Region: Eastern Africa
Population: 9,558,666 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 637,657 sq km
Currency: Somali shilling (SOS)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $600 (2007 est.)
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 that managed to impose a degree of stability in the country for a couple of decades. 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 self-declared 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 portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. A two-year peace process, led by the Government of Kenya under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the formation of an interim government, known as the Somalia Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs). The Somalia TFIs include a 275-member parliamentary body, known as the Transitional Federal Assembly (TFA), a transitional Prime Minister, Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein, and a 90-member cabinet. The TFIs are based on the Transitional Federal Charter, which outlines a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. While its institutions remain weak, the TFG continues to reach out to Somali stakeholders and work with international donors to help build the governance capacity of the TFIs and work towards national elections in 2009. In June 2006, a loose coalition of clerics, business leaders, and Islamic court militias known as the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) defeated powerful Mogadishu warlords and took control of the capital. The Courts continued to expand militarily throughout much of southern Somalia and threatened to overthrow the TFG in Baidoa. Ethiopian and TFG forces, concerned over links between some CIC factions and the al-Qaida East Africa network and the al-Qaida operatives responsible for the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, intervened in late December 2006, resulting in the collapse of the CIC as an organization. However, the TFG continues to face violent resistance from extremist elements, such as the al-Shabaab militia previously affiliated with the now-defunct CIC.
Economy – Overview:
Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and sold as scrap metal. Somalia's service sector also has grown. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $500 million and $1 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Somalia's arrears to the IMF continued to grow in 2006-07. Statistics on Somalia's GDP, growth, per capita income, and inflation should be viewed skeptically. In late December 2004, a major tsunami caused an estimated 150 deaths and resulted in destruction of property in coastal areas.
Major Export Commodities: livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal, scrap metal
Remittances: Not available
Human Development Index 2007/2008 ranking: Not ranked
Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA in 2006 was US $263.14 million. Major development partners include the European Community, the United States, Norway, and the UK.
Total External Debt: US $3 billion (2001 est.)
United Nations membership date: 20 September 1960
New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Somali Democratic Republic to the United Nations
425 East 61st Street, Suite 702
New York, N.Y. 10021 USA
Telephone: 212-688-9410 / 5046
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2007/2008.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org
Updated June 2008