City (pop., 2003: city, 24,769; urban agglom., 638,000), capital of Oman, located on the Gulf of Oman. Situated on a cove surrounded by volcanic mountains, it came under Persian control in the 6th century BC, and Islam was introduced into the region in the 7th century AD. The Portuguese gained control in 1508 and made Muscat a trading post and naval base until they were expelled in 1650. Held again by the Persians (1650–1741), it later became part of the sultanate of Oman. Two 16th-century Portuguese forts overlook the city; the sultan's Indian-style palace is built at the edge of the sea.
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