macrohistory & world report



Somalia (capital Mogadishu) and neighboring states in eastern Africa


World Factbook as of October 2014: "Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based on livestock, 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. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports... Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Somalia's government lacks the ability to collect domestic revenue, and arrears to the IMF have continued to grow. Somalia's capital city – Mogadishu – has witnessed the development of the city's first gas stations, supermarkets, and flights between Europe (Istanbul-Mogadishu) since the collapse of central authority in 1991."

Economic growth rate
2010: 2.6%
2009: 2.6%
2009: 2.6%

Export commodities
Livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal, scrap metal

Export partners
2010: UAE 51.3%, Yemen 19.8%, Oman 13%

Export/import ratio
2006: exports $300, imports $798

Persons per square kilometer of arable land in 2005: 820, compared to 169 for the United States and 331 for France.


Living in an urban area
2010: 37%

Net Migration rate
2012: A net loss of 11.62 persons per 1,000 population per year

Ethnic groups
Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs

Sunni Muslim

Literacy (age 15 and older)
2001 estimate: male 49.7%, female 25.8%


The Northeastern tip of Africa. Slightly smaller than Texas. Mostly flat and desert.


Capital: Mogadishu.

Recent History

Italian Somaliland gained independence from Italy on 1 July 1960, and on that day united with British Somaliland, which gained independence on 26 June 1960, to form the Somali republic.

In 1969, President Shermarke was assassinated, followed by the replacement of democratic government with the military dictatorship of Mohamed Siad Barre. He became Somali's third president, ruling Somali for twenty-two years, establishing a personality cult, with titles including Teacher, Father of Knowledge, and Victorious Leader. He also called himself Comrade Siad Barre and described his rule as socialist. Clan leaders rebelled against Siad, and the rebels, led by Mohamed Farrah Aidid, overthrew Comrade Barre on 26 January 1991.

Since then, Somalia has been without a central government. A northwestern part of Somalia unilaterally declared itself independent and called itself the Republic of Somaliland and remains unrecognized internationally. This part of Somalia remains stable while to the south division and anarchy have reigned.

Somalia gives us an example of what happens when people are free of government – the dream of anarchists. People here and there form gangs that take advantage of others. Armed young men who command a point on the road – the gang's territory – and shakedown people, demanding payment of some kind if they want to pass.

The poorest of people in Somalia speak of their desire for a government. 

August 2005: It must seem to some Muslims that Allah has willed tough times for Somalia. A cattle herder speaks of having been chased off of "our land" by a "group that has more weapons." Someone else says that the gun rules in Somalia and that is how he supports his family.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.