About Somalia [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Somalia; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia

Climate

Principally desert; northeast monsoon (December to February), moderate temperatures in north and hot in south; southwest monsoon (May to October), torrid in the north and hot in the south, irregular rainfall, hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons

Terrain

Mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north

Elevation

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Shimbiris 2,416 m

Geo Notes

Strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Somalia
local long form: Jamhuuriyada Demuqraadiga Soomaaliyeed
local short form: Soomaaliya
former: Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic

Capital City

name: Mogadishu
geographic coordinates: 2 04 N, 45 22 E
time difference: UTC+3

Administrative Divisions

18 regions (plural - NA, singular - gobolka); Awdal, Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe (Middle Jubba), Jubbada Hoose (Lower Jubba), Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe (Middle Shabeelle), Shabeellaha Hoose (Lower Shabeelle), Sool, Togdheer, Woqooyi Galbeed

Natuaral Hazards

Recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season

Environmental Issues

Famine; use of contaminated water contributes to human health problems; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Rift Valley fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Life Expectancy

total population: 50 years
male: 48.12 years
female: 51.94 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English

Religions Practiced

Sunni Muslim

Legal System

No national system; a mixture of English common law, Italian law, Islamic sharia, and Somali customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

National Holiday

Foundation of the Somali Republic, 1 July (1960); note - 26 June (1960) in Somaliland

Telephone System

general assessment: the public telecommunications system was almost completely destroyed or dismantled during the civil war; private companies offer limited local fixed-line service and private wireless companies offer service in most major cities while charging the lowest international rates on the continent
domestic: local cellular telephone systems have been established in Mogadishu and in several other population centers
international: country code - 252; international connections are available from Mogadishu by satellite

Broadcast Media

2 private TV stations rebroadcast Al-Jazeera and CNN; Somaliland has 1 government-operated TV station and Puntland has 1 private TV station; Radio Mogadishu operated by the transitional government; 1 SW and roughly 10 private FM radio stations broadcast in Mogadishu; several radio stations operate in central and southern regions; Somaliland has 1 government-operated radio station; Puntland has roughly a half dozen private radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)

Background

Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 to allow its protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland and form the new nation of Somalia. In 1969, a coup headed by Mohamed SIAD Barre ushered in an authoritarian socialist rule characterized by the persecution, jailing and torture of political opponents and dissidents. After the regime's collapse early in 1991, Somalia descended into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence and continues efforts to establish a constitutional democracy, including holding municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections. The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring semi-autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998 but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. In 2000, the Somalia National Peace Conference (SNPC) held in Djibouti resulted in the formation of an interim government, known as the Transitional National Government (TNG). When the TNG failed to establish adequate security or governing institutions, the Government of Kenya, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), led a subsequent peace process that concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as President of a second interim government, known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Somali Republic. The TFG included a 275-member parliamentary body, known as the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). President YUSUF resigned late in 2008 while United Nations-sponsored talks between the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) were underway in Djibouti. In January 2009, following the creation of a TFG-ARS unity government, Ethiopian military forces, which had entered Somalia in December 2006 to support the TFG in the face of advances by the opposition Islamic Courts Union (ICU), withdrew from the country. The TFP was increased to 550 seats with the addition of 200 ARS and 75 civil society members of parliament. The expanded parliament elected Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed, the former CIC and ARS chairman as president on 31 January 2009, in Djibouti. Subsequently, President SHARIF appointed Omar Abdirashid ali SHARMARKE, son of a former president of Somalia, as prime minister on 13 February 2009. SHARMARKE resigned in September 2010 and was replaced by Mohamed Abdullahi MOHAMED, aka Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen that lived in the United Stated from 1985 until his return to Somalia in October 2010. The creation of the TFG was based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), which outlines a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. However, in January 2009 the TFP amended the TFC to extend TFG's mandate until 2011.

Economy Overview

Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal. Somalia's service sector also has grown. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Due to armed attacks on and threats to humanitarian aid workers, the World Food Programme partially suspended its operations in southern Somalia in early January 2010 pending improvement in the security situation. Somalia's arrears to the IMF have continued to grow.

National Anthem

name: "Soomaaliyeey toosoo" (Somalia Wake Up)
lyrics/music: Ali Mire AWALE and Yuusuf Xaaji Aadan Cilmi QABILLE
note: adopted 2000; written in 1947, the lyrics speak of creating unity and an end to fighting

Somalia location map
Size

total: 637,657 sq km
land: 627,337 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km

Somalia flag
Population

10,112,453
note: this estimate was derived from an official census taken in 1975 by the Somali Government; population counting in Somalia is complicated by the large number of nomads and by refugee movements in response to famine and clan warfare (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Somali(s)
adjective: Somali

Ethnic Groups

Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)

HIV/AIDS Rate

0.5% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

1 July 1960 (from a merger of British Somaliland that became independent from the UK on 26 June 1960 and Italian Somaliland that became independent from the Italian-administered UN trusteeship on 1 July 1960 to form the Somali Republic)

Government Type

No permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary federal government

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

102,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

3 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.so

Refugees & IDPs

IDPs: 1.1 million (civil war since 1988, clan-based competition for resources) (2007)

Number Airports

59 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 7
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Roadways

total: 22,100 km
paved: 2,608 km
unpaved: 19,492 km (2000)

Ports & Terminals

Berbera, Kismaayo

National Budget

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Exchange Rates

Somali shillings (SOS) per US dollar - NA (2007-08), 1,438.3 (2006) official rate; the unofficial black market rate was about 23,000 shillings per dollar as of February 2007
note: the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared independent country not recognized by any foreign government, issues its own currency, the Somaliland shilling

Inflation Rate

NA%
note: businesses print their own money, so inflation rates cannot be easily determined

Main Industries

A few light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication

Agricultural Products

Bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts, rice, sugarcane, mangoes, sesame seeds, beans; cattle, sheep, goats; fish

Labor Force

3.447 million (few skilled laborers) (2007)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 71%
industry and services: 29% (1975)

Unemployment Rate

NA%

GDP (USD Parity)

$5.665 billion (2009 est.)
$5.524 billion (2008 est.)
$5.387 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$600 (2009 est.)
$600 (2008 est.)
$600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Below Poverty

NA%