Somalia, officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory.
Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, is located on the Indian Ocean coast.
Somalia is located on the east coast of Africa and north of the Equator and, with Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Kenya, is often referred to as the Horn of Africa. It comprises Italy’s former Trust Territory of Somalia and the former British Protectorate of Somaliland (now seeking recognition as an independent state). The coastline extends 2,720 kilometers (1,700 mi.).
The northern part of the country is hilly, and in many places the altitude ranges between 900 and 2,100 meters (3,000-7,000 ft.) above sea level. The central and southern areas are flat, with an average altitude of less than 180 meters (600 ft.). The Juba and the Shabelle Rivers rise in Ethiopia and flow south across the country toward the Indian Ocean.
Somalia’s main ethnic groups are Somali (some 85%), Bantu and other non-Somali (15%) including slightly over 300,000 Arabs. Nevertheless, Somalia is a member of the League of Arab States.
Its income per capita is around 600 US dollars, and its major natural resources are uranium and quasi-unexploited reserves of iron ore, bauxite, copper, tin, salt, natural gas and non-quantified oil reserves. Foreign fishing floats largely benefit from its fish-rich waters and contiguous international waters.
The Somalis are primarily Sunni Muslims of the Shafi'i sect. According to tradition, their ultimate ancestors were of the Qurayshitic lineage of the Prophet Muhammad. Except for a small number of urbanites influenced by higher education, all Somalis belong to one of the following brotherhoods: Qadiriyyah, Salihiyyah, Ahmadiyyah, and Rifaiyyah.
The social costs of war have been enormous, leaving Somalia with some of the lowest human development indicators in the world. The situation in Somalia is highly fluid, and Somalia’s social, economic, and political development faces formidable challenges.
Climate: Principally desert; December to February—northeast monsoon, moderate temperatures in north, and very hot in the south; May to October—southwest monsoon, torrid in the north, and hot in the south; irregular rainfall; hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons.
The population of Somalia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 8,592,000, which placed it at number 88 in population among the 193 nations of the world.
Given the long-term absence of central institutions in Somalia, ongoing efforts to support peace and stability and to rebuild law enforcement, governance, and social service institutions remains a priority for the United States.