Lighthouses of Somalia
Shaped something like a fish hook, Somalia is located on
the Horn of Africa, the northeastern corner of the continent. The country
was formed in 1960 by uniting the former British Somaililand, which faces
north on the Gulf of Aden, with the former Italian Somaliland, which faces
east southeast on the Indian Ocean.
This union has never been complete, and since 1991 the southern part
of the country has been splintered by repeated warfare. The
Federal Government of Somalia is recognized by the United Nations and is attempting
to create a federal state, but much of the country has been in the hands of
various warlords or the Islamist Al Shahaab movement. The northern regions of Galmudug and
Puntland have autonomous governments which say they are willing to be
considered states within a federal Somalia. The Republic of Somaliland,
which controls about 2/3 of the former British Somaliland, declared its
independence of Somalia in 1991 and has been seeking international recognition.
Lighthouses of Somaliland are described on a separate
Under these unsettled and dangerous conditions, it is difficult to determine
the status of the lighthouses. The lighthouses in Somaliland are apparently
operating, but the others are probably abandoned and falling into ruin.
Current information on any of these sites would certainly be welcome.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty
numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog
Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.
- General Sources
- Lighthouses in Somalia
- Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
- World of Lighthouses - Somalia
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
- Lighthouses of Africa
- Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.
- Navigation chart covering the Puntland area.
Ra's Asir (Cape Guardafui) Light, March 2013
Panoramio photo copyright Oscar de Vogel; used by permission
- Puntland Lighthouses
Note: Puntland is
a region at the northeastern corner of Somalia that declared itself
autonomous, though not independent, in 1998. The government of Puntland has made
attempts to suppress piracy along its coasts, although piracy remains
a problem. In 2017 the Dubai-based company DP World signed an agreement to develop
the region's principal port, Bosaso (formerly Bandar Qasim)
on the Gulf of Aden.
Puntland has been the most stable region of Somalia in recent years.
- * Bosaso (Bossaso, Boosaaso, Bandar
Cassim, Bandar Qasim) Range Rear (1)
- Date unknown. Apparently inactive since 2004. 13 m (43 ft) black
and white banded tower. No lantern. Lightphotos.net has a view of the light, and Google has a satellite view. The Admiralty
Notices to Mariners (2004#22) reported that the Bosaso range lights
had been replaced by new lights on a slightly different heading,
but that the old structures were left in place. The new rear light
(red light, 2 s on, 2 s off) was described by another Admiralty notice in 2008 as being on a "white
post," height not listed, with a red diamond daymark. Located in
Bosaso. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS SOM-001; Admiralty D7260.1;
- Caluula (Alula)
- Date unknown. Presumably inactive, but listed withfocal plane 16 m (52 ft); two white flashes every 16 s. 13 m (43 ft) square cylindrical white concrete tower, unpainted. A photo is at right, and Bing has a satellite view. There's no evidence of an active port here. Located on the waterfront at Caluula, a village about 50 km (30 mi) west of Cape Guardafui. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D7256;
- Ra's Caseyr (Ra's Asir, Cape Guardafui, Faro Francesco Crispi) (2)
- Early 1930s (station established 1924). Inactive and abandoned. 19 m (63 ft) round cylindrical masonry tower, originally with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square
stone base. Oscar de Vogel's photo is at the top of this page, Alberto Alpozzi has a photo, a 2016 photo is available, and the shadow of the tower and remains
of several buildings can be seen in a Bing satellite
view of the station. Wikimedia has a historic photo of the intact lighthouse; the lantern is now gone and the abandoned buildings are in ruins. Forand has a historic postcard view of the original lighthouse, a skeletal tower. Ra's Asir
is the point of the Horn of Africa, the northeastern tip of the continent.
This historic lighthouse is described by the international light
lists as "unreliable"; in fact it has been abandoned, and the surrounding
area is quite desolate. It had a focal plane of 263 m (863 ft) making it one of Africa's highest lighthouses. The lighthouse was originally named for Francesco Crespi, who served two terms as Prime Minister of Italy between 1887 and 1896. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-003; Admiralty
D7246; NGA 31072.
Caluula (Alula) Light
unattributed photo posted to Twitter by @Soomaalikabe on 16 March 2017
- Ra's Hafun (Xaafuun)
- Date unknown. Inactive; listed with focal plane 107 m (351 ft), two white flashes every 35 s. 13 m (42 ft) concrete post centered on a square concrete building. Lightphotos.net has a photo, a 2010 photo is available, and the abandoned station is seen in a Google satellite view. Ra's Hafun is a sharp promontory sheltering the fishing port of Hafun. Puntland plans some economic development of Hafun, so the light might be reactivated. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-011; Admiralty D7242;
- Note: Galmudug is a region in central Somalia. An autonomous regional government was established in 2006, but it has not been recognized formally by the provisional federal government due to a territorial dispute with Puntland.
- Hobyo (Obbia)
- Date unknown. Inactive; listed with focal plane 32 m (105 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) square cylindrical tower, originally painted with black and white horizontal bands.
No photo available, but a Google satellite view probably shows this lighthouse.
Note: there are several photos on the Internet captioned as Hobyo lighthouse, but they appear to be misidentifications of other towers. Located in Hobyo, a small town about 500 km (315 mi) northeast of Mogadishu.
The town has no regular port facilities, only
a small, partially-protected anchorage. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-008;
Admiralty D7236; NGA 31088.
- Moqdishu (Mogadishu) Main (2?)
- Date unknown (station established 1903). Inactive; listed with focal plane 74 m (243 ft), white flash every 12.5 s. Described by
current light lists as a 10 m (33 ft) white masonry tower with a focal
plane of 74 m (243 ft). Originally, this was a 17 m square tower with
lantern and gallery. No current photo available. The library of the Swiss Institute of Technology
has the 1912 photo at right,
a more distant historic
view is available, and Google has a satellite view. The history of this building is unknown, but the present tower appears to be the same as the one in the 1912 photo. Mogadishu, the national
capital and former capital of Italian Somaliland, is generally under
the control of the Transitional Government, which had driven out Al Shahaab forces by the end of 2011. Located on a ridge about 1.5 km (1 mi) northwest
of the harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-007; Admiralty D7218;
Lower Shebelle Lighthouses
- Merka (Merca, Marka) Range Rear (2?)
- Date unknown (station established 1912). Inactive. 17 m (56 ft) white round
concrete tower. Forand has a
historic postcard view, and Bing has an indistinct satellite
view. Huelse has a different postcard view showing a skeletal concrete tower. Merca is a town 109 km (68 mi) southwest of Mogadishu. The front
light is on a post near the shore. The area was controlled by Al Shahaab for several years, but it was recaptured by the Transitional Government in August 2012. Merca has no protected harbor, only an open roadstead. Note: accurate information on the history of this range is lacking, and this had led to considerable confusion. Located on the west side of Merka,
above the roadstead. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-006.
- Merka (Merca, Marka) Range Rear (3?)
- Date unknown (station established 1912). Active (?); focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white light, 2 s on, 6.5 s off. 17 m (56 ft) round white concrete tower. No photo available, but the tower is probably centered in Bing's satellite view. Located in the city about 400 m (1/4 mi) north of the historic lighthouse. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7212.1; NGA 31140.
Mogadishu Main Light, 1912
ETH Zurich Creative Commons image
- Barawa (Baraawa, Brava)
- 1912. Inactive. Approx. 18 m (56 ft) square concrete tower with gallery;
the lantern has vanished. Nicola Prisco's photo is at right,
Ibrahim Xasan has a 2017 distant view, Saalah Baana has a fuzzy photo, Abdullahi Kassim has a 1983 photo, Huelse has a historic postcard
view of the lighthouse when it was active, and Google has a satellite view. Barawa was under Al Shahaab's control from 2009 to 2014 and functioned as the group's capital. The central government's control remains precarious in this area. Located on an island sheltering the harbor of Barawa,
a port about 160 km (100 mi) southwest of Mogadishu. Accessible only
by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-002.
Note: These lighthouses are in Jubaland,
a region at the southwestern corner of Somalia. Much of Jubaland was formerly
claimed by Britain as part of Kenya, but Britain ceded its claims to Italy
in 1924. The region had been controlled by Al Shahaab, but in
2010 a new administration took power, with Kenyan support, and declared the
region to be an autonomous state (similar to Puntland). The Jubaland administration and the transitional government in Mogadishu reached an agreement in August 2013 recognizing the autonomous status of the territory.
- Juba River (Fiume Giuba)
- 1912(?). Inactive. 9 m (30 ft) black square masonry tower on white truncated
pyramid. No photo available. The survival of this beacon had been questionable, but the station is shown in a Bing satellite view.
Located at the mouth of the Juba River about 16 km (10 mi) northeast of Kismayo (Kismayu).
Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-004; Admiralty D6852; NGA 31156.
Barawa Light, November 1986
Flickr photo copyright Nicola Prisco; used by permission
- Isola dei Serpenti (Kismayu, Kismayo)
- Date unknown. Active(?); focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 4
s, also a continuous red light of shorter range. Round masonry tower centered
on a masonry keeper's house. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. The regional capital of Kismayo is a city of about 90,000 residents. The city has an active harbor, but
the satellite view shows no evidence of activity around the light station.
Located on an island about 1.5 km (1 mi) southeast of Kismayo (Kismayu);
the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway. Site status unknown.
ARLHS SOM-010; Admiralty D6842; NGA 31160.
- Kismayu Passo Interno Range Rear
- Date unknown. Active(?); focal plane unknown; quick-flashing green light. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round concrete tower painted with black and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a hillside northwest of the historic lighthouse. Site status unknown. Admiralty D6844.1; NGA 31163.1.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
- Merka Mosque, Merka. This black and white banded tower is frequently described as the front light of the Merka Range, but it seems unlikely that it ever carried a light.
- Moqdishu (Mogadishu) Old Port, Mogadishu. This is an approx. 12 m (39
ft) masonry tower centered on an octagonal fortified house.
Alex Strick von Linschoten has a 2008 photo,
and Bing has a satellite
Although many sources describe this building as a lighthouse,
it was never listed by international authorities and nothing is known
of its history. It appears to be a 19th century (pre-colonial) fortified
watchtower. Located at the western
end of the traditional port (an open roads) in Mogadishu.
Adjoining pages: South: Kenya | West: Somaliland
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Posted July 1, 2005. Checked and revised July 14, 2018. Lighthouses:
12. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill.