The orange and tan colors of this high-oblique photograph of the Horn of Africa indicate an arid-to-semiarid landscape in the northern half of the east African country of Somalia. Except for the darker areas where thicker vegetation can be found (usually in elevated areas), most of the vegetation in this part of Somalia is shrub brush and grasslands. The southern extent of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula is visible north across the Gulf of Aden. Image courtesy of NASA.
Several powerful Somali states dominated the Indian Ocean trade from the 13th century onward. In the late 19th century, the area that would become Somalia was colonized by Britain in the north and Italy in the south. 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 the regions of Sool and Sanaag, and portions of Togdheer. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in south-central Somalia) 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 UN-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 doubled in size 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 ICU and ARS chairman as president in January 2009. The creation of the TFG was based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), which outlined a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. In 2009, the TFP amended the TFC to extend TFG’s mandate until 2011 and in 2011 Somali principals agreed to institute political transition by August 2012. The transition process ended in September 2012 when clan elders replaced the TFP by appointing 275 members to a new parliament who subsequently elected a new president.
It’s location is Eastern Africa (Horn of Africa), bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia.
Geographical Coordinates: 10 00 N, 49 00 E
total: 637,657 sq km
land: 627,337 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km
Djibouti 61 km
Ethiopia 1640 km
Kenya 684 km
Coastline: 3025 km
Maritime Claims Territorial Sea:
200 nautical miles
Exclusive Economic Zone
200 nautical miles
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
Highest point: Mount Shimbiris 2,460 m
Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Mean elevation: 410 m
Natural resources: Uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, likely oil reserves
Agricultural land: 70.3% (2018 est.)
Arable land: 1.8% (2018 est.)
Permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)
Permanent pasture: 68.5% (2018 est.)
Forest: 10.6% (2018 est.)
Other: 19.1% (2018 est.)
2,000 sq km (2012)
Population distribution varies greatly throughout the country; least densely populated areas are in the northeast and central regions, as well as areas along the Kenyan border; most populated areas are in and around the cities of Mogadishu, Marka, Boorama, Hargeysa, and Baidoa as shown on this population distribution map.
Natural Hazards: Recurring droughts, frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season
Geographic Notes: Strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal
Population: 12,094,640 (July 2021 est.)
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
Nationality Noun: Somali(s)
Nationality Adjective: Somali
Ethnic Groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs)
Languages: Somali (official, according to the 2012 Transitional Federal Charter), Arabic (official, according to the 2012 Transitional Federal Charter), Italian, English
Buugga Xaqiiqda Aduunka, waa laga maarmaanka macluumaadka assasiga. (Somali)