Somalia Flag Icon

Somalia Country Guide

Explore Somalia in Africa

Travel warning information is updated daily: The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's advisory service has marked this country as DO NOT TRAVEL. This means that travelling this country can result in potentially life-threatening situations! If you really have to go: Check with your local authorities whether your exact destination is safe.

Somalia with the capital city Mogadishu is located in Africa (Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean). It covers some 637,658 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Texas) with 9,379,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Somalia

The landscape offers mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north. The average density of population is approximately 15 per km². The notable climate conditions in Somalia can be described as principally desert with northeast monsoon (December to February), moderate temperatures in north and hot in south, southwest monsoon (May to October), torrid in the north and hot in the south, irregular rainfall, hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons. Potential threats by nature are recurring droughts or frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer or floods during rainy season.

To reach someone in Somalia dial +252 prior to a number. There are 100,000 installed telephones. And there are 641,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".so". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Somalia

Light blue with a large white five-pointed star in the center; the blue field was originally influenced by the flag of the UN, but today is said to denote the sky and the neighboring Indian Ocean; the five points of the star represent the five regions in the horn of Africa that are inhabited by Somali people: the former British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland (which together make up Somalia), Djibouti, Ogaden (Ethiopia), and the North East Province (Kenya).

Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 to allow its protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland and form the new nation of Somalia. In 1969, a coup headed by Mohamed SIAD Barre ushered in an authoritarian socialist rule characterized by the persecution, jailing, and torture of political opponents and dissidents. After the regime's collapse early in 1991, Somalia descended into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence and continues efforts to establish a constitutional democracy, including holding municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections. The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring semi-autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998 but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. In 2000, the Somalia National Peace Conference (SNPC) held in Djibouti resulted in the formation of an interim government, known as the Transitional National Government (TNG). When the TNG failed to establish adequate security or governing institutions, the Government of Kenya, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), led a subsequent peace process that concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as President of a second interim government, known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Somali Republic. The TFG included a 275-member parliamentary body, known as the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). President YUSUF resigned late in 2008 while United Nations-sponsored talks between the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) were underway in Djibouti. In January 2009, following the creation of a TFG-ARS unity government, Ethiopian military forces, which had entered Somalia in December 2006 to support the TFG in the face of advances by the opposition Islamic Courts Union (ICU), withdrew from the country. The TFP was doubled in size to 550 seats with the addition of 200 ARS and 75 civil society members of parliament. The expanded parliament elected Sheikh SHARIF Sheikh Ahmed, the former ICU and ARS chairman as president in January 2009. The creation of the TFG was based on the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), which outlined a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. In 2009, the TFP amended the TFC to extend TFG's mandate until 2011 and in 2011 Somali principals agreed to institute political transition by August 2012. The transition process ended in September 2012 when clan elders appointed 275 members to a new parliament replacing the TFP and the subsequent election, by parliament, of a new president.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Africa
Neighbours: Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti
Capital: Mogadishu
Size 637,657 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 246,201 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Texas
Population 9,379,000
Currency Name: Shilling, Currency Code: SOS
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .so
Telephone Country Prefix +252
Mobile Phone Connections 641,000
Landline Phone Connections 100,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 637,657 (sq km) 44

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 10,251,568 84
Population growth rate 1.67 (%) 72
Birth rate 41.45 (births/1,000 population) 6
Death rate 14.22 (deaths/1,000 population) 9
Net migration rate -10.55 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 212
Maternal mortality rate 1000.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 2
Infant mortality rate 101.91 (deaths/1,000 live births) 3
Life expectancy at birth 51.19 (years) 217
Total fertility rate 6.17 (children born/woman) 3
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.70 (%) 59
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 34,000 65
HIV/AIDS - deaths 1,600 58
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 4.80 (%) 162
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 32.80 (%) 11


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 5,896,000,000 165
GDP - real growth rate 2.60 (%) 117
GDP - per capita (PPP) 600 225
Labor force 3,447,000 98
Investment (gross fixed) 20.00 (% of GDP) 96
Exports 515,800,000 169
Imports 1,263,000,000 175
Debt - external 2,942,000,000 133


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 315,000,000 (kWh) 169
Electricity - consumption 293,000,000 (kWh) 175
Electricity - installed generating capacity 80000 (kW) 173
Electricity - from fossil fuels 93.8 (% of total installed capacity) 70
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 6.3 (% of total installed capacity) 123
Crude oil - imports 1,000 (bbl/day) 84
Refined petroleum products - production 3,666 (bbl/day) 111
Refined petroleum products - consumption 5,659 (bbl/day) 165
Refined petroleum products - exports 1,109 (bbl/day) 107
Refined petroleum products - imports 2,905 (bbl/day) 170
Natural gas - proved reserves 5,663,000,000 (cu m) 89
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 897,500 (Mt) 168


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 100,000 146
Telephones - mobile cellular 655,000 161
Internet hosts 186 203
Internet users 106,000 159


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 62 80
Roadways 22,100 (km) 104
Merchant marine 1 154


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 0.90 (% of GDP) 134

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since