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Flag of Somalia

Map of Somalia
Introduction Somalia
Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 in order 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 that managed to impose a degree of stability in the country for a couple of decades. After the regime's overthrow early in 1991, Somalia descended into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May of 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, aided by the overwhelming dominance of a ruling clan and economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian, and American military assistance programs. The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring self-declared autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998, but d oes 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. The mandate of the Transitional National Government (TNG), created in August 2000 in Arta, Djibouti, expired in August 2003. A two-year peace process, led by the Government of Kenya under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as Transitional Federal President of Somalia and the formation of a transitional government, known as the Somalia Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs). The Somalia TFIs include a 275-member parliamentary body, k nown as the Transitional Federal Assembly (TFA), a transitional Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed GHEDI, and a 90-member cabinet. The TFIs are currently divided between Mogadishu and Jowhar, but discussions to co-locate the TFIs in one city are ongoing. Suspicion of Somali links with global terrorism further complicates the picture.
Geography Somalia
Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia
Geographic coordinates:
10 00 N, 49 00 E
Map references:
total: 637,657 sq km
land: 627,337 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 2,340 km
border countries: Djibouti 58 km, Ethiopia 1,600 km, Kenya 682 km
3,025 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm
principally desert; northeast monsoon (December to February), moderate temperatures in north and very 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
mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Shimbiris 2,416 m
Natural resources:
uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, likely oil reserves
Land use:
arable land: 1.64%
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 98.32% (2005)
Irrigated land:
2,000 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season
Environment - current issues:
famine; use of contaminated water contributes to human health problems; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
Geography - note:
strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal
People Somalia
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 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 44.4% (male 1,973,294/female 1,961,083)
15-64 years: 53% (male 2,355,861/female 2,342,988)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 97,307/female 132,805) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 17.6 years
male: 17.5 years
female: 17.7 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.85% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
45.13 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
16.63 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 114.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 124.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 105.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 48.47 years
male: 46.71 years
female: 50.28 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
6.76 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
43,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2005)
noun: Somali(s)
adjective: Somali
Ethnic groups:
Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)
Sunni Muslim
Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 37.8%
male: 49.7%
female: 25.8% (2001 est.)
Government Somalia
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Somalia
local long form: Jamhuuriyada Demuqraadiga Soomaaliyeed
local short form: Soomaaliya
former: Somali Republic; Somali Democratic Republic
Government type:
no permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary federal government
name: Mogadishu
geographic coordinates: 2 04 N, 45 22 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
18 regions (plural - NA, singular - gobolka); Awdal, Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe, Jubbada Hoose, Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe, Shabeellaha Hoose, Sool, Togdheer, Woqooyi Galbeed
1 July 1960 (from a merger of British Somaliland, which became independent from the UK on 26 June 1960, and Italian Somaliland, which became independent from the Italian-administered UN trusteeship on 1 July 1960, to form the Somali Republic)
National holiday:
Foundation of the Somali Republic, 1 July (1960); note - 26 June (1960) in Somaliland
25 August 1979, presidential approval 23 September 1979
note: the formation of transitional governing institutions, known as the Transitional Federal Government, is currently ongoing
Legal system:
no national system; Shari'a (Islamic) and secular courts based on Somali customary law (xeer) are present in some localities; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Transitional Federal President Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed (since 14 October 2004); note - a transitional governing entity with a five-year mandate, known as the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), was established in October 2004; the TFI relocated to Somalia in June 2004, but its members remain divided between Mogadishu and Jowhar inside Somalia, and the government continues to struggle to establish effective governance in the country
head of government: Prime Minister Ali Mohamed GHEDI (since 24 December 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Transitional Federal Assembly
election results: Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed, the former leader of the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia, was elected president by the Transitional Federal Assembly
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly
note: fledgling parliament; a 275-member Transitional Federal Assembly; the new parliament consists of 61 seats assigned to each of four large clan groups (Darod, Digil-Mirifle, Dir, and Hawiye) with the remaining 31 seats divided between minority clans
Judicial branch:
following the breakdown of the central government, most regions have reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, traditional Somali customary law, or Shari'a (Islamic) law with a provision for appeal of all sentences
Political parties and leaders:
Political pressure groups and leaders:
numerous clan and sub-clan factions are currently vying for power
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Somalia does not have an embassy in the US (ceased operations on 8 May 1991); note - the TFG and other factions have representatives in Washington and at the United Nations
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Somalia; US interests are represented by the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya at United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi; mailing address: Unit 64100, Nairobi; APO AE 09831; telephone: [254] (20) 363-6000; FAX [254] (20) 363-6157
Flag description:
light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; blue field influenced by the flag of the UN
Government - note:
although an interim government was created in 2004, other regional and local governing bodies continue to exist and control various cities and regions of the country, including the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia, the semi-autonomous State of Puntland in northeastern Somalia, and traditional clan and faction strongholds
Economy Somalia
Economy - overview:
Somalia's economic fortunes are driven by its deep political divisions. The northwestern area has declared its independence as the "Republic of Somaliland"; the northeastern region of Puntland is a semi-autonomous state; and the remaining southern portion is riddled with the struggles of rival factions. Economic life continues, in part because much activity is local and relatively easily protected. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings, but Saudi Arabia's ban on Somali livestock, due to Rift Valley Fever concerns, has severely hampered the sector. Nomads and semi-nomads, 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 large ly been looted and sold as scrap metal. Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia's service sector has managed to survive and grow. 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 exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $500 million and $1 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 militias provide security. The ongoing civil disturbances and clan rivalries, however, have interfered with any broad-based economic development and international aid arrangements. Somalia's arrears to the IMF continued to grow in 2005. Statistics on Somalia's GDP, growth, per capita income, and inflation should be viewed skeptically. In late December 2004, a major tsunami caused an estimated 150 deaths and resulted in destruction of property in coastal are as.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$4.809 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
GDP - real growth rate:
2.4% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$600 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 65%
industry: 10%
services: 25% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
3.7 million (very few skilled laborers)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 71%
industry and services: 29%
Unemployment rate:
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
NA%; note - businesses print their own money, so inflation rates cannot be easily determined
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA
Agriculture - products:
bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts, rice, sugarcane, mangoes, sesame seeds, beans; cattle, sheep, goats; fish
a few light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
235.6 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
219.1 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
5,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
5.663 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
$241 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal, scrap metal
Exports - partners:
UAE 53.6%, Yemen 14.9%, Oman 6.4% (2005)
$576 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
manufactures, petroleum products, foodstuffs, construction materials, qat
Imports - partners:
Djibouti 30.1%, Kenya 13.7%, India 8.6%, Brazil 8.4%, Oman 5.3%, UAE 5% (2005)
Debt - external:
$3 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$60 million (1999 est.)
Currency (code):
Somali shilling (SOS)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Somali shillings per US dollar - 11,000 (November 2000), 2,620 (January 1999), 7,500 (November 1997 est.), 7,000 (January 1996 est.), 5,000 (1 January 1995)
note: the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared independent country not recognized by any foreign government, issues its own currency, the Somaliland shilling
Fiscal year:
Communications Somalia
Telephones - main lines in use:
100,000 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
500,000 (2004)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the public telecommunications system was almost completely destroyed or dismantled by the civil war factions; private wireless companies offer service in most major cities and charge 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
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 0, FM 11, shortwave 1 in Mogadishu; 1 FM in Puntland, 1 FM in Somaliland (2001)
470,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4; note - two in Mogadishu; two in Hargeisa (2001)
135,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2 (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (one each in Boosaaso, Hargeisa, and Mogadishu) (2000)
Internet users:
89,000 (2002)
Transportation Somalia
65 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 7
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 58
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 6 (2006)
total: 22,100 km
paved: 2,608 km
unpaved: 19,492 km (1999)
Ports and terminals:
Boosaaso, Berbera, Chisimayu (Kismaayo), Merca, Mogadishu
Military Somalia
Military branches:
a Somali National Army was attempted under the interim government; numerous factions and clans maintain independent militias, and the Somaliland and Puntland regional governments maintain their own security and police forces
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.) (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 1,787,727
females age 18-49: 1,714,792 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 1,022,360
females age 18-49: 1,038,697 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$22.34 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.9% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Somalia
Disputes - international:
"Somaliland" secessionists provide port facilities to landlocked Ethiopia and establish commercial ties with regional states; "Puntland" and "Somaliland" "governments" seek support from neighboring states in their secessionist aspirations and in conflicts with each other; Ethiopia has only an administrative line with the Oromo region of southern Somalia and maintains alliances with local Somali clans opposed to the unrecognized Somali Interim Government, which plans eventual relocation from Kenya to Mogadishu; rival militia and clan fighting in southern Somalia periodically spills over into Kenya
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: 400,000 (civil war since 1988, clan-based competition for resources) 5,000 (26 December 2004 tsunami) (2005)

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006