The name Luuq in the Somali language means "alley" by virtue of the city's geographical setting. Luuq is one of the most jaw dropping settlements on Earth, with a river surrounding it from every corner except for a gap in the far south, which frees one from the rivers enclosures. The river has great influence on the city and its surrounding areas. The entrance of the city gate is situated not more than 100 meters from the river banks on both the eastern and western sides of the town. About 4 km past the city center and main Luuq Market, the river encloses the city again completely.
Historically, Luuq is one of the oldest settlements in Somalia. In his 1811 report to the authorities of British India, captain Thomas Smee wrote Luuq had 300 huts, in comparison to Mogadishu which at the time had between 100 and 150 stone houses. Beginning in 1893, Luuq was attacked by Ethiopian raiding parties travelling down the Juba only when the Italian explorers Vittorio Bottego and
Ugo Ferrandi arrived in 1895 were the Ethiopian attacks successfully repelled. Luuq came under indirect Italian control by 1907, and Italian interest in the town was serious enough for them to demarcate the only segment of the Somali-Ethiopian boundary in order to include Luuq as part of Italian Somaliland. For decades, it was the political center of the Gedo region.
On March 7, 2011, Transitional Federal Government forces and allied militia captured Luuq from Al-Shabaab rebels, encountering little or no resistance.
In 2013, Luuq and other settlements in the wider Gedo region were officially incorporated into the newly formed Jubaland autonomous state.