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Somali Jamhuuriyadda Federaalka Soomaaliya
Arabic جمهورية الصومال الفدرالية
Ǧumhūriyyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl al-Fidirāliyya
Federal Republic of Somalia
Flag of Somalia
Coat of arms of Somalia
flag coat of arms
Official language Somali , Arabic
Capital Mogadishu
State and form of government parliamentary republic ( federal republic )
Head of state President
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
Head of government Prime Minister
Mohamed Hussein Roble
surface 637,657 1 km²
population 15.4 million 1 (2019 estimate) (*)
Population density 24 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 2.9% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 4.9 billion ( 157. )
  • $ 14 billion ( 151. )
  • 486 USD ( 183. )
  • 1,229 USD ( 187. )
currency Somalia Shilling (SOS)
  • July 1, 1960 Republic of Somalia
    Unification of the previously Italian trust territory with the former British Somaliland
  • October 21, 1969
    Somalia Democratic Republic
  • in dissolution from January 1991 (see Somalia's interim government )
  • August 25, 2012
    Federal Republic of Somalia
  • independence July 1, 1960 (the south of Italy )
    June 26, 1960 (the north of the United Kingdom as the State of Somaliland ).
    National anthem Qolobaa Calankeed
    Time zone UTC +3
    License Plate SO
    ISO 3166 SUN , SOM, 706
    Internet TLD .so
    Phone code +252
    1With Somaliland .
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    Somalia ( Somali Soomaaliya ; Italian Somalia , Arabic الصومال, DMG aṣ-Ṣūmāl ) or Federal Republic of Somalia (full form of the state name since 2012) denotes a federal state in the far east of Africa on the Horn of Africa . The name is derived from the Somali people , who make up the majority of the population and are also resident in neighboring countries. The state emerged from the merger of the colonial areas of British and Italian Somaliland , which became independent in 1960 (" African Year "). The national territory borders the Indian Ocean in the east, the Gulf of Aden in the north, Djibouti and Ethiopia in the west and Kenya in the south.

    Somalia is considered to be an extremely fragile and undeveloped state, both in terms of political and economic development. After the overthrow of the authoritarian government under Siad Barre in 1991, there was no functioning central government for more than 20 years due to the ongoing civil war . The transitional governments formed from the year 2000 under the protection of the international community were largely unsuccessful; at times they were barely able to keep the capital under their control. Large parts of the country fell into the hands of local clans , warlords , radical Islamist groups or pirates . Regional de facto regimes formed on the national territory . Of these regimes, however, only Somaliland in the northwest decided to found a new nation in its own right. The others claimed autonomy as self-governing sub-states, but did not give up the idea of ​​a common Somali state.

    Since the new constitution came into force on August 1, 2012, a majority of the regional regimes have been participating as federal states in the rebuilding of a joint administration. Successes against the radical Islamist militias in 2012 made it possible for a joint Somali government to be re-elected for the first time in August 2012 . The status of Somaliland, which Somalia regards as a member state , is still unclear , although it continues to seek international recognition as a neighboring state that is independent of Somalia and is involved in an as yet unresolved border dispute with Puntland . Some regions in central and southern Somalia will still be ruled by al-Shabaab in 2019 .


    Hills in Northern Somalia / Somaliland

    Somalia is located in the east of the African continent, on the Horn of Africa on the Somali Peninsula . The northern part of the country is mostly mountainous and lies in the Somali highlands on average 900 to 2100 m above sea level; the highest mountain is the Shimbiris (2460 m). To the south extends a flat land with an average height of 180 m.The rivers Jubba and Shabeelle have their source in Ethiopia and flow through the south of Somalia and thus through the Somali desert into the Indian Ocean .

    Somalia is influenced by monsoon winds , a year-round hot climate, irregular rainfall and recurrent dry spells. Except in the mountains and the coastal regions, the average maximum temperature is in the day Between 30 and 40 ° C . The southwest monsoon ensures a relatively mild climate in the area around Mogadishu in the months from May to October. Between December and February, the northeast monsoon brings a similar mild climate. In the so-called Tangambili period between the two monsoons (October to November and March to May) it is hot and humid.


    Erosion and desert expansion are the main environmental problems facing Somalia. The causes are overgrazing and the deforestation of the remaining forests, as wood is the country's main source of energy and since the outbreak of the civil war, charcoal has been exported to the states of the Arabian Peninsula on a large scale .

    The mangrove areas between Kismayo and the Kenyan border in the south of the country and the coral reefs on the Gulf of Aden and near Kenya are also affected by soil degradation and damage.

    In the absence of an effective coast guard, illegal nuclear and toxic waste disposal ( dumping ) takes place off the country's coast , and foreign fishing fleets are uncontrolled overfishing the waters.


    Population development in millions of inhabitants
    Age pyramid in 1000 inhabitants
    Somali children

    The people of Somalia are called Somalis (the Somali, the Somali woman). Occasionally, the term Somali is used imprecisely , but it only includes the ethnic Somali , i.e. does not include the non-Somali minorities in the country.

    The last census, the results of which were published, was in 1975. In 2014, the UNFPA published a study in which, with the help of surveys and satellite images, a total population of over 12.3 million was determined. According to UN calculations, Somalia had 15.4 million inhabitants in 2019. The fertility rate was a very high value of 6 children per woman in a worldwide comparison, although at the end of the 1990s around 7.5 children were born per woman. According to the UN's mean population forecast, a population of over 35 million is expected for the year 2050, which will put great pressure on the country's limited resources.

    Today around 25 percent of all Somalis live partially or completely as nomads. 22 percent of the people live as farmers who have settled in the most fertile region of the country between the Shabeelle and Jubba rivers. Most of the population (42 percent) live in urban areas. There are still over a million people (9 percent of the total population) in Somalia on the run and mostly live in 107 refugee camps.


    Somalia has long been considered one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries and one of the few “ nation states ” in Africa, as the vast majority of the population belong to the Somali people . This picture has changed since the differences between the various Somali clans and between Somali and ethnic minorities, especially in southern Somalia, became clearer during the civil war .

    Somali clans

    Map of the Somali clans

    By far the most important ethnic group are the Somali , whose settlement area also extends to Eastern Ethiopia ( Somali region ), Djibouti and northeast Kenya and who, according to current knowledge, are of Cushitic- African and partly Arab-Persian descent.

    The clan system of the Somali , which was probably influenced by the tribal society of the Arabs, is of great importance for society and politics in Somalia . Every Somali belongs to a tribe or clan through his paternal lineage. The five major clan families (qabiil) are:

    The traditionally nomadic Dir, Darod, Isaaq and Hawiye are considered "real Somali" or Samaal , while the settled, rural Rahanweyn are called "fake Somali" or Sab . Like various ethnic minorities, some of the Samaal see them as not having equal rights and are traditionally socially disadvantaged.

    Each of these clan families is divided into a large number of subclans and "genders" (Somali: reer , which means "people from", "descendants of"). These each comprise a few hundred to a thousand men who collectively pay or receive the blood money (diya, mag) due for crimes . This system traditionally provides protection for life and property for the individual Somali, but also leads to blood feuds, which refer not only to individual crimes, but also include disputes over water and grazing rights and political power.


    Bantu farmers near Kismayo, 1993

    Non-Somali minorities make up around 15% of the population. These include various black African ethnic groups in southern Somalia, which the Somali collectively call Jarer ("hard-haired" or "curly-haired"). Some of these descend from slaves who were brought to Somalia in the 19th century by the East African slave trade from Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Kenya and who, after their escape or release, mostly settled in the Jubba Valley. They have been known as the Somali Bantu since the 1990s . For other Jarer groups such as the Shidle , the origin is still unclear; possibly they are descended from a pre-Somali population.

    Other minorities include members of Swahili society and groups of mixed origin on the coast (e.g. Bajuni , Brawanese , Benadiri / Reer Hamar), groups spread across the country such as the Yibir and Midgan who are restricted to certain professions, as well a few thousand Arabs and a few hundred Indians and Pakistanis.


    The main language of Somalia is Somali (own name Af-ka Soomaali-ga ) - an East Cushitic language from the branch of the Kushitic languages and thus part of the Afro-Asian language family - which is spoken by around 12 million people in Somalia and neighboring areas today. The language of the Somali people is also used by all minorities in Somalia.

    Poem by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan in Somali written in the Latin alphabet

    Arabic and - as a legacy of the colonial era - Italian and English are also used as commercial and educational languages . A small part of the Somali Bantu has retained the Bantu language Zigula . On the coast, small minorities (the Bajuni in and around Kismaayo and the Brawanese in Baraawe ) speak dialects of Swahili .

    As the only African state besides Tanzania , Somalia developed away from the use of European colonial languages ​​after its independence. Somali nationalists strived for a standardization and writing of Somali. This was realized in 1972 under Siad Barre and made the official language. Somali quickly established itself in administration, education and the media, while Italian, English and Arabic lost their importance accordingly. The Maha Tiri (Maxaa Tiri) variant, mainly spoken in the north, served as the basis for standard Somali ; the other main variant is Maay , which is widespread in the south , and there are other dialects as well.

    The Somali transitional constitution of 2004 establishes Somali (Maay and Maha Tiri) and Arabic as the official languages. Italian and English have secondary language status.


    Moon and minaret in Merka

    Almost 100% of the population of Somalia belongs to the Sunni branch of Islam . About 80% of them are Shafiites and 20% Hanafis . The only non-Muslims in Somalia are a few hundred Christians, almost all of whom are of foreign origin. The few Christian Somalis belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church . Individual attempts at proselytizing and the construction of a cathedral in Mogadishu with an attached Catholic monastery during the colonial period had no major effect. Both were destroyed during the civil war. With this, the Roman Catholic diocese of Mogadishu also effectively dissolved. The last bishop was shot in the cathedral in 1989.

    The traditional practice of Islam in Somalia is rather moderate in the villages and among nomads and mixed with the customary law of the clans. The schools of faith that were widespread in the 19th century by the missionary sheikhs of various Sufi orders are present there in everyday life. The oldest and largest of these brotherhoods is the Qadiriyya , followed by the Salihiyya in the north. Smaller groups are the Dandarawiyya, the most widespread branch of the Idrisiyya founded by Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Dandarawi in the late 19th century , and the Rifaiyya, an offshoot of the Qadiriyya popular among Arab immigrants in Mogadishu. Since the 1970s there have been radical Wahhabi currents, especially in the cities , which, like religion as a whole, gained in importance during the civil war.

    Since the outbreak of the civil war, Islamic institutions have been among the few institutions that offer education, medical care or even jurisdiction. The growing influence of Islam has different effects on the situation of women: Islamic law brings them certain improvements in inheritance law compared to customary law, and some clergy today also speak out against the widespread female circumcision ; on the other hand, women are increasingly urged to veil themselves more or to withdraw completely from public space. Al-Shabaab enforces a strict interpretation of the Sharia in southern and central Somalia . It also has ties to al-Qaeda and has jihadists from abroad in its ranks.

    The constitution of the transitional government determines Islam as the official religion of the Republic of Somalia and stipulates that the legislation should be based on the Shari'a. The constitution of Somaliland, which has been unilaterally declared independent, also declares Islam to be the religion of the nation and forbids the “propagation” - including public practice - of other religions in Somaliland. The apostasy from Islam comes with draconian punishments, including punished by flogging.

    Social situation


    Classroom in Hargeysa

    According to UNESCO estimates, only around a quarter of children went to school in 2007. Current sources assume 30 to 40%. Today, in the absence of an official educational system, teaching takes place mainly in Koran schools and private institutions. In the de facto autonomous Somaliland, the education system has been expanded since the declaration of independence.

    According to the HDI , the literacy rate in 2001 was 37.8%. Around half of men can read and write, but only around a quarter of women. Newer numbers are not available.


    Malnutrition and infectious diseases are common. 70% of the population have no access to clean drinking water or medical care. The maternal mortality rate is 12 out of 1,000 births. The infant mortality and child mortality are high: to die before 1st birthday 67 and before the 5th anniversary 112 of 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy at birth was 57.5 years in 2019.

    The proportion of HIV- infected people is estimated at 0.5% and is therefore very low in comparison with Africa. This is justified with the Islamic religion and with the fact that relatively few people have come to the country from outside since the outbreak of war. There is hardly any knowledge of the transmission routes and prevention of HIV / AIDS.

    In 2008, the World Health Organization reported that large-scale vaccination campaigns had eradicated the polio virus, which causes polio, in Somalia. The country had already become polio-free in 2002, but the virus had since been reintroduced from Nigeria .

    On the other hand, there have also been reports of a sharp increase in malformations and deformities in newborns and young children. In the search for causes, a connection with the illegal dumping of nuclear and toxic waste off the coast is assumed. But the diagnostic capabilities of the hospitals are insufficient to determine the causes, and the still politically insecure situation, especially in coastal areas controlled by Islamist al-Shabaab militias, does not allow a closer examination of already washed up barrels for radioactive or toxic contents.

    Hunger crises from 2011

    The international community of states had run into short-term intervention measures - against terrorists and pirates - and is now intervening against hunger without having a real concept. In mid-2011, more than three million people, or at least a third of the population of Somalia, were dependent on humanitarian aid. However, the emergency only affects southern Somalia. Here the war between the Islamist al-Shabaab militias on the one hand and the transitional government and the AMISOM troops on the other coincided from the beginning of 2011 with the height of a drought. Many international aid organizations had left Somalia for a long time due to the ongoing insecurity. Others, like the World Food Program (WFP), had been pushed out of the areas they controlled by the Islamists. Al-Shabaab accused the WFP of depressing the sales of Somali farmers and tying aid to demands from Western politics. In fact, from 2009 onwards, the USA only made its contributions to aid organizations if it was ensured that the services would not benefit the “terrorists”. War, fanaticism and the lack of rain led to a famine that cost many Somalis their lives or made refugees in neighboring Kenya. The situation in largely peaceful Northern Somalia, where two de facto autonomous state structures exist with Somaliland and Puntland, is far less dramatic.

    According to a FAO report , 258,000 people died between October 2010 and April 2012 as a result of food shortages in the country.

    Another severe famine followed in the wake of the drought in southern Africa and in East Africa from 2015 . In May 2017, representatives of numerous states and organizations attended the London Somalia Conference in London to ensure supplies to the population. The security situation in Somalia was also discussed and steps were taken to strengthen the national security forces.


    Somalia is one of the countries with the largest population of refugees and internally displaced people in the world. In 2016 there are approximately 977,000 Somali refugees who have registered with the UNHCR . 414,000 of them fled to Kenya: 327,000 of them are in Dadaab , the world's largest refugee camp, 54,000 in the Kakuma camp and 32,000 live in the capital Nairobi . 215,000 Somali refugees have fled to Ethiopia and live there in five camps in the Dollo Ado region. There are 235,000 Somali refugees in Yemen and they are housed there in the Al-Kharaz and Al-Mazrak camps, but also in cities such as Aden , 'Amran, Al Mukalla and Sana'a . In Yemen, the situation is similar to Somalia as the country is also in civil war: 10% of the population of Yemen lost their home and are internally displaced and 80% are in need of humanitarian aid. 37,000 Somalis have fled to Uganda .

    In addition to those who have fled the country, there will be 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Somalia in 2020. Reasons for fleeing within the country are drought and floods, violent conflict and terrorism as well as forced displacement. In most cases, those affected seek protection in urban regions, thereby increasing the pressure on already weak structures in the areas of health and water and sanitation. The majority of internally displaced people live in central and southern Somalia (893,000), Puntland (129,000) and Somaliland (84,000). It is believed that between 70 and 80% of these households are women-headed and that 60% of internally displaced persons are children. Internally displaced women are often victims of sexual violence or are even dependent on buying help through sex; Children may be forcibly recruited by militias, ethnic minorities are severely discriminated against and they are often denied any support. In addition, international aid supplies often do not get to those who need them and instead disappear into dark channels.

    Despite everything, Somalia is also a country that is accepting refugees itself: many Ethiopians who fled drought and persecution, and many refugees from Yemen. It often turns out that these are undesirable in Somalia. Somalis are forbidden to offer them housing. That is why many of them are in the camps for the internally displaced Somalis; but some have also gained a foothold and opened stores.


    Part of the cave paintings in Laas Geel

    The oldest known traces of people in what is now Somalia were found at Buur Heybe in southern Somalia. These are skeletons that radiocarbon dating back to 6000 BC. Were dated. Cave paintings in Laas Geel near Hargeysa date from 4000 to 3000 BC. Chr.

    The Somali ancestors migrated around 500 BC. BC to 100 AD from the southern Ethiopian highlands and mixed - especially in the trading cities on the coast, such as Zeila , Hobyo and Mogadishu - with Arab and Persian immigrants, who also introduced Islam from the 7th century . Muslim sultanates and city-states emerged. In the 16th century the cities on the north coast came under Turkish and Egyptian rule, those on the southern Benadir coast came under the sovereignty of Oman in the 17th century and Zanzibar in the 19th century.

    At the end of the 19th century, the area inhabited by Somali experienced its subdivision, which is still effective today. The north of what is now Somalia was colonized by Great Britain as British Somaliland , the south and east as Italian Somaliland by Italy. On July 1, 1960, the two colonies became jointly independent as Somalia. The country's first president was Aden Abdullah Osman Daar , followed in 1967 by Abdirashid Ali Shermarke .

    The relationship with neighboring states was tense because of the territorial claims made by Somalia ( see Greater Somalia ), especially in what is now the Ethiopian region of Ogaden . Domestic political tensions between the north and the south and the east, between clans and parties, also persisted. In 1969, President Shermarke was killed by a bodyguard, after which pro-Soviet military under Siad Barre took power.

    Barre initially leaned against the Soviet Union , tried to introduce " scientific socialism " and limit the traditional influence of the clans. In 1977/78 he waged the Ogaden War against Ethiopia, which Somalia lost. Because the Soviet Union supported the opposing communist Derg regime in Ethiopia in this war , Siad Barre turned economically and politically away from the Soviet Union and turned to the USA. Internally he ruled increasingly dictatorially, various clans were subjected to repression. Several rebel groups began an armed struggle against the Barre government, which led to its overthrow in 1991.

    Civil war

    However, the victorious rebel groups could not agree on a successor government. The United Somali Congress , which played a leading role in the overthrow of Barres, broke up as a result of the power struggle between its leaders Mohammed Farah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohammed . Somalia fell into contested areas of power of clans and warlords. The north of the country declared itself unilaterally independent as Somaliland without achieving international recognition for this.

    Armed men on a technical in Mogadishu

    For the population, the fighting and looting resulted in a deterioration in the supply and security situation up to and including famine in the south of the country . From 1992 onwards, the UN mission UNOSOM under US leadership was supposed to secure the delivery of food aid and restore peace. After the events of the " Battle of Mogadishu " in October 1993, however, the US withdrew its troops from the country. In 1995 UNOSOM II also had to withdraw without success. The fighting continued, albeit less intensely. In the practically autonomous Somaliland, things have remained largely peaceful since 1996. Following this example, the Harti Darod clan founded the autonomous region of Puntland in northeast Somalia . The Rahanweyn also tried to establish a regional government in south-west Somalia , but failed because south-west Somalia and Jubaland remained contested. Various Hawiye warlords and militias fought each other in the capital, Mogadishu .

    2000 national was for peace negotiations in Djibouti transitional government (ger .: Transitional Federal Government , abbreviated TFG) formed under President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan. It was friendly to the moderate Islamists in Somalia, but was rejected by the powerful warlords in the country. The national transitional government could not gain power in Somalia and disintegrated in 2003. At a peace conference in Kenya in 2004 a new federal transitional government was established under President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed . It did not have the support of the Islamists and most of the Hawiye who controlled Mogadishu. This new interim government then settled in Baidoa northwest of Mogadishu. In mid-2006, the Union of Islamic Courts conquered Mogadishu and large parts of the country from the warlords who had ruled there until then, enforced a certain amount of - differently strictly managed - order according to Sharia law and fought against the transitional government on the borders of the two spheres of power.

    Neighboring Ethiopia felt threatened by the Union because it feared an Islamist seizure of its own Muslim population and parts of the Union had called for jihad to conquer the now Ethiopian, predominantly Somali-inhabited area of Ogaden . On December 24, 2006, Ethiopia officially declared war on the Union, invaded Somalia and was able to oust the Union in a few days. The transitional government tried to establish itself with military support from Ethiopia in Mogadishu and the rest of the country, but encountered considerable resistance from Islamists, various clans and large parts of the population who rejected the Ethiopian military presence.

    In 2007 and 2008, troops loyal to the government and their various opponents fought fierce battles, especially in Mogadishu, which drove hundreds of thousands to flee. Thousands of civilians were killed and over a million had to flee their homes temporarily, mostly in Mogadishu. At the beginning of 2009, the Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia. The militant Islamists had not been defeated; on the contrary, they had become significantly stronger. In the fight against the brutal Ethiopian occupation, they had gained legitimacy in the eyes of many Somalis (including in the diaspora ). The moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed became the new president of the transitional government, which, however, continues to be opposed by the more radical al-Shabaab . In 2009, government forces lost influence almost everywhere in the country. In southern Somalia in particular, the Islamist groups al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam took power and also fought each other.

    The USA supports the Somali interim government politically, financially and with weapons. They classify the radical Islamic militia al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization that cooperates with al-Qaeda . The US has also carried out targeted air strikes on Islamist facilities on several occasions. The European Union is providing financial support to the Transitional Government and the African Union Peacekeeping Force ( AMISOM ) for their protection.

    The fighting in 2009 and 2010 was mainly concentrated in Mogadishu. Thousands of people died or became refugees here. The militant Islamists, especially al-Shabaab, controlled most of southern and central Somalia until the end of 2010. The interim government under Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed had to hide in parts of Mogadishu and was protected by several thousand AMISOM soldiers every day. Al-Shabaab subjected the population to strict rules based on an extreme interpretation of Islam. Any violation or suspicion of cooperating with the enemy was severely punished. But there were definitely Somalis who credit al-Shabaab for establishing law and order and effectively fighting crime.

    In mid-August 2010, at the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam launched a joint, large-scale military offensive to finally defeat TFG and AMISOM. Together the Islamists had around 8,000 fighters. In the meantime, AMISOM had almost reached the target strength of 8,000 men. The TFG also had around 3,000 of its own soldiers at its disposal in 2010, thanks to military aid from the USA and training (also from private military companies), which was primarily paid for with funds from EU countries. The offensive quickly stalled. The reasons were the military strength of the enemy and tensions within the Islamist camp. Hizbul Islam was falling apart. Many of their troops deserted, some defected to the TFG. In December 2010, the remnants of Hizbul Islam were officially integrated into al-Shabaab. This caused unrest within al-Shabaab.

    In December 2010, the UN Security Council granted AMISOM's maximum troop strength to be increased by 4,000 to 12,000 soldiers. From February 2011, the TFG and AMISOM, supported by ASWJ units and parts of the Ethiopian and Kenyan armies, took action against al-Shabaab. The main battlefields were Mogadishu, the Gedo region in western Somalia and parts of central Somalia. Al-Shabaab was battered and increasingly lost support among the population. One reason for this was the unsatisfactory reaction of the al-Shabaab leadership led by Emir Ahmed Abdi Godane to the drought in Somalia, which has been worsening for months. When the hunger began, al-Shabaab refused to allow international aid. The group's spokesman portrayed the famine as Western propaganda in July 2011. In August 2011, al-Shabaab had to withdraw from Mogadishu. In other parts of southern and central Somalia, al-Shabaab was also in distress. However, the TFG and its supporters did not succeed in defeating al-Shabaab decisively until mid-2011.

    Mogadishu (July 2016)

    Intervention in Kenya

    Two battalions of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) with around 2,400 soldiers marched into Somalia on October 16, 2011 to fight al-Shabaab in Operation Linda Nchi . The Kenyan troops advanced on Afmadow and the economically and financially important port city of Kismayu in southern Somalia for al-Shabaab . The Kenyan Air Force also flew missions against positions of the al-Shabaab, among others. against a training camp in Jilib . The trigger for the military action was the kidnapping of foreigners in Kenya. By February 2012, the Kenyan army was able to penetrate around 110 km into Somalia and, according to its own information, controls an area of ​​95,000 km².

    Somalia broke off diplomatic relations with Kenya in December 2020. The reasons were the long-standing dispute over a coastal strip and because Kenya was cooperating with the President of Jubaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islam, an opponent of the government in Mogadishu, in the fight against al-Shabaab.


    Somaliland (May 2016)

    On August 1, 2012, Somalia's parliament adopted a new provisional constitution. With it, the transitional government of Somalia was replaced and a normalized state order was restored for the first time. Somalia was converted into a Federal Republic, although initially no states were formed. According to the constitution, the MPs should determine how many states Somalia would have. However, two or more regions could merge into states of their own accord.

    In August 2013, Jubaland was the first state to be recognized by the federal government as part of a reconciliation agreement. It consists of the Gedo , Jubbada Hoose and Jubbada Dhexe regions . A year later, a second federal state was created in central Somalia with the regions of Mudug and Galguduud , for which the locally existing de facto regimes of the Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a militia, Galmudug and Himan & Heeb State of Somalia have since established joint new structures . In 2020 there are six official states (sorting from north to south): Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland and South West State. In addition to the federal states, there is a separate administrative unit for the capital region of Banaadir , which has been retained from the former administrative division of Somalia .


    Political indices
    Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
    Fragile States Index 110.9 out of 120 2 of 178 Stability of the country: very big alarm
    0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
    Democracy index --- from 10 --- from 167 No data
    0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
    Freedom in the World 7 out of 100 --- Freedom status: not free
    0 = not free / 100 = free
    Freedom of the press ranking 55.45 out of 100 163 of 180 Very serious situation for freedom of the press
    0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
    Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)   12 of 100   179 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

    According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation , it is the worst-ruled country in Africa. Three journalists were killed in Somalia in 2019. According to the Reporters Without Borders report, the victims' deaths are directly related to their journalistic activities.

    Map of the political situation in Somalia
    (April 2017)

    Somalia is often referred to as a " failed state ". Since the fall of the dictator Siad Barre in 1991, the 13 or so largest tribes have been fighting for power there. There is no national government recognized by all Somalis in the country. In the north, parts of the country are openly striving for independence ( Somaliland ) or have declared themselves to be autonomous states of Somalia ( Puntland and Galmudug ). In large parts of the south and center of Somalia, at least until recently, local clans, warlords , Islamist groups or unclear conditions ruled . In the Himan & Heeb region, the former IT consultant Mohamed Aden forms a kind of informal government.

    The federal interim government was internationally recognized and represented the country in the United Nations, the Arab League and other international organizations. Since it was founded in 2000, however, it had not proven itself in the country by creating peace and order and providing services. The interim government had been at odds internally for years, and its leaders were repeatedly accused of being corrupt and of getting rich in foreign aid at the expense of their own people. For the first time since the beginning of 2011, it looked as if the transitional government could take power in Mogadishu and parts of southern Somalia - but so far only with massive military aid from AMISOM, Kenya and Ethiopia. It is questionable whether the possible military victory over the jihadist militia al-Shabaab will actually mean a turning point for Somalia after more than 20 years of statelessness and civil war. At the beginning of 2012, the idea of transforming Somalia into a Federal Republic emerged for the first time . In August the interim government was dissolved and replaced by an internationally recognized federal government . Somalia has had a federal parliament since then .

    Political system

    President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, called Farmajo (2019)

    According to the Provisional Constitution of 2012, the President is elected by a two-thirds majority from the two Houses of Parliament for a four-year term. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud became the first president under this new constitution . In February 2017, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed , known as "Farmajo", received the necessary majority. However, the members of parliament are not elected by the people in free elections.

    The 54 members of the Senate (upper house) are elected by the state parliaments. Since 2016, 135 clan elders have elected a total of 275 electoral colleges with 51 members each for the election of the Federal Assembly (lower house) - a total of over 14,000 delegates, of which 30 percent are women and 20 percent are young people. The delegates of the electoral colleges each elect one member to parliament.

    According to the political scientist Stefan Brüne from the German Society for Foreign Policy , this multi-level electoral system can be seen as a step forward compared to the first elections in 2012:

    “In 2012 there were 135 clan elders, and they have now been replaced by 14,025 delegates from the regions in a complicated process. So there is a mixture of a political and a regional-ethnic or clan-related process. So, if you want to say it positively, you can see it as a first step in the right direction, and of course you can say from a different perspective: The country is still a long way from providing for and organizing democratic elections. "

    The last elections took place in 2016. 24% of the elected MPs are women. Observers criticized the fact that the electors were bribed with kickbacks and put under pressure. According to the election officer, the candidates paid between € 1,000 and € 1.2 million to be elected to parliament.

    The next presidential and parliamentary elections were due to take place in November 2020, but were then postponed to February 8, 2021. Shortly before the ballot, however, on February 6, the elections were again postponed indefinitely due to unresolved procedural issues and disagreement between different clans, which led to a constitutional crisis as the presidential term had expired. Especially after President Mohamed extended his term of office by two years with the help of an unconstitutional law, clashes between the government and the opposition broke out. As a result of these protests and international pressure, Mohamed announced new elections and called for an agreement on the electoral process.

    Plans for a direct popular election of MPs have been postponed as voter registration would have taken too long. A reform by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble , according to which 30% of parliamentary seats should be reserved for women, is also stalling.

    Internal security

    The security situation in Somalia is poor due to the ongoing civil war and pirate raids off the coast. The security forces are unable to fight crime in a sustainable manner. The German Foreign Office (AA) has issued a travel warning for Somalia and has closed its embassy (as of January 2018). Foreigners are repeatedly victims of assassinations and kidnappings, and in medical or crime-related emergencies there is no adequate infrastructure for supply.

    Human rights

    Humanitarian workers, journalists and human rights defenders take great risks in their work in Somalia, including the risk of being kidnapped or murdered. Serious human rights violations, including war crimes, were not punished in 2009 either.

    The UN Secretary-General, the UN Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Somalia and the UN Secretary-General's Representative on Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons spoke in their reports of human rights abuses, including the recruitment of children for armed struggle. Appeals from abroad and from forces in Somalia to finally punish crimes under international law remained ineffective.

    All parties involved in the ongoing Somali civil war have committed serious human and martial rights crimes in recent years. Ethiopian troops , the army of the transitional government, AMISOM and the Islamist militias al-Shabaab and Hizbul islam have used their weapons indiscriminately in the densely populated area (in Mogadishu). In addition, the enemies of the respective side were often ruthlessly persecuted and suspects were murdered without legal process. All warring parties have committed the most serious attacks on the civilian population of southern Somalia. Women were raped en masse and men, young people and even children were forcibly recruited from all parties in the war. Al-Shabaab militias are also responsible for killing and punishing people who do not bow to their interpretation of Islamic law. There has been a dramatic increase in public executions , including stoning , in the parts of the country they control . The same applied to the forced amputation of limbs and flogging. Al-Shabaab militias also desecrated the graves of leading clergymen of the Islamic Sufi community. In addition, women had to dress according to certain rules and were not allowed to move freely. The situation of many children is also worrying. Because the education system is ailing, the children hardly have the opportunity to go to school. Half of all children between the ages of five and 14 have to work. It is estimated that there are around 70,000 child soldiers held under arms by various militias. A UNICEF statement announced that the use of children in Somalia is increasing. Children from the age of nine are now being recruited. The child soldiers are often beaten or even executed if they are captured by the opposing side. Last but not least, the human rights situation of homosexuals in Somalia is extremely bad. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the death penalty is imposed for same-sex relationships or homosexual acts. Somalia has the highest rate of female genital mutilation in the world. About 98% of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 are genitally mutilated. Infibulation of the female genitals is very common . This practice was banned by law under the Siad Barre government , but it remained widespread. In the de facto autonomous Puntland , the regional parliament passed a ban in 1999. A nationwide campaign began on March 8, 2004, during which the then-President of the transitional government, Abdikassim Salat Hassan , spoke of a crime against religion and against humanity. On October 26, 2005, Islamic clergymen in Mogadishu published a fatwa directed against female circumcision. This traditional practice, which is widespread in Africa, is condemned as “un-Islamic”. According to the Somalia 2015 Human Rights Report, which is published annually by the State Department of the United States , the prisons are in very poor condition. In 2013, the then Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdi Farah Shirdon , announced in a report that conditions in the central prison of Mogadishu were pathetic. He asked the international community for advice on how sustainable improvements can be achieved. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also announced several times that the conditions in the central prison were unsustainable. According to the UNODC, around 1200 prisoners are housed in the central prison.

    Foreign policy

    Somalia is inter alia Member of the African Union , the United Nations, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and is a full member of the Arab League , although Arabic is not the mother tongue of most Somalis.

    Due to the poor security situation in the country, only a limited number of states have full diplomatic relations and an embassy in Mogadishu. Among the foreign policy partner states, the states of the Arab League, with which there are close cultural and economic ties, stand out. The focus of the cooperation with the European states is on financial aid and support in the establishment of a functional state. Relations with the United States have a strong security component for Somalia. The United States supported the Somali central government in Mogadishu in combating the al-Shabaab militia, providing direct military support, including: through the use of military drones .

    Relations with neighboring Ethiopia have historically been heavily strained, but the two countries are now cooperating in the fight against terrorism and piracy. Somalia has close and good relations with Djibouti due to the strong ethnic and cultural similarities between the two countries. The importance of bilateral relations with the People's Republic of China and Turkey has also grown in recent years .

    Administrative structure

    The country is officially divided into 18 regions. However, since the collapse of the state, this classification has only limited practical significance:


    Farmer in Gabiley , Northwest Somalia / Somaliland
    Somali with herd of goats near Beledweyne (Belet Uen), December 1993

    Somalia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, and the political situation makes it difficult to collect accurate economic data. It is estimated that around 70% of the population make a living from agriculture. Most of them live as nomads or semi-nomads with camels, sheep and goats, in more fertile areas also with cattle. Agriculture is mainly practiced on the Jubba and Shabelle rivers and between these two rivers in southwest Somalia , as well as in smaller areas of northern Somalia . Livestock and bananas are important export goods.

    In addition, fish, corn , millet and sugar are grown or produced for domestic use. The small industrial sector, which mainly produces agricultural goods, is only 10% of GDP . Many factories were closed because of the civil war. A large part of the Somali population is dependent on money transfers from relatives abroad, so that money transfer institutions - which mostly operate according to the informal hawala system - can expect steady demand in the service sector .

    In 2008 Somalia was also affected by rising food prices as a result of high inflation, drought, worsened security and global factors. In June 2008, the United Nations assumed that up to 3.5 million people could depend on food aid in the following months . This made the situation even more dramatic than in Darfur .

    Parts of the economy benefit from the state without a functioning government and thus without state taxes and regulations. Thus, the telecommunications system applies with mobile phone network -betreibern as Nation Link Telecom as a cheaper and more reliable than in neighboring countries. Since there is no state regulation whatsoever, activities such as counterfeiting, piracy off the Somali coast or the environmentally problematic export of charcoal can take place largely undisturbed.

    The IMF estimates the country's gross domestic product in 2016 at around 6 billion US dollars . This results in an economic power of just under 500 US dollars per capita, making Somalia one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. Economic output has grown by 3 to 4 percent per year in recent years, which is not significantly faster than the country's population.

    In the Ease of Doing Business Index 2018 of the World Bank Somalia last place. Due to the collapse of the state system, it is extremely difficult to get electricity, capital or skilled workers in the country.

    Somalia is said to have significant untapped raw material reserves. The country has considerable oil and gas reserves. The country's oil reserves could even be the second largest in Africa. Somalia also has deposits of uranium and other strategically important and valuable minerals. Due to the poor security situation in the country, however, the raw materials cannot currently be extracted.

    Development cooperation

    The uncertain political situation, especially in southern and central Somalia, makes it difficult for international aid organizations, which are mainly active in humanitarian aid, to work. UN organizations such as UNICEF and the United Nations World Food Program provide humanitarian aid. In the more stable north (Somaliland and Puntland) (re) building is also being carried out, primarily with the help of money transfers from Somalians abroad, but also through international organizations. Because of the safer environment, international aid for Somalia is increasingly flowing into these northern areas.

    Local organizations are involved in various areas.

    In mid-2008 radical Islamists killed several foreign and local aid workers who they suspected of "espionage".


    Somalia is in close proximity to major international shipping routes. At the same time, there has been no effective coast guard since the early 1990s. In these circumstances, piracy off the Somali coast has become a profitable business and a threat to international shipping. Somali fishermen, civil war fighters and businessmen hold foreign ship crews hostage to extort ransom or rob them. The cause of this piracy is also the illegal intrusion of European and Asian fishing fleets into Somali waters, as a result of which local fishermen lost their livelihood and in some cases switched to piracy. The number of pirate attacks off the Somali coast declined in the early 2010s, but the situation remains tense and uncertain.

    According to an article by IRIN, the government of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland states that illegal fishing by foreign fishing fleets has increased since the presence of foreign warships on Somali coasts, and demands that the warships also control foreign fishermen.

    State budget

    The national debt was put at around USD 2.2 billion (IMF) or USD 3.2 billion in 2013. As part of the HIPC initiative, the World Bank, the African Development Bank , the International Monetary Fund and the creditors of the Paris Club paid off a large part of Somalia's debts with USD 800 million.


    Somalia's culture is shaped by nomadism , Islam and (orally transmitted) poetry.


    Typical Somali Canjeero

    Somali cuisine varies from region to region, especially from the north of the country to the south, and contains influences from the traditional cuisines of the Somali , Ethiopians , and, to a lesser extent , the Yemenis , Persians , Turks , Indians and Italians .

    For breakfast there is usually tea and pancake-like bread, which is called canjeero . For lunch, a cooked main course based on rice is often cooked, which is often refined with cumin , cardamom , cloves or sage . A modified form of Italian pasta is also commonly eaten. As a drink, there are often fruit juices or lemonades. Dinner is usually only available around 9 p.m., and in Ramadan even around 11 p.m. The most popular Somali evening meal is called cambuulo and consists mainly of cooked adzuki beans , butter and sugar. The beans can take up to five hours to cook. Milk flavored with cardamom is the main drink that is drunk in the evening. In addition to many fruits and confectionery specialties such as halva , special Somali samosa is served in between.

    Music and poetry

    From the 19th century, the explorer Richard Francis Burton ( First footsteps in East Africa; or, An Exploration of Harar , 1856) reports on numerous Somali chants for various occasions (such as loading camels, drawing water and hunting elephants). Philipp Paulitschke ( Ethnography of Northeast Africa , 2 volumes, 1893/96) confirms Burton's impression of a very rich Somali poetry and compiles a list of the forms of singing. Nevertheless, Somali music was subsequently not researched further and Klaus Wachsmann's encyclopedia entry ( Somali , in The Music in History and Present , 1st Edition) remained the first music-ethnological study until 1965, which conditionally summarized the travel descriptions known up to that point. The lexicon article Somalia by John W. Johnson, which first appeared in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , 1st edition (1980), is based on his own experience .

    Somali music is generally - like the musical styles of Ethiopia - pentatonic , whereby different pitches and intervals are used that are not standardized. The music of the Somali clans is essentially equated with their poetry, which can be performed melodically and freely rhythmically or as a song with melody and rhythm. Certain poetic forms are assigned melodies from a suitable group. Any poetic text belongs either to the maanso category , the author of which is known, or to the hees category , the author of which is generally unknown. The poetry of both categories is always metric and alliterative in a complex way . In secondary literature, the classification of poetic genres goes back to JWC Kirk (1905), who first differentiated between “ gerar, gabei and hes ” in Somali songs . In the descriptions below, the poetic forms of well-known authors gabay, jiifto, and geeraar were referred to as classic and masculine. Depending on the classification, research distinguishes up to seven genres within the maanso category ( gabay, geeraar, jiifto, burambur, wiglo, guurow and masafo ). From the genre masafo , which is sung unaccompanied as a soloist, verses by a sheikh (religious leader) from Merka have been handed down from the beginning of the 19th century. Masafo contain religious verses that refer to the obligations to Islam. Geeraar are prize poems addressed to tribal leaders who ride a horse.

    The oud player Nuruddin Ali Amaan

    The Somali word for "music", muusiko , was adopted from European languages ​​during the colonial period and until the Second World War mainly referred to the accompaniment of the poetic lecture on which the herdsmen concentrated. The musical instruments of the nomadic Somali, which were practically non-existent until the end of the 1940s, point to the close relationship between music and poetry as well as material poverty. The vocal forms gabay, jiifto and geeraar are also performed unaccompanied. In some less strict genres, the rhythms are clapped with the hands or hit on oil cans. In Northern Somalia, only women used to play a drum to accompany the buraambur song genre performed at weddings and other festivities .

    Nomadic folk songs of the category hees ("song") are primarily based on the individual voice ( ʿod ), further on a polyphonic chant ( jiib ) and are rhythmically accompanied by clapping ( sa'ab ) or stamping ( jaan ). Hees are work songs ( hees howled ), dance songs ( hees iyared ), lullabies ( hoobeeya ) and all kinds of folk poetry. Dance songs ( iyared ) belong to forms of entertainment and rituals of possession that serve to drive away malevolent spirits ( saar , mingus or hayad , cf. pepo in East Africa). Classical gabey are sung songs for seasonal celebrations, of which several genres are distinguished: in addition to the women's songs buraanbur, also the religious masafo , the guurow of the Abgal clan, geeraar and jiifto .

    The selection of musical instruments in traditional music of southern Somalia is significantly larger. There mainly the Benadiri on the coastal region of Banaadir and the Bajuni on the extreme south coast and on the offshore Bajuni Islands maintain folk music with musical instruments whose names and types are reminiscent of the East African instruments. The membranophones include the snare drum gooma (cf. Swahili ngoma ), the ceremonial drum chapua , the high-pitched ceremonial drum msondho and the small drums reeme, yoome and vuuma . The idiophones include the vessel rattle kayaaba (cf. the raft rattle kayamba ) and the wooden rattle shambal . Wind instruments include the cone oboe zumaari , which is well known on the East African coast , the wooden trumpet malkat , snail trumpets and antelope horns ( gees-goodir, see phalaphala ). More musical instruments in the South also refer to East African influences, including an lamellophone , the shell lyre shareero (similar tanbura in Sudan and other lyres in East Africa) and the one-stringed fiddle Seese (see. Zeze ).

    With the introduction of radio broadcasts during the Second World War, Somali music experienced a significant internationalization. The Somalis came into contact with Arabic music , especially the oud , and with musical styles of Italian, British and Indian music . The adoption of western instruments from the 1940s onwards led to an inadequate classification of older Somali music as "traditional" and the younger as "modern". Indeed, Somali music underwent a gradual change in which some songs retained their self-contained closed form better than others with supra-regional influences.

    Around the mid-1940s, a new genre of music called hello (or heello , literally "sing", "hum") was introduced. The style originally called balwo ("crazy thing") or belaayo contains Arabic elements and is used for love songs or other social topics. Belaayo (from Arabic baliyyah , a female camel who is tied to the grave of her deceased owner) contained, according to its meaning, which dates back to pre-Islamic times, terrifying stories with descriptions of catastrophes. This genre was classified as socially below Islamic poetry in northern Somalia. From the hello , modern forms of hees developed , in which men and women recite poems together in an urban setting. In the 1950s, hello was the main medium of dissemination for the political messages of urban youth, accompanied by new Somali instrumental music. The meters used for this were taken from traditional hees (dance songs or work songs).

    In the 1960s, the government banned the use of poetry and songs to express political opinion. The singers tried traditional poetic forms with claused verses to bypass the censorship and to be broadcast on the radio. Today, popular music influences from the Ethiopian highlands and the Swahili coast ( taarab ) are common. The oud player and singer Ahmed Ismail Hussein Hudeidi (1928-2020) is considered to be the founder of modern Somali music. A well-known Somali singer was Magool (1948-2004). Maryam Mursal (* 1950) cultivates a mix of styles from East African and Arabic blues elements. Magool's nephew is K'naan (* 1978), who reached number 1 in numerous international charts with Wavin 'Flag . He is a well-known hip hop musician living in Canada .

    Long before the colonial cultural influences on Somalia, the music of the Somali was in exchange with the musical traditions of Oman and the other countries around the Persian Gulf through maritime trade with dhows . With Somali sailors and musicians, rituals such as the saar / zar cult reached the south coast of Iran and the coast of Balochistan , where the damburag is used for obsession rituals . In the 20th century, many Somali fled the civil wars to the Gulf region and Yemen .


    For a long time there have been many fairy tales and folk stories in the country, which were often passed on from generation to generation and often had a connection to Islam. In the 1960s, the two periodicals Sahan (German for "Enlightenment") and Horseed (German for " Vorhut , Avantgarde") promoted the writing of the rich, but until then exclusively oral traditional literature. Modern literature did not develop until after the Somali language was written down. From then on, various Somali authors published novels, some of which appeared worldwide, including the Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah , who with works such as Maps (1986) became one of the most important contemporary African writers. Another popular Somali author was Farah Mohamed Jama Awl , best known for his book Ignorance is the enemy of love (1974/1982 English).

    See also

    Portal: Somalia  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Somalia


    • Somalia. Get up or go down in ruins ... Inamo , autumn 2012.
    • Hatem Elliesie: Statehood and Constitution Building in Somalia: Islamic Responses to a Failed State . In: Rainer Grote / Tilmann J. Roeder (Eds.), Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012, pp. 537-565. ISBN 978-0-19-975988-0 .
    • Jutta Bakonyi: Land without a state - economy and society at war using the example of Somalia , Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-593-39528-9 .
    • Markus Virgil Höhne and Virginia Luling (eds.): Milk and peace, drought and war: Somali culture, society and politics (Essays in honor of IM Lewis). London 2010, ISBN 1-84904-045-1 .
    • Abdirizak Sheikh, Mathias Weber: No Peace for Somalia? 2nd edition, M.-W.-Verlag, Frankfurt 2010, ISBN 978-3-934517-11-0 .
    • Ioan M. Lewis : Understanding Somalia and Somaliland: Culture, History and Society , 2008, ISBN 978-1-85065-898-6 (English).
    • Dieter H. Kollmer, Andreas Mückusch (Hrsg.): Guide to history: Horn of Africa . Schöningh, Paderborn 2007, ISBN 978-3-506-76397-6 .
    • Michael Birnbaum: Somalia hot spot. Heyne Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 978-3-453-86109-1 .
    • Markus Virgil Höhne: Somalia between war and peace. Strategies for peaceful conflict resolution at the international and local level IAK, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-928049-84-4 .
    • Maria Brons : Society, Security, Sovereignty and the State in Somalia. From statelessness to statelessness? International Books, Utrecht 2001, ISBN 978-90-5727-038-3 .
    • Jasmin Touati: Politics and Society in Somalia (1890–1991) , Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-928049-45-3 .
    • Ali Jimale Ahmed (Ed.): The Invention of Somalia , Red Sea Press 1995, ISBN 978-0-932415-99-8 .
    • Said Sheikh Samatar : Somalia - Nation in Search of a State. Westview Press, Boulder (Colorado) 1987, ISBN 978-0-86531-555-6 .

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Somalia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : Somalia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
     Wikinews: Portal: Somalia  - in the news
    Wikivoyage: Somalia  Travel Guide
    Wikimedia Atlas: Somalia  - geographical and historical maps

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    Coordinates: 8 °  N , 47 °  E