Somalia (Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال, As-Sumal), formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, is a coastal nation in East Africa. Continentally, it is entirely surrounded by Ethiopia and Djibouti on the north and mid-west, and Kenya on its south-west; with the Gulf of Aden on its east. It currently exists solely in a de jure capacity, which can be described as anarchy. Somalia has no recognized central government authority, no national currency, nor any other feature associated with a remotely-established nation state. De facto authority resides in the hands of the governments for the unrecognized entities of Somaliland, Puntland, and other small rival warlords.
Main article: History of Somalia
Intermittent civil war has been a fact of life in Somalia since 1977. In 1991, the northern portion of the country declared its independence as Somaliland; although de facto independent and relatively stable compared to the tumultuous south, it has not been recognized by any foreign government.
Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew on March 3 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order had still not been restored.
Yet again another secession from Somalia took place in the northeastern region. The self-proclaimed state took the name Puntland after declaring "temporary" independence in 1998, with the intention that it would participate in any Somali reconciliation to form a new central government.
A third seccession occurred in 1998 with the declaration of the state of Jubaland. The territory of Jubaland is now encompassed by the state of Southwestern Somalia and its status is unclear.
A fourth self-proclaimed entity led by the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) was set up in 1999, along the lines of the Puntland. That "temporary" secession was reasserted in 2002. This led to the autonomy of Southwestern Somalia. The RRA had originally set up an autonomous administration over the Bay and Bakool regions of south and central Somalia in 1999.
Somalia was one of the many countries devastated by the resulting tsunami which struck the Indian Ocean coast, destroying entire villages and killing an estimated 300 people.
Main article: Politics of Somalia
Somalia has no effective national government. In the northwest, there is a breakaway republic of Somaliland. In the rest of the country there are various warlords, cf. Puntland and Southwestern Somalia. The internationally-recognised government is the Transitional National Government, originally headed by Abdulkassim Salat Hassan, which controls only part of the capital, Mogadishu.
On October 10, 2004 Somali MPs elected Abdullahi Yusuf, president of Puntland, to be the next president. Because of the chaotic situation in Mogadishu, the election was held in a sports centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Yusuf was elected transitional President by Somalia's transitional parliament. He won 189 of the 275 votes from parliament. The session of Parliament was held in neighbouring Kenya. His government is recognized by most western nations as the country's legitimate rulers, though his actual authority is extremely questionable.
Many more small political organizations exist, some clan-based, others seeking a Somalia free from clan-based politics (such as the United Somali Front). Many of them have come into existence since the new president was chosen.
Somalia has a population of around 9,890,000. However, estimates are difficult because of the continuing situation. The last census was in 1975. Most outside analysts use this estimate but Somalia is one of the fastest growing countries in Africa and the world. Some estimates range between 6 to 15 million. If current trends continue, Somalia could have as many as 40 million people by 2050.
Main article: Regions of Somalia
Somalia is divided into 18 regions (gobollada ):
Map of Somalia including the self-proclaimed boundary of Somaliland
Main article: Geography of Somalia
Somalia is located on the east coast of Africa on and north of the Equator between the Gulf of Aden on the north and Indian Ocean on the west. Together with Ethiopia and Djibouti it is often referred to as the Horn of Africa. It borders Djibouti on the northwest, Ethiopia on the west, and Kenya on southwest. Somalia comprises Italy's former Trust Territory of Somalia and the former British Protectorate of Somaliland (now seeking recognition as an independent state). The coastline extends 2,720 kilometres (1,700 mi).
The northern part of the country is hilly, and in many places the altitude ranges between 900 and 2,100 metres (3,000 ft.-7,000 ft.) above sea level. The central and southern areas are flat, with an average altitude of less than 180 metres (600 ft.). The Juba and the Shebelle Rivers rise in Ethiopia and flow south across the country towards the Indian Ocean. The Shebelle, however, does not reach the sea.
Major climatic factors are a year-round hot climate, seasonal monsoon winds, and irregular rainfall with recurring droughts. Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 30°C to 40°C (85° F-105°F), except at higher elevations and along the east coast. Mean daily minimums usually vary from about 15°C to 30°C (60°F-85°F). The southwest monsoon, a sea breeze, makes the period from about May to October the mildest season at Mogadishu. The December-February period of the northeast monsoon is also relatively mild, although prevailing climatic conditions in Mogadishu are rarely pleasant. The "tangambili" periods that intervene between the two monsoons (October-November and March-May) are hot and humid.
Main article: Economy of Somalia
One of the world's poorest and least developed countries, Somalia has few resources. Furthermore, much of the economy has been devastated by the civil war. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-nomads, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. After livestock, bananas are the principal export; sugar, sorghum, maize, and fish are products for the domestic market. The small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for 10% of GDP; most facilities have been shut down because of the civil strife. Moreover, in 1999, continuing civil disturbances in Mogadishu and outlying areas interfered with any substantial economic advance and with international aid arrangements.
Main article: Demographics of Somalia
As early as the seventh century, indigenous Cushitic peoples began to mingle with Arab and Persian traders who had settled along the coast. Interaction over the centuries led to the emergence of a Somali culture bound by common traditions, a single language, and the Islamic faith.
Today, about 60% of all Somalis are nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists who raise cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. About 25% of the population are settled farmers who live mainly in the fertile agricultural region between the Juba and Shebelle rivers in southern Somalia. The remainder of the population (15%-20%) is urban.
Sizable ethnic groups in the country include Bantu agricultural workers, several thousand Arabs and some hundreds of Indians and Pakistanis. Apart from the Brava people who speak a language similar to Swahili, nearly all inhabitants speak the Somali language. The language remained unwritten until October 1973, when the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) proclaimed it the nation's official language and decreed an orthography using Latin letters. Somali is now the language of instruction in schools, to the extent that these exist. Arabic, English, and Italian also are used extensively.
Main article: Culture of Somalia
Somalia actually has better telecommunication services than its neighbours, despite (or perhaps due to) its lack of government. Some of the factors that have created this situation are lack of a government-granted monopoly and taxation, and the neutrality of telecommunication firms vis-avis the warlords . Companies providing telecommunication services are:
- Global Internet Company