a Somali woman and died in his village.[2]

Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi[edit]

The village called Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi (or Villabruzzi) was founded as an agricultural settlement in Italian Somalia experimenting with new cultivation techniques. In 1926, the colony comprised 16 villages, with some 3,000 Somali and 200 Italian inhabitants. It was commonly known as Villabruzzi.

Jowhar Albergo Hotel 1938

Situated in the Hawiye Somali clan strongholds between Galjecel, Abgaal, and Shiidle, the area is of strategic importance. It is also of considerable economic value notably due to its banana, cotton and sugar plantations.

Starting around 1911, Italians like the Duca degli Abruzzi started to take the local farmers and resettle them in specific new villages in an attempt to improve the economy of Italian Somalia. The area around Villabruzzi was the most agriculturally developed of Somalia before World War II and had some food industries.[3]

In 1940, Villabruzzi had a population of 12,000, of whom nearly 3,000 were Italian Somalis, and enjoyed a notable level of development as a small manufacturing area.

The Italians, who believed in the economic potential of the region, also built a railway system that linked Jowhar to Mogadishu for the next thirty years, and was used mainly to export bananas and coffee to Europe.

At independence, the vacuum created by the outgoing Italians was not filled by the new Somali élites in charge, as the latter deemed the cattle trade and urban assets more profitable.

After World War II[edit]

Political map of Somalia showing the location of Jowhar (here spelled "Giohar"), north of Mogadishu, with a red dot.

Jowhar changed name from the Italian Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi to the current name in 1960, when Somalia gained its independence. Giohar is another spelling of the same name.

With a "socialist" regime in 1969, such a fertile land was nationalized and was only available to cultivators through fifty-year leases. The government fixed the prices of agricultural products and could purchase up to 80% of the harvests. Under Co-operative Act n°70 of 1973, petty farmers were expropriated again to leave place for the State orientated Fanoole Rice Farm, Mogambo Irrigation Project and Juba Sugar Complex.

Jowhar only became the regional capital in the mid-1980s when Mogadishu was taken out of Shabeellaha Dhexe to form its own region, Banaadir.

Administrative capital[edit]

As part of a 2004 agreement, Jowhar and the town of Baidoa were to form a joint administrative capital of the Transitional Federal Government, sited away from Mogadishu for security reasons. Continued fighting threatened to derail the peace process. However, in July 2005, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed relocated to the town from his base in Bosaso, moving the process forward and joining Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi, who had already been resident in the town for a month. Part of the parliament became based in Jowhar, while some ministries were established in Mogadishu.[4] By February 2006, despite Ghedi's security concerns, the two leaders had left to Baidoa, where it was decided the parliament would convene.[5]

Recent history[edit]

On December 27, 2006, the internationally backed transitional government forces, united with Ethiopian troops, recaptured Jowhar from the Islamic Courts Union.[6]

On May 17, 2009, the Islamist al-Shabab militia took the town,[7] and imposed new rules, including a ban on handshaking between men and women.[8]

On December 9, 2012, Somali National Army forces assisted by AMISOM troops re-captured the city from the militants.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lee V. Cassanelli, The Shaping of Somali Society: Reconstructing the History of a Pastoral People, 1600-1900, (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1982), p.102.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2013-11-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "SOMALIA UN PAESE DIMENTICATO". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  4. ^ Interim Somali government to relocate to Baidoa and Jowhar Archived 2006-06-22 at the Wayback Machine, Voice of Africa, 23 March 2005
  5. ^ "Somali PM unhappy with new deal". 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via
  6. ^ Ethiopian, Somali Troops Regain Jowhar, FOX News, 27 December 2006
  7. ^ Somali militants capture key town, BBC, 17 May 2009
  8. ^ "Mixed-sex handshakes banned". 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via
  9. ^ "In Somalia, African Union and gov't troops take town from Islamist extremists of al-Shabab". Associated Press. 9 December 2012. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2012.


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