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Governmentno permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary national government
CurrencySomali shilling (SOS)
Areatotal: 637,657 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km
land: 627,337 sq km
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 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageSomali (official), Arabic, Italian, English
ReligionSunni Muslim

The SIAD BARRE regime was ousted in January 1991; turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy have followed for eleven years. In May of 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, aided by the overwhelming dominance of a ruling clan and economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian, and American military assistance programs. The regions of Bari and Nugaal comprise a neighboring self-declared autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998, but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides towards reconstructing legitimate, representative government. Puntland also claims Sool and eastern 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. A Transitional National Government (TNG) was created in August 2000 in Arta, Djibouti which was attended by a broad representation of Somali clans. The TNG has a three-year mandate to create a permanent national Somali government. The TNG does not recognize Somaliland as an independent republic but so far has been unable to reunite either Somaliland or Puntland with the unstable regions in the south. Numerous warlords and factions are still fighting for control of Mogadishu and the other southern regions. Suspicion of Somali links with global terrorism complicate the picture.


Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia
Geographic coordinates 
10 00 N, 49 00 E
Map references 
total: 637,657 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km
land: 627,337 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
Maritime claims 
territorial sea: 200 NM
principally desert; December to February - northeast monsoon, moderate temperatures in north and very hot in south; May to October - southwest monsoon, 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: 1.66%
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 98.3% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
2,000 sq km (1998 est.)
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: Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note 
strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal


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 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 44.7% (male 1,737,491; female 1,730,237)
15-64 years: 52.6% (male 2,054,243; female 2,019,980)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 92,617; female 118,742) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
3.46% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
46.83 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
17.99 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
5.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
122.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 46.96 years
female: 48.65 years (2002 est.)
male: 45.33 years
Total fertility rate 
7.05 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 
HIV/AIDS - deaths 
noun: Somali(s)
adjective: Somali
Ethnic groups 
Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)
Sunni Muslim
Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 37.8%
male: 49.7%
female: 25.8% (2001 est.)


Country name 
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Somalia
former: Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic
Government type 
no permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary national government
Administrative divisions 
18 regions (plural - NA, singular - gobolka); Awdal, Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe, Jubbada Hoose, Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe, Shabeellaha Hoose, Sool, Togdheer, Woqooyi Galbeed
1 July 1960 (from a merger of British Somaliland, which became independent from the UK on 26 June 1960, and Italian Somaliland, which 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 Transitional National Government formed in August 2000 has a mandate to create a new constitution and hold elections within three years
Legal system 
no national system; Shari'a and secular courts are in some localities
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch 
chief of state: ABDIKASSIM Salad Hassan (since 26 August 2000); note - Interim President ABDIKASSIM was chosen for a three-year term by a 245-member National Assembly serving as a transitional government; the present political situation is still unstable, particularly in the south, with interclan fighting and random banditry
election results: ABDIKASSIM Salad Hassan was elected president of an interim government at the Djibouti-sponsored Arta Peace Conference on 26 August 2000 by a broad representation of Somali clans that comprised a transitional National Assembly
head of government: Prime Minister HASSAN Abshir Farah (since 12 November 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister and sworn in on 20 October 2000; as of 1 January 2002, the Cabinet was in caretaker status following a no-confidence vote in October 2001 that ousted HASSAN's predecessor
Legislative branch 
unicameral People's Assembly or Golaha Shacbiga
note: fledgling parliament; a transitional 245-member National Assembly began to meet on 13 August 2000 in the town of Arta, Djibouti and is now based in Mogadishu
Judicial branch 
following the breakdown of national government, most regions have reverted to Islamic (Shari'a) law with a provision for appeal of all sentences
Political parties and leaders 
Political pressure groups and leaders 
numerous clan and subclan factions are currently vying for power
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 TNG and other factions have representatives in Washington
Diplomatic representation from the US 
the US does not have an embassy in Somalia; US interests are represented by the US Embassy in Nairobi at Mombasa Road; mail address: P. O. Box 30137, Unit 64100, Nairobi; APO AE 09831; telephone: [254] (2) 537800; FAX [254] (2) 537810
Flag description 
light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; blue field influenced by the flag of the UN
Government - note 
An interim Transitional National Government - with a president, prime minister, and 245-member National Assembly - was established in Mogadishu in October 2000. However, other governing bodies continue to exist and control various cities and regions of the country, including Somaliland, Puntland, and traditional clan and faction strongholds.


Economy - overview 
One of the world's poorest and least developed countries, Somalia has few resources and is prone to drought. Moreover, much of the economy has been devastated by civil war since 1991. 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. Livestock, hides, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, fish, 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. Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia's service sector has managed to survive and grow. 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 exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $200 million and $500 million in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and security is provided by militias. Ongoing civil disturbances and clan rivalries, however, have interfered with any broad-based economic development and international aid arrangements. The failure of spring rains caused major food shortages in the south in 2001. Economic data is scare and prone to a wide margin of error.
purchasing power parity - $4.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 
3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $550 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector 
agriculture: 65%
industry: 10%
services: 25% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line 
Household income or consumption by percentage share 
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 
over 100% (businesses print their own money) (2000 est.)
Labor force 
3.7 million (very few are skilled laborers) (1993 est.)
Labor force - by occupation 
agriculture (mostly pastoral nomadism) 71%, industry and services 29%
Unemployment rate 
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
a few light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, petroleum refining (mostly shut down), wireless communication
Industrial production growth rate 
Electricity - production 
250 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption 
232.5 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports 
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports 
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products 
cattle, sheep, goats; bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts, rice, sugarcane, mangoes, sesame seeds, beans; fish
$186 million f.o.b. (1999 est.)
Exports - commodities 
livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal, scrap metal (1999)
Exports - partners 
Saudi Arabia 29%, UAE 29%, Yemen 28% (calculated through partners) (2000)
$314 million f.o.b. (1999 est.)
Imports - commodities 
manufactures, petroleum products, foodstuffs, construction materials, qat (1995)
Imports - partners 
Djibouti 27%, Kenya 12%, India 9% (2000)
Debt - external 
$2.6 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient 
$60 million (1999 est.)
Somali shilling (SOS)
Currency code 
Exchange rates 
Somali shillings per US dollar - 11,000 (November 2000), 2,620 (January 1999), 7,500 (November 1997 est.), 7,000 (January 1996 est.), 5,000 (1 January 1995)
note: the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared independent country not recognized by any foreign government, issues its own currency, the Somaliland shilling
Fiscal year 


Telephones - main lines in use 
15,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
Telephone system 
general assessment: the public telecommunications system was almost completely destroyed or dismantled by the civil war factions; private wireless companies offer service in most major cities and charge the lowest international rates on the continent
domestic: local cellular telephone systems have been established in Mogadishu and in several other population centers
international: international connections are available from Mogadishu by satellite (2001)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 0, FM 1, shortwave 5 (2001)
470,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
note: two in Mogadishu; one in Hargeisa (2001)
135,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
3 (one each in Boosaaso, Hargeisa, and Mogadishu) (2000)
Internet users 
200 (2000)


0 km
total: 22,100 km
paved: 2,608 km
unpaved: 19,492 km (1996)
crude oil 15 km
Ports and harbors 
Boosaaso, Berbera, Chisimayu (Kismaayo), Merca, Mogadishu
Merchant marine 
none (2002 est.)
54 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 6
over 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 54
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 30
under 914 m: 3 (2002)


Military branches 
A Somali National Army is being reformed under the interim government; numerous factions and clans maintain independent militias, and the Somaliland and Puntland regional governments maintain their own security and police forces
Military manpower - availability 
males age 15-49: 1,881,634 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service 
males age 15-49: 1,040,662 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure 
$15.3 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 
0.9% (FY01)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
most of the southern half of the boundary with Ethiopia is a provisional administrative line; in the Ogaden, regional states have established a variety of conflicting relationships with the Transitional National Government in Mogadishu, feuding factions in Puntland region, and the economically stabile break-away "Somaliland" region; Djibouti maintains economic ties and border accords with "Somaliland" leadership while politically supporting Somali Transitional National Government in Mogadishu; arms smuggling and Oromo rebel activities prompt strict border regime with Kenya