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.
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Introduction

Background

Ancient Egypt trade expeditions along the northeastern coast of Africa - including today's Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia - occurred at various times between the 25th and 12th centuries B.C. Between A.D. 800 and 1100, immigrant Muslim Arabs and Persians set up coastal trading posts along the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, solidifying Somalia’s close trading relationship with the Arab Peninsula. In the late 19th century, Britain and Italy established colonies in the Somali Peninsula, where they remained until 1960, when British Somaliland gained independence and joined with Italian Somaliland to form the Republic of Somalia. The country functioned as a parliamentary democracy until 1969, when General Mohamed SIAD Barre took control in a coup, beginning a 22-year authoritarian socialist dictatorship. In an effort to centralize power, SIAD called for the eradication of the clan, the key cultural and social organizing principle in Somali society. Resistance to SIAD’s socialist leadership, which was causing a rapid deterioration of the country, prompted allied clan militias to overthrow SIAD in early 1991, resulting in state collapse. Subsequent fighting between rival clans for resources and territory overwhelmed the country, resulting in a manmade famine and prompting international intervention. Beginning in 1993, the UN spearheaded a humanitarian mission supported by international forces, but the international community largely withdrew by 1995 following Black Hawk Down - an incident in which two American Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu, killing 21 international forces and wounding 82.

International peace conferences in the 2000s resulted in a number of transitional governments that operated outside of Somalia. Left largely to themselves, Somalis in the country established alternative governance structures; some areas formed their own administrations, such as Somaliland and Puntland, while others developed localized institutions. Many local populations turned to using sharia courts, an Islamic judicial system that implements religious law. Several of these courts came together in 2006 to form the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU established order in many areas of central and southern Somalia, including Mogadishu, but was forced out when Ethiopia intervened militarily in December 2006 on behalf of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG). While the TFG settled in the capital, the ICU fled to rural areas or from Somalia altogether, reemerging less than a year later as the Islamic insurgent and terrorist movement al-Shabaab, which is still active today. In January 2007, the African Union (AU) established the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping force, which allowed Ethiopia to withdraw its forces, took over security responsibility for the country, and gave the TFG space to develop Somalia’s new government. By 2012, Somali powerbrokers agreed on a provisional constitution with a loose federal structure and established the central government in Mogadishu. Since then, four interim regional administrations have been established and there have been two presidential elections. However, significant and fundamental governance and security problems remain.
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Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

10 00 N, 49 00 E

Area

total: 637,657 sq km

land: 627,337 sq km

water: 10,320 sq km

country comparison to the world: 51

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 1,640 km; Kenya 684 km

Coastline

3,025 km

Maritime claims

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

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

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

Terrain

mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north

Elevation

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)

Major aquifers

Ogaden-Juba Basin

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

Map description

Somalia map showing major population centers as well as parts of surrounding countries and the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

People and Society

Population

12,386,248 (2022 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

Nationality

noun: Somali(s)

adjective: Somali

Ethnic groups

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

Languages

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.

Religions

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% (2020 est.) (male 106,187/female 161,242)

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

37.98 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Death rate

11.62 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Net migration rate

-2.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

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

Urbanization

urban population: 47.3% of total population (2022)

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

Major urban areas - population

2.497 million MOGADISHU (capital), 1.079 million Hargeysa (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

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

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.56 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

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

country comparison to the world: 6

Infant mortality rate

total: 86.53 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 96.18 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 76.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 2

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 55.72 years

male: 53.39 years

female: 58.12 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 225

Total fertility rate

5.31 children born/woman (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 96.4% of population

rural: 73.7% of population

total: 84.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.6% of population

rural: 26.3% of population

total: 15.8% of population (2020 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: 82.4% of population

rural: 33.8% of population

total: 56.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 17.6% of population

rural: 66.2% of population

total: 43.8% of population (2020 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

(2020 est.) <500

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

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Somalia is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 16.8% (2020)

women married by age 18: 35.5% (2020)

men married by age 18: 5.6% (2020 est.)

Environment

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.)

Climate

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.)

Urbanization

urban population: 47.3% of total population (2022)

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

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Somalia is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Food insecurity

exceptional shortfall in aggregate food production/supplies: due to drought conditions and internal conflict - an estimated 4.15 million people are facing severe food insecurity between February and March 2022, mainly as a result of consecutive poor rainy seasons since late 2020, which severely affected crop and livestock production, and due to heightened conflict since early 2021; two consecutive poor rainy seasons resulted in significant crop and livestock production shortfalls, while food access has been severely affected in recent months by declining employment opportunities in rural areas and by the escalation of conflict (2022)

Waste and recycling

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

Major aquifers

Ogaden-Juba Basin

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.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Federal Republic of Somalia

conventional short form: Somalia

local long form: Jamhuuriyadda Federaalka Soomaaliya (Somali), Jumhuriyat as Sumal al Fidiraliyah (Arabic)

local short form: Soomaaliya (Somali), As Sumal (Arabic) 

former: British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, Somali Republic, Somali Democratic Republic

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

Government type

federal parliamentary republic

Capital

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

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

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

Constitution

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

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

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud (since 23 May 2022)

head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein ROBLE (since 27 September 2020); note - President HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud nominated Hamza Abdi BARRE on 15 June 2022 to replace ROBLE as Prime Minister but the nomination awaits Somali Federal Parliament approval

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

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the President HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud by two-thirds majority vote in 2 rounds if needed for a single 4-year term; election last held on 15 May 2022; prime minister appointed by the president, approved by the House of the People; note - elections were originally scheduled for 10 October 2021 but did not take place; on 13 April 2022, the election of the House of the People representatives was completed and the presidential election date was set for 15 May

election results:
2022: an indirect election by Somalia's Federal Parliament was held on 15 May 2022 resulting in the defeat of former president Mohamed ABDULLAHI Mohamed "Farmaajo"; HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud elected president in third round - Federal Parliament third round vote - HASSAN SHEIKH Mohamud (PDP) 214, Mohamed ABDULLAHI Mohamed "Farmaajo" (TPP) 110

2017: 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)

elections:
Upper House - first held on 10 October 2016 (next to be held by 25 February 2022)
House of the People - first held 23 October - 10 November 2016 (next to be held by 25 February 2022)

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]
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 Party or PDP [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

ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AU, CAEU (candidate), FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, LAS, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO

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:
info@somaliembassydc.net

https://somaliembassydc.net/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Larry E. ANDRE, Jr. (since 9 February 2022)

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:
Kenya_ACS@state.gov

https://so.usembassy.gov/

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

Economy

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)

$13.19 billion (2020 est.)

$13.39 billion (2019 est.)

$13.01 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 US dollars

country comparison to the world: 156

Real GDP growth rate

2.3% (2017 est.)

4.4% (2016 est.)

3.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Real GDP per capita

$800 (2020 est.)

$900 (2019 est.)

$900 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 228

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

Industries

light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 71%

industry: 29%

industry and services: 29% (1975)

Budget

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

Exports

$819 million (2014 est.)

$779 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

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)

Imports

$94.43 billion (2018 est.)

$80.07 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 42

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.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 18% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 34% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 4% (2019)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 91,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 7.119 million (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 48.8 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 105

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 is 0 per 100 and mobile-cellular roughly 51 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: 308,858 (2019 est.)

percent of population: 2% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 119,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.75 (2020 est.) less than 1

country comparison to the world: 127

Transportation

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 (2021)

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 (2021)

Merchant marine

total: 4

by type: general cargo 1, other 3 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 169

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Berbera, Kismaayo

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Ministry of Defense: Somali National Army (SNA); Ministry of Internal Security: Somali National Police (SNP, includes a maritime unit and a Turkish-trained commando unit known as Harmacad, or Cheetah) (2022)

note(s) - Somalia also has numerous militia and regional forces operating throughout the country; these forces 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; in addition, Somaliland has army and naval forces under the Somaliland Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces

Military expenditures

5.6% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $120 million)

6% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $120 million)

5.9% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $110 million)

6% of GDP (2016 est.) (approximately $110 million)

5.9% of GDP (2015 est.) (approximately $110 million)

country comparison to the world: 7

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates 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)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscription is authorized, but not currently utilized (2021)

Military - note

as of 2022, large parts of the country remained outside government control and under the control of the insurgent Islamist group al-Shabaab; al-Shabaab contested government control in some other areas (see Appendix T)

as of 2022, 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 2020-2021, 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 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

the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operated in the country with the approval of the UN from 2007-2022; its peacekeeping mission included 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; in May 2022, AMISOM was reconfigured and replaced with the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS); the ATMIS mission is to support the Somalia Federal Government (FGS) in implementing the security objectives of the FGS's security transition plan, a comprehensive strategy developed by the FGS and its international partners to gradually transfer security responsibilities from ATMIS to Somali security forces; ATMIS is projected to gradually reduce staffing from its 2022 level of about 20,000 personnel (civilians, military, and police) to zero by the end of 2024 

UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM; established 2013) is mandated by the Security Council to work with the FGS 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; established 2015) 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; the UAE also maintains a military presence in Somalia (Somaliland)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) received one incident of piracy and armed robbery in 2021 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

Terrorism

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): 6,979 (Yemen) (mid-year 2021)

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) (2022)