World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

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Somalia Travelling Guide
Somalia Travelling Guide

General background: 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.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Texas.

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.

Population: 7,753,310

Ethnic groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)

Religions: Sunni Muslim

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

Government type: No permanent national government; transitional, parliamentary national government

Capital: Mogadishu

Legal system: No national system; Shari'a and secular courts are in some localities.

Economic 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.

Communication/Telephone system: 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.

Places of interest:

Travel tips: Support for Osama bin Laden is strong, leading the USA to view Somalia as a possible military target in its war against terrorism. Be very cautious and alert if you have to go there.