Map Somalia
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Somalia


Background: 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 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. 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 United Nations-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 increased 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 CIC and ARS chairman as president on 31 January 2009, in Djibouti. Subsequently, President SHARIF appointed Omar Abdirashid ali SHARMARKE, son of a former president of Somalia, as prime minister on 13 February 2009. SHARMARKE resigned in September 2010 and was replaced by Mohamed Abdullahi MOHAMED, aka Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen who lived in the United Stated from 1985 until his return to Somalia in October 2010. The creation of the TFG was based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), which outlines a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. However, in January 2009 the TFP amended the TFC to extend TFG's mandate until 2011.
Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia
Area land: 627,337 sq km
Area water: 10,320 sq km
Coastline: 3,025 km
Country name conventional long form: none
Country name conventional short form: Somalia
Country name former: Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic
Population: 9,925,640
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.7% (male 2,217,890/female 2,217,063); 15-64 years: 52.9% (male 2,663,729/female 2,588,716); 65 years and over: 2.4% (male 95,859/female 142,383) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.603% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 42.71 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 14.87 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -11.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female; total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 105.56 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 114.53 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 96.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 50.4 years; male: 48.49 years; female: 52.37 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 6.35 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.7% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 34,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,600 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Somali(s); adjective: Somali;
Ethnic groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000);
Religions: Sunni Muslim;
Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 37.8%; male: 49.7%; female: 25.8% (2001 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $5.896 billion (2010 est.); $5.75 billion (2009 est.); $5.607 billion (2008 est.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $2.372 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 2.6% (2010 est.); 2.6% (2009 est.); 2.6% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $600 (2010 est.); $600 (2009 est.); $600 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 65%; industry: 10%; services: 25% (2005 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 3.447 million (few skilled laborers) (2007);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 71%; industry and services: 29% (1975);
Unemployment rate: NA%;
Budget: revenues: $NA; expenditures: $NA;
Industries: a few light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication;
Industrial production growth rate: NA%;
Electricity - production: 280 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 260.4 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.

Somalia in the News

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Displaying 5 to 8 of 24 items.

U.S. Dual-Track Policy in Somalia

In a country with layers of complexity, clan warfare and a broken state, the Obama administration is taking an appropriately complex approach to stabilizing Somalia, one that may or may not bear fruit.

Improving Security in Somalia

The United States is looking to the regions of Puntland and Somaliland for keys to protecting Somalis from extremist threats.

Somalia's Last Chance

The state of affairs in Somalia, though still volatile and deeply troubled, is showing signs of improved political inclusion, and the country could benefit from more engaged foreign involvement.

A New Paradigm for Engaging Somalia

As Somalia scrambles toward a new era of peace, forces inside and outside the country can do much more by moving away from the costly strategies of "hard power."