Following the outbreak of the civil war and the ensuing collapse of the central government, Somalia's residents reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, either secular, traditional or Islamic law, with a provision for appeal of all sentencesSony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/T battery. The legal structure in Somalia is thus divided along three lines: civil law, religious law and customary law.
While Somalia's formal judicial system was largely destroyed after the fall of the Siad Barre regime, it has been rebuilt and is now administered under different regional governments such as the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland macro-regions. In the case of the Transitional Federal GovernmentSony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/R battery, a new interim judicial structure was formed through various international conferences.
Despite some significant political differences between them, all of these administrations share similar legal structures, much of which are predicated on the judicial systems of previous Somali administrations. These similarities in civil law include: a) a charter which affirms the primacy of Muslim shari'a or religious lawSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W battery, although in practice shari'a is applied mainly to matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and civil issues. The charter guarantees respect for universal standards of human rights to all subjects of the law. It also assures the independence of the judiciary, which in turn is protected by a judicial committee; b) a three-tier judicial system including a supreme court, a court of appeals, and courts of first instance (either divided between district and regional courts, or a single court per region) Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/Q battery; and c) the laws of the civilian government which were in effect prior to the military coup d'état that saw the Barre regime into power remain in force until the laws are amended.
Islamic shari'a has traditionally played a significant part in Somali society. In theory, it has played a role in all national legislation in every Somali constitution. In practice, however, it only applied to common civil cases such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and family mattersSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/P battery. This changed after the start of the civil war, when a number of new shari'a courts began to spring up in many different cities and towns across the country. These new shari'a courts serve three functions; namely, to pass rulings in both criminal and civil cases, to organize a militia capable of arresting criminals, and to keep convicted prisoners incarcerated. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H battery)
The shari'a courts, though structured along simple lines, feature a conventional hierarchy of a chairman, vice-chairman and four judges. A police force that reports to the court enforces the judges' rulings, but also helps settle community disputes and apprehend suspected criminals. In addition, the courts manage detention centers where criminals are kept(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B battery). An independent finance committee is also assigned the task of collecting and managing tax revenue levied on regional merchants by the local authorities.
In March 2009, Somalia's newly established coalition government announced that it would implement shari'a as the nation's official judicial system.
Main article: Xeer
Somalis have for centuries practiced a form of customary law, which they call Xeer. Xeer is a polycentric legal system where there is no monopolistic institution or agent that determines what the law should be or how it should be interpreted(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B battery).
The Xeer legal system is assumed to have developed exclusively in the Horn of Africa since approximately the 7th century. There is no evidence that it developed elsewhere or was greatly influenced by any foreign legal system. Its legal terminology is practically devoid of loan words from foreign languages, suggesting that it is truly indigenous.(Sony VAIO VGN-AW170C battery)
The Xeer legal system also requires a certain amount of specialization of different functions within the legal framework. Thus, one can find odayaal (judges), xeerbogeyaal (jurists), guurtiyaal (detectives), garxajiyaal (attorneys), markhaatiyal (witnesses) and waranle (police officers) to enforce the law.
Xeer is defined by a few fundamental tenets that are immutable and which closely approximate the principle of jus cogens in international law: These precepts include(Sony VAIO VGN-AW19/Q battery):
Payment of blood money (locally referred to as diya) for libel, theft, physical harm, rape and death, as well as supplying assistance to relatives.
Assuring good inter-clan relations by treating women justly, negotiating with "peace emissaries" in good faith, and sparing the lives of socially protected groups "Birr Magaydo," (e.g. children, women, the pious, poets, messengers, sheikhs, and guests).
Family obligations such as the payment of dowry, and sanctions for eloping.
Rules pertaining to the management of resources such as the use of pasture land, water, and other natural resources(Sony VAIO VGN-AW19 battery).
Providing financial support to married female relatives and newlyweds.
Donating livestock and other assets to the poor.
Regions and districts
On a de facto basis, northern Somalia is now divided up among the autonomous regions of Puntland (which considers itself an autonomous state) and Somaliland (a self-declared but unrecognized sovereign state). In central Somalia, Galmudug is another regional entity that emerged just south of Puntland. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21M/H battery)
The Cal Madow mountain range in northern Somalia features the nation's highest peak, Shimbiris.
Somalia is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west. It lies between latitudes 2°S and 12°N, and longitudes 41° and 52°E. Strategically located at the mouth of the Bab el Mandeb gateway to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the country occupies the tip of a region that(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21S/B battery), due to its resemblance on the map to a rhinoceros' horn, is commonly referred to as the Horn of Africa.
Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent, with a seaboard that stretches 3,025 kilometres (1,880 mi). Its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. The nation has a total area of 637,657 square kilometres (246,201 sq mi) of which constitutes land, with 10,320 square kilometres (3,980 sq mi) of water. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21VY/Q battery)Somalia's land boundaries extend to about 2,340 kilometres (1,450 mi); 58 kilometres (36 mi) of that is shared with Djibouti, 682 kilometres (424 mi) with Kenya, and 1,626 kilometres (1,010 mi) with Ethiopia. Its maritime claims include territorial waters of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi).
The Jubba River(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q battery)
In the north, a scrub-covered, semi-desert plain referred as the Guban lies parallel to the Gulf of Aden littoral. With a width of twelve kilometres in the west to as little as two kilometres in the east, the plain is bisected by watercourses that are essentially beds of dry sand except during the rainy seasons. When the rains arrive, the Guban's low bushes and grass clumps transform into lush vegetation. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21Z/B battery)This coastal strip is part of the Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands ecoregion.
Cal Madow is a mountain range in the northeastern part of the country. Extending from several kilometres west of the city of Bosaso to the northwest of Erigavo, it features Somalia's highest peak, Shimbiris, which sits at an elevation of about 2,416 metres (7,927 ft). The rugged east-west ranges of the Karkaar Mountains also lie to the interior of the Gulf of Aden littoral. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW230J/H battery)In the central regions, the country's northern mountain ranges give way to shallow plateaus and typically dry watercourses that are referred to locally as the Ogo. The Ogo's western plateau, in turn, gradually merges into the Haud, an important grazing area for livestock.
Somalia has only two permanent rivers, the Jubba and the Shabele, both of which begin in the Ethiopian Highlands. These rivers mainly flow southwards, with the Jubba River entering the Indian Ocean at Kismayo(SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M Battery). The Shabele River at one time apparently used to enter the sea near Merca, but now reaches a point just southwest of Mogadishu. After that, it consists of swamps and dry reaches before finally disappearing in the desert terrain east of Jilib, near the Jubba River.
Somalia's coral reefs, ecological parks and protected areas.
Somalia is a semi-arid country with about 1.64% arable land. The first local environmental organizations were Ecoterra Somalia and the Somali Ecological Society(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31S Battery), both of which helped promote awareness about ecological concerns and mobilized environmental programs in all governmental sectors as well as in civil society. From 1971 onwards, a massive tree-planting campaign on a nationwide scale was introduced by the Siad Barre government to halt the advance of thousands of acres of wind-driven sand dunes that threatened to engulf towns, roads and farm land. By 1988, 265 hectares of a projected 336 hectares had been treated(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M Battery), with 39 range reserve sites and 36 forestry plantation sites established. In 1986, the Wildlife Rescue, Research and Monitoring Centre was established by Ecoterra Intl., with the goal of sensitizing the public to ecological issues. This educational effort led in 1989 to the so-called "Somalia proposal" and a decision by the Somali government to adhere to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z Battery), which established for the first time a worldwide ban on the trade of elephant ivory.
Later, Fatima Jibrell, a prominent Somali environmental activist, mounted a successful campaign to salvage old-growth forests of acacia trees in the northeastern part of Somalia. These trees, which can grow up to 500 years old, were being cut down to make charcoal since this so-called "black gold" is highly in demand in the Arabian Peninsula(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21Z Battery), where the region's Bedouin tribes believe the acacia to be sacred. However, while being a relatively inexpensive fuel that meets a user's needs, the production of charcoal often leads to deforestation and desertification. As a way of addressing this problem, Jibrell and the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Organization (Horn Relief), an organization of which she is a co-founder and Executive Director(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M Battery), trained a group of adolescents to educate the public on the permanent damage that producing charcoal can create. In 1999, Horn Relief coordinated a peace march in the northeastern Puntland region of Somalia to put an end to the so-called "charcoal wars." As a result of Jibrell's lobbying and education efforts, the Puntland government in 2000 prohibited the exportation of charcoal(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S Battery). The government has also since enforced the ban, which has reportedly led to an 80% drop in exports of the product. Jibrell was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 for her efforts against environmental degradation and desertification. In 2008, she also won the National Geographic Society/Buffett Foundation Award for Leadership in Conservation. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12S Battery)
The Lamadaya waterfalls in Sanaag.
Following the massive tsunami of December 2004, there have also emerged allegations that after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in the late 1980s, Somalia's long, remote shoreline was used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste. The huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami are believed to have stirred up tons of nuclear and toxic waste that might have been dumped illegally in the country by foreign firms. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M Battery)
The European Green Party followed up these revelations by presenting before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg copies of contracts signed by two European companies — the Italian Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso — and representatives of the then "President" of Somalia, the faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohamed, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in exchange for $80 million (then about £60 million). (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11Z Battery)
According to reports by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the waste has resulted in far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections among many inhabitants of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobyo and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11M Battery) — diseases consistent with radiation sickness. UNEP adds that the current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia, but also in the eastern Africa sub-region.
Arabian horses, referred to as faras, seen here in the arid plains of Dhahar.
Due to Somalia's proximity to the equator, there is not much seasonal variation in its climate. Hot conditions prevail year-round along with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11L Battery). Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 30 to 40 °C (86 to 104 °F), except at higher elevations along the eastern seaboard, where the effects of a cold offshore current can be felt. In Mogadishu, for instance, average afternoon highs range from 28 °C (82 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F) in April. Some of the highest mean annual temperatures in the world have been recorded in the country; Berbera on the northwestern coast has an afternoon high that averages more than 38 °C (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11J Battery) (100 °F) from June through September. Nationally, mean daily minimums usually vary from about 15 to 30 °C (59 to 86 °F). The greatest range in climate occurs in northern Somalia, where temperatures sometimes surpass 45 °C (113 °F) in July on the littoral plains and drop below the freezing point during December in the highlands. In this region, relative humidity ranges from about 40% in the mid-afternoon to 85% at night, changing somewhat according to the season. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11E Battery)
Unlike the climates of most other countries at this latitude, conditions in Somalia range from arid in the northeastern and central regions to semiarid in the northwest and south. In the northeast, annual rainfall is less than 4 inches (100 mm); in the central plateaus, it is about 8 to 12 inches (200 to 300 mm). The northwestern and southwestern parts of the nation, however, receive considerably more rain(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10L Battery), with an average of 20 to 24 inches (510 to 610 mm) falling per year. Although the coastal regions are hot and humid throughout the year, the hinterland is typically dry and hot.
There are four main seasons around which pastoral and agricultural life revolve, and these are dictated by shifts in the wind patterns. From December to March is the Jilal, the harshest dry season of the year. The main rainy season, referred to as the Gu(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10J Battery), lasts from April to June. This period is characterized by the southwest monsoons, which rejuvenate the pasture land, especially the central plateau, and briefly transform the desert into lush vegetation. From July to September is the second dry season, the Xagaa (pronounced "Hagaa"). The Dayr, which is the shortest rainy season, lasts from October to December. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10E Battery) The tangambili periods that intervene between the two monsoons (October–November and March–May) are hot and humid.
Until the collapse of the federal government in 1991, the organizational and administrative structure of Somalia's healthcare sector was overseen by the Ministry of Health. Regional medical officials enjoyed some authority, but healthcare was largely centralized. The socialist government of former President of Somalia Siad Barre had put an end to private medical practice in 1972. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M/W Battery) Much of the national budget was devoted to military expenditure, leaving few resources for healthcare, among other services.
Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, one of Somalia's many new private healthcare facilities.
Somalia's public healthcare system was largely destroyed during the ensuing civil war. As with other previously nationalized sectors, informal providers have filled the vacuum and replaced the former government monopoly over healthcare(SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M/P Battery), with access to facilities witnessing a significant increase. Many new healthcare centers, clinics, hospitals and pharmacies have in the process been established through home-grown Somali initiatives. The cost of medical consultations and treatment in these facilities is low, at $5.72 per visit in health centers (with a population coverage of 95%), and between $1.89–$3.97 per outpatient visit and $7.83–$13.95 per bed day in primary through tertiary hospitals(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/W Battery).
Comparing the 2005–2010 period with the half-decade just prior to the outbreak of the conflict (1985–1990), life expectancy actually increased from an average of 47 years for men and women to 48.2 years for men and 51.0 years for women. Similarly, the number of one-year-olds fully immunized against measles rose from 30% in 1985–1990 to 40% in 2000–2005(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/S Battery), and for tuberculosis, it grew nearly 20% from 31% to 50% over the same period. In keeping with the trend, the number of infants with low birth weight fell from 16 per 1000 to 0.3, a 15% drop in total over the same timeframe. Between 2005–2010 as compared to the 1985–1990 period, infant mortality per 1,000 births also fell from 152 to 109.6. Significantly, maternal mortality per 100,000 births fell from 1,600 in the pre-war 1985–1990 half-decade to 1,100 in the 2000–2005 period(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/P Battery). The number of physicians per 100,000 people also rose from 3.4 to 4 over the same timeframe, as did the percentage of the population with access to sanitation services, which increased from 18% to 26%.
According to United Nations Population Fund data on the midwifery workforce, there is a total of 429 midwives (including nurse-midwives) in Somalia, with a density of 1 midwife per 1,000 live births. Eight midwifery institutions presently exist in the country(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31S/S Battery), two of which are private. Midwifery education programs on average last from 12 to 18 months, and operate on a sequential basis. The number of student admissions per total available student places is a maximum 100%, with 180 students enrolled as of 2009. Midwifery is regulated by the government, and a license is required to practice professionally. A live registry is also in place to keep track of licensed midwives(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M/W Battery). In addition, midwives in the country are officially represented by a local midwives association, with 350 registered members.
A Somali boy receiving a polio vaccination.
According to a 2005 World Health Organization estimate, about 97.9% of Somalia's women and girls have undergone female circumcision, a pre-marital custom mainly endemic to Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East. Encouraged by women in the community, it is primarily intended to deter promiscuity and to offer protection from assault. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M/P Battery)About 93% of Somalia's male population is also reportedly circumcised.
Somalia has one of the lowest HIV infection rates on the continent. This is attributed to the Muslim nature of Somali society and adherence of Somalis to Islamic morals. While the estimated HIV prevalence rate in Somalia in 1987 (the first case report year) was 1% of adults, a more recent estimate from 2007 now places it at only 0.5% of the nation's adult population despite the ongoing civil strife. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21Z/S Battery)
Although healthcare is now largely concentrated in the private sector, the country's public healthcare system is in the process of being rebuilt, and is overseen by the Ministry of Health. The current Minister of Health is Qamar Adan Ali. The autonomous Puntland region maintains its own Ministry of Health, which is headed by Dr. Mohamed Bashir Ali Bihi, (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S/W Battery) as does the Somaliland region in northwestern Somalia, with its Ministry of Health led by Osman Bile Ali.
Some of the prominent healthcare facilities in the country are East Bardera Mothers and Children's Hospital, Abudwak Maternity and Children's Hospital, Edna Adan Maternity Hospital and West Bardera Maternity Unit.
Main article: Education in Somalia
New Mogadishu University campus
Following the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, the task of running schools in Somalia was initially taken up by community education committees established in 94% of the local schools. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S/S Battery)Numerous problems had arisen with regard to access to education in rural areas and along gender lines, quality of educational provisions, responsiveness of school curricula, educational standards and controls, management and planning capacity, and financing. To address these concerns, educational policies are being developed which are aimed at guiding the scholastic process. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M/W Battery) In the autonomous Puntland region, the latter includes a gender sensitive national education policy compliant with world standards, such as those outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Examples of this and other educational measures at work are the regional government's enactment of legislation aimed at securing the educational interests of girls, promoting the growth of an Early Childhood Development (ECD) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M/P Battery) program designed to reach parents and care-givers in their homes as well as in the ECD centers for 0–5 year old children, and introducing incentive packages to encourage teachers to work in remote rural areas.
The Hammar Jab Jab School in Mogadishu
The Ministry of Education is officially responsible for education in Somalia, and oversees the nation's primary, secondary, technical and vocational schools, as well as primary and technical teacher training and non-formal education(SONY Vaio VGN-NS12S/S Battery). About 15% of the government's budget is allocated toward scholastic instruction. The autonomous Puntland and Somaliland macro-regions maintain their own Ministries of Education.
In 2006, Puntland was the second territory in Somalia after Somaliland to introduce free primary schools, with teachers now receiving their salaries from the Puntland administration. From 2005/2006 to 2006/2007, there was a significant increase in the number of schools in Puntland(SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M/W Battery), up 137 institutions from just one year prior. During the same period, the number of classes in the region increased by 504, with 762 more teachers also offering their services. Total student enrollment increased by 27% over the previous year, with girls lagging only slightly behind boys in attendance in most regions. The highest class enrollment was observed in the northernmost Bari region, and the lowest was observed in the under-populated Ayn region(SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M/S Battery). The distribution of classrooms was almost evenly split between urban and rural areas, with marginally more pupils attending and instructors teaching classes in urban areas.
Entrance to Amoud University in Borama.
Higher education in Somalia is now largely private. Several universities in the country, including Mogadishu University, have been scored among the 100 best universities in Africa in spite of the harsh environment, which has been hailed as a triumph for grass-roots initiatives. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11Z/S Battery) Other universities also offering higher education in the south include Benadir University, the Somalia National University, Kismayo University and the University of Gedo. In Puntland, higher education is provided by the Puntland State University and East Africa University. In Somaliland, it is provided by Amoud University, the University of Hargeisa, Somaliland University of Technology and Burao University(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11ZR/S Battery).
Qu'ranic schools (also known as duqsi) remain the basic system of traditional religious instruction in Somalia. They provide Islamic education for children, thereby filling a clear religious and social role in the country. Known as the most stable local, non-formal system of education providing basic religious and moral instruction, their strength rests on community support and their use of locally made and widely available teaching materials(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11S/S Battery). The Qu'ranic system, which teaches the greatest number of students relative to other educational sub-sectors, is often the only system accessible to Somalis in nomadic as compared to urban areas. A study from 1993 found, among other things, that about 40% of pupils in Qur'anic schools were girls. To address shortcomings in religious instruction, the Somali government on its own part also subsequently established the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11M/S Battery), under which Qur'anic education is now regulated.
Main article: Economy of Somalia
Air Somalia Tupolev Tu-154 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Somalia today has a thriving private airline industry.
According to the CIA and the Central Bank of Somalia, despite experiencing civil unrest, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, based mainly on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies and telecommunications(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11L/S Battery). Due to a dearth of formal government statistics and the recent civil war, it is difficult to gauge the size or growth of the economy. For 1994, the CIA estimated the GDP at $3.3 billion. In 2001, it was estimated to be $4.1 billion. By 2009, the CIA estimated that the GDP had grown to $5.731 billion, with a projected real growth rate of 2.6%. According to a 2007 British Chambers of Commerce report, the private sector also grew, particularly in the service sector(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11J/S Battery). Unlike the pre-civil war period when most services and the industrial sector were government-run, there has been substantial, albeit unmeasured, private investment in commercial activities; this has been largely financed by the Somali diaspora, and includes trade and marketing, money transfer services, transportation, communications, fishery equipment, airlines, telecommunications, education, health, construction and hotels. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11E/S Battery) Libertarian economist Peter T. Leeson attributes this increased economic activity to the Somali customary law (referred to as Xeer), which he suggests provides a stable environment to conduct business in.
The Central Bank of Somalia indicates that the country's GDP per capita is $333, which is lower than that of Kenya at $350, but better than that of Tanzania at $280 as well as Eritrea at $190 and Ethiopia at $100. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS110E/L Battery) However, the CIA puts Somalia's GDP per capita at $600. About 43% of the population live on less than 1 US dollar a day, with about 24% of those found in urban areas and 54% living in rural areas.
Cans of Las Qoray brand tuna fish made in Las Khorey.
As with neighboring countries, Somalia's economy consists of both traditional and modern production, with a gradual shift in favor of modern industrial techniques taking root(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10L/S Battery). According to the Central Bank of Somalia, about 80% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists, who keep goats, sheep, camels and cattle. The nomads also gather resins and gums to supplement their income.
Agriculture is the most important economic sector. It accounts for about 65% of the GDP and employs 65% of the workforce. Livestock contributes about 40% to GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10J/S Battery) Other principal exports include fish, charcoal and bananas; sugar, sorghum and corn are products for the domestic market. According to the Central Bank of Somalia, imports of goods total about $460 million per year, surpassing aggregate imports prior to the start of the civil war in 1991. Exports, which total about $270 million annually, have also surpassed pre-war aggregate export levels. Somalia has a trade deficit of about $190 million per year(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10E/S Battery), but this is exceeded by remittances sent by Somalis in the diaspora, estimated to be about $1 billion.
With the advantage of being located near the Arabian Peninsula, Somali traders have increasingly begun to challenge Australia's traditional dominance over the Gulf Arab livestock and meat market, offering quality animals at very low prices. In response, Gulf Arab states have started to make strategic investments in the country(Sony VAIO VGN-SR45H battery), with Saudi Arabia building livestock export infrastructure and the United Arab Emirates purchasing large farmlands. Somalia is also a major world supplier of frankincense and myrrh.
The modest industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for 10% of Somalia's GDP. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR45H/P battery) Up to 14 private airline firms operating 62 aircraft now also offer commercial flights to international locations, including Daallo Airlines. With competitively priced flight tickets, these companies have helped buttress Somalia's bustling trade networks. In 2008, the Puntland government signed a multi-million dollar deal with Dubai's Lootah Group, a regional industrial group operating in the Middle East and Africa(Sony VAIO VGN-SR45H/N battery). According to the agreement, the first phase of the investment is worth Dhs 170 m and will see a set of new companies established to operate, manage and build Bosaso's free trade zone and sea and airport facilities. The Bosaso Airport Company is slated to develop the airport complex to meet international standards, including a new 3.4 km runway, main and auxiliary buildings, taxi and apron areas, and security perimeters. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR45H/B battery)
Prior to the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, the roughly 53 state-owned small, medium and large manufacturing firms were foundering, with the ensuing conflict destroying many of the remaining industries. However, primarily as a result of substantial local investment by the Somali diaspora, many of these small-scale plants have re-opened and newer ones have been created. The latter include fish-canning and meat-processing plants in the northern regions(Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/S battery), as well as about 25 factories in the Mogadishu area, which manufacture pasta, mineral water, confections, plastic bags, fabric, hides and skins, detergent and soap, aluminum, foam mattresses and pillows, fishing boats, carry out packaging, and stone processing. In 2004, an $8.3 million Coca-Cola bottling plant also opened in the city, with investors hailing from various constituencies in Somalia. Foreign investment also included multinationals like General Motors and Dole Fruit. Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/P battery)
Airspace over Somalia is controlled by the UN, with the $275 per plane going to the UN rather than the Somali government. The TFG is trying to obtain control of the airspace, but it is not known if they will be able to maintain it effectively.
Main articles: Central Bank of Somalia and Somali shilling
The Central Bank of Somalia is the official monetary authority of Somalia. In terms of financial management, it is in the process of assuming the task of both formulating and implementing monetary policy. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR35M/B battery)
A Dahabshiil franchise outlet in Columbus, Ohio
Owing to a lack of confidence in the local currency, the US dollar is widely accepted as a medium of exchange alongside the Somali shilling. Dollarization notwithstanding, the large issuance of the Somali shilling has increasingly fueled price hikes, especially for low value transactions. According to the central bank: "This inflationary environment(Sony VAIO VGN-SR35G/S battery), however, is expected to come to an end as soon as the Central Bank assumes full control of monetary policy and replaces the presently circulating currency introduced by the private sector."
Although Somalia has had no central monetary authority for more than 15 years between the outbreak of the civil war in 1991 and the subsequent re-establishment of the Central Bank of Somalia in 2009(Sony VAIO VGN-SR35G/P battery), the nation's payment system is fairly advanced primarily due to the widespread existence of private money transfer operators (MTO) that have acted as informal banking networks.
These remittance firms (hawalas) have become a large industry in Somalia, with an estimated $1.6 billion USD annually remitted to the region by Somalis in the diaspora via money transfer companies. Most are members of the Somali Money Transfer Association (SOMTA) (Sony VAIO VGN-SR35G/B battery), an umbrella organization that regulates the community's money transfer sector, or its predecessor, the Somali Financial Services Association (SFSA). The largest of the Somali MTOs is Dahabshiil, a Somali-owned firm employing more than 2000 people across 144 countries with branches in London and Dubai.
As the reconstituted Central Bank of Somalia fully assumes its monetary policy responsibilities, some of the existing money transfer companies are expected in the near future to seek licenses so as to develop into full-fledged commercial banks(Sony VAIO VGN-SR33H battery). This will serve to expand the national payments system to include formal cheques, which in turn is expected to reinforce the efficacy of the use of monetary policy in domestic macroeconomic management.
The World Bank reports that electricity is now in large part supplied by local businesses, using generators purchased abroad. By dividing Somalia's cities into specific quarters, the private sector has found a manageable method of providing cities with electricity(Sony VAIO VGN-SR33H/S battery). A customer is given a menu of choices for electricity tailored to his or her needs, such as evenings only, daytime only, 24 hour-supply or charge per lightbulb.
Oil blocks in Puntland.
Somalia has untapped reserves of numerous natural resources, including uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas. Due to its proximity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the nation is also believed to contain substantial unexploited reserves of oil. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR33H/P battery) A survey of Northeast Africa by the World Bank and UN ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective producer. American, Australian and Chinese oil companies, in particular, are excited about the prospect of finding petroleum and other natural resources in the country. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, anticipates that the Puntland province in the north has the potential to produce 5 billion barrels (790×106 m3) to 10 billion barrels (1.6×109 m3) of oil. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR33H/B battery) As a result of these developments, the Somali Petroleum Company was created by the federal government.
According to surveys, uranium is also found in large quantities in the Buurhakaba region. A Brazilian company in the 1980s had invested $300 million for a uranium mine in central Somalia, but no long-term mining took place.
Additionally, the Puntland region under the Farole administration has since sought to refine the province's existing oil deal with Range Resources(Sony VAIO VGN-SR31M/S battery). The Australian oil firm, for its part, indicated that it looked forward to establishing a mutually beneficial and profitable working relationship with the region's new government.
In mid-2010, Somalia's business community also pledged to invest $1 billion in the national gas and electricity industries over the following five years. Abdullahi Hussein, the director of the just-formed Trans-National Industrial Electricity and Gas Company(Sony VAIO VGN-SR29XN/S battery), predicted that the investment strategy would create 100,000 jobs, with the net effect of stimulating the local economy and discouraging unemployed youngsters from turning to vice. The new firm was established through the merger of five Somali companies from the trade, finance, security and telecommunications sectors. The first phase of the project is scheduled to start within six months of the establishment of the company(Sony VAIO VGN-SR29VN/S battery), and will train youth to supply electricity to economic areas and communities. The second phase, which is slated to begin in mid-to-late 2011, will see the construction of factories in specially designated economic zones for the fishing, agriculture, livestock and mining industries.
According to the Central Bank of Somalia, as the nation embarks on the path of reconstruction, the economy is expected to not only match its pre-civil war levels, but also to accelerate in growth and development due to Somalia's untapped natural resources. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR28/Q battery)
Telecommunications and media
The Hormuud Telecom building in Mogadishu
Somalia now offers some of the most technologically advanced and competitively priced telecommunications and Internet services in the world. After the start of the civil war, various new telecommunications companies began to spring up and compete to provide missing infrastructure. Funded by Somali entrepreneurs and backed by expertise from China(Sony VAIO VGN-SR28/J battery), Korea and Europe, these nascent telecommunications firms offer affordable mobile phone and Internet services that are not available in many other parts of the continent. Customers can conduct money transfers (such as through the popular Dahabshiil) and other banking activities via mobile phones, as well as easily gain wireless Internet access.
After forming partnerships with multinational corporations such as Sprint, ITT and Telenor, these firms now offer the cheapest and clearest phone calls in Africa. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR28/B battery) These Somali telecommunication companies also provide services to every city, town and hamlet in Somalia. There are presently around 25 mainlines per 1,000 persons, and the local availability of telephone lines (tele-density) is higher than in neighboring countries; three times greater than in adjacent Ethiopia. Prominent Somali telecommunications companies include Golis Telecom Group(Sony VAIO VGN-SR26/S battery), Hormuud Telecom, Somafone, Nationlink, Netco, Telcom and Somali Telecom Group. Hormuud Telecom alone grosses about $40 million a year. Despite their rivalry, several of these companies signed an interconnectivity deal in 2005 that allows them to set prices, maintain and expand their networks, and ensure that competition does not get out of control. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR26/P battery)
"Investment in the telecom industry is one of the clearest signs that Somalia's economy has continued to grow despite the ongoing civil strife in parts of the southern half of the country". The sector provides important communication services, and in the process thus facilitates job creation and income generation. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR26/B battery)
Somalia also has several private television and radio networks. Prominent media organizations in the country include the state-run Radio Mogadishu, as well as the privately owned Horseed Media, Garowe Online and Radio Laascaanood.
Main article: Military of Somalia
A Spoon Rest A (P-12) early warning radar unit, part of radar installation operated by Somali troops at the Berbera airport(Sony VAIO VGN-SR25T/S battery).
Prior to the outbreak of the civil war in 1991 and the subsequent disintegration of the Armed Forces, Somalia's friendship with the Soviet Union and later partnership with the United States enabled it to build the largest army in Africa. The creation of the Transitional Federal Government in 2004 saw the re-establishment of the military of Somalia, which now maintains a force of 10,000 troops. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the Armed Forces(Sony VAIO VGN-SR25T/P battery).
After almost 2 decades of absence, 500 marines were being trained in 2010 as a first start to re-establish the Somali Navy. In addition, there are plans for the re-establishment of the Somali Air Force, with six combat and six transport planes already purchased. A new police force was also formed, with the first police academy to be built in Somalia for several years opening on 20 December 2005 at Armo(Sony VAIO VGN-SR25S/B battery), 100 kilometres south of Bosaso, the commercial capital of the northeastern Puntland region. Additionally, construction began in May 2010 on a new naval base in the town of Bandar Siyada, located 25 km west of Bosaso. The new naval base is funded by the Puntland administration in conjunction with Saracen International, a UK-based security company. It will include a center for training recruits, and a command post for the naval force. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR25M/B battery)
Somalia has a population of around 10 million inhabitants; the total population according to the 1975 census was 3.3 million. About 85% of local residents are ethnic Somalis, who have historically inhabited the northern part of the country. They have traditionally been organized into nomadic pastoral clans, loose empires, sultanates and city-states. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR25G/S battery) Civil strife in the early 1990s greatly increased the size of the Somali diaspora, as many of the best educated Somalis left the country.
Non-Somali ethnic minority groups make up the remainder of the nation's population, and are largely concentrated in the southern regions. They include Benadiri, Bravanese, Bantus, Bajuni, Ethiopians, Indians, Persians, Italians and Britons. Most Europeans left after independence(Sony VAIO VGN-SR25G/P battery).
The country's population is expanding at a growth rate of 2.809% per annum and a birth rate of 43.33 births/1,000 people. Most local residents are young, with a median age of 17.6 years; about 45% of the population is between the ages of 0–14 years, 52.5% is between the ages of 15–64 years, and only 2.5% is 65 years of age or older. The gender ratio is roughly balanced, with proportionally about as many men as women. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR25G/B battery)
There is little reliable statistical information on urbanization in Somalia. However, rough estimates have been made indicating a rate of urbanization of 4.2% per annum (2005–10 est.), with many towns quickly growing into cities. Many ethnic minorities have also moved from rural areas to urban centers since the onset of the civil war, particularly to Mogadishu and Kismayo. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR21M/S battery) As of 2008, 37% of the nation's population live in towns and cities, with the percentage rapidly increasing.
Somali and Arabic are the official languages of Somalia. The Somali language is the mother tongue of the Somali people, the nation's most populous ethnic group. It is a member of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, and its nearest relatives are the Afar and Saho languages. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies of it dating from before 1900(Sony VAIO VGN-SR19XN battery).
The Osmanya writing script
Somali dialects are divided into three main groups: Northern, Benadir and Maay. Northern Somali (or Northern-Central Somali) forms the basis for Standard Somali. Benadir (also known as Coastal Somali) is spoken on the Benadir coast, from Adale to south of Merca including Mogadishu, as well as in the immediate hinterland. The coastal dialects have additional phonemes which do not exist in Standard Somali. Maay is principally spoken by the Digil and Mirifle (Rahanweyn) clans in the southern areas of Somalia. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VN battery)
Since Somali had long lost its ancient script, a number of writing systems have been used over the years for transcribing the language. Of these, the Somali alphabet is the most widely used, and has been the official writing script in Somalia since the government of former President of Somalia Siad Barre formally introduced it in October 1972(SONY Vaio VGN-SR12G/S Battery).
The script was developed by the Somali linguist Shire Jama Ahmed specifically for the Somali language, and uses all letters of the English Latin alphabet except p, v and z. Besides Ahmed's Latin script, other orthographies that have been used for centuries for writing Somali include the long-established Arabic script and Wadaad's writing. Indigenous writing systems developed in the 20th century include the Osmanya(SONY Vaio VGN-SR12G/P Battery), Borama and Kaddare scripts, which were invented by Osman Yusuf Kenadid, Sheikh Abdurahman Sheikh Nuur and Hussein Sheikh Ahmed Kaddare, respectively.
In addition to Somali, Arabic, which is also an Afro-Asiatic tongue, is an official national language in Somalia. Many Somalis speak it due to centuries-old ties with the Arab world, the far-reaching influence of the Arabic media, and religious education(SONY Vaio VGN-SR12G/B Battery).
English is widely used and taught. Italian used to be a major language, but its influence significantly diminished following independence. It is now most frequently heard among older generations. Other minority languages include Bravanese, a variant of the Bantu Swahili language that is spoken along the coast by the Bravanese people, as well as Kibajuni, another Swahili dialect that is the mother tongue of the Bajuni minority ethnic group(SONY Vaio VGN-SR11M Battery).
Main articles: Islam in Somalia and Christianity in Somalia
The Mosque of Islamic Solidarity in Mogadishu is the largest masjid in the Horn region.
Most Somalis are Muslims, the majority belonging to the Sunni branch of Islam and the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, although some are adherents of the Shia Muslim denomination. Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, is also well-established, with many local jama'a (zawiya) or congregations of the various tariiqa or Sufi orders. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38 battery)The constitution of Somalia likewise defines Islam as the state religion of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Islamic sharia as the basic source for national legislation. It also stipulates that no law that is inconsistent with the basic tenets of Shari'a can be enacted.
Islam entered the region very early on, as a group of persecuted Muslims had, at Prophet Muhammad's urging, sought refuge across the Red Sea in the Horn of Africa. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18T battery) Islam may thus have been introduced into Somalia well before the faith even took root in its place of origin.
In addition, the Somali community has produced numerous important Islamic figures over the centuries, many of whom have significantly shaped the course of Muslim learning and practice in the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and well beyond. Among these Islamic scholars is the 14th century Somali theologian and jurist Uthman bin Ali Zayla'i of Zeila(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18S battery), who wrote the single most authoritative text on the Hanafi school of Islam, consisting of four volumes known as the Tabayin al-Haqa’iq li Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq.
Christianity is a minority religion in Somalia, with no more than 1,000 practitioners (about 0.01% of the population). According to estimates of the Diocese of Mogadishu (the territory of which coincides with the country) there were only about 100 Catholic practitioners in Somalia in 2004. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G battery)
In 1913, during the early part of the colonial era, there were virtually no Christians in the Somali territories, with only about 100–200 followers coming from the schools and orphanages of the few Catholic missions in the British Somaliland protectorate. There were also no known Catholic missions in Italian Somaliland during the same period. In the 1970s, during the reign of Somalia's then Marxist government, church-run schools were closed and missionaries sent home(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18E battery). There has been no archbishop in the country since 1989, and the cathedral in Mogadishu was severely damaged during the civil war.
Some non-Somali ethnic minority groups also practice animism, which represents (in the case of the Bantu) religious traditions inherited from their ancestors in southeastern Africa.
Main article: Culture of Somalia
Main article: Somali cuisine
Various types of popular Somali dishes.
The cuisine of Somalia varies from region to region and consists of an exotic mixture of diverse culinary influences(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15S battery). It is the product of Somalia's rich tradition of trade and commerce. Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. There are therefore no pork dishes, alcohol is not served, nothing that died on its own is eaten, and no blood is incorporated. Qaddo or lunch is often elaborate(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15M battery).
Varieties of bariis (rice), the most popular probably being basmati, usually serve as the main dish. Spices like cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and sage are used to aromatize these
Xalwo (halva) is a popular confection reserved for special occasions, such as Eid celebrations or wedding receptions. It is made from sugar, corn starch, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and ghee. Peanuts are also sometimes added to enhance texture and flavor. After meals, homes are traditionally perfumed using frankincense (lubaan) or incense (cuunsi), which is prepared inside an incense burner referred to as a dabqaad(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15 battery).
Main article: Music of Somalia
Somali singer Aar Maanta performing with his band.
Somalia has a rich musical heritage centered on traditional Somali folklore. Most Somali songs are pentatonic; that is, they only use five pitches per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven note) scale like the major scale. At first listen, Somali music might be mistaken for the sounds of nearby regions such as Ethiopia, Sudan or the Arabian Peninsula, but it is ultimately recognizable by its own unique tunes and styles(Sony VAIO VGN-NW11Z/T battery). Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (laxan) and singers (codka or "voice").
Main article: Literature of Somalia
Somali scholars have for centuries produced many notable examples of Islamic literature ranging from poetry to Hadith. With the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1972 as the nation's standard orthography, numerous contemporary Somali authors have also released novels, some of which have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim(Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/T battery). Of these modern writers, Nuruddin Farah is probably the most celebrated. Books such as From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements, works which have earned Farah, among other accolades, the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Faarax M.J. Cawl is another prominent Somali writer who is perhaps best known for his Dervish era novel, Ignorance is the enemy of love(Sony VAIO VGN-NW11Z/S battery).
Main article: Architecture of Somalia
Somali architecture is a rich and diverse tradition of engineering and designing multiple different construction types such as stone cities, castles, citadels, fortresses, mosques, temples, aqueducts, lighthouses, towers and tombs during the ancient, medieval and early modern periods in Somalia, as well as the fusion of Somalo-Islamic architecture with Occidental designs in contemporary times(Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S battery).
In ancient Somalia, pyramidical structures known in Somali as taalo were a popular burial style, with hundreds of these drystone monuments scattered around the country today. Houses were built of dressed stone similar to the ones in Ancient Egypt, and there are examples of courtyards and large stone walls enclosing settlements, such as the Wargaade Wall(Sony VAIO VGN-NW31EF/W battery).
The adoption of Islam in the early medieval era of Somalia's history brought Islamic architectural influences from Arabia and Persia, which stimulated a shift from drystone and other related materials in construction to coral stone, sundried bricks, and the widespread use of limestone in Somali architecture. Many of the new architectural designs such as mosques were built on the ruins of older structures(Sony VAIO VGN-NW21MF/W battery), a practice that would continue over and over again throughout the following centuries.