— -- From a strategic trading zone on ancient Arab trading routes through the turbulence of colonialism and Cold War rivalries and post-colonial political collapse, Somalia has had an eventful, if troubled, history. Here is a chronology of key events in Somali history.
1500 - 1600: Portuguese traders land on the east coast of Africa and start intermittent power struggles with the Sultanate of Zanzibar for control of port cities and surrounding towns.
1840: The British East India Company signs treaties with the Sultan of Tajura for unrestricted trading rights.
1887: Britain reaches a final agreement with the local King Menelik and various tribal chiefs and draws a boundary with neighboring Ethiopia to form British Somaliland. Besides trading interests, the British protectorate serves as a counterweight to the growing Italian influence in the key port city of neighboring Zanzibar.
1897 - 1907: Italy makes several agreements with tribal chiefs and the British to finally mark out the boundaries of a separate Italian protectorate of Somaliland.
1908: The Italian Government assumes direct administration of Italian Somaliland, giving the territory a colonial status.
1936: Following decades of expansionism, Italy captures Addis Ababa and Ethiopia to form the province of Italian East Africa.
1940, June: Italian troops drive out the British garrison and capture British Somaliland.
1941: British recapture British Somaliland and most of Italian Somaliland.
1947: Following Italy's defeat in World War II, Italy renounces all rights and titles to Italian Somaliland.
1950: The U.N. General Assembly adopts a resolution making Italian Somaliland a U.N. trust territory under Italian administrative control.
1941- 1959: Meanwhile, British Somaliland sees a period of colonial development as the territory moves towards a gradual development of local institutions and self-government.
1960: British and Italian Somaliland gain independence and merge to form the United Republic of Somalia.