About Somaliland


INTRODUCTION

Somaliland is situated on the eastern horn of Africa and lies between the 08°00′ – 11°30′ parallel north of the equator and between 42°30′ – 49°00′ meridian east of the Greenwich. It shares borders with Republic of Djibouti to the west, Federal Republic of Ethiopia to the south and Somalia to the east. Somaliland has a coastal line to the north of the country which extends 460 miles along the Red Sea.

GEOGRAPHY

AREA

Somaliland is about the size of England and Wales with an area of 137,600km² (68,000 sq. miles).

TOPOGRAPHY

The major topography features are:

The low-lying coastal plains known as the Guban, running some 70 km inland with a very hot summer climate.

A high escarpment running east-west parallel to the coast and rising to over 2000m at Eri Gavo.

A plateau to the south of the mountains known as Ogo, extending to Ethiopia, with an average altitude of 1200m.

Further inland and to the south is the Haud, red sandy plains stretching southwards into Ethiopia, where altitudes fall to some 500m.

CLIMATE

The country has a tropical monsoon type of climate. However, there are four distinct seasons. A main rainy spring season from April to June, followed by a dry summer season from July to September. Then there is a short autumn rainy period from October to November, and finally a long dry winter from December to March. The latter is the most difficult for the animal herding rural population and to the farmers to a lesser scale. If the April-June rains fail the result is a drought that could kill most animals which have already been weakened by the December-March dry season, which also severely hits the country’s economy.

Annual average precipitation ranges from less than 1000 mm on the coast to 500 mm inland except for a limited areas where it may reach 900 mm. Rain variability is very high. Hargeisa, the capital, for instance, with a long term average of some 400 mm has recorded variations from 209 to 810 mm per annum.

Temperatures also show some seasonal variations. The winter months are normally cool with average December temperatures in the range of 15 – 26°C, while the summer months are the hottest averaging 26 – 32°C in June.

POPULATION

The population of Somaliland is estimated at around 3.5 million. The average population growth rate is 3.1%. Population density is estimated at approximately 25 persons per sq. kilometer. Fifty-five percent of the population is either nomadic or semi-nomadic, while 45% live in urban centres or rural towns. The average life expectancy for the male is 50 and for females it is 55.

LANGUAGES

Somali is the official language. Arabic and English are the other official languages.

RELIGION

Islam – Sunni.

CAPITAL CITY & MAIN TOWNS

Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland with an estimated population of 0.65 million. The other main towns are Burao, Borama, Berbera, Erigabo and Las Anod.

TOURISM

Somaliland has a budding tourist industry and is home to what is often considered to be one of the most interesting attractions in the Horn of Africa which is the Laas Gaal cave paintings. Currently, a small number of tourists travel to the country to see this sight. The paintings are situated near Hargeisa and were discovered by a French archaeological team in 2002. Currently to preserve the cave paintings only a restricted number of tourists are allowed to visit the site at each time. Other tourist attarction include the historic town of Sheikh which is home to old British colonial buildings that have been untouched for over forty years. The near by port city of Berbera also houses historic and impressive Ottoman architectural buildings. Another equally famous historic city is Zeila which was once part of the Ottoman Empire, a dependency of Yemen and Egypt and a major trade city during the 19th century. The city is a tourist must see place so they can view the old colonial landmarks, offshore mangroves and coral reefs and its towering cliffs and beach. Other notable tourist sights include the Freedom Arch in Hargeisa and the war memorial in the city center. Other natural attractions are very common around the country. The Naasa Hablood hills are twin hills located on the outskirts of Hargeisa that Somalilanders consider to be a majestic natural landmark. To travel to Somaliland you will require a visitor visa which you can obtain from your nearest Somaliland Mission Office. You can get the contact details in the Visitor Visa Section on this site.

HISTORY

The Republic of Somaliland known as the Somaliland Protectorate under the British rule from 1884 until June, 26th 1960 when Somaliland got its independence from Britain. On July 1st 1960 it joined the former Italian Somalia to form the Somali Republic. The union did not work according to the aspirations of the people, and the strain led to a civil war from 1980s onwards and eventually to the collapse of the Somali Republic. After the collapse of the Somali Republic, the people of Somaliland held a congress in which it was decided to withdraw from the Union with Somalia and to reinstate Somaliland’s sovereignty.

POLITICAL SYSTEM

The country has a republican form of government. The legislative assembly is composed of two chambers – an elected elder’s chamber, and a house of representatives. An elected President and an elected Vice-president head the government. The President nominates the cabinet which is approved by the legislature. There is an independent judiciary

The country has three political parties. i.e UDUB Party, Kulmiye Party and UCID party . The current President of the Republic is H.E Dahir Riyale Kahin and the vice-president is H.E Ahmed Yusuf Yasin of UDUB party who were elected on April 2003 for a five year term. The term of the current government was expected to end in April 2008. Elections were delayed to complete voter registeration and next presidential elections are slated to be held by April, 2009.

ECONOMY

CURRENCY

The official Somaliland currency is the Somaliland shilling (SlSh). The exchange rate the shilling against the US Dollar in end of December 2008 was:

US$1 = Somaliland Shillings 7,500

IMPORTS & EXPORTS

The backbone of the economy is livestock. The total livestock in the country is estimated at 24 million. In 1998, 3.5 million heads of livestock were exported to the Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia which is the main market for the livestock export. The level of exports dropped after 1999 due to restriction imposed by Saudi Arabia which continued until 2002 when exports started rebounding and close to 2 million head of livestock were exported in 2008. Somaliland also exports frozen meat to the gulf countries like United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Somaliland also also exports Hides, Skins, Myrrh and Frankincense in smaller scale. You can obtain additional information from SOMALILAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE website.

LIVESTOCK EXPORTS

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
TOTAL 996,403 1,177,095 1,125,817 1,558,934 1,857,883
SHEEP 859,404 1,023,795 1,017,376 1,431,138 1, 725,441
CATTLE 131,852 148,151 85,631 92,764 101,011
CAMEL 5147 5069 22,810 35,032 31,431

IMPORTS

Annual imports exceed US$200 million. Principal imports include food commodities, apparel and footwear, fuel, building material, Machinery, vehicles, and chemicals.

AGRICULTURE

About 10% of the total area of Somaliland is classified as suitable for agricultural production of which 3% of the total area is actually under cultivation, while an additional 7% has potential for development in the future. The agricultural belt (Borama-Baki-Gebiley-Hargeisa) is inhabited by the 5-15% of the population who forms the agro-pastoral group. They farming method is mainly is considered as a complement to livestock production. Average farm size is eight hectares. Maize and sorghum are the predominant crops and are grown in 75% and 25% of land under rain fed farming by widely scattered small holders. Due to variability of weather, extreme fluctuations in production and yield are common. To a lesser extent millet, groundnuts and beans are also grown on a smaller scale. Horticulture (vegetables and citrus) is practiced along banks of seasonal streams and perennial springs although bulk of such foodstuffs have to be imported.

MINING

Mining is limited to quarrying at the moment. There are, however, confirmed deposits of:

Oil, Gas, Gypsum, Lime, Mica, Quartz, Lignite Coal, Lead, Gold, Sulphur.

FISHERY & MARINE RESOURCES

The fishing industry is still underdeveloped, but the country has 600 mile long coast with rich fishing grounds. Somaliland is strategically located at cross roads between Africa, Europe, The Middle East and South East Asia. In 1996 up to 846 vessels called on Berbera port on the Red Sea which has the potential to develop into a major commercial centre.

INDUSTRY

HEALTH

In1999 , the number of Health centres was 44 and these can be found in most districts. Several private clinics (some catering for inpatients) are also functioning.

Currently a new hospital is under construction in Hargeisa specialising exclusively in the treatment of for women & children. This hospital is expected to open in July 2000 and will be run by a Trust Charity. This hospital is initiated and funded by a Somali Nurse with other contributions.

EDUCATION

Education in Somaliland is recognized as a fundamental tool that will not only facilitate long term economic gains, but build the necessary human resource to achieve this goal. The Ministry of Education in Somaliland has a National Education Policy that supports achievement of primary education for all children. Currently, Somaliland has over 450 primary schools with total enrollment of 108,995 students, ( 36% girls and 64% boys). In the years 1996/1997 there were only 163 primary schools with a total enrollment of 33,000 students. Somaliland has 5 universities and 3 colleges that provide higher education in different fields of specialization including medicine, in which the Amoud university provided the first ever Somaliland trained medical doctors in 2008. Though progress has been made in education the issues of access, equity and quality of education continue to be a key challenge to education in Somaliland, and the lack of International recognition contributes to inadequate international funding to support policy implementation. The UN and INGO’s have minimally continued to supplement government and communities in Education.

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