Facts About Somalia; A Country in Political Turmoil

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Somalia facts. Facts about Somalia. Somalia, hailed as the cradle of civilisation is a country in turmoil.Somalia is situated on the horn of Africa. The capital of Somalia is Mogadishu.Somalia's political problems.Somali pirates.

The former British Somaliland gained independence on June 26th 1960, with the former Italian Somaliland following suit some five days later. The two former territories united to form the Somali Democratic Republic, which is officially known today as the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Situated on the Horn of Africa, the country consists of 27 regions that cover an area of 637,661 sq km, making it the continent's most easterly nation.

The country has been dogged by drought, civil war, famine and anarchy since 1969 when it's then President, Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke was assassinated and the country's army took power.

In 1991 a breakaway nation calling itself the Somaliland Republic declared independence. Since then several warlords have set up their own mini - states within the country. Although internationally unrecognised, these states have in fact remained peaceful and stable.

In 2006 an Islamist militia calling itself the Somali Islamic Courts Council ( SICC ) began battling between rival warlords.In June of that year the SICC took control of the country's capital Mogadishu and in turn established control in most of the south of the country.


                                                                     Location of Somalia.

The country's president, Abdullah Yusuf spent months in peace negotiations with the SICC with little effect.At the same time Somalia's neighbour Ethiopia, considering the SICC to be a threat to regional security, began amassing troops on the two country's shared border.This lead to Ethiopia launching air strikes against the SICC in December of that year, resulting in Ethiopia gaining control of Mogadishu and ending 15 years of anarchy in the country.

In January 2007 the U.S launched air strikes against the retreating SICC, who they believed included members of al - Qaeda.

Fierce battles between insurgents and Somali and Ethiopian troops intensified in March of that year in what has been described as the worse fighting the country had ever witnessed.


                                                       COASTAL TOWN OF BARAWA.

By June of 2008 Ethiopian troops were replaced by U.N peace keeping troops and went on to withdraw completely by January of 2009.

Although a government is in place, it lacks authority, being completely unable to bring peace amongst it's once peacable but now warring tribal warlords, or to gain a grip on it's rising Islamist militias that are bringing the country to it's knees.

The long standing absence of authority in the country has led to Somali pirates becoming a threat to international shipping, causing N.A.T.O to launch an anti piracy operation along the country's coastline.

One of the reasons for this could well be attributed to the fact that following the massive tsunami of 2004, allegations emerged that Somalia's long and remote coastline had been used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste.

The huge waves that battered Somalia's coast following the tsunami supposedly stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste that had been illegally dumped by European waste brokers Achair Partners and Progresso.

According to reports from U.N.E.P ( United Nations Environmental Programme ) the waste has resulted in high instances of respitory infections, mouth ulcers, abdominal haemorrhaging, skin infections and diseases consistent with radiation sickness, amongst inhabitants of the Somalia coastline.


                                             Skyline of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital city.


Despite all this, Somalia has maintained a healthy economy, with a thriving service industry and a major world supplier of Francincense, Myrrh and livestock, particularly goats, leading to a free market economy that out performs that of many other African nations.

American and Chinese oil companies are also interested in the country's oil and other natural resources that it has to offer.

Somalia's telecommunicatios system is the best in the continent, with several T.V and radio stations and a fiercly competitive newspaper industry and thriving telephone and internet businesses.


                                                     The old port area of Mogadishu.


Somalia's ministry of education takes 15 % of the governments budget, which now offers free primary school education and salaries for teachers.

Higher education is largely private, with the capital's University of Mogadishu ranking in Africa's top 100 universities.

The Qu'ranic system teaches the greatest number of students, particularly females, retaining the basic system of traditional religious instruction in the country.


Healthcare is basic in the country, with little healthcare education and a problematic drug control system that disallows many of the world's leading drug companies to trade there.

However Somalia does have the lowest HIV instance in the whole of the African continent, although this is most probably attributed to it's Islamic moral code of living, rather than healthcare intravention.


Somali is the official language of the country. It is a member of the Cushitic branch of the Afro - Asiatic language group.

It's writing system uses the Latin alphabet , introduced in 1972 by Somali linguist Shire Jama Ahmed, to replace the centuries old, now non existant, ancient Osmanya script, previously used in Somalia for centuries.

                                                                      JUDICIAL SYSTEM.

Somalia's 9,133,000 Islamic population have two judicial systems in place.

Sharia law which deals in civil issues, pertaining to marriage, divorce and inheritance and a little known indigenous system called Xeer law.

This system seems to have developed exclusivly in Somalia, and been in use since the 7th century.

It can be defined by a few fundamental principles of international law, but it is basically a polycentric system or privately produced system, that bears little relevence to the world's monopolistic statutary International law systems.

Somalia is considered by some to be the cradle of civilisation, with scientists and archaeologists discovering ancient burial sites and cave drawings there, that are considered older than anything found anywhere else on earth.


                                                   The ancient site of Taleh Castle, Taleex.

It is believed that early man' who once walked the lush banks of the Red Sea in Somalia, used the river as a means to gain entry into Arabia and then the rest of the world' tens of thousands of years ago.




Time zone. UTC + 3.

Call code. 252.

Int TLD .so

Currency. Shilling.






                                                             © D.B.Bellamy.January.2010.

                                                 All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.