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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... See More



 Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia

Geographic Coordinates:

 10 00 N, 49 00 E


 Total: 637,657 sq km
Land: 627,337 sq km
Water: 10,320 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly smaller than Texas

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 2,340 km
Border countries: Djibouti 58 km, Ethiopia 1,600 km, Kenya 682 km


 3,025 km (Rank: 40)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 200 nm


 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


 Mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Shimbiris 2,416 m

Natural Resources:

 Uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, likely oil reserves

Land Use:

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

Irrigated Land:

 2,000 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 15.7 cu km (1997)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 3.29 cu km/yr (0%/0%/100%)
Per capita: 400 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural Hazards:

 Recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season

Environment - Current Issues:

 Famine; use of contaminated water contributes to human health problems; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - Note:

 Strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal

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 Noun: Somali(s)
Adjective: Somali

Ethnic Groups:

 Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs)


 Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English


 Sunni Muslim


 9,925,640 (July 2011 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

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.)

Median Age:

 Total: 17.8 years
Male: 17.8 years
Female: 17.7 years (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.)


 Urban population: 37% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 4.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 MOGADISHU (capital) 1.353 million (2009)

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.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 1,200 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

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.)

Physicians Density:

 0.035 physicians/1,000 population (2006)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 67% of population
Rural: 9% of population
Total: 30% of population
Urban: 33% of population
Rural: 91% of population
Total: 70% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 52% of population
Rural: 6% of population
Total: 23% of population
Urban: 48% of population
Rural: 94% of population
Total: 77% of population (2008)

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.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Rift Valley fever
Water contact disease: schistosomiasis
Animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 32.8% (2006)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 37.8%
Male: 49.7%
Female: 25.8% (2001 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 3 years
Male: 3 years
Female: 2 years (2007)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Somalia
Local long form: Jamhuuriyada Demuqraadiga Soomaaliyeed
Local short form: Soomaaliya
Former: Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic

Government Type:

 No permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary federal government


 Name: Mogadishu
Geographic coordinates: 2 04 N, 45 22 E
Time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 18 regions (plural - NA, singular - gobolka); Awdal, Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe (Middle Jubba), Jubbada Hoose (Lower Jubba), Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe (Middle Shabeelle), Shabeellaha Hoose (Lower Shabeelle), Sool, Togdheer, Woqooyi Galbeed


 1 July 1960 (from a merger of British Somaliland that became independent from the UK on 26 June 1960 and Italian Somaliland that became independent from the Italian-administered UN trusteeship on 1 July 1960 to form the Somali Republic)

National Holiday:

 Foundation of the Somali Republic, 1 July (1960); note - 26 June (1960) in Somaliland


 25 August 1979, presidential approval 23 September 1979

Note: the formation of transitional governing institutions, known as the Transitional Federal Government, is currently ongoing

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system of civil law, Islamic law, and customary law (referred to as Xeer)

International Law Organization Participation:

 Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: Transitional Federal President Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed (since 31 January 2009); note - a transitional governing entity with a five-year mandate, known as the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), was established in October 2004; the TFIs relocated to Somalia in June 2004; in 2009, the TFIs were given a two-year extension to October 2011

Head of government: Prime Minister ABDIWELI Mohamed Ali (since 28 June 2011)

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Transitional Federal Assembly

Election results: Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed elected president by the expanded Transitional Federal Assembly in Djibouti

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral National Assembly

Note: unicameral Transitional Federal Assembly (TFA) (550 seats; 475 members appointed according to the 4.5 clan formula, with the remaining 75 seats reserved for civil society and business persons)

Judicial Branch:

 Following the breakdown of the central government, most regions have reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, traditional Somali customary law, or sharia (Islamic) law with a provision for appeal of all sentences

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Other: numerous clan and sub-clan factions exist both in support and in opposition to the transitional government

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Somalia does not have an embassy in the US (ceased operations on 8 May 1991); note - the Transitional Federal Government is represented in the United States through its Permanent Mission to the United Nations

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 The US does not have an embassy in Somalia; US interests are represented by the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya at United Nations Avenue, Nairobi; mailing address: Unit 64100, Nairobi; APO AE 09831; telephone: [254] (20) 363-6000; FAX [254] (20) 363-6157

Flag Description:

 Light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; the blue field was originally influenced by the flag of the UN, but today is said to denote the sky and the neighboring Indian Ocean; the five points of the star represent the five regions in the horn of Africa that are inhabited by Somali people: the former British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland (which together make up Somalia), Djibouti, Ogaden (Ethiopia), and the Northern Frontier District (Kenya)

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "Soomaaliyeey toosoo" (Somalia Wake Up)
Lyrics/music: Ali Mire AWALE and Yuusuf Xaaji Aadan Cilmi QABILLE

Note: adopted 2000; written in 1947, the lyrics speak of creating unity and an end to fighting

Government - Note:

 Although an interim government was created in 2004, other regional and local governing bodies continue to exist and control various regions of the country, including the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia and the semi-autonomous State of Puntland in northeastern Somalia

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Economy - Overview:

 Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal. Somalia's service sector also has grown. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Due to armed attacks on and threats to humanitarian aid workers, the World Food Programme partially suspended its operations in southern Somalia in early January 2010 pending improvement in the security situation. Somalia's arrears to the IMF have continued to grow.

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: 60.2%
Industry: 7.4%
Services: 32.5% (2008 est.)

Labor Force:

 3.447 million (few skilled laborers) (2007)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 71%
Industry and services: 29% (1975)

Unemployment Rate:


Population Below Poverty Line:


Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 IDPs: 1.1 million (civil war since 1988, clan-based competition for resources) (2007)

Investment (Gross Fixed):



 Revenues: $NA
Expenditures: $NA

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):


Note: businesses print their own money, so inflation rates cannot be easily determined

Central Bank Discount Rate:


Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:


Agriculture - Products:

 Bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts, rice, sugarcane, mangoes, sesame seeds, beans; cattle, sheep, goats; fish


 A few light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication

Industrial Production Growth Rate:


Electricity - Production:

 315 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 293 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 110 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 5,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 1,109 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 3,827 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 5.663 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)


 $300 million (2006)

Exports - Commodities:

 Livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal, scrap metal

Exports - Partners:

 UAE 51.3%, Yemen 19.8%, Oman 13% (2010)


 $798 million (2006)

Imports - Commodities:

 Manufactures, petroleum products, foodstuffs, construction materials, qat

Imports - Partners:

 Djibouti 31.5%, Kenya 8.2%, Pakistan 7.4%, China 6.5%, Brazil 5.7%, Yemen 5.1%, Oman 5%, UAE 4.9% (2010)

Debt - External:

 $3 billion (2001 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Somali Shilling to Any Currency

Somali shillings (SOS) per US dollar -
NA (2007-10)
1,438.3 (2006) official rate; the unofficial black market rate was about 23,000 shillings per dollar as of February 2007, the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared independent country not recognized by any foreign government, issues its own currency, the Somaliland shilling

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 100,000 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 648,200 (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: the public telecommunications system was almost completely destroyed or dismantled during the civil war; private companies offer limited local fixed-line service and private wireless companies offer service in most major cities while charging the lowest international rates on the continent

Domestic: local cellular telephone systems have been established in Mogadishu and in several other population centers

International: country code - 252; international connections are available from Mogadishu by satellite

Broadcast Media:

 2 private TV stations rebroadcast Al-Jazeera and CNN; Somaliland has 1 government-operated TV station and Puntland has 1 private TV station; Radio Mogadishu operated by the transitional government; 1 SW and roughly 10 private FM radio stations broadcast in Mogadishu; several radio stations operate in central and southern regions; Somaliland has 1 government-operated radio station; Puntland has roughly a half dozen private radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 0, FM 11 (also 1 station each in Puntland and Somaliland), shortwave 1 (in Mogadishu) (2001)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 4 (2 in Mogadishu and 2 in Hargeisa) (2001)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 3 (2010)

Internet Users:

 106,000 (2009)

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 59 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 7
Over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 52
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 23
Under 914 m: 6 (2010)


 Total: 22,100 km
Paved: 2,608 km
Unpaved: 19,492 km (2000)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 1
By type: cargo 1
Foreign-owned: 1 (UAE 1) (2008)

Ports and Terminals:

 Berbera, Kismaayo

Transportation - Note:

 The International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remain the region of greatest risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships accounting for 50% of all attacks in 2010; 217 vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, were attacked or hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijackings off the coast of Somalia accounted for 92% of all ship seizures in 2010; as of May 2011, 26 vessels and 522 hostages were being held for ransom by Somali pirates; the presence of several naval task forces in the Gulf of Aden and additional anti-piracy measures on the part of ship operators have reduced piracy incidents in that body of water; in response Somali-based pirates, using hijacked fishing trawlers as "mother ships" to extend their range, shifted operations as far south as the Mozambique Channel and eastward to the vicinity of the Maldives

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Military Branches:

 National Security Force (NSF): Somali Army (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 Note: since 2005, the UN has listed the Transitional Federal Government and its allied militias as persistent violators in recruiting children (2010)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,260,175
Females age 16-49: 2,159,293 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,331,894
Females age 16-49: 1,357,051 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 101,634
Female: 101,072 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 0.9% of GDP (2005 est.)

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Disputes - International:

 Ethiopian forces invaded southern Somalia and routed Islamist Courts from Mogadishu in January 2007; "Somaliland" secessionists provide port facilities in Berbera to landlocked Ethiopia and have established commercial ties with other regional states; "Puntland" and "Somaliland" "governments" seek international support in their secessionist aspirations and overlapping border claims; the undemarcated former British administrative line has little meaning as a political separation to rival clans within Ethiopia's Ogaden and southern Somalia's Oromo region; Kenya works hard to prevent the clan and militia fighting in Somalia from spreading south across the border, which has long been open to nomadic pastoralists

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Last Updated: December 2011

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