Somalia [Country Flag of Somalia]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Somalia]



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Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia

Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 49 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 637,660 sq km
land: 627,340 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries:
total: 2,366 km
border countries: Djibouti 58 km, Ethiopia 1,626 km, Kenya 682 km

Coastline: 3,025 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

Climate: 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

Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Shimbiris 2,450 m

Natural resources: uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 69%
forests and woodland: 26%
other: 3% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,800 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer

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
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


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Population: 6,841,695 (July 1998 est.)
note: this estimate was derived from an official census taken in 1987 by the Somali Government with the cooperation of the UN and the US Bureau of the Census; population estimates are updated year by year between census years by factoring growth rates into them and by taking account of refugee movements and of losses due to famine; lower estimates of Somalia's population in mid-1996 (on the order of 6.0 million to 6.5 million) have been made by aid and relief agencies, based on the number of persons being fed; population counting in Somalia is complicated by the large numbers of nomads and by refugee movements in response to famine and clan warfare

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (male 1,512,014; female 1,511,858)
15-64 years: 53% (male 1,833,922; female 1,786,261)
65 years and over: 3% (male 90,475; female 107,165) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 4.43% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 46.75 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 18.5 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 16.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 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: 0.84 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 125.77 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 46.23 years
male: 44.66 years
female: 47.85 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 7.01 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Somali(s)
adjective: Somali

Ethnic groups: Somali 85%, Bantu, Arabs 30,000

Religions: Sunni Muslim

Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 24%
male: 36%
female: 14% (1990 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Somalia
former: Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic

Data code: SO

Government type: none

National capital: Mogadishu

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

Independence: 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: NA

Constitution: 25 August 1979, presidential approval 23 September 1979

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch: Somalia has no functioning government; the United Somali Congress (USC) ousted the regime of Major General Mohamed SIAD Barre on 27 January 1991; the present political situation is one of anarchy, marked by interclan fighting and random banditry

Legislative branch: unicameral People's Assembly or Golaha Shacbiga
note: the Golaha Shacbiga is not functioning

Judicial branch: (not functioning); note—following the breakdown of national government, most regions have reverted to Islamic law with a provision for appeal of all sentences

Political parties and leaders: the United Somali Congress or USC ousted the former regime on 27 January 1991; formerly the only party was the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party or SRSP, headed by former President and Commander in Chief of the Army Major General Mohamed SIAD Barre

Political pressure groups and leaders: numerous clan and subclan factions are currently vying for power

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US: Somalia does not have an embassy in the US (ceased operations on 8 May 1991)

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 Moi Avenue and Haile Selassie Avenue; mail address: P. O. Box 30137, Unit 64100, Nairobi; APO AE 09831; telephone: [254] (2) 334141; FAX [254] (2) 340838

Flag description: light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; design based on the flag of the UN (Italian Somaliland was a UN trust territory)

Government—note: While chaos and clan fighting continue in most of Somalia, some orderly government has been established in the northern part. In May 1991, the elders of clans in former British Somaliland established the independent Republic of Somaliland, which, although not recognized by any government, maintains a stable existence, aided by the overwhelming dominance of the ruling clan and the economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian and American military assistance programs. The economy has been growing and in February 1996 the EU agreed to finance the reconstruction of the port of Berbera; since then, other aid projects have been assumed by the EU and by a non-governmental Italian organization.


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Economy—overview: One of the world's poorest and least developed countries, Somalia has few resources. Moreover, much of the economy has been devastated by the civil war. 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. Crop production generates only 10% of GDP and employs about 20% of the work force. After livestock, bananas are the principal export; sugar, sorghum, corn, and fish are products for the domestic market. The small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for less than 10% of GDP; most facilities have been shut down because of the civil strife. Moreover, ongoing civil disturbances in Mogadishu and outlying areas are interfering with any substantial economic advance.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$8 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$600 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 59%
industry: 10%
services: 31% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: NA%

Labor force:
total: 3.7 million (very few are skilled laborers)(1993 est.)
by occupation: agriculture (mostly pastoral nomadism) 71%, industry and services 29%

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Industries: a few small industries, including sugar refining, textiles, petroleum refining (mostly shut down)

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 144,000 kW prior to the civil war, but now largely shut down due to war damage; some localities operate their own generating plants, providing limited municipal power; note—UN and relief organizations use their own portable power systems

Electricity—production: 245 million kWh (1995 est.)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 33 kWh (1995 est.)

Agriculture—products: bananas, sorghum, corn, sugarcane, mangoes, sesame seeds, beans; cattle, sheep, goats; fishing potential largely unexploited

total value: $130 million (1994 est.)
commodities: bananas, live animals, fish, hides (1997)
partners: Saudi Arabia 57%, Yemen 14%, Italy 13%, UAE 10%, US (bananas) (1995 est.)

total value: $269 million (1994 est.)
commodities: manufactures, petroleum products, foodstuffs, construction materials (1995)
partners: Kenya 24%, Djibouti 18%, Pakistan 6% (1995 est.)

Debt—external: $2.6 billion (1994 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 Somali shilling (So. Sh.) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Somali shillings (So. Sh.) per US$1—7,500 (November 1997 est.), 7,000 (January 1996 est.), 5,000 (1 January 1995), 2,616 (1 July 1993), 4,200 (December 1992)
note: the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared independent country not recognized by any government, issues its own currency, the Somaliland shilling (Sol. Sh.); estimated exchange rate, Sol. Sh. per US$1—4,000 (November 1997)

Fiscal year: NA


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Telephones: 9,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system: the public telecommunications system was completely destroyed or dismantled by the civil war factions; all relief organizations depend on their own private systems
domestic: recently, local cellular telephone systems have been established in Mogadishu and in several other population centers
international: international connections are available from Mogadishu by satellite

Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA (there are at least five radio broadcast stations of NA type)

Radios: 370,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 0 (Somalia's only TV station was demolished during the civil strife, sometime in 1991)

Televisions: 118,000 (1993 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 22,100 km
paved: 2,608 km
unpaved: 19,492 km (1996 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 15 km

Ports and harbors: Bender Cassim (Boosaaso), Berbera, Chisimayu (Kismaayo), Merca, Mogadishu

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 61 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 7
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 54
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 10 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: NA; note—no functioning central government military forces; clan militias continue to battle for control of key economic or political prizes

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 1,669,645 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 930,405 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: most of the southern half of the boundary with Ethiopia is a Provisional Administrative Line; territorial dispute with Ethiopia over the Ogaden