Full Name
Somalia (English)
Jamhuuriyada Demuqraadiga Soomaaliyeed (Somali)
Origins of name: ‘the Land of Somali’ (the dominant cultural group)
Formerly: The Somali Republic and the Somali Democratic Republic

Current Leader

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.


Mogadishu began its existence as a trading station established by Arabs and Persians
Somalia was created in 1960 when the Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland combined
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 and has suffered extensive conflicts and famine


Form of Government
No permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary federal government
Transitional governing entity with a 5 year mandate, known as the Transitional Federal Institution (TFI)

Government structure
Chief of State; Transitional Federal President, Head of Government; Prime Minister, Cabinet; approved by Transitional Federal Assembly

Military Statistics
No national-level forces

Former Rulers
1960- 1967 Aden Abdullah Osman Daar
1967 - 1969 Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke
1969 - 1991 Muhammad Siad Barre
1991 - 2000 Power struggle between clan warlords Mohamed Farah Aideed (and successively his son Hussein after he is killed) and Ali Mahdi Mohamed
2001 – 2004 Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
2004 – 2008 Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
2009 – 2012 Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed

Altitude: 135ft
Population: 2.587 million

Size: 9,557,000 (2011)
Life expectancy: 49.6 years
Gender Make-Up: Female – 50.1%, Male – 49.9%

GDP per capita

Estimated at $139 in 1998

Area: 637,657 sqkm
Land boundaries: Djibouti 58km, Ethiopia 1,600km, Kenya 682km

Major Languages
Somali, Arabic, Italian, English

Religious portfolio
Sunni Muslim

National Make-up
Somali 85%, Bantu, Other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)

Natural Resources
Uranium, Iron ore, Tin, Gypsum
Natural gas
Likely oil reserves

Main exports

Land Use
Arable land: 1.64%
Permanent crops: 0.04%
Other: 98.32% (2005)

Monetary Unit/Currency
Somali Shilling

Dialling Code

Internet Code

Main Port: Berbera and Mogadishu
Airport: Aden-Adde International Airport, however, due to dangerous circumstances K50 Airport, located at 50km from Mogadishu, is often used

Modern issues

Contaminated water; toxic dumping, improper disposal of human waste
Deforestation; especially in order to produce charcoal for export
Soil erosion
Drought; there is low rainfall (250 mm/y) which is variable, while the potential evaporation is extremely high (over 2000 mm/y)
No central authority exists to try to curb or control environmental damage

Somalia’s new prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has said that implementation of a roadmap to transform the transitional government into a permanent one was on course. Prof Ali admitted that the Transitional Federal Government faced big hurdles but urged the country to get behind the National Security Stabilisation Plan

The multiplicity of clan rivalries has meant that there is a very weak foundation for a central authority and little hope for national integration – there exists the self-declared Republic of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, which have their own governing bodies
Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist organisation, is responsible for many of the insurgent attacks against the transitional government and are advocates for Shari’a Law

In October 2012, the second largest city and Al-Shabaab stronghold Kismayu was captured by Africa Union and government forces

Somalia relies heavily on its informal economy largely based on livestock, remittances and telecommunications

In 2011, the government’s inability and failure to plan for water storage, irrigation, strategic food stocks, and investment in food distribution infrastructure has seen Somalia face "the worst drought in north-east Africa for 60 years" without protection. The latest drought in the Horn of Africa has threw the country into even more chaos, and led to an unwelcome movement of Somalis into neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia. More than 800,000 Somalis crossed into Kenya and turned already crowded refugee camps into disaster zones
Somalians are being affected by illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste of the coast of Somalia by European and Asian countries
Approximately 1.1 million people have been driven from their homes due to the conflict in recent years and often face persecution as refugees in neighbouring countries
Christians resident are often harassed by Al-Shabaab militia; Christians attend Mosque in order not to arouse suspicion, there are no Christian gatherings or churches and bibles are kept hidden

Foreign Affairs
Due to perceptions of improved security, in December 2011 Italy and the United Nations both announced they are reopening their missions in Mogadishu after a long absence. Italy has had two decades of diplomatic absence in Somalia

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed continued to maintain his opposition to the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia. Mr. Sharif repeated that Kenya was wrong in sending troops into Somalia, hinting that Nairobi's action amounted to a breach of Somalia’s sovereignty, yet his government is incapable of dealing with Islamist militant group al-Shabaab
The Somaliland and Puntland seek international support in their secessionist movements
Following the killing of 30 people in Mogadishu during a confrontation between Amisom (African Union’s peacekeeping forces) and al-Shabaab fighters, the latter have threatened to attack Bujumbura and Kampala since their countries supply Amisom with peacekeepers
Piracy off the Somalian coast has become an international concern since between $80-$150 million has been paid in ransom money, it is becoming expensive to safeguard shipping lanes and for insurance companies – this may, however, push international efforts for long term solutions to Somalia’s problems

The Major Conflicts

Ogaden War
When: 1977 – 1978
Who: Western Somalian Liberation Front VS Ethiopia
Why: Somalia was trying to gain control, and resist Ethiopian control, of the Ogaden region, which is the territory comprising the southeastern portion of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia
Outcome: The Ethiopian Government had an alliance with the Soviet Union, which shifted the advantage and Somalia was defeated. This resulted in Western aid drying up and Siad Barré’s regime growing more oppressive in order to keep control

Somalian Civil War
When: 1991 onwards
Who: Rival factions VS Government and each other
Why: Rival clans sought control after Siad Barré was ousted from government
Outcome: There is a Transitional Federal Government in place since 2004, however, there continues to be a power-struggle with rival clans. Ethiopia, the African Union and the US have all been involved

What to see?
Somaliland: much more secure for visitors;
The Salaxlay or Salahlay is an area of countryside where you can experience the nomadic lifestyle; see the Aqal-Somali (A portable nomadic house)
Laas Ga'al outside Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland: The Laas Ga’al is a Neolithic rock painting
Camel Markets

Popular Sports

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Abdi Bile: finished sixth in the final of the 1,500m at the 1996 Summer Olympics
Samiyo Yusuf: 200m runner, she participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she achieved a time of 32.16 seconds

Mo Farah, who won olympic gold in the 2012 Olympics for Britain is of Somali descent

Restaurants are popular in Mogadishu, particularly Italian ones due to the Italian influence in Somali history – a favourite is pasta with marinara sauce
Iman, the international supermodel, is Somali and is the daughter to the former Somali Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

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