AlgonquinCollegeLogo Small World - Big Picture
Info Africa - SOMALIA

Situated in the horn of Africa in Eastern Africa, Somalia borders Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.  British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland gained independence in 1960 and joined together to form Somalia. Tribal rivalries and territorial disagreements continue to plague this country’s development and peace.  Since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, Somalia has had no effective central government. Inevitably, this situation continues to affect Somalia politically, socially and economically. Years of fighting has affected and continues to affect the lives of many. It has led to the deaths of thousands of people, increased disease and famine, causing many Somalis to flee

to other countries. Northern Somalia declared itself the independent Republic of Somaliland. Although its independence receives no recognition by the international community, it is relatively stable. The main part of Somalia has a Transitional National Government. Somalia has a number of clans and most Somalis are Muslims. Along the coast of Somali, Swahili and Arabic dialects are widely spoken, while the majority of Somalis speak Somali. As a Muslim country, Somalia celebrates Islamic celebrations (e.g. Eid al Fitr) and independence celebrations. Somalia, also known as a land of poets, has a long oral cultural tradition.

CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Somalia's Flag

Light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; blue field influenced by the flag of the UN

Nationality: Somali

Capital: Mogadishu

Population: 8,863,338 (July 2006 est.) ( 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)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 44.4%
  • 15-64 years: 53%
  • 65 years and over: 2.6% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.85% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 37.8% of the population is literate (male: 49.7%, female: 25.8%) (2001 est.)

Major religions: Sunni Muslim

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

Quick Facts
  • total: 637,657 sq km
  • land: 627,337 sq km
  • water: 10,320 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: slightly smaller than Alberta

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

Environmental Issues: famine; use of contaminated water contributes to human health problems; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification


Agriculture is the most important part of Somalia’s economy, with livestock accounting for 40% of GDP and 65% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia’s ban on Somali livestock, as a result of the Rift Valley Fever, has hindered this agricultural sector of the economy. Nomads and semi-nomads, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, are a huge part of Somalia’s population. Somalia’s principal exports include livestock, hides, fish, charcoal and bananas. The principal imports of Somali include sugar, sorghum and corn. Somalia has a small industrial sector which is mainly based on the processing of agricultural products. Despite the social conflict, Somalia’s service sector continues to survive and grow. Most major cities have wireless services and the lowest international call rates in Africa are found in Somalia. Also, the financial sector of the country continues to grow. The civil disturbances have interfered with broad-based economic development and international aid arrangements.

Major industries:

  • a few light industries
  • including sugar refining
  • textiles
  • wireless communication

Agricultural products:

  • bananas
  • sorghum
  • corn
  • coconuts
  • rice
  • sugarcane
  • mangoes
  • sesame seeds
  • beans
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • goats
  • fish

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: 22,100 km (paved: 2,608 km, unpaved: 19,492 km)

Currency: Somali shilling


Telephone lines in use: 200,000 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 500,000 (2004)

Television Stations: 4; note - two in Mogadishu; two in Hargeisa (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 0, FM 11, shortwave 1 in Mogadishu; 1 FM in Puntland, 1 FM in Somaliland (2001)

Internet users: 89,000 (2002)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 1% (2001 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 43,000 (2001 est.)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit: