Somali Republic

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Somali Republic
Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliyeed
الجمهورية الصومالية
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Coat of arms of Somalia
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Qolobaa Calankeed
Location of Somalia
and largest city
Official languages Somali
Religion Islam
Demonym Somali
Government Republic
 -  President Zakaria Osman Adam
 -  Italian Somaliland 1889 
 -  British Somaliland 1888 
 -  Establishment of Somali Republic 1960 
 -  Socialist coup 1969 
 -  Another coup 1991 
 -  Total 637 657 km2 (44th)
246 201 sq mi
 -  2017 estimate 24,105,895 (54th)
 -  Density 37.8/km2 (117th)
97.9/sq mi
Currency Somali shilling (SOS)
Time zone Somali Standard Time (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code +252

Somalia, officially the Somali Republic, is a republic located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the nort-west, thiopia to the west, Kenya to the south, the Gulf of Aden to the north, and the Indian Ocean to the east. Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa's mainland, and its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. Climatically, hot conditions prevail year-round, with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall.

Somalia has an estimated population of around 24.1 million, thanks to the state encouraging a population growth. Around 85% of its residents are ethnic Somalis, who have historically inhabited the northern part of the country. Ethnic minorities are largely concentrated in the southern regions. The official languages of Somalia are Somali, and Arabic. Most people in the country are Muslim with the majority being Sunni.

In antiquity, Somalia was an important commercial centre. 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. 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, before succumbing to defeat in 1920 by British airpower. The toponym Somalia was coined by the Italian explorer Luigi Robecchi Bricchetti (1855–1926). Italy acquired full control of the northeastern, central and southern parts of the area while the British took the north-west. The two territories eventually united to form the Somali Republic. Led by a democratic civilian administration, a miltary-backed coup in 1969 led by Mohamed Siyad Barre turned Somalia into a socialist republic. Another military-backed coup in 1991 installed Isaaq rebel Zakaria Osman Adam as the President of the Somali Republic, a position he still holds with an iron fist.


Somalia is officially divided into eighteen governorates (Gobollada, singular Gobol), which in turn are subdivided into districts. The regions are:

  • Lower Juba (No.1);
  • Middle Juba (No.2);
  • Gedo (No.3);
  • Bay (No.4);
  • Bakool (No.5);
  • Lower Shebelle (No.6);
  • Banaadir (No.7);
  • Middle Shebelle (No.8);
  • Hiran (No.9);
  • Galguduud (No.10);
  • Mudug (No.11);
  • Nugal (No.12);
  • Bari (No.13);
  • Sool (No.14);
  • Sanaag (No.15);
  • Togdheer (No.16);
  • Woqooyi Galbeed (No.17);
  • Awdal (No.18);

Despite Djibouti being a sovereign state, it's almost client state-like relationship with Somalia has awarded it the title of Somalia's 19th governorate by many opposition groups in Somalia and Djibouti.

Ethnic groups

Somalis constitute the largest ethnic group in Somalia, at approximately 81% of the nation's inhabitants. They are organized into clan groupings, which are important social units; clan membership plays a central part in Somali culture and politics. Clans are patrilineal and are typically divided into sub-clans, sometimes with many sub-divisions. Through the xeer system, the advanced clan structure has served governmental roles in many rural Somali communities. Somali society is traditionally ethnically endogamous. So to extend ties of alliance, marriage is often to another ethnic Somali from a different clan.

Non-Somali ethnic minority groups make up about 19% of the nation's population. They include Afar, Bantus, Bajunis, Eyle, Ethiopians, Persians, Italians, French and Britons.

Clan structure

Certain clans are traditionally classed as noble clans and are called "Samaale", referring to their nomadic lifestyle, in contrast to the sedentary Sab who are either agropastoralists or artisanal castes. "Sab" is the term used to refer to minor Somali clans in contrast to "Samaale". Both Samaale and Sab are the children of their father "Hiil" whose is the common ancestor all Somali clans.

The three noble clans are Darod, Dir, and Hawiye. Of these, the Dir are regarded as descended from Irir Samaale, while the Darod have separate agnatic traditions of descent through Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti (Sheikh Darod). Sheikh Darod is, in turn, asserted to have married a woman from the Dir, thus establishing matrilateral ties with the Samaale main stem. Hawiye are also descended from Irir Samaale.

A few clans in the southern part of Somalia and Ogaden (Ethiopian region inhabited by ethnic Somalis) do not belong to the major clans, but came to be associated with them and were eventually adopted into one of their confederations.

The Digil and Mirifle (Rahanweyn) are agro-pastoral clans in the area between the Jubba and Shebelle rivers. Many do not follow a nomadic lifestyle, live further south and speak Maay, a related language.

A third group, the occupational clans, have sometimes been treated as outcasts because traditionally they could only marry among themselves and other Somalis considered them to be ritually unclean. They lived in their own settlements among the nomadic populations in the north and performed specialised occupations such as metalworking, tanning and hunting. Minority Somali clans include the Gaboye, Tumaal, Yibir, Jaji and Yahar.

The Isaaq, who are widely considered a branch of the Dir clan is the clan of the current Somali president Zakaria Osman and are the dominant minority and the ruling class of the country. A widespread state-funded Isaaqization program made the clan's land area expand by 30% and its population rise by 40%. A lesser Isaaqization program is currently ongoing in Ethiopia's Somali region although it recieves limited funding by the Somali state who prefer to resettle these Isaaqs in the Surud Ad governorate.


Somali and Arabic are the official languages of Somalia. The Somali language is the mother tongue of the Somalis, the nation's most populous ethnic group. It is a member of the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic family.

In addition to Somali, Arabic, which is also an Afroasiatic tongue, is an official national language in Somalia. Many Somalis speak it due to centuries-old ties with the Arab world, the far-reaching influence of the Arabic media, being a member of the Arab League and religious education.


The major religion in Somalia is Islam, with almost 100% of the population being Muslim.

Most residents of Somalia belong to the Sunni branch of Islam and the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, although Sufi Islam is well-established.

Islam is the state religion of the Somali Republic, and Islamic sharia is a basic source for national legislation. The constitution also stipulates that no law that is inconsistent with the basic tenets of Shari'a can be enacted or enforced.

Islam entered the region very early on, shortly after the hijra. Zeila's two-mihrab Masjid al-Qiblatayn dates to the 7th century, and is the oldest mosque in the city. In addition, the Somali community has produced numerous important Islamic figures over the centuries. Among these Islamic scholars is the 14th century Somali theologian and jurist Uthman bin Ali Zayla'i of Zeila.

Christianity is almost non-existent in Somalia, with no more than 100 practitioners. Christians are persecuted although Somali Christians have a right to Somali citizenship and equality.

Less than 0.1% of Somalia's population in 2010 were adherents of traditional or folk religions. These mainly consisted of some Bantu ethnic minority groups in the southern parts of the country, who practice animism.

Politics and government

Somalia is a republic, where the President is head of state. Currently that position is held by Zakaria Osman Adam since his successful coup in 1991 which ousted the Supreme Revolutionary Council under Siad Barre.


The Somali Armed Forces and the Somali Republican Guard are the main military forces of Somalia.[194] Headed by the Chief as Commander in Chief, they are constitutionally mandated to ensure the nation's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The total amount of active soldiers in both the army and in paramilitary groups personally controlled by Zakaria and his sons is estimated to be at around 350,000, the largest in Africa.


Somalia has a healthy informal economy, based mainly on livestock, port services, credit institutions companies and telecommunications. In last years there has been substantial private investment in commercial activities; this has been largely financed by the Somali diaspora, and includes trade and marketing, money transfer services, transportation, communications, fishery equipment, airlines, telecommunications, education, health, construction and hotels. Since the discovery of large oil deposits in the southern and north-eastern parts of the country and large deposits off the coast of Somalia, a large portion of Somalia's economy is based on oil although the Somali government has not revealed how many million barrels they produce per day.

The country's GDP per capita as of 2017 is $5129. About 1% of the population lives on less than 1 US dollar a day, mostly living in rural areas.

In Somalia, the Somali ruling classes have pursued for decades a policy aimed at building a solid farming economy, capable of avoiding the degradation of land and society. Somalia's anthropic environment, or at least its fertile areas, is characterized by small plantations of a family nature; Sugar cane, syrup, and tropical fruit are produced. Waterworks of some importance have allowed over the centuries to extensively extend the cultivable areas.

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