Muscat, also known as Masqat, is the capital of Oman and the seat of the government. It lies in northeast Oman on the coast of the gulf of Oman. Over a million people, one third of Oman's population, live in the metropolitan area of Muscat. The area around Muscat has been settled at least since the 6th millenium BC. Muscat was known as an important port between the east and west in the 1st century BC. Over the course of the centuries Muscat was ruled by a number of local and foreign powers and achieved the peak of its power in the 18th century. With the installment of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in 1970, Muscat has experienced a period of rapid development and growth. The historic core of Muscat lies in Muttrah and in the area around the palace of the sultan. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a unique piece of architecture and the major attraction of Muscat.