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Brief History

Somalia, officially known as the Republic of Somalia, gained its independence on July 1, 1960, when Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 to allow its protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland and form the new nation of Somalia. It was formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under communist rule. The Somali Civil War is an ongoing civil war taking place in Somalia. The conflict, which began in 1991, has caused destabilization and instability throughout the country, with the current phase of the conflict seeing the Somali government losing substantial control of the state to rebel forces.

From 2006-2009, the National Defense Force of Ethiopia was involved in the conflict. Somalia's government declared a state of emergency in June 2009, requesting immediate international support, and the military intervention of neighboring East African states. The current chief of state is Transitional Federal President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed


Somalia, capital Mogadishu is located in the Horn of Africa in Eastern Africa covering an area of 637,657 square kilometers. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west. Somalia has a tropical and desert climate, and there is little seasonal change in temperature. There are periodic winds which are the southwest monsoon and the northeast monsoon that influence temperature and rainfall. Southwestern Somalia is dominated by the country's only two permanent rivers, the Jubba and the Shabele. Somalia is rich in natural resources such as uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, and likely oil reserves.


Somalia has a population of 10,112,453 (2010). The major ethnic group is the Somali, which constitutes 85% of the population. Bantu and other non-Somali groups form 15%, including Arabs, Ethiopians, Italians, Pakistanis, Indians, etc... The official language is Somali, given that Arabic, Italian, and English are still widely spoken and understood. The literacy rate is 37.8%. With few exceptions, Somalis are entirely Muslims. Christianity is a minor religion.


The government of Somalia is a transitional, parliamentary federal government. Its legal system is a mixture of English common law, Italian law, Islamic sharia, and Somali customary law. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations. The chief of state is Transitional Federal President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed since January 31, 2009, and the head of government is Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke since February 13, 2009. The official currency is the Somali Shilling, where 1595 shillings are equivalent to US$1.


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 accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Other principal export products include hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports.

The modest industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for 10% of Somalia's GDP. Industries include a few light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, and wireless communication.

Somalia's service sector also has grown, and accounts for 25% of the GDP (2005). Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. A formal banking sector is absent. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. In addition, funds transfer services have become a major industry in the country.

In 2001, small quantities of gypsum, marine salt, and sepiolite (meerschaum) were exploited. There were unexploited deposits of anhydrite, bauxite, columbite, feldspar, natural gas, iron ore, kaolin, quartz, silica sand, tantalum, thorium, tin, etc... Tin was mined by the British before World War II, and charcoal was the fifth-leading export commodity.

Donor support to the country focuses on humanitarian relief and development assistance.

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