Somalia – Country in Brief

Population:
· 14 million; close to 2 million comprise the global Diaspora.
· Approximately 10% of the Diaspora live in the United States of America.

Geography:
· Located in East Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
· Longest coast in Africa (3,025 km/1,880 miles).

History:
· Somalia is one of the oldest trading nations of the world, dating back many centuries, due to its long coastline. Historically, the wealthiest port, which is 1,000 year old, is located in the city of Mogadishu. Other ports include Kismaayo, Berbera, Bosaaso and Merca.
· Islam in Somalia dates back to the very early era of the religion around the 7th century. This is evident from the many centuries-old mosques that are found in Somalia - from the mosque in Zeila with two minarets (one facing Jerusalem and the other minaret, built later, facing Mecca), to the old mosques in Berbera, Xaafuun all the way to Mogadishu, Merca, Barawe and Kismaayo. ArbaRukun (1269), the Friday mosque of Merca (1609) and Fakr ad-Din (1269) were, in fact, the only mosques in East Africa to have minarets.
· Historically, Somalia was very supportive of various anti-colonial movements including the struggle in South Africa against the ruling apartheid government.

Culture:
· Somalia is known as a nation of poets because of the Somali people’s deep affection for poetry. The eminent Somali language scholar, the late professor B.W. Andrezejewski described it as ‘reminiscent of Classical Greek’.
· Somali people in the Somali peninsula region domesticated the camel somewhere between the third millennium and second millennium BC, then the practice spread to ancient Egypt and North Africa.
· Ancient rock art of “Laas Geel” in Somalia illuminates the oldest depictions of camels. Today, Somalia has the largest camel population of any individual country in the world.

Economy:
· Somalia’s economy is largely based on livestock and service sector (remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications.)
· Agriculture is the most important sector with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings.
· Livestock, camels, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, whereas sugar, sorghum, corn, and machined goods are the principal imports.

Government:
· Somalia is in the process of forming a Federal Republic.
· Somalia’s government includes three branches: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branch.
· After more than two decades of statelessness, the US Government has recognized the Somali government in 2013 and the Embassy has reopened in DC on November 18 after 24 years of absence.