Thursday, December 8, 2022
Somalia Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Somalia

travel guide

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.

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Somalia - Info Card

Population

17,066,000

Currency

Somali shilling (SOS)

Time zone

UTC+3 (EAT)

Area

637,657

Calling code

+252

Official language

Somali, Arabic

Somalia - Introduction

Geography

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.

Environment

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.

Climate

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.

Demographics

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.

Religion

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.

Language

Somali is Somalia’s official language. However, Arabic is widely spoken and is considered a secondary language. Because Somalis are nearly entirely Sunni Muslims, much religious language has been taken from Arabic, but there are also Persian or Arabic loan terms for ordinary things (for example, Somali albab-ka (the door), from the Arabic al baab). While the country’s southern region was a former protectorate and colony of Italy, it is unknown how much Italian is currently spoken there. Many Somalis know English in order to interact with the people who do all of the menial tasks in their nation. If you can learn a few Somali words, your hosts and any other natives you encounter will be extremely pleased and grateful.

Internet & Communications

The civil war groups almost totally damaged or demolished the public telecommunications infrastructure. Mogadishu and many other population centers already have local cellular telephone networks. Satellite links to the rest of the world are accessible from Mogadishu. International incoming connections are also supported by the cellular infrastructure. Dialup internet connection is available in Mogadishu by visiting one of the internet cafés. Somalia boasts the continent’s lowest cellular calling rates, with some providers costing less than one US cent per minute. Competing phone providers have agreed on interconnection requirements, which were mediated by the Somali Telecom Association, which is sponsored by the United Nations.

Wireless Internet access and Internet cafés are accessible, however keep in mind that the.so domain is currently unavailable in Somalia.

Wildlife

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.

Entry Requirements For Somalia

Visa & Passport

Foreigners and Somalis living abroad will need a visa. This may be done in three different ways:

  1. It is simple to organize via the Somali embassy in your own nation for 40-50 US dollars.
  2. Visa on arrival: If you have the proper documentation, you may simply get a visa on arrival; the whole procedure takes about 40 minutes.
  3. The best and most safe option is to book your whole trip via a local luxury hotel, which will handle everything from visa processing to airport pick-up, security, sightseeing, and anything else you need.

Visa restrictions

Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and to those who show stamps and/or visas from Israel.

How To Travel To Somalia

By plane

Due to Ethiopian troops’ recent bombardment of Somalia’s airport(s), plane travel to and from Somalia may be difficult. However, plane travel to and from Somalia may be the safest option.

African Express, which has connections in Dubai, Nairobi, and other minor Middle Eastern and East African ports of call, seems to be the most dependable method to get in. Tickets may be reserved in advance, but not bought until you visit their ticketing office – check back in to make sure you have a seat booked if you won’t be in the city you’re flying out of before your departure!

  • African Express is a Kenyan airline that flies to and from Berbera, Bossaso, Galkacyo, and Mogadishu mainly from Nairobi and Dubai, but also from smaller cities like Sharjah, Entebbe, and Jeddah on occasion. MD-82 jets are used on major routes; lesser trips may be on a DC-9 or 120-ER.
  • Jubba Airways Jubba Airways is a Somali airline that flies to and from Dubai, Bossaso, and Jeddah from Mogadishu. Galkayo, Hargeisa, and Sharjah may also have flights available. They fly an Ilyushin-18 aircraft built in the Soviet Union. They are presently the only airline to/from Somalia that allows internet bookings, however you must confirm with them seven days prior to travelling.
  • Daallo Airlines was the only foreign airline that flew to Somalia. They are presently grounded (as of June 2011) and provide intermittent service even when they are open. They flew 2-3 times a week from Djibouti, and they used an Ilyushin-18 aircraft.

Flights are once again arriving at MIA International Airport, also known as Aden Abdulle International Airport, located just a few kilometers southwest of Mogadishu’s center. The airport is located on the beach of the Indian Ocean, and the Turkish government has set aside funds to renovate the airport’s security, control tower, and navigational systems. Passenger flights are currently in operation.

As of 2016, there are 100 flights per day to and from Mogadishu’s MIA airport.

By car

You should not go to Somalia by vehicle. Though crossing into Somaliland may be feasible, borders are usually shut and always hazardous.

By bus

Armed robberies and murders aboard buses are frequent in Somalia, especially Somaliland. However, it is feasible and reasonably safe (albeit relative is the important word) to travel from Ethiopia into Somaliland through a succession of buses and/or shared vehicles.

In Ethiopia, ask for a bus to Wajaale from Jijiga. Cross the border (with your Somaliland visa in hand) and take a shared 4×4 vehicle to Hargeisa.

Keep in mind that you will require a multiple-entry Ethiopian visa to depart through the same method (- no longer true as Ethiopian visas can be obtained at the Ethiopian Trade Mission in Hargeisa). These are not available at the airport and must be obtained in advance of your trip. A visa is also required for Somaliland (see the “Getting In” section on its page for more details).

Every day at about 5 p.m., 4x4s depart from Avenue 26 in Djibouti City and travel through the desert through the night to arrive in Hargeisa around 8 a.m. the following day.

As previously stated, the borders around the remainder of old Somalia are closed and very hazardous.

By boat

Ports may be found at Mogadishu, Berbera, Kismaayo, and Bosaso. Pirates have made the seas outside of Somalia, particularly the Gulf of Aden, dangerous; great care is recommended.

How To Travel Around Somalia

For 17 years, Somalia was without a functional administration, which, as one would expect, had a detrimental impact on roads and transportation. In Somalia, there are two forms of public transportation available: buses and taxis. The only traffic regulation that seems to still be in effect is that Somalis usually drive on the right or center.

Destinations in Somalia

Regions in Somalia

  • Somalia’s south
    The location of the capital as well as the bulk of the combat.
  • Somalia’s central region
    The country’s central area, centered on the Galguduud and Mudug regions.
  • Puntland
    A historically independent area on the Horn of Africa.
  • Somaliland
    The de facto autonomous northern region, which has a functional administration and a minor tourism industry.

Cities in Somalia

  • Mogadishu – Mogadishu is the capital and often regarded as the world’s most lawless city.
  • Hargeisa – Hargeisa is Somaliland’s capital and, by Somalian standards, a relatively secure city.
  • Kismayo – Kismayo is a port city in the country’s south.

Things To See in Somalia

Liido Beach and Gezira Beach, both near Mogadishu, are stunning. On weekends, families usually go. Women must swim completely clothed, but new resort investors have created a separate area for couples, since Somalia is a Muslim nation that prohibits women from showing much of their bodies or mixing with males. Although there have been recent improvements, caution is advised.

It is unclear what the situation is currently. In other circumstances, the beach would be an excellent destination; however, the general threat of banditry and piracy along the coast makes this, like every other option in the country, risky, and caution is usually advised.

Food & Drinks in Somalia

Food in Somalia

Meat dominates Somali cuisine, and vegetarianism is uncommon. Goat, beef, lamb, and occasionally chicken are fried in ghee, grilled, or broiled. It’s seasoned with turmeric, coriander, cumin, and curry and served over basmati rice for lunch, supper, and sometimes morning.

Vegetables seem to be mostly side dishes, and are often included into a meat meal, such as mixing potatoes, carrots, and peas with meat to make a stew. Green peppers, spinach, and garlic were all mentioned as the most frequently consumed veggies. Some of the more popular fruits include bananas, dates, apples, oranges, pears, and grapes (a raw, sliced banana is often eaten with rice). However, in Somalia, Somalis had a far wider variety of fruits, such as mango and guava, from which to create fresh juice. As a result, Somali shops have one of the most diverse selections of fruit juices, including Kern1s juices as well as imports from India and Canada. There is also a choice of quick juice, which may be frozen or powdered.

The Somali diet is distinguished by the fact that it comprises entirely of halal items (Arabic for “allowable” as opposed to haram: “prohibited”). Somalis are Muslims, and according to Islamic Law (or Shar’1ah), pork and alcohol are prohibited.

Other popular meals include injera (similar to a big, spongy pancake) and sambusas (similar to Indian samosas), which are deep-fried triangular-shaped pastries filled with meat or vegetables.

Somali cuisine varies by area and is an eclectic blend of local Somali, Yemeni, Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Italian influences. It is the result of Somalia’s long history of trade and commerce. Despite the diversity, one thing unifies the different regional cuisines: all food is provided halal.

Drinks in Somalia

Somalis are big fans of spiced tea. A subset of Somalis consume a tea similar to Turkish tea, which they brought back from Middle Eastern nations. The majority, however, drink a traditional and cultural tea known as Shah Hawaash, which is made of cardamom (in Somali, Xawaash or Hayle) and cinnamon bark (in Somali, Qoronfil).

Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and Somalia rigorously adheres to this rule. If you do discover any, don’t display it or consume it in public, since you may offend and be punished. Foreign visitors may purchase alcohol at Abdalla Nuradin Bar.

When it comes to coffee (kahwa), try mirra, which is prepared in the Somali manner. It’s powerful and delicious, especially when paired with fresh dates, and it’s sometimes flavored with cardamom. Tea (chai) is often served with dollops of sugar and perhaps a few mint leaves (na’ana).

Money & Shopping in Somalia

The Somali shilling is the currency used in Somalia (excluding Somaliland), and its ISO 4217 currency code is SOS. Currently, only the SOS1000 note is accepted, and it does not go very far… a glass of (unpotable) water will set you back SOS1000. Exchange rates are highly variable, and in December 2014, USD1 officially equaled SOS700, while the free market rate yields ten or twenty times more local paper for hard money, which is favored for bigger purchases. Much more helpful are things that can be bartered.

The Bakaara Market (Somali: Suuqa Bakaaraha) is the biggest open market in Somalia and is located in Mogadishu.

Bakaara Market is located in Mogadishu’s center. During the rule of Siad Barre, the market was established in late 1972. Proprietors sold and continue to sell everyday necessities (such as maize, sorghum, beans, peanuts, sesame, wheat, and rice), fuel, and medication. Despite the fact that a new Coalition government has taken power, Somali marketplaces continue to operate mostly unregulated. A vast range of weapons is also available, with firearms occasionally being the only item available at certain marketplaces. At the moment, 80 percent of Somali males possess a weapon. Customers will often test their new guns by shooting into the air, so use extreme caution. An automatic weapon may typically be purchased in the market for about SOS1,000,000 or USD30. Don’t purchase one, even if you think it’s manly. If you have a weapon, you are far more likely to use it, which is extremely terrible in the eyes of the law and may lead to your death.

There are numerous items to purchase here, but be cautious of inexpensive pearls, which may not be genuine. Somalia has several excellent tailors and is a good location to get clothing tailored to measure and duplicated.

Traditions & Customs in Somalia

This is a Muslim-majority nation. As a result, be cautious about where you aim your camera. There are many excellent picture possibilities around every turn (the question is generally what to leave out of each shot), but always ask first when shooting people. Never, ever attempt to photograph ladies, even if you are a woman yourself. This is a serious crime that may result in more than a few angry words. Also, do not attempt to photograph anything that seems to be of strategic significance (i.e., has at least one soldier, policeman or, more likely, armed militiaman guarding it).

Respect the Somali people’s Islamic beliefs: women should not wear tube tops or short clothes. It is quite normal for people of any nationality to dress in traditional Somali attire.

If you eat in public during the holy month of Ramadan, you may be fined or even imprisoned. The Islamist militia Al-Shabab may be present in many populated places. They take no lightly to any infringement of Sharia law, and since they are not connected with any government, they are not required to comply by any laws other than their own. They will feel free to punish any inappropriate conduct in whatever manner they see fit, including floggings, amputations, and even executions. Government officials also penalize Sharia law breaches, although they are usually less severe than those enforced by rebels.

Alcohol is illegal in Somalia, and having it can land you in serious problems – and never drink and drive.

Don’t show the soles of your feet to a Somali if you’re eating with him/her. Don’t eat with your left hand, either, since the left hand is considered the “dirty hand.” Similarly, don’t try to shake someone’s hand or give a gift with your left hand.

Allow your Somali friend to buy you anything, whether it’s a dinner or a present. Somalis are very welcoming, and there are usually no strings connected. It is customary to advocate in favor of the measure.

Never bring up religion from an atheistic or comparable perspective. Even highly educated Somalis who have studied abroad will be offended, and doors will shut for you. Also, keep in mind that the Islamic “call to prayer” occurs five times each day and may be heard clearly nearly anywhere. Just keep in mind that most Somalis are used to it and embrace it as part of the cultural experience. You are not required to participate if you are not Muslim, but you should always sit silently and politely until the prayers finish.

Staring is very prevalent in Somalia; children, men, and women may certainly look at you just because you are a foreigner, particularly if you go off-season and in remote areas. This is not intended to be an insult; rather, it expresses curiosity, and a pleasant grin will have the youngsters laughing and showing off, and the adults joyfully practicing their few English words.

Dress code in Somalia

Men

Men dress in flowing plaid ma’awis (kilts), western shirts, and shawls. They may wrap a colorful turban over their heads or wear a koofiyad (embroidered cap).

Because of their Islamic background, many Somalis wear long gowns known as khameez/thobe in the Arab and Islamic cultures. In recent years, many Somali men have chosen to wear suits and ties in order to seem more contemporary. This western dress code is prevalent among Somali upper-class and government officials.

Homosexuality is a capital offense. It is customary for Somali men to stroll hand in hand as a show of friendliness, but Western males should avoid doing so. Sharing a hotel room to save money is common, but don’t even think of asking for one bed for two.

Women

Women often wear one of the following outfits: Direh, a long, billowing garment worn over petticoats; coantino, a four-yard fabric wrapped over the waist and knotted over the shoulder. They also dress in an abaya, a long, flowing black robe.

Culture Of Somalia

Cuisine

Somali cuisine varies by area and is influenced by a wide range of culinary influences. It is the result of Somalia’s long history of trade and commerce. Despite the diversity, one thing unifies the different regional cuisines: all food is provided halal. As a result, no pig dishes are provided, no alcohol is served, nothing that died on its own is eaten, and no blood is integrated. Qaddo, or lunch, is often lavish.

The main course is typically a kind of bariis (rice), the most popular of which is undoubtedly basmati. Spices like as cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and garden sage are used to flavor these various rice recipes. Somalis eat supper till 9 p.m. Supper is often served after Tarawih prayers during Ramadan, sometimes until 11 p.m.

Xalwo (halva) is a popular confection reserved for special events such as Eid or wedding parties. Corn starch, sugar, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, and ghee are used to make it. Peanuts are occasionally used to improve the texture and flavor. Homes are typically scented after meals with frankincense (lubaan) or incense (cuunsi), which is produced within an incense burner known as a dabqaad.

Music

Somalia has a diverse musical history that is centered on traditional Somali folklore. The majority of Somali songs are pentatonic. That is, instead of a heptatonic (seven note) scale like the major scale, they only utilize five pitches each octave. At first listen, Somali music may be confused with the sounds of neighboring areas such as Ethiopia, Sudan, or the Arabian Peninsula, but it is eventually distinguished by its own distinct melodies and genres. The majority of Somali songs are the result of cooperation between lyricists (midho), songwriters (laxan), and vocalists (codka or “voice”).

Literature

For ages, Somali scholars have created many noteworthy examples of Islamic literature spanning from poetry to Hadith. Following the introduction of the Latin alphabet as the nation’s official orthography in 1972, many modern Somali writers have published books, some of which have gone on to earn international recognition. Nuruddin Farah is perhaps the most well-known of these contemporary authors. Books such as From a Crooked Rib and Links are regarded as significant literary accomplishments, and have won Farah the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other honors. Faarax M.J. Cawl is another well-known Somali author, well known for his Dervish-era book Ignorance is the enemy of love.

Sport

In Somalia, football is the most popular sport. The Somalia League and Somalia Cup are important domestic tournaments, while the Somalia national football team competes internationally.

Basketball is also a popular sport in the nation. The FIBA Africa Championship 1981 was held in Mogadishu from the 15th to the 23rd of December 1981, and the national basketball team won the bronze medal. The team also competes in the basketball competition at the Pan Arab Games.

Borlänge hosted the formation of a Somalia national bandy squad in 2013. It subsequently competed in the 2014 Bandy World Championships in Irkutsk and Shelekhov, Russia.

In the martial arts, national Taekwondo team members Faisal Jeylani Aweys and Mohamed Deq Abdulle earned silver and fourth place, respectively, at the 2013 Open World Taekwondo Challenge Cup in Tongeren. To guarantee sustained success in future events, the Somali Olympic Committee has developed a unique assistance package. Mohamed Jama has also won world and European championships in K-1 and Thai Boxing.

Architecture

Somali architecture is a rich and varied engineering and design heritage that includes stone towns, castles, citadels, fortresses, mosques, mausoleums, temples, towers, monuments, cairns, megaliths, menhirs, dolmens, tombs, tumuli, steles, cisterns, aqueducts, and lighthouses. It incorporates the combination of Somalo-Islamic architecture with current Western styles and spans the country’s ancient, medieval, and early modern eras.

Pyramidical constructions known as taalo in Somali were a common burial form in ancient Somalia, and hundreds of these dry stone monuments may still be seen across the nation today. Houses were constructed of dressed stone, similar to those seen in ancient Egypt. Courtyards and huge stone walls surrounding villages, such as the Wargaade Wall, are other examples.

The early medieval embrace of Islam in Somalia brought Islamic architectural influences from Arabia and Persia. This prompted a building movement away from drystone and other similar materials and toward coral stone, sundried bricks, and the extensive use of limestone in Somali architecture. Many of the new architectural styles, such as mosques, were constructed over the remains of previous buildings, a process that would continue for decades to come.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Somalia

Stay Safe in Somalia

Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, is the safest city in what is officially Somalia. It is the most westernized city in Somalia, and it welcomes international visitors more than any other city. If you are considering a trip to Somalia, we highly advise you to visit Hargeisa rather than any other city. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the simplest way to remain safe in Somalia is to avoid going there in the first place. Somalia is rife with kidnappings, violent conflicts, piracy, and warlording. At least 15 people were murdered in a hotel assault in Mogadishu in June 2016.

In 2012, a federal government was formed. With the assistance of an African Union peacekeeping mission, this government is presently waging a military battle against extreme al-Qaeda-backed rebels located in rural regions. Other entities, however, govern in other areas of Somalia: Somaliland and Puntland are basically nations in their own right, as are Ximan in the center and “Azania,” a Kenyan-installed state in the south. Various coastal communities may be under the hands of pirates. Be cautious in places where you see armed guys or hear gunshots or explosions. Insurgents in Somalia have also launched mortar assaults on civilian population centers and government buildings. Somali government troops have also conducted artillery strikes on rebels in urban areas, resulting in civilian deaths. Keep in mind that shells may start pouring down at any time, particularly if there are indications of combat nearby, and that you will only have seconds to start fleeing or taking shelter if you hear the tell-tale sound of an approaching shell. For more information, go here.

Also, be on the lookout for violent crime. Despite the fact that the Somali government has created a police force, it is still in its early stages, and crime rates remain high. Be warned that many warlords and criminals in Somalia may attempt to abduct a foreigner and keep him or her hostage for ransom.

Driving is done on the right side of the road. While Somali drivers have a reputation for poor driving, the truth is a little more complex. Risks are taken, especially in Mogadishu, that would not be taken in other locations, but the residents anticipate this and prepare appropriately.

When planning your trip, it is best to request that you be escorted by professional Somali armed escorts or carry bodyguards.

As of 2014, nine countries have embassies in Mogadishu: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Iran, Italy, Libya, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Yemen, with six more intending to reopen their embassies in the near future. However, since there are no embassies in Hargeisa, no official from your home government will be able to help you if you get into problems in Somaliland. Most nations’ nearest consular services are in neighboring Djibouti, Ethiopia, or Kenya, and farther away in Sudan and Egypt.

Stay Healthy in Somalia

The majority of the water is polluted. Stick to bottled fluids that are sealed and, ideally, not from Somalia. Food and drink will be provided by your guide.

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