Photos of Somalia

The orange and tan colors of this high-oblique photograph of the Horn of Africa indicate an arid-to-semiarid landscape in the northern half of the east African country of Somalia. Except for the darker areas where thicker vegetation can be found (usually in elevated areas), most of the vegetation in this part of Somalia is shrub brush and grasslands. The southern extent of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula is visible north across the Gulf of Aden. Image courtesy of NASA.



Several powerful Somali states dominated the Indian Ocean trade from the 13th century onward. In the late 19th century, the area that would become Somalia was colonized by Britain in the north and Italy in the south. Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 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 characterized by the persecution, jailing, and torture of political opponents and dissidents. After the regime's collapse early in 1991, Somalia descended into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May 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 and continues efforts to establish a constitutional democracy, including holding municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections. The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring semi-autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998 but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims the regions of Sool and Sanaag, and portions of Togdheer. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in south-central Somalia) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored.

In 2000, the Somalia National Peace Conference (SNPC) held in Djibouti resulted in the formation of an interim government, known as the Transitional National Government (TNG). When the TNG failed to establish adequate security or governing institutions, the Government of Kenya, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), led a subsequent peace process that concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as President of a second interim government, known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Somali Republic. The TFG included a 275-member parliamentary body, known as the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). President YUSUF resigned late in 2008 while UN-sponsored talks between the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) were underway in Djibouti. In January 2009, following the creation of a TFG-ARS unity government, Ethiopian military forces, which had entered Somalia in December 2006 to support the TFG in the face of advances by the opposition Islamic Courts Union (ICU), withdrew from the country. The TFP was doubled in size to 550 seats with the addition of 200 ARS and 75 civil society members of parliament. The expanded parliament elected Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed, the former ICU and ARS chairman as president in January 2009. The creation of the TFG was based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), which outlined a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. In 2009, the TFP amended the TFC to extend TFG's mandate until 2011 and in 2011 Somali principals agreed to institute political transition by August 2012. The transition process ended in September 2012 when clan elders replaced the TFP by appointing 275 members to a new parliament who subsequently elected a new president.

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

Geographic coordinates

10 00 N, 49 00 E


total: 637,657 sq km

land: 627,337 sq km

water: 10,320 sq km

country comparison to the world: 46

Area - comparative

almost five times the size of Alabama; slightly smaller than Texas

<p>almost five times the size of Alabama; slightly smaller than Texas</p>

Land boundaries

total: 2,385 km

border countries (3): Djibouti 61 km, Ethiopia 1640 km, Kenya 684 km


3,025 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 200 nm; note: the US does not recognize this claim

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


principally desert; northeast monsoon (December to February), moderate temperatures in north and hot in south; southwest monsoon (May to October), torrid in the north and hot in the south, irregular rainfall, hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons


mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north


highest point: Mount Shimbiris 2,460 m

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 410 m

Natural resources

uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, likely oil reserves

Land use

agricultural land: 70.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 68.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 10.6% (2018 est.)

other: 19.1% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

2,000 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

distribution varies greatly throughout the country; least densely populated areas are in the northeast and central regions, as well as areas along the Kenyan border; most populated areas are in and around the cities of Mogadishu, Marka, Boorama, Hargeysa, and Baidoa as shown on this population distribution map

Natural hazards

recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season

Geography - note

strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal

People and Society


12,094,640 (July 2021 est.)

note: this estimate was derived from an official census taken in 1975 by the Somali Government; population counting in Somalia is complicated by the large number of nomads and by refugee movements in response to famine and clan warfare

country comparison to the world: 78


noun: Somali(s)

adjective: Somali

Ethnic groups

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


Somali (official, according to the 2012 Transitional Federal Charter), Arabic (official, according to the 2012 Transitional Federal Charter), Italian, English

major-language sample(s):
Buugga Xaqiiqda Aduunka, waa laga maarmaanka macluumaadka assasiga. (Somali)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.


Sunni Muslim (Islam) (official, according to the 2012 Transitional Federal Charter)

Demographic profile

Somalia scores very low for most humanitarian indicators, suffering from poor governance, protracted internal conflict, underdevelopment, economic decline, poverty, social and gender inequality, and environmental degradation. Despite civil war and famine raising its mortality rate, Somalia’s high fertility rate and large proportion of people of reproductive age maintain rapid population growth, with each generation being larger than the prior one. More than 60% of Somalia’s population is younger than 25, and the fertility rate is among the world’s highest at almost 6 children per woman – a rate that has decreased little since the 1970s.

A lack of educational and job opportunities is a major source of tension for Somalia’s large youth cohort, making them vulnerable to recruitment by extremist and pirate groups. Somalia has one of the world’s lowest primary school enrollment rates – just over 40% of children are in school – and one of world’s highest youth unemployment rates. Life expectancy is low as a result of high infant and maternal mortality rates, the spread of preventable diseases, poor sanitation, chronic malnutrition, and inadequate health services.

During the two decades of conflict that followed the fall of the SIAD regime in 1991, hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes. Today Somalia is the world’s third highest source country for refugees, after Syria and Afghanistan. Insecurity, drought, floods, food shortages, and a lack of economic opportunities are the driving factors.

As of 2016, more than 1.1 million Somali refugees were hosted in the region, mainly in Kenya, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, while more than 1.1 million Somalis were internally displaced. Since the implementation of a tripartite voluntary repatriation agreement among Kenya, Somalia, and the UNHCR in 2013, nearly 40,000 Somali refugees have returned home from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp – still houses to approximately 260,000 Somalis. The flow sped up rapidly after the Kenyan Government in May 2016 announced its intention to close the camp, worsening security and humanitarian conditions in receiving communities in south-central Somalia. Despite the conflict in Yemen, thousands of Somalis and other refugees and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa risk their lives crossing the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen and beyond (often Saudi Arabia). Bossaso in Puntland overtook Obock, Djibouti, as the primary departure point in mid-2014.

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.38% (male 2,488,604/female 2,493,527)

15-24 years: 19.81% (male 1,167,807/female 1,161,040)

25-54 years: 30.93% (male 1,881,094/female 1,755,166)

55-64 years: 4.61% (male 278,132/female 264,325)

65 years and over: 2.27% (male 106,187/female 161,242) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Somalia. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 96.3

youth dependency ratio: 90.6

elderly dependency ratio: 5.7

potential support ratio: 17.6 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 18.5 years

male: 18.7 years

female: 18.3 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 210

Birth rate

38.25 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

Death rate

11.82 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Net migration rate

-2.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 179

Population distribution

distribution varies greatly throughout the country; least densely populated areas are in the northeast and central regions, as well as areas along the Kenyan border; most populated areas are in and around the cities of Mogadishu, Marka, Boorama, Hargeysa, and Baidoa as shown on this population distribution map


urban population: 46.7% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.2% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

2.388 million MOGADISHU (capital), 1.033 million Hargeysa (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

829 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 6

Infant mortality rate

total: 88.03 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 97.71 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 78.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 2

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 55.32 years

male: 53.02 years

female: 57.7 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 225

Total fertility rate

5.41 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.1% of population

rural: 72.5% of population

total: 83.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.9% of population

rural: 27.5% of population

total: 16.2% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2014)

Hospital bed density

0.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 86.2% of population

rural: 27.1% of population

total: 53.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 13.8% of population

rural: 72.9% of population

total: 46.7% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<500 (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Rift Valley fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies


Environment - current issues

water scarcity; contaminated water contributes to human health problems; improper waste disposal; deforestation; land degradation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 29.51 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.65 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 20.13 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 15 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 3.281 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

14.7 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


principally desert; northeast monsoon (December to February), moderate temperatures in north and hot in south; southwest monsoon (May to October), torrid in the north and hot in the south, irregular rainfall, hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons

Land use

agricultural land: 70.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 68.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 10.6% (2018 est.)

other: 19.1% (2018 est.)


urban population: 46.7% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.2% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Rift Valley fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Food insecurity

exceptional shortfall in aggregate food production/supplies: due to poor seasonal rains - about 2.8 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in the April−September 2021 period, mainly as a result of the cumulative impact of poor October−December 2020 “Deyr” rains and April−June “Gu” rains, which severely affected crop and livestock production; below‑average cereal output gathered in 2020; production of 2021 main season cereals forecast at 20‑40 percent below average due to unfavorable seasonal rains; severe pasture and water shortages in pastoral areas are affecting livestock conditions (2021)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 2,326,099 tons (2016 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Federal Republic of Somalia

conventional short form: Somalia

local long form: Jamhuuriyadda Federaalkaa Soomaaliya

local short form: Soomaaliya

former: Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic

etymology: "Land of the Somali" (ethnic group)

Government type

federal parliamentary republic


name: Mogadishu

geographic coordinates: 2 04 N, 45 20 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: several theories attempt to explain the city's name; one of the more plausible is that it derives from "maq'ad-i-shah" meaning "the seat of the shah," reflecting the city's links with Persia

Administrative divisions

18 regions (plural - NA, singular - gobolka); Awdal, Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe (Middle Jubba), Jubbada Hoose (Lower Jubba), Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe (Middle Shabeelle), Shabeellaha Hoose (Lower Shabeelle), Sool, Togdheer, Woqooyi Galbeed


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

Foundation of the Somali Republic, 1 July (1960); note - 26 June (1960) in Somaliland


history: previous 1961, 1979; latest drafted 12 June 2012, adopted 1 August 2012 (provisional)

amendments: proposed by the federal government, by members of the state governments, the Federal Parliament, or by public petition; proposals require review by a joint committee of Parliament with inclusion of public comments and state legislatures’ comments; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Parliament and approval by a majority of votes cast in a referendum; constitutional clauses on Islamic principles, the federal system, human rights and freedoms, powers and authorities of the government branches, and inclusion of women in national institutions cannot be amended; note - in late December 2020, the president signed a decree blocking the approval of amendments (2021)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law, Islamic (sharia) law, and customary law (referred to as Xeer)

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Somalia

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Mohamed ABDULLAHI Mohamed "Farmaajo" (since 8 February 2017)

head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein ROBLE (since 27 September 2020)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister, approved by the House of the People

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Federal Parliament by two-thirds majority vote in 2 rounds if needed for a single 4-year term; election last held on 8 February 2017 (next election delayed until 10 October 2021); prime minister appointed by the president, approved by the House of the People

election results: Mohamed ABDULLAHI Mohamed "Farmaajo" elected president in second round; Federal Parliament second round vote - Mohamed ABDULLAHI Mohamed "Farmaajo" (TPP) 184, HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud (PDP) 97, Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed (ARS) 46

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Federal Parliament to consist of:
Upper House (54 seats; senators indirectly elected by state assemblies to serve 4-year terms)
House of the People (275 seats; members indirectly elected by electoral colleges, each consisting of 51 delegates selected by the 136 Traditional Elders in consultation with sub-clan elders; members serve 4-year terms)

Upper House - first held on 10 October 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
House of the People - first held 23 October - 10 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)

election results:
Upper House - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 41, women 13, percent of women 24.1%
House of the People - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 208, women 67, percent of women 24.4%; note - total Parliament percent of women 24.3%

note: the inaugural House of the People was appointed in September 2012 by clan elders; in 2016 and 2017, the Federal Parliament became bicameral with elections scheduled for 10 October 2016 for the Upper House and 23 October to 10 November 2016 for the House of the People; while the elections were delayed, they were eventually held in most regions despite voting irregularities; on 27 December 2016, 41 Upper House senators and 242 House of the People members were sworn in

Judicial branch

highest courts: the provisional constitution stipulates the establishment of the Constitutional Court (consists of 5 judges, including the chief judge and deputy chief judge); note - under the terms of the 2004 Transitional National Charter, a Supreme Court based in Mogadishu and the Appeal Court were established; yet most regions have reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, traditional Somali customary law, or Islamic law

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the president upon proposal of the Judicial Service Commission, a 9-member judicial and administrative body; judge tenure NA

subordinate courts: federal courts; federal member state-level courts; military courts; sharia courts

Political parties and leaders

Cosmopolitan Democratic Party [Yarow Sharef ADEN]
Daljir Party or DP [Hassan MOALIM]
Democratic Green Party of Somalia or DGPS [Abdullahi Y. MAHAMOUD]
Democratic Party of Somalia or DPS [Maslah Mohamed SIAD]
Green Leaf for Democracy or GLED
Hiil Qaran
Justice and Communist Party [Mohamed NUR]
Justice and Development of Democracy and Self-Respectfulness Party or CAHDI [Abdirahman Abdigani IBRAHIM Bile]
Justice Party [SAKARIYE Haji]
Liberal Party of Somalia
National Democratic Party [Abdirashid ALI]
National Unity Party (Xisbiga MIdnimo-Quaran) [Abdurahman BAADIYOW]
Peace and Development Party or PDP
Somali Green Party (local chapter of Federation of Green Parties of Africa)
Somali National Party or SNP [Mohammed Ameen Saeed AHMED]
Somali People's Party [Salad JEELE]
Somali Society Unity Party [Yasin MAALIM]
Tayo or TPP [Mohamed Abdullahi MOHAMED]
Tiir Party [Fadhil Sheik MOHAMUD]
Union for Peace and Development or UPD [HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud]
United and Democratic Party [FAUZIA Haji]
United Somali Parliamentarians
United Somali Republican Party [Ali TIMA-JLIC]
inactive: Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia; reportedly inactive since 2009

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Ali Sharif AHMED (since 16 September 2019)

chancery: 1609 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 853-9164

email address and website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Colleen CRENWELGE (since July 2021)

embassy: Mogadishu, (reopened October 2019 on the grounds of the Mogadishu Airport)

mailing address: P.O. Box 606 Village Market
00621 Nairobi, Kenya

telephone: [254] 20 363-6451

email address and website:

Flag description

light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; the blue field was originally influenced by the flag of the UN but today is said to denote the sky and the neighboring Indian Ocean; the five points of the star represent the five regions in the horn of Africa that are inhabited by Somali people: the former British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland (which together make up Somalia), Djibouti, Ogaden (Ethiopia), and the North East Province (Kenya)

National symbol(s)

leopard; national colors: blue, white

National anthem

name: "Qolobaa Calankeed" (Every Nation Has its own Flag)

lyrics/music: lyrics/music: Abdullahi QARSHE

note: adopted 2012; written in 1959

Government - note

regional and local governing bodies continue to exist and control various areas of the country, including the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia


Economic overview

Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Somalia's government lacks the ability to collect domestic revenue and external debt – mostly in arrears – was estimated at about 77% of GDP in 2017.

Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Economic activity is estimated to have increased by 2.4% in 2017 because of growth in the agriculture, construction and telecommunications sector. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal.

In recent years, Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, has witnessed the development of the city's first gas stations, supermarkets, and airline flights to Turkey since the collapse of central authority in 1991. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Formalized economic growth has yet to expand outside of Mogadishu and a few regional capitals, and within the city, security concerns dominate business. 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 transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually, although international concerns over the money transfers into Somalia continues to threaten these services’ ability to operate in Western nations. In 2017, Somalia elected a new president and collected a record amount of foreign aid and investment, a positive sign for economic recovery.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$20.44 billion (2017 est.)

$19.98 billion (2016 est.)

$19.14 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2016 US dollars

country comparison to the world: 150

Real GDP growth rate

2.3% (2017 est.)

4.4% (2016 est.)

3.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

GDP (official exchange rate)

$7.052 billion (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 60.2% (2013 est.)

industry: 7.4% (2013 est.)

services: 32.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 72.6% (2015 est.)

government consumption: 8.7% (2015 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 20% (2015 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.8% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 0.3% (2015 est.)

imports of goods and services: -1.6% (2015 est.)

Agricultural products

camel milk, milk, sheep milk, goat milk, sugar cane, fruit, sorghum, cassava, vegetables, maize


light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 71%

industry: 29%

industry and services: 29% (1975)


revenues: 145.3 million (2014 est.)

expenditures: 151.1 million (2014 est.)

Public debt

76.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

93% of GDP (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Current account balance

-$464 million (2017 est.)

-$427 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119


$819 million (2014 est.)

$779 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 47%, Saudi Arabia 19%, India 5%, Japan 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, sheep, goats, sesame seeds, insect resins, cattle (2019)


$94.43 billion (2018 est.)

$80.07 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 32%, China 20%, India 17%, Turkey 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cigarettes, raw sugar, rice, broadcasting equipment, textiles (2019)

Debt - external

$5.3 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 131

Exchange rates

Somali shillings (SOS) per US dollar -

23,960 (2016 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 18% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 34% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 4% (2019)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 74,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 5,612,338

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 48.8 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 117

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

the public telecom system was almost completely destroyed during years of civil war; private companies offer limited local fixed-line and wireless service in most major cities; early 2020 landing of DARE 1 submarine cables in Mogadishu and Bossaso eased dependence on expensive satellite dependency for Internet access; in 2019, Al Shabaab Islamic militant group forced closure of Internet services in some parts of the country; new telecom regulatory sector in place (2020)


domestic: seven networks compete for customers in the mobile sector; some of these mobile-service providers offer fixed-lines and Internet services; fixed-line less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular 49 per 100 (2019)

international: country code - 252; landing points for the G2A, DARE1, PEACE, and EASSy fiber-optic submarine cable system linking East Africa, Indian Ocean Islands, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

2 private TV stations rebroadcast Al-Jazeera and CNN; Somaliland has 1 government-operated TV station and Puntland has 1 private TV station; the transitional government operates Radio Mogadishu; 1 SW and roughly 10 private FM radio stations broadcast in Mogadishu; several radio stations operate in central and southern regions; Somaliland has 1 government-operated radio station; Puntland has roughly a half-dozen private radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2019)

Internet users

total: 225,181

percent of population: 2% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 173

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 92,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 7

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 4,486 (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 8

over 3,047 m: 5

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2020)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 44

2,438 to 3,047 m: 5

1,524 to 2,437 m: 16

914 to 1,523 m: 22

under 914 m: 1 (2020)

Merchant marine

total: 4

by type: general cargo 1, other 3 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 170

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Berbera, Kismaayo

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Somali National Security Forces: Somali National Army (SNA), Somali National Police (SNP, includes a maritime unit), National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) (2021)

note: Somalia has numerous militia formations operating throughout the country; these formations include ones that are clan- and warlord-based, semi-official paramilitary and special police forces (aka darwish), and externally-sponsored militias; the SNA is attempting to incorporate some of these militia units

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

1.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

1.1% of GDP (2013 est.)

no figures available after 2017

country comparison to the world: 102

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates for the size of the Somali National Army (SNA) vary widely, from a low of about 10,000 to a high of some 25,000 due to inconsistent internal reporting and the ongoing attempts to integrate various militias (2021)

note(s): in 2017, the Somali Government announced a plan for the SNA to eventually number about 18,000 troops; the same plan called for 32,000 federal and regional police; estimates for the number of militia forces operating in the country run as high as 50,000

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SNA is lightly armed with an inventory that includes a variety of older, second-hand equipment largely from Italy, Russia, South Africa, and the UK; since 2015, it has received small quantities of second-hand equipment from up to 10 different countries, usually as aid/donations (2021)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) received zero incidents of piracy and armed robbery in 2020 for the Horn of Africa; while there were no recorded incidents, the IMB PRC warns that Somalia pirates continue to possess the capacity to carry out attacks in the Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean; in particular, the report warns that, "Masters and crew must remain vigilant and cautious when transiting these waters."; the presence of several naval task forces in the Gulf of Aden and additional anti-piracy measures on the part of ship operators, including the use of on-board armed security teams, contributed to the drop in incidents; the EU naval mission, Operation ATALANTA, continues its operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean through 2022; naval units from China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, the US, and other countries also operate in conjunction with EU forces; China has established a logistical base in Djibouti to support its deployed naval units in the Horn of Africa

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for compulsory and voluntary military service (2019)

Military - note

as of 2021, a significant portion of the SNA was comprised of militia forces that lacked the discipline, structure, weapons, and overall capabilities for effective military operations; of the SNA’s approximately 13 brigades, the most effective were assessed to be the US-trained Danab ("Lightning") Advanced Infantry Brigade and those of the Turkish-trained Gorgor ("Eagle") Special Division; in 2020, the Danab Brigade conducted most of the SNA’s offensive operations in Somalia and nearly all counterterrorism operations against the al-Shabaab terrorist group; as of early 2021, it numbered about 1,000 troops with an eventual projected strength of 3,000, while the Gorgor Division was estimated to have 4,500-5,000 trained troops

AMISOM has operated in the country with the approval of the United Nations (UN) since 2007; AMISOM's peacekeeping mission includes assisting Somali forces in providing security for a stable political process, enabling the gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces, and reducing the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups; as of late 2020, AMISOM had about 20,000 military troops from six African countries deployed in Somalia; in February 2021, the UN Security Council AMISOM renewed AMISOM's mandate until December 2021 (note - in 2017, the Somali Government drafted a Somalia Transition Plan that called for the gradual transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces by 2021)

UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) is mandated by the Security Council to work with the Federal Government of Somalia to support national reconciliation, provide advice on peace-building and state-building, monitor the human rights situation, and help coordinate the efforts of the international community

the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) is responsible for providing logistical field support to AMISOM, UNSOM, the Somali National Army, and the Somali Police Force on joint operations with AMISOM

the European Union Training Mission in Somalia (EUTM-S) has operated in the country since 2010; the EUTM provides advice and training to the Somali military; the US and Turkey maintain separate unilateral military training missions in Somalia


Terrorist group(s)

al-Shabaab; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham – Somalia

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Ethiopian forces invaded southern Somalia and routed Islamist Courts from Mogadishu in January 2007; "Somaliland" secessionists provide port facilities in Berbera to landlocked Ethiopia and have established commercial ties with other regional states; "Puntland" and "Somaliland" "governments" seek international support in their secessionist aspirations and overlapping border claims; the undemarcated former British administrative line has little meaning as a political separation to rival clans within Ethiopia's Ogaden and southern Somalia's Oromo region; Kenya works hard to prevent the clan and militia fighting in Somalia from spreading south across the border, which has long been open to nomadic pastoralists

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 13,235 (Yemen) (2019)

IDPs: 2.968 million (civil war since 1988, clan-based competition for resources; 2011 famine; insecurity because of fighting between al-Shabaab and the Transitional Federal Government's allied forces) (2020)