About Somalia


of the population under the age of 25


Urban population


Life expectancy


deaths/1,000 live births (infant mortality)


of the population uses mobile money


million animals exported each year (to Gulf countries)


billion US$/year remittances from diaspora

About Somalia


Pastoralist with a camel

Created in 1960 from a former British protectorate and an Italian colony, Somalia collapsed into anarchy following the overthrow of the military regime of President Siad Barre in 1991.

As the country fell apart into clan-based fiefdoms, a 'unity' government formed in 2000 struggled to establish control, and the two relatively peaceful northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland effectively broke away. Former British Somaliland declared unilateral independence in 1991; Northern Puntland region stated autonomy in 1998.

The seizure of the capital Mogadishu and much of the country's south by a coalition of Islamist shariah courts in 2006 prompted an intervention by Ethiopian, and later, African Union, forces.

Since 2012, when a new federal government was installed, Somalia has been inching towards stability, but the authorities still face a challenge from Al-Qaeda-aligned Al-Shabab insurgents.

The current United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established on 3 June 2013 by UN Security Council Resolution 2102, in support of the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia. The mandate of UNSOM was subsequently renewed.

Flag description: 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).

Moving forward

After a highly chaotic and violent 1991 - 2011 period, a federal state structure now exists in Somalia. Jubbaland, South-West, Galmudug and Hirshabelle have joined Puntland to become federal member states. The issue of Somaliland’s status remains unresolved. The reestablishment of a Federal Government in 2012 and the implementation of the New Deal Compact commencing in 2013, have been essential and encouraging, but significant progress still needs to be made as indicated by Somalia´s ranking on the Global Fragile States Index and Transparency International perception survey.

For the first time in 20 years, the 9th Parliament successfully served a full-term and the 2016 indirect elections resulted in the election of 17 percent youth and 25 percent women MPs. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, was elected president in February 2017. A dual US-Somali citizen, President Farmajo served as prime minister for eight months between 2010 and 2011.

In December 2016 the Federal government presented for the first time in over 30 years a ‘national owned – nationally led’ national development plan. The adoption by the Cabinet of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2017 – 2019 is an important milestone for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). The NDP integrates the SDGs and includes political and security priorities as the FGS perceives progress on development and reduction of poverty will only take place if simultaneous progress is made on political inclusivity, security sector reform, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights.

Building on this result, the NDP priority is to make significant strides towards a society with an open, representative and inclusive political system, including credible and inclusive elections in 2020.  

Humanitarian context

For over three decades, poverty, marginalization, armed violence, insecurity, political instability, natural hazards and a combination of under-development and development failure have continued to drive humanitarian needs in Somalia. While Somalia seems to be on an positive trajectory, resurgent conflict and endemic environmental hazards render many of Somalia’s estimated 12.3 million people chronically or acutely vulnerable. Armed fighting is prevalent in large parts of the country and causes significant physical and psychological harm to civilians, as well as displacement and deprivation of basic services.

Natural hazards and disasters are endemic in Somalia and affect hundreds of thousands of people every year. In November 2016, a severe drought has put the country on the brink of famine and displaced 740,000 people. These come in addition to previous conflict-related displacement, which causes suffering for over 1.1 million people.

Some chronically impoverished and conflict-ridden communities are so vulnerable that even small-scale natural hazards, which continue to increase in prevalence and impact, have devastating effects on their lives.

Marginalization, forced evictions, discrimination against different vulnerable groups and minorities, pervasive gender-based violence (GBV), and insecurity and armed violence continue to exacerbate vulnerabilities and to drive needs.

Sources: BBC, World FactBook (CIA), OCHA, UNSOM and UNDP

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