[Country map of Somalia]



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

Map references: Africa

total area: 637,660 sq km
land area: 627,340 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: total 2,366 km, Djibouti 58 km, Ethiopia 1,626 km, Kenya 682 km

Coastline: 3,025 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

International disputes: southern half of boundary with Ethiopia is a Provisional Administrative Line; territorial dispute with Ethiopia over the Ogaden

Climate: principally desert; December to February - northeast monsoon, moderate temperatures in north and very hot in south; May to October - southwest monsoon, 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

Natural resources: uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 46%
forest and woodland: 14%
other: 38%

Irrigated land: 1,600 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: famine; use of contaminated water contributes to human health problems; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
natural hazards: recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Law of the Sea; signed, but not ratified - Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban

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


Population: 7,347,554 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (female 1,653,175; male 1,650,377)
15-64 years: 51% (female 1,845,886; male 1,932,012)
65 years and over: 4% (female 138,264; male 127,840) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 15.58% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 45.53 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 13.3 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 123.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 119.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 55.74 years
male: 55.48 years
female: 56 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 7.13 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Somali(s)
adjective: Somali

Ethnic divisions: Somali 85%, Bantu, Arabs 30,000

Religions: Sunni Muslim

Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 24%
male: 36%
female: 14%

Labor force: 2.2 million (very few are skilled laborers)
by occupation: pastoral nomad 70%, agriculture, government, trading, fishing, handicrafts, and other 30%


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Somalia
former: Somali Republic

Digraph: SO

Type: none

Capital: Mogadishu

Administrative divisions: 18 regions (plural - NA, singular - gobolka); Awdal, Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe, Jubbada Hoose, Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe, Shabeellaha Hoose, 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: NA

Constitution: 25 August 1979, presidential approval 23 September 1979

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch: Somalia has no functioning government; the United Somali Congress (USC) ousted the regime of Maj. Gen. Mohamed SIAD Barre on 27 January 1991; the present political situation is one of anarchy, marked by inter-clan fighting and random banditry

Legislative branch: unicameral People's Assembly
People's Assembly (Golaha Shacbiga): not functioning

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (not functioning)

Political parties and leaders: the United Somali Congress (USC) ousted the former regime on 27 January 1991; formerly the only party was the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP), headed by former President and Commander in Chief of the Army Maj. Gen. Mohamed SIAD Barre

Other political or pressure groups: numerous clan and subclan factions are currently vying for power


Diplomatic representation in US: Somalian Embassy ceased operations on 8 May 1991

US diplomatic representation:
note: the US Embassy in Mogadishu was evacuated and closed indefinitely in January 1991; Ambassador Daniel SIMPSON, ambassador to Kenya, represents US interests in Somalia
liaison office: US Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya
address: corner of Moi Avenue and Haile Selassie Avenue, Nairobi
mailing address: P.O. Box 30137, Unit 64100, Nairobi or APO AE 09831
telephone: [254] (2) 334141
FAX: [254] (2) 340838

Flag: light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; design based on the flag of the UN (Italian Somaliland was a UN trust territory)


Overview: One of the world's poorest and least developed countries, Somalia has few resources. Moreover, much of the economy has been devastated by the civil war. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and seminomads who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood make up about 70% of the population. Crop production generates only 10% of GDP and employs about 20% of the work force. The main export crop is bananas; sugar, sorghum, and corn are grown for the domestic market. The small industrial sector is based on the processing of agricultural products and accounts for less than 10% of GDP; most facilities have been shut down because of the civil strife. The greatly increased political turmoil of 1991-93 has resulted in a substantial drop in agricultural output, with widespread famine. In 1994 economic conditions stabilized in the countryside but may turn worse in 1995 if civil strife intensifies after the UN withdrawal.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $3.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $500 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA% (1994)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Exports: $58 million (1990 est.)
commodities: bananas, live animals, fish, hides
partners: Saudi Arabia, Italy, FRG (1986)

Imports: $249 million (1990 est.)
commodities: petroleum products, foodstuffs, construction materials
partners: US 13%, Italy, FRG, Kenya, UK, Saudi Arabia (1986)

External debt: $1.9 billion (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: prior to the civil war, 75,000 kW, but now almost completely shut down due to war damage; note - UN and relief organizations use their own portable power systems
production: NA kWh
consumption per capita: NA kWh

Industries: a few small industries, including sugar refining, textiles, petroleum refining (mostly shut down) (1994)

Agriculture: dominant sector, led by livestock raising (cattle, sheep, goats); crops - bananas, sorghum, corn, mangoes, sugarcane; not self-sufficient in food; distribution of food disrupted by civil strife; fishing potential largely unexploited

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $639 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $3.8 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $1.1 billion; Communist countries (1970-89), $336 million

Currency: 1 Somali shilling (So. Sh.) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Somali shillings (So. Sh.) per US$1 - approximately 5,000 (1 January 1995), 2,616 (1 July 1993), 4,200 (December 1992), 3,800.00 (December 1990), 490.7 (1989),

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 22,500 km
paved: 2,700 km
unpaved: gravel 3,000 km; improved, stabilized earth 16,800 km (1992)

Pipelines: crude oil 15 km

Ports: Bender Cassim (Boosaaso), Berbera, Chisimayu (Kismaayo), Merca, Mogadishu

Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,529 GRT/6,892 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1, refrigerated cargo 1

total: 76
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 14
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 16
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 33


Telephone system: NA telephones; the public telecommunications system was completely destroyed or dismantled by the civil war factions; all relief organizations depend on their own private systems (1993)
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: NA

broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA
radios: NA

broadcast stations: NA
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: no functioning central government military forces; clan militias continue to battle for control of key economic or political prizes

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,736,673; males fit for military service 972,203 (1995 est.

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP