Somalia is a nation in the Horn of Africa. Its official name is the Federal Republic of Somalia. It is bounded on the west by Ethiopia, on the northwest by Djibouti, on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the east by the Indian Ocean, and on the southwest by Kenya. Somalia has the longest coastline on the African continent, and its topography is mostly made up of plateaus, plains, and hills. Hot weather prevails all year, with occasional monsoon winds and sporadic rainfall.
Somalia has a population of around 10.8 million people. Approximately 85 percent of its population are ethnic Somalis, who have historically occupied the country’s northern region. The southern areas have a high concentration of ethnic minorities. Somali and Arabic are the official languages of Somalia, both of which are Afroasiatic languages. The bulk of the population is Muslim, with Sunnis being the majority.
Somalia was a significant trade center in antiquity. It is one of the most likely locations of the legendary ancient Land of Punt. Several major Somali dynasties controlled regional commerce during the Middle Ages, notably the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. The British and Italian empires seized control of portions of the coast in the late nineteenth century through a series of treaties with these countries, establishing the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.
In the interior, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s Dervish State resisted the British Empire four times, forcing it to retreat to the coast, until surrendering to British airpower in 1920. The Italian adventurer Luigi Robecchi Bricchetti (1855–1926) created the toponym Somalia. After successfully conducting the so-called Campaign of the Sultanates against the governing Majeerteen Sultanate and Sultanate of Hobyo, Italy gained complete control of the northeastern, middle, and southern sections of the province. The Italian occupation lasted until 1941, when it was replaced by British military rule. British Somaliland would remain a protectorate, while Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trusteeship, the Trust Territory of Somaliland, under Italian control in 1949. In 1960, the two areas merged to establish the autonomous Somali Republic, which was governed by a civilian administration.
In 1969, the Supreme Revolutionary Council took control and created the Somali Democratic Republic. This administration, led by Mohamed Siad Barre, fell apart in 1991, when the Somali Civil War broke out. In the power vacuum, many armed factions began fighting for control, notably in the south. Somalia was a “failed state” during this time period owing to the lack of a central administration, and inhabitants in most regions resorted to customary and religious rule. In the north, a few autonomous territories developed, notably the Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug administrations. In the early 2000s, nascent temporary federal administrations were formed.
The Transitional National Government (TNG) was formed in 2000, and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in 2004, reestablishing national institutions such as the military. The TFG took control of most of the country’s southern war zones from the newly established Islamic Courts Union in 2006, with the assistance of Ethiopian forces (ICU). The ICU thereafter fragmented into more extremist organizations like Al-Shabaab, which fought the TFG and its AMISOM allies for control of the region.
By mid-2012, the militants had lost control of the majority of the land they had captured. In 2011–2012, a political process was begun to create benchmarks for the formation of permanent democratic institutions. In August 2012, a new interim constitution was enacted under this administrative framework, reforming Somalia as a federation. Following the expiration of the TFG’s temporary mandate the same month, the Federal Administration of Somalia, the country’s first permanent central government since the beginning of the civil war, was created, and a period of reconstruction in Mogadishu started. Somalia has maintained an informal economy based mostly on livestock, remittances from Somalis working in other countries, and telecommunications.
Somalia is bordered on the northwest by Djibouti, on the southwest by Kenya, on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the east by the Indian Ocean, and on the west by Ethiopia. It is located between the latitudes of 2°S and 12°N, as well as the longitudes of 41° and 52°E. The nation is strategically situated at the mouth of the Bab el Mandeb entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, near the point of a region known as the Horn of Africa owing to its likeness on the map to a rhinoceros’ horn.
With a 3,025-kilometer shoreline, Somalia boasts the longest coastline on the African continent (1,880 mi). Plateaus, plains, and hills make up the majority of the landscape. The land area of the country is 637,657 square kilometers (246,201 square miles), with water covering 10,320 square kilometers (3,980 square miles). Somalia’s land borders stretch for approximately 2,340 kilometers (1,450 miles), with Djibouti sharing 58 kilometers (36 miles), Kenya 682 kilometers (424 miles), and Ethiopia 1,626 kilometers (1,010 miles). Its maritime claims include 200-nautical-mile territorial seas (370 km; 230 mi).
The Bajuni Islands and the Saad ad-Din Archipelago are two islands and archipelagos off Somalia’s coast.
The Guban, a scrub-covered, semi-desert plain in the north, runs parallel to the coast of the Gulf of Aden. The plain is bisected by watercourses that are basically beds of dry sand until during wet seasons, ranging in width from twelve kilometers in the west to as little as two kilometers in the east. When the rains come, the modest shrubs and grass clumps of the Guban become luxuriant flora. The Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands ecoregion includes this coastal stretch.
Cal Madow is a mountain range in the country’s northeastern region. It stretches from several kilometers west of Bosaso to several kilometers northwest of Erigavo, and includes Somalia’s tallest mountain, Shimbiris, at a height of approximately 2,416 meters (7,927 ft). The Karkaar Mountains, with their steep east-west ranges, are also found within the Gulf of Aden littoral. The northern mountain ranges of the nation give way to shallow plateaus and usually dry watercourses known as the Ogo in the country’s center regions. The western plateau of the Ogo eventually joins with the Haud, an important cattle grazing region.
The Jubba and Shabele, both of which originate in the Ethiopian Highlands, are Somalia’s only perennial rivers. The Jubba River, which enters the Indian Ocean in Kismayo, is the most southerly of these rivers. The Shabele River used to flow into the sea at Merca, but it now flows through Mogadishu and ends just southwest of the city. It then passes through marshes and dry stretches until vanishing into the desert landscape east of Jilib, near the Jubba River.
Somalia is a semi-arid nation with just 1.64 percent of its land being arable. Ecoterra Somalia and the Somali Ecological Society were the first local environmental groups, both of which helped raise environmental awareness and organize environmental initiatives in all governmental sectors as well as civil society. The Siad Barre administration began a major tree-planting effort on a national scale in 1971 to stop the progress of thousands of acres of wind-driven sand dunes that threatened to swallow cities, highways, and farmland. By 1988, 265 hectares had been treated out of a total of 336 hectares, with 39 range reserve areas and 36 forestry planting sites in place. Ecoterra Intl. founded the Wildlife Rescue, Research, and Monitoring Centre in 1986 with the aim of raising public awareness about environmental problems. This educational campaign resulted in the so-called “Somalia proposal” in 1989, when the Somali government decided to join the Convention on International Trafficking in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which for the first time created a global ban on elephant ivory trade.
Later, Fatima Jibrell, a well-known Somali environmental activist, led a successful effort to save old-growth acacia woodlands in Somalia’s northeastern region. These trees, which may live up to 500 years, were being felled to produce charcoal because the so-called “black gold” is in great demand on the Arabian Peninsula, where the acacia is revered by the region’s Bedouin tribes. However, although charcoal is a low-cost fuel that fits a user’s requirements, its manufacturing frequently results in deforestation and desertification. To address the issue, Jibrell and the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Organization (Horn Relief; now Adeso), of which she was the creator and Executive Director, educated a group of teenagers to educate the people about the long-term consequences of manufacturing charcoal. Horn Relief organized a peace march in Somalia’s northeastern Puntland area in 1999 to stop the so-called “charcoal conflicts.” The Puntland government banned the export of charcoal in 2000 as a consequence of Jibrell’s lobbying and education activities. Since then, the government has enacted the restriction, which has allegedly resulted in an 80% decrease in goods exports. In 2002, Jibrell received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts to combat environmental deterioration and desertification. She also received the National Geographic Society/Buffett Foundation Award for Conservation Leadership in 2008.
Following the huge tsunami of December 2004, there have also been accusations that Somalia’s long, isolated coastline was utilized as a dump site for hazardous waste dumping following the beginning of the Somali Civil War in the late 1980s. Following the tsunami, enormous waves slammed into northern Somalia, bringing with them tons of radioactive and hazardous waste that may have been deposited illegally in the nation by foreign companies.
Following these revelations, the European Green Party presented copies of contracts signed by two European companies — the Italian Swiss firm Achair Partners and an Italian waste broker, Progresso — and representatives of the then-“President” of Somalia, the faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohamed, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The waste has caused far more than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages, and unusual skin infections among many residents of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobyo and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast, according to UNEP reports — diseases consistent with radiation sickness. The present condition along the Somali coastline, according to UNEP, poses a severe environmental threat not just to Somalia but also to the rest of the eastern African sub-region.
Somalia is mostly a desert country. A year-round hot temperature, seasonal monsoon winds, and erratic rainfall with recurrent droughts are all major climatic variables. Except at higher altitudes and along the east coast, daily maximum temperatures vary from 30°C to 40°C (85–105°F). The average daily low temperature ranges from approximately 15°C to 30°C (60–85°F). The southwest monsoon, which brings a sea wind, makes the months of May through October the mildest in Mogadishu. Although the prevailing weather conditions in Mogadishu are seldom pleasant, the northeast monsoon season of December-February is also quite moderate. The “tangambili” months (October–November and March–May) between the two monsoons are hot and humid.
Because of its geographical and climatic diversity, Somalia has a wide range of animals. Cheetah, lion, giraffe, baboon, civet, serval, elephant, bushpig, gazelle, ibex, dik-dik, oribi, Somali wild ass, reedbuckand zebra, shrew, rock hyrax, golden moleand antelope are among the natural species found across the area. It also contains a diverse range of camel species.
Around 727 different bird species may be found in Somalia. Eight of them are endemic, one was imported by humans, and one is uncommon or happened upon. Fourteen species are endangered on a worldwide scale. The Somali Pigeon, Alaemon hamertoni (Alaudidae), Lesser Hoopoe-Lark, Heteromirafra archeri (Alaudidae), Archer’s Lark, Mirafra ashi, Ash’s Bushlark, Spizocorys obbiensis (Alaudidae), Somali Bushlark, Carduelis johannis (Fringillid
The territorial waters of Somalia are ideal fishing grounds for highly migratory marine species like tuna. Several demersal fish and crab species live on a limited but rich continental shelf. Cirrhitichthys randalli Cirrhitidae, Symphurus fuscus Cynoglossidae, Parapercis simulata OC Pinguipedidae, Cociella somaliensis OC Platycephalidae, and Pseudochromis melanotus Pseudochromidae are among the fish species found only in the country.
There are about 235 reptile species. Almost half of these people reside in the north. Hughes’ Saw-scaled Viper, Southern Somali Garter Snake, racer Platyceps messanai, diadem snake Spalerosophis josephscorteccii, Somali Sand Boa, Angled Worm Lizard Agamodon anguliceps, Lanza’s Agama, a spiny-tailed lizard Uromastyx macfadyeni, Somali Semaphore Gecko, and Endangered genera include Aprosdoketophis andreonei, a colubrid snake, and Haacke-Skink, Greer’s Haackgreerius miopus.
Somalia’s population is estimated to be about 10.8 million people, with a total population of 3.3 million people according to the 1975 census. Ethnic Somalis, who have traditionally occupied the northern portion of the nation, make up around 85% of the local population. Nomadic pastoral tribes, loose empires, sultanates, and city-states have all existed in the past. As a result of civil conflict in the early 1990s, the Somali diaspora grew significantly, with many of the finest educated Somalis fleeing the nation.
The rest of Somalia’s population is made up of non-Somali ethnic minority groups, who are mostly concentrated in the southern areas. Bravanese, Bantus, Bajuni, Ethiopians, Indians, Persians, Italians, and Britons are among them. The Bantus, Somalia’s biggest ethnic minority group, are ancestors of slaves brought in by Arab and Somali merchants from southeastern Africa. After independence, the majority of Europeans departed.
The population of Somalia is growing at a pace of 1.75 percent each year, with a birth rate of 40.87 births per 1,000 people. According to the CIA World Factbook, Somalia has the fourth highest total fertility rate in the world, with 6.08 children born per woman (2014 estimates). With a median age of 17.7 years, the majority of the population is young; about 44 percent of the population is between the ages of 0–14 years, 52.4 percent is between the ages of 15–64 years, and just 2.3 percent is 65 years or older. The gender ratio is approximately equal, with about the same number of males as women.
In Somalia, there is a scarcity of accurate statistics on urbanization. Many settlements are rapidly developing into cities, with rough estimates suggesting a pace of urbanization of 4.79 percent per year (2005–10 est.). Since the civil conflict began, many ethnic minorities have relocated from rural regions to urban areas, especially Mogadishu and Kismayo. In 2008, 37.7% of the country’s population lived in towns and cities, a figure that is quickly rising.
The Pew Research Center estimates that 99.8% of Somalia’s population is Muslim. The majority are Sunni Muslims who follow the Shafi’i school of Islamic law. Sufism, Islam’s mystical component, is also well-established, with numerous local jama’a(zawiya) or Sufi organizations’ congregations. Somalia’s constitution also declares Islam to be the official religion of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Islamic sharia to be the primary source of national law. It further states that no legislation may be passed that contradicts the fundamental principles of Shari’a.
Islam first arrived in the area when a group of persecuted Muslims crossed the Red Sea to seek sanctuary in the Horn of Africa at the request of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. As a result, Islam may have been brought to Somalia long before the religion gained traction in its homeland.
Furthermore, throughout the ages, the Somali community has produced a number of notable Islamic leaders, many of whom have had a considerable impact on Muslim study and practice in the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and beyond. Uthman bin Ali Zayla’i of Zeila, a 14th-century Somali theologian and jurist, authored the Tabayin al-Haqa’iq li Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq, a four-volume work on the Hanafi school of Islam, which is considered the most authoritative book on the Hanafi school of Islam.
According to the Pew Research Center, Christianity is a minority religion in Somalia, with followers accounting for less than 0.1 percent of the population in 2010. There is just one Catholic diocese in the nation, the Diocese of Mogadishu, which claims that only around 100 Catholics practiced in 2004.
There were practically no Christians in the Somali regions in 1913, during the early colonial period, with only around 100–200 followers coming from the few Catholic missions in the British Somaliland protectorate’s schools and orphanages. During the same time period, there were no known Catholic missions in Italian Somaliland. Church-run schools were shuttered and missionaries were returned home in the 1970s, while Somalia’s then Marxist government was in power. Since 1989, the nation has been without an archbishop, and the cathedral in Mogadishu was badly destroyed during the civil war. The Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs also issued a regulation in December 2013 banning the observance of Christian holidays throughout the nation.
Folk religions were practiced by fewer than 0.1 percent of Somalia’s population in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center. These primarily comprised of non-Somali ethnic minority tribes who practice animism in the country’s southern regions. These religious traditions were passed down to the Bantu from their Southeast African forefathers.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2010, fewer than 0.1 percent of Somalia’s population practiced Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or were religiously unaffiliated.
Despite civil turmoil, Somalia has maintained a strong informal economy centered mostly on livestock, remittance/money transfer businesses, and telecommunications, according to the CIA and the Central Bank of Somalia. It is impossible to estimate the size or growth of the economy due to a lack of official government data and the recent civil war. The CIA assessed the GDP to be $3.3 billion in 1994. It was projected to be $4.1 billion in 2001. The GDP has risen to $5.731 billion by 2009, according to the CIA, with a predicted real growth rate of 2.6 percent. According to a study published by the British Chambers of Commerce in 2007, the private sector expanded as well, especially in the service sector. Unlike before the civil war, when most services and the industrial sector were run by the government, there has been significant, albeit unmeasured, private investment in commercial activities; this has been largely financed by the Somali diaspora, and includes trade and marketing, money transfer services, transportation, communications, fishery equipment, airlines, telecommunications, education, and health care. This increasing economic activity, according to libertarian economist Peter Leeson, is due to Somali customary law (also known as Xeer), which he claims offers a stable environment in which to do business.
The country’s GDP per capita in 2012 was $226, according to the Central Bank of Somalia, a small decrease in real terms from 1990. Around 43 percent of the population lives on less than $1 per day, with 24 percent residing in cities and 54 percent in rural regions.
Traditional and contemporary manufacturing coexist in Somalia’s economy, with a steady move toward modern industrial methods. According to the Somali Central Bank, about 80% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists who raise goats, sheep, camels, and cattle. To augment their income, the nomads collect resins and gums.
Somalia’s most significant economic sector is agriculture. It employs 65 percent of the workers and contributes for approximately 65 percent of the GDP. Livestock accounts for about 40% of GDP and more than half of export profits. Fish, charcoal, and bananas are among the other main exports, while sugar, sorghum, and maize are domestically produced. Imports of commodities amount approximately $460 million each year, according to the Central Bank of Somalia, exceeding overall imports previous to the commencement of the civil war in 1991. Exports, which now number about $270 million per year, have likewise exceeded pre-war levels. Somalia has a trade imbalance of approximately $190 million per year, although remittances from Somalis in the diaspora, estimated to be about $1 billion, surpass this.
Somali merchants have started to threaten Australia’s historic supremacy over the Gulf Arab cattle and meat industry, providing high-quality animals at cheap rates, thanks to their proximity to the Arabian Peninsula. As a result, Gulf Arab nations have begun to invest strategically in the country, with Saudi Arabia constructing cattle export facilities and the United Arab Emirates buying vast farmlands. Somalia is also a significant producer of frankincense and myrrh throughout the globe.
The small industrial sector, which is centered on agricultural product processing, contributes for 10% of Somalia’s GDP. According to the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over six private airline companies, including Daallo Airlines, Jubba Airways, African Express Airways, East Africa 540, Central Air, and Hajara, provide commercial flights to both local and international destinations. The government of Puntland struck a multimillion-dollar agreement with Dubai’s Lootah Group, a regional industrial conglomerate with operations in the Middle East and Africa, in 2008. The first phase of the investment, costing Dhs 170 million, would see a group of new businesses formed up to run, administer, and develop Bosaso’s free trade zone, as well as marine and airport infrastructure, according to the agreement. The Bosaso Airport Company plans to construct a new 3,400 m (11,200 ft) runway, as well as main and auxiliary buildings, taxi and apron spaces, and security perimeters, to match international standards.
The approximately 53 state-owned small, medium, and large manufacturing companies were floundering before to the civil war’s start in 1991, with the following violence destroying many of the surviving industries. Many of these small-scale factories, mainly as a consequence of significant local investment by the Somali diaspora, have reopened, and additional ones have been built. In the northern regions, there are fish-canning and meat-processing plants, as well as about 25 factories in the Mogadishu area that produce pasta, mineral water, confections, plastic bags, fabric, hides and skins, detergent and soap, aluminum, foam mattresses and pillows, fishing boats, packaging, and stone processing. In 2004, a Coca-Cola bottling facility worth $8.3 million built in the city, with investors coming from all across Somalia. Multinational corporations such as General Motors and Dole Fruit were also among the foreign investors.