General Country Information



The Somali state exists solely in a de jure capacity. Violence has plagued Somalia, and especially Mogadishu, the capital, since former President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Somalia currently has no recognized central government. The governments of unrecognized entities of Somaliland and Puntland and the United Nations-recognized, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have de facto authority. The authority of the TFG however is contested by a rival administration, the Union of Islamic Courts who suffered military defeat early 2007 and was forced to sign a peace treaty. The situation is further complicated by surrounding countries that have also intervened militarily, notably Ethiopia.

Somalia has a population of around 12.5 million in total, 85% of which are ethnic Somalis. In addition there are over a million Somalis outside of Africa, and this excludes those in Kenya and Djibouti. The Somalis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims. Somali is the main spoken language. Many Somalis also speak Arabic and English is also widely used. About 38% of the population is literate.



More general information is available at BBC Country Profile and at Wikipedia in both English and Arabic. A map of the political situation on the second of December 2006 is available here.



Official information can be found at the official website of the Federal Government of Somalia in English. Information can also be found at the official website of the government of break-away Somaliland in English, and the official website of the government of break-away Puntland in English.