Somali linguistic varieties are divided into three main groups: Northern, Benadir and Maay. Northern Somali (or Northern-Central Somali) forms the basis for Standard Somali, particularly the Mudug dialect of the northernDarod. It is today spoken in an area stretching from northern Somalia to parts of the eastern and southwestern sections of the country. This widespread modern distribution is a result of a long series of southward population movements over the past ten centuries from the Gulf of Aden littoral. Northern Somali has frequently been used by famous Somali poets as well as the political elite, and thus has the most prestige out of the Somali dialects.