|Republic of Somalia|
|Anthem: Soomaaliyeey toosoo
Somalia, Wake Up
(and largest city)
|Official language(s)||Somali, Arabic|
|Ethnic groups||Somalis (85%), Benadiris, Bantus and other non-Somalis (15%)|
|-||Prime Minister||Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed|
|-||Speaker of Parliament||Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden|
|-||Union and independence||1 July 1960|
|-||Total||637,657 km2 (43rd)
246,200 sq mi
|-||2010 estimate||9,359,000 (87th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2009 estimate|
|-||Total||$5.731 billion (155th)|
|-||Per capita||$600 (224th)|
|HDI (2009)||N/A (Not ranked)|
|Currency||Somali shilling (
|Time zone||EAT (UTC+3)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+3)|
|Drives on the||right|
|1||Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic|
Somalia ( ; Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Republic of Somalia (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliya, Arabic: جمهورية الصومال Jumhūriyyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl) and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under communist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west. With the longest coastline on the continent, its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands.
In antiquity, Somalia was an important centre for commerce with the rest of the ancient world. Its sailors and merchants were the main suppliers of frankincense, myrrh and spices, items which were considered valuable luxuries by the Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, Mycenaeans and Babylonians with whom the Somali people traded. According to most scholars, Somalia is most likely where the ancient Kingdom of Punt was situated. The ancient Puntites were a nation of people that had close relations with Pharaonic Egypt during the times of Pharaoh Sahure and Queen Hatshepsut. The pyramidal structures, temples and ancient houses of dressed stone littered around the country are said to date from this period. During the Middle Ages, several powerful Somali empires dominated the regional trade, including the Ajuuraan State, the Sultanate of Adal, the Warsangali Sultanate and the Gobroon Dynasty.
Somalia was never formally colonized. Muhammad Abdullah Hassan's Dervish State successfully repulsed the British Empire four times and forced it to retreat to the coastal region. Due to these successful expeditions, the Dervish State was recognized as an ally by the Ottoman and German Empires. The Turks also named Hassan Emir of the Somali nation, and the Germans promised to officially recognize any territories the Dervishes were to acquire. After a quarter of a century of holding the British at bay, the Dervishes were finally defeated in 1920 as a direct consequence of Britain's new policy of aerial bombardment. As a result of this bombardment, former Dervish territories were turned into a protectorate of Britain. Italy faced similar opposition from Somali Sultans and armies, and did not acquire full control of parts of modern Somalia until the Fascist era in late 1927. This occupation lasted until 1941, and was replaced by a British military administration. Northern Somalia would remain a protectorate, while southern Somalia became a trusteeship. The Union of the two regions in 1960 formed the Somali Republic. A civilian government was formed, and on July 20, 1961, through a popular referendum, a new constitution that had first been drafted the year before was ratified.
Due to its longstanding ties with the Arab world, Somalia was accepted in 1974 as a member of the Arab League. During the same year, the nation's former socialist administration also chaired the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union. In 1991, the Somali Civil War broke out, which saw the collapse of the federal government. Somalia's inhabitants subsequently reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, Islamic or customary law, with a provision for appeal of all sentences. As with other previously nationalized sectors, informal providers stepped in to fill the void and replaced the former government monopoly over healthcare, with access to facilities witnessing a significant increase and general living conditions improving. Through similar grass-roots initiatives, many educational institutions were restored and newer ones were developed; several are now ranked among the 100 best universities in Africa. Additionally, a Transitional Federal Government was created in 2004, which saw the restoration of numerous national institutions, including the Military of Somalia. While it still has room for improvement, the interim government continues to reach out to both Somali and international stakeholders to help grow the administrative capacity of the Transitional Federal Institutions and to work toward eventual national elections in 2011. According to the CIA and the recently re-established Central Bank of Somalia, despite experiencing civil unrest, Somalia has also maintained a healthy informal economy, based mainly on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Libertarian economist Peter T. Leeson attributes this increased economic activity to the Somali traditional law (referred to as Xeer), which provides a stable environment to conduct business in.
Somalia has been inhabited since the Paleaolithic period. Cave paintings said to date back as far as 9000 BC have been found in the northern part of the country. The most famous of these is the Laas Geel complex, which contains some of the earliest known rock art on the African continent. Inscriptions have been found beneath each of the rock paintings, but archaeologists have so far been unable to decipher this form of ancient writing. During the Stone Age, the Doian culture and the Hargeisan culture flourished here with their respective industries and factories.
The oldest evidence of burial customs in the Horn of Africa comes from cemeteries in Somalia dating back to 4th millennium BC. The stone implements from the Jalelo site in northern Somalia are said to be the most important link in evidence of the universality in palaeolithic times between the East and the West.
Ancient pyramidal structures, tombs, ruined cities and stone walls such as the Wargaade Wall littered in Somalia are evidence of an ancient sophisticated civilization that once thrived in the Somali peninsula. The findings of archaeological excavations and research in Somalia show that this civilization had an ancient writing system that remains undeciphered, and enjoyed a lucrative trading relationship with Ancient Egypt and Mycenaean Greece since at least the second millennium BC, which supports evidence of Somalia being the ancient Land of Punt. The Puntites "traded not only in their own produce of incense, ebony and short-horned cattle, but also in goods from other neighboring regions, including gold, ivory and animal skins." According to the temple reliefs at Deir el-Bahari, the Land of Punt was ruled at that time by King Parahu and Queen Ati.
Ancient Somalis domesticated the camel somewhere between the third millennium and second millennium BC from where it spread to Ancient Egypt and North Africa. In the classical period, the city states of Mossylon, Opone, Malao, Mundus and Tabae in Somalia developed a lucrative trade network connecting with merchants from Phoenicia, Ptolemaic Egypt, Greece, Parthian Persia, Saba, Nabataea and the Roman Empire. They used the ancient Somali maritime vessel known as the beden to transport their cargo.
After the Roman conquest of the Nabataean Empire and the Roman naval presence at Aden to curb piracy, Arab and Somali merchants by agreement barred Indian ships from trading in the free port cities of the Arabian peninsula to protect the interests of Somali and Arab merchants in the extremely lucrative ancient Red Sea–Mediterranean Sea commerce. However, Indian merchants continued to trade in the port cities of the Somali peninsula, which was free from Roman interference.
The Indian merchants for centuries brought large quantities of cinnamon from Sri Lanka and Indonesia to Somalia and Arabia. This is said to have been the best kept secret of the Arab and Somali merchants in their trade with the Roman and Greek world. The Romans and Greeks believed the source of cinnamon to have been the Somali peninsula, but in reality, the highly valued product was brought to Somalia by way of Indian ships. Through collusive agreement by Somali and Arab traders, Indian/Chinese cinnamon was also exported for far higher prices to North Africa, the Near East and Europe, which made the cinnamon trade a very profitable revenue generator, especially for the Somali merchants through whose hands large quantities were shipped across ancient sea and land routes.