Press "Enter" to skip to content


Somalia, easternmost country of Africa, on the Horn of Africa. The country is on the Horn of Africa and is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest.  Somalia has an estimated population of around 17.1 million. Around 85% of its residents are ethnic Somalis. The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic, though the former is the primary language. It extends from just south of the Equator northward to the Gulf of Aden and occupies an important geopolitical position between sub-Saharan Africa and the countries of Arabia and southwestern Asia.

The Republic of Somalia was formed in 1960 by the federation of a former Italian colony and a British protectorate. Mohamed Siad Barre (Maxamed Siyaad Barre) held dictatorial rule over the country from October 1969 until January 1991, when he was overthrown in a bloody civil war waged by clan-based guerrillas. After Siad’s fall from power, warfare continued, and the country lacked an effective centralized government—problems that persisted into the 21st century.

About three-fifths of Somalia’s economy is based on agriculture; however, the main economic activity is not crop farming but livestock raising. In 2015, the Horn of Africa nation exported a record 5.3 million animals, the highest such figure in two decades, according to the Food and Agriculture (FAO) organisation. Somalia is currently facing the worst drought in 40 years. As in other countries, hunger has increased, amid a series of global shocks affecting the supply of food, including COVID-19-related supply chain problems, extreme weather events, and more recently high food and energy prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

Somalia has also been battling the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which still controls large parts of the country. The al-Qaeda-allied fighters want to topple the central government and establish their own rule. The UN Security Council has repeatedly affirmed its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Somalia. There are 10 rotating non-permanent members on the council, along with the five permanent members – the US, the UK, France, China and Russia. To win a seat, which can carry influence in world affairs, a country needs to secure the support of at least two thirds of the General Assembly delegations that are voting. Of recent, Somalia was elected along with Denmark, Greece, Pakistan and Panama to serve for two years from January 2025.

Read Also: Tanzania

Islam is the dominant religion of Somalia, practiced by over 99% of the population. The vast majority of Somalis are Sunni and of the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence. Islam was introduced to the northern Somali coast early on from the Arabian Peninsula, shortly after the hijra. Zeila’s two-mihrab Masjid al-Qiblatayn dates to the 7th century and is the oldest mosque in the country. Somalis were among the earliest non-Arabs to convert to Islam.

Aside from Zeila, many ancient mosques can also be found in southern Somalia most notably Mogadishu the capital of modern-day Somalia. Mogadishu, is located just north of the Equator on the Indian Ocean. It was founded by Arab settlers in the 8th century, Ibn Battuta, the famous scholar, and traveler described the city as an Islamic center and an active commercial port on the Banadir coast. The famous 14th-century scholar Ibn Khaldun also noted in his book that Mogadishu was a massive metropolis and claimed the city was very populous with many wealthy merchants.

However, one of the most notable figures in the region is Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn, popularly known as Shaykh Abu Barakat al Barbari (‘Blessed Father of Somalia’). He was a 12th Century Islamic Scholar and traveller who was born in the port city of Zeila. Similarly, Sa’id min Mogadishu was a 14th-century scholar and traveler. Aside from his scholastic work, Sa’id traveled the world, including visiting Bengal and China. He also went to India, where he stayed in a mosque and met Ibn Battuta.

In addition, Somalia has the highest population of camels in the world around 6.2 million camels, the majority of the people in this region are nomadic and rely heavily on camels and livestock. The livestock sector is the largest contributor to Somali livelihoods.

Meanwhile, the country is not entirely homogeneous, 85% of the population is ethnic Somali with the remaining 15% consisting of Arab and Bantu populations, despite this, Somali is the dominant language. Until very recently the majority of the country were nomads or agropastoralists. For centuries nomads have relied on meat, maize, and camel milk, the cuisine – therefore, has always been very simple. The Arab and Bantu ethnic groups almost exclusively live in coastal/urban or settled farming areas.

The Indian Ocean trading networks makes the urban/ coastal cuisine is very different, with influences from Southern Arabia, Persia, and the Sub-Continent. European colonialism in the latter part of the 19th-century meant that Italian cuisine has also left its mark with pasta now considered somewhat of a staple in Southern Somalia.

The country is sometimes referred to as the nation of poets as poetry plays a significant role in society. Somali poetry includes both a rich folklore heritage such as work songs (hees-hawleed) sung to accompany everyday tasks like watering camels and a classical form of poetry (maanso) composed by poets.

Incense also plays a vital role in Somali culture and serves various purposes, frankincense is not just known for its inebriating smell, but also for its deep healing properties. Somalia is the world’s biggest producer of frankincense, it’s woodsy and sweetly aromatic, is one of the oldest commercial commodities, spanning more than 5,000 years. Today, thousands of tons of it are traded every year to be used by Catholic priests as incense in thuribles, and by makers of perfumes, natural medicines, and essential oils that can be inhaled or applied to the skin for their purported health benefits.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.