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 that managed to impose a degree of stability in the country for a couple of decades. 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.


Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 49 00 E
Population: 10,085,638 (July 2012 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.)

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
Telephones – main lines in use: 100,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular:  648,200 (2009)
Airports: 62 (2012)
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 (2012)

Military branches:  National Security Force (NSF): Somali Army (2011)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 2,260,175

females age 16-49: 2,159,293 (2010 est.)


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 about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, which 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 sold as scrap metal. Somalia’s service sector also has grown.

Transnational Issues:

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.