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Galkayo is situated in north-central Somalia, in the heart of the Mudug region. Nearby settlements include to the east Loodabaal, to the northeast Godod, to the north Halobooqad, to the northwest Beyra, to the west Barri-Fintir, to the southwest Gelgaris, to the south Laascadale, and to the southeast Arfuda.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Galkayo formed a key part of the Majeerteen Sultanate of Hobyo(Obbia) established by Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid.
Initially, Kenadid’s goal was to seize control of the neighboring Majeerteen Sultanate (Migiurtinia), which was then ruled by his cousin Boqor (King) Osman Mahamuud. However, he was unsuccessful in this endeavor, and was eventually forced into exile in Yemen. A decade later, in the 1870s, Kenadid returned from the Arabian Peninsula with a band of Hadhrami musketeers and a group of devoted lieutenants. With their assistance, he managed to overpower the local Hawiye clans and establish the kingdom of Hobyo.
In 1888, Sultan Kenadid entered into a treaty with Italy, making his kingdom a protectorate known as Italian Somaliland. His rival Boqor Osman would sign a similar agreement vis-a-vis his own Sultanate the following year. Both rulers had entered into the protectorate treaties to advance their own expansionist goals. Kenadid sought to use Italy’s support in his ongoing power struggle with Boqor Osman over the Majeerteen Sultanate, as well as in a seperate dispute with the Sultan of Zanzibar over an area to the north of Warsheikh. In signing the agreements, the rulers also hoped to exploit the rival objectives of the European imperial powers so as to more effectively assure the continued independence of their territories.
Following independence in 1960, Galkayo was made the center of the official Galkayo District.
Galkayo has a hot arid climate, coldest average temperatures occur during the winter months of November to February ranging from 23 to 25 °C . The weather slowly heats up in the spring, as the April rainy season begins. Average temperatures later reach a maximum of around 41 °C over the summer period
Shimbiris, the highest peak in Somalia, is located some 432 km to the north in the Cal Madow mountain range.
Galkayo is situated in the north-central part of Somalia, and is one of the most developed towns in the region. A divided city, it is sectioned along a north/south axis, with the main northern portion forming a part of the autonomous Puntland state, while the southern tip is governed by the Galmudug administration.
The city has an estimated population of 545,000 inhabitants with the main northern, Puntland-administered section of Galkayo is primarily inhabited by Somalis from the Majeerteen, a Darod clan, while the southern, Galmudug-administered part of the city is mainly inhabited by the Sa’ad Habar Gidir, a Hawiye clan. Leelkase are dominant in Garsor, a village district of Galkayo.
Galkayo has a number of academic institutions, Institutions of higher learning in the city include:
- Puntland State University (PSU)
- Puntland University of Science and Technology (PUST)
- Mudug University (MU).
- East Africa University (EAU)
- Galkayo Vocational Training Centre (GVTC)
- Mudug Vocational Training Center (MVTC) offer technical training.
Galkayo is home to Cawaale Stadium, a sporting facility which plays host to many local football clubs which include Comsed FC, RPS FC, Dowladda Hoose FC, Homboboro FC, Telecom FC and Galcom FC.
Air transportation is served by the Abdullahi Yusuf International Airport, previously known as the Galkayo Airport. It was renamed on March 25, 2012 in memory of the late Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the former President of Somalia, who was born in Galkayo. The airport offers flights to Bosaso,Mogadishu, Djibouti and Wajir, among other destinations.
Galkayo is traversed by a 750 km north–south highway. It connects major cities in the northern part of the country, such as Bosaso and Garowe, with towns in the south.
Various media organizations are based in Galkayo which include Radio Daljir, Radio Codka-Nabbada and Radio Codka-Mudug. Radio Gaalkacyo, formerly known as Radio Free Somalia, also broadcasts from the city.
Galkayo consists of the following districts: