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. A Transitional Federal Government (TFG) recognized by the United Nations 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 page.

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 available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Somalia
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanischen Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Lighthouses of Africa
Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.

Cape Guardafui
Cape Guardafui (Ra's Asir) Light, December 1987
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Timlash

Lighthouses of Puntland
Note: Puntland is a region at the northeastern corner of Somalia that has declared itself autonomous, though not independent. The government of Puntland has made attempts to suppress piracy along its coasts, although piracy remains a problem. Investors from Dubai have signed agreements 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. The thumbnail image at right is from images.google.com; the full-size photo was not retrievable. Lightphotos.net has a view of the light, and Bing has a satellite view. The Admiralty Notices to Mariners (2004#22) reported that the Bosasso 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 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; ex-Admiralty D7260.1; NGA 31060.
Ra's Asir (Cape Guardafui, Faro Francesco Crispi) (2)
Early 1930s (station established 1924). Inactive. 19 m (63 ft) round cylindrical masonry tower, originally with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square stone base. A 1987 photo is at the top of this page, and the shadow of the tower and remains of several buildings can be seen in a Bing satellite view of the station. The lantern is now gone, and the abandoned buildings are in ruins. Forand has two historic postcard views of the original lighthouse, a skeletal tower. Ra's Asir is the famous 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. 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.

Bosasso Range Rear Light
source unknown
Ra's Hafun
Date unknown. Inactive. 13 m (42 ft) concrete post centered on a square concrete building. Lightphotos.net has a photo, and the abandoned station is seen in a Bing satellite view. Ra's Hafun is a sharp promontory projecting east from Hurdiyo in northeastern Somalia. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-011; Admiralty D7242; NGA 31076.

Lighthouses of Galmudug
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. 10 m (33 ft) square cylindrical tower, now in ruins. A closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. 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.

Lighthouses of Central Somalia
Moqdishu (Mogadishu) Old Port (?)
Date unknown. Inactive for many years (if it was ever active). Approx. 12 m (39 ft) masonry tower centered on an octagonal fortified house. Alex Strick von Linschoten has a 2008 photo, Nasar Cabdi has an aerial view and a second view, and Bing has a satellite view. 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 that may also have been used as a lighthouse. Located at the western end of the traditional port (an open roads) in Mogadishu. Site status unknown.
Moqdishu (Mogadishu) Main (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1903). Inactive. 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. The library of the Swiss Institute of Technology has the 1912 photo at right, a more distant historic view is available, and Bing 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; NGA 31096.
Merka (Merca, Marka) Range Rear (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1912). Inactive. 17 m (56 ft) white round concrete tower. No photo available, but Forand has a historic postcard view, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Huelse has a different postcard view showing a skeletal concrete tower. Merka has no protected harbor, only an open roadstead. 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. Located on the west side of Merka, above the roadstead. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-006; Admiralty D7212.1; NGA 31140.
Mogadishu Main Light
Mogadishu Main Light, 1912
ETH Zurich Creative Commons image
Baraawe (Barawa, Brava)
1912. Inactive. Approx. 18 m (56 ft) square concrete tower with gallery; the lantern has vanished. Nicola Prisco's photo is at right, a small closeup and a small and distant photo are available, 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. Located on an island sheltering the harbor of Baraawe, a port about 160 km (100 mi) southwest of Mogadishu. This area has been under Al Shahaab's control and has functioned as the group's capital. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS SOM-002.

Lighthouses of Jubaland (Azania)
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 has been questionable, but the station may be 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; NGA 31156.
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. Kismayo is 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.
Barawa Light
Barawa Light, November 1986
Flickr photo copyright Nicola Prisco; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: South: Kenya | West: Somaliland

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Posted July 1, 2005. Checked and revised August 9, 2014. Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.