Country Profiles:
Somalia

Somalia located in the Horn of the continent. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent in mainland and its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. The capital, Mogadishu, is located just north of the Equator on the Indian Ocean. Somalia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period.Ancient Somalia domesticated the camel during the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, and developed a profitable trade system.

In antiquity, Somalia was an important commercial center. It is among the most probable locations of the fabled ancient Land of Punt. During the Middle Ages, several powerful Somali empires dominated the regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. The Adal and Ajuuraan kingdoms flourished during the Middle Ages, and their successor states continued to thrive through the 19th century. In the late 19th century, through a succession of treaties with these kingdoms, the British and Italian empires gained control of parts of the coast and established the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. In the interior, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan‘s Dervish State repelled the British Empire four times and forced it to retreat to the coastal region, and sparked one of the longest colonial resistance wars in history. Eentually due to British airpower, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan succumbed to defeat in 1920.

Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 in order 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. Following the regime’s overthrow early in 1991, Somalia descended into decades of turmoil, factional fighting and anarchy. In June 2006, a coalition of clerics, business leaders and Islamic court militias, the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), defeated powerful Mogadishu warlords and took control of the capital. President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigned from office in December 2008, and a month later Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected president.

Conflict continues in the southern and central parts of the country between government troops and extremist Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda. A famine struck Somalia in 2011 following the worst drought of East Africa in 60 years. From 2005-2012 Pirates mainly operating out of Puntland – pose a major menace to shipping off the Somali coast, before falling away as a threat as a result of an international naval operation, according to the BBC. Relief from all over the world poured in, and by February 2012 the UN announced that the food crisis was over. In spite of the civil unrest, the economy has remained healthy, primarily based on livestock, money transfer companies and telecommunications. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, was elected by MPs gathered under tight security in a hangar at the airport of the capital Mogadishu in February 2017.

By far the most important sector of the Somali economy is agriculture, with livestock raising surpassing crop growing and earning about three-fifths of Somalia’s foreign exchange.

Deposits of the clay mineral sepiolite, or meerschaum, are among the largest known reserves in the world. Reserves of natural gas have been found but have not been exploited. Other mineral deposits such as, sea salt, tin, phosphate, gypsum, guano, coal, iron ore, and uranium.

About 85% of local residents are ethnic Somalis. They have traditionally been organized into nomadic pastoral clans, loose empires, sultanates and city-states. The Somali group are divided into numerous clans, which are groups that trace their common ancestry back to a single father. These clans, are subdivided into numerous sub-clans combine at a higher level to form clan families. Some of the major clans are the Daarood, Isaaq, Ogaden, the Hawiye, Dir and Tunni. Somali and Arabic are the official languages of the country, both of which belong to the Afro-asiatic family.

Cuisine in Somalia uses the cereals commonly grown across the country. The pastoral nomads live solely on dairy products, goat meat and grain brought with money earned from the sale of animals. Pasta is eaten in some of the more urbanized areas – particularly those parts of Somalia that came under the influenced of the Italians. The coastline provides for an abundance of seafood and fish. Popular dishes includes: Teff Pancakes with Ricotta and Spinach, Suqaar Lettuce Cups, Black Quinoa, Hulled Millet, Artichoke and Pomegranate Salad, Cabbage with Kashmiri Chilli and Sesame Seeds, Vegetable Risotto, Chickpea Pancakes with Turmeric, Chilli and Cumin, Canjeelo  (Canjeero or Laxoox), Cambuulo iyo Maraq (Rice with Adzuki Beans in a Spicy Tomato Sauce), Shushumow (Somali Crystallized Pastry Shells).

Somalia has a rich musical heritage centered on traditional Somali folklore. With the advent of Arabic and English invasion, the music of Somalia has resulted into a fine blend of both the African and the Arabic notes. The musical instruments that are used in the music of Somalia include frame drums from Egypt and the West Indian Lutes. The Islamic influence in Somali music is evident from the oud and the Egyptian style orchestra. Somali music also constitutes the Arabic microtonal scales and the pentatonic.

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