Learn more about Somaliland
| Jamhuriyatha Soomaaliland|
Republic of Somaliland
جمهورية ارض الصومال
|Motto: "Justice, Peace, Freedom, Democracy and Success for All"|
|Anthem: dum ala khair, dum ala khair, Samo ku waar Samo ku waar Saamo ku waar|
|Capital|| Hargeisa |
|Official languages||Somali, Arabic(second)|
|- President||Dahir Riyale Kahin|
|Independence||From Somalia and United kingdom|
|- Declared||May 18, 1991 . 28 june 1960|
|- Total|| 137,600 km² (-)|
53,128 sq mi
|- Water (%)||n/a|
|- 2005 estimate||3.5 million (n/a)|
|- Density|| 25/km² (n/a)|
|GDP (PPP)||- estimate|
|- Total||n/a (n/a)|
|- Per capita||n/a (n/a)|
|HDI (-)||n/a (n/a) (unranked)|
|Currency|| Somaliland shilling (|
|Time zone||MSK (UTC+3)|
|- Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+3)|
|Calling code||+252 [Proposed 292]|
|Rankings may not be available because of its unrecognized de facto state status.|
Somaliland (Somali: Soomaaliland) is an unrecognized de facto sovereign state located in northwest Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In May 1991, Somaliland people declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes five of the eighteen administrative regions of Somalia with a newly-created region called Saaxil. The area encompasses roughly the former British Somaliland protectorate, an area of about 137,600 square kilometres (53,128 sq mi), which was briefly an independent country in 1960. It is bordered by Ethiopia, Djibouti, Gulf of Aden, and the autonomous region Puntland in Somalia. The capital of Somaliland is Hargeisa.
 Prehistoric Somaliland
The region that today encompasses Somaliland was home to the earliest civilization that roamed this modern day country. Unlike Somaliland, these people weren't Muslims because Islam was first brought to the region in the 17th century therefore making it a Prehistoric era in which these people prospered.
The only great masterpiece that these ancient civilization produced is thought to be the most significant Neolithic cave paintings in the Horn of Africa and the African continent in general - The Laas Geel rock paintings. These cave paintings are located in a site outside the capital Hargeisa. These paintings were untouched and intact for nearly 10,000 years until it was discovered recently. The paintings show these indigenous people worshiping cattle. There are also paintings of giraffes, domesticated canines and wild antelopes. The paintings show the cows wearing ceremonial robes while next to them are some of these people prostrating in front of the cattle. The caves were discovered by a French archaeological team during November and December 2002. Hence, the Laas Geel cave paintings have become a major tourist attraction and a national treasure.
 Axumite Somaliland
The Kingdom of Axum encompassed modern day northern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen and western Somaliland from about the 3rd century to the 6th century or 7th century CE. Unfortunately little is known on the monarchy's impact and cultural significance, therefore there are no archaeological survey has been done in the Awdal and Wooqoyi Galbeed regions which could have proven if there were traders and settlers in the western regions of Somaliland.
 Colonial Somaliland
Somaliland was once dominated by Ethiopia and at one time the Ottoman Empire annexed the city of Zeila. However, when the empire collapsed, Egypt occupied western parts of Somaliland (hence naming it Egyptian Somaliland), the other regions being controlled by Somali sultanates and tribesmen.
During colonial times, Egyptian Somaliland was taken over by the British. The region now claimed by Somaliland was annexed and offically became the British Somaliland Protectorate. It did not join a united Somalia (the rest of which had been Italian Somaliland) until 1960. British Somaliland became independent on 26 June 1960 as the State of Somaliland, and Italian Somaliland's independence came four days later, whereupon the two entities immediately merged on 1 July 1960 as the Somali Republic.
 Second Somaliland Republic
In 1991, after the collapse of the central government in Somalia, the territory asserted its independence as the Republic of Somaliland. It regarded itself as the successor state to the briefly-independent State of Somaliland but did not receive any international diplomatic recognition.
The economic and military infrastructure left behind by Somalia have been largely destroyed by war. The people of Somaliland had rebelled against the Siad Barre dictatorship in Mogadishu which prompted a massive reaction by the government.
The late Abdirahman Mohamed Ali was the first president of Somaliland, and Mohamed Ibrahim Egal was his successor in 1993 in Borama. Egal was re-appointed in 1998 and remained in power until his death on May 3, 2002. The vice president Dahir Rayale Kahin was sworn in as president shortly afterwards, and in 2003 Kahin became the first Somaliland president to be elected in a free and fair election.
Somaliland has formed a hybrid system of governance combining traditional and western institutions. In a series of inter-clan conferences, culminating in the Borama Conference in 1993, a beel (clan or community) system of government was constructed, which consisted of an Executive, with a President, Vice President, and Council of Ministers, a bicameral Legislature, and an independent judiciary. The traditional Somali council of elders (guurti) was incorporated into the governance structure and formed the upper house, responsible for selecting a President as well as managing internal conflicts. Government became in essence a "power-sharing coalition of Somaliland's main clans", with seats in the Upper and Lower houses proportionally allocated to clans according to a predetermined formula. In 2002, after several extensions of this interim government, Somaliland finally made the transition to multi-party democracy, with district council elections contested by six parties, considered the "most peaceful in Africa for twenty years." 
The district elections also determined which parties were allowed to contest the parliamentary and presidential elections, where a party was required to demonstrate at least twenty percent of the popular vote from four out of the six regions. This important caveat ensured that parties would focus on consensus building and would not organize around ethnic lines. Subsequently, three parties were selected to submit presidential candidates: the UDUB party, Kulmiye, and the For Justice and Development. On April 14 2003, 488,543 voters participated in the presidential elections, which ran more or less smoothly. The result was a slim eighty vote controversial victory for UDUB over the Kulmiye, complicated by allegations of ballot stuffing against the incumbent UDUB. Despite calls for the Kulmiye to form a rival government, the party’s leadership did not do so, instead choosing to abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court that upheld UDUB’s victory. Despite minor demonstrations, the transition to the presidency of Dahir Riyale Kahin proceeded peacefully. This transition, combined with the fact that Kaahin was not a member of the dominant Isaaq clan, speaks volumes about the inter-clan commitment to peace-building and the rule of law. It could be, according to Steve Kibble, "the first indigenous modern African form of government." Without a doubt, the Somaliland government holds legitimacy in the eyes of its own people.
Somaliland boasts a constitution, a functional parliament and government ministries, an army, a police force, judiciary, and many of the signs of statehood, including a flag, currency, and passports. Nonetheless, it faces some significant problems to its continued survival. Like other Somali governments, it lacks a consistent taxation base and receives most of its support from private actors. Corruption remains a problem, women are virtually unrepresented in government, and there are growing concerns about voting patterns based on ethnic lines as well as the majority that UDUB has gained over both the regional councils and presidency as well as the parliament. Moreover, the large part of Somalilanders still harbor vivid memories of a predatory and extractive central state and are therefore wary of the construction of any strong central authority; this is evident in the importance placed on the role of the regional councils in dealing with local problems.
Somaliland was a British Protectorate for over 80 years during the colonial period. In 1960, it gained independence but formed a hasty union with former Italian Somaliland to create the Somali Republic. In 1969 Mohamed Siad Barre’s military coup brought Somalia’s flirtation with democracy to an end and planted the seeds of a secessionist struggle in Somaliland. This struggle culminated in a brutal three-year civil war in which 50,000 people were killed and half a million refugees fled. Between 1988 and 1991, Barre’s forces massacred civilians, laid over two million mines and reduced cities to rubble.
In 1991, the overthrow of Barre’s regime plunged Somalia into a state of anarchy from which it is yet to emerge. Somaliland, however, was quick to declare independence and, over the years, it has managed to establish itself as a model of stability, good governance and economic discipline. Rival militias have been demobilized, mines have been cleared and refugees have been repatriated. The war-ravaged infrastructure has been rebuilt and Somaliland now boasts modern airports, hospitals, ports, power plants and universities. There is a free press and the central bank manages an official currency with relatively stable exchange rates. An unarmed police force and independent judiciary maintain order.
What is most remarkable about this progress is that it has been achieved with virtually no external help. Whilst economic development has been heavily supported by Somalilanders in the Diaspora, lack of international recognition has meant that Somaliland does not qualify for bilateral aid or support from international financial institutions. This international isolation has not, however, resulted in isolationism. Lack of access to external aid has forced this country of 3.5-million people to become more self-reliant than many other African states. This self-reliance is reflected in what is perhaps the most significant of Somaliland’s achievements: its system of government.
Rather than having a Western democratic model of governance imposed on them from outside, Somaliland has managed to fuse Western-style institutions of government with its own traditional forms of social and political organization. Its bicameral parliament reflects this fusion of traditional and modern, with the senate consisting of traditional elders, and the House of Representatives consisting of elected representatives.
However, with it’s history of ‘tribalism’ and internecine fighting, the key challenge for Somaliland’s new parliament is to try and replace clan-based politics with party politics. For its first twelve years, Somaliland had no political parties but instead followed more traditional clan-based forms of political organization. Political parties were introduced during the presidential elections and it was hoped that the recent parliamentary elections would help to usher in a representative system without allowing representation to be overtly clan-based. Clearly, if clan loyalties were to take precedence over party loyalties, parliament would be seriously weakened. The traditional clan-based political system had resulted in an under representation of some clans and it was hoped that having just three parties (all non-clan-based) would reduce the extent to which clan allegiance affected the selection of candidates and the way in which people voted. A limited number of political parties would force alliances between clans to develop thereby increasing integration and pluralism between the various clans inhabiting the country.
In the traditional clan system it is the male elders who make decisions, and during the nomination process, many candidates were indeed selected by elders along clan lines. The male dominated nature of the selection process was reflected in the fact that only seven of the 246 candidates were female. There was also evidence that political parties often chose candidates based on their perceived popularity and support base. Whilst the absence of voter registration makes it hard to analyse voter patterns, it would seem from the results that there is some evidence that regional voting patterns reflect clan preferences. There is also evidence however, that alliances were sought between subgroups of different major clans across regions under the different party umbrellas. This would indicate that, although tribalism inevitably played some part in the election, it has been weakened. It will nevertheless be interesting to see how party loyalties will be negotiated against clan interests in the new parliament.
On March 1, 2006, the Welsh Assembly invited Abdirahman Mohamed Abdillahi, the speaker of the Somaliland parliament to the opening of a new Assembly building. Mr. Abdillahi said that Somaliland sees his invitation "as a mark of recognition by the National Assembly for Wales that [Somaliland has] legitimacy." The Somali community in Wales numbers 8-10,000, most of whom come from the region of Somaliland. <ref>"Somaliland: Wales Strikes Out On Its Own In Its Recognition of Somaliland", Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, 6 Mar 2005.</ref>
See also Democracy Comes of Age in Somaliland
The 6 regions of Somalia within Somaliland are:
The main cities in the Republic of Somaliland are:
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 Greenwich. It shares borders with Republic of Djibouti to the west, Federal Republic of Ethiopia to the south, Puntland to north east and Somalia to the east. Somaliland has a coastal line to the north of the country which extends 460 miles (740 km) along the Red Sea. Somaliland is slightly larger than England with an area of 137 600 km² (53 100 sq. miles).
Somaliland's climate is a mixture of rainy and dry. The northern part of the country is hilly, and in many places the altitude ranges between 900 and 2,100 metres (3,000-7,000 ft) above sea level. The Awdal, Saaxil and Wooqoyi Galbeed regions are fertile and mountains, while the Togdheer,Qaloocan, Saanag and Sool regions are mostly made of hilly, dry and in some places green terrains. The Awdal is known for its offshore islands, coral reef and mangroves.
Ten kilometers to the north of Erigavo are the remains of a juniper forest, running along the edge of the escarpment which looks down to the Gulf of Aden. The escarpment is approximately 2000 metres above sea level, where the road from Erigavo drops down to the coast. Two kilometers to the west it rises to the highest point in Somaliland and Somalia alike; At 2,416 metres high, known variously as (Somali Shimbiris or Shimbir Beris) meaning in English the abode of the birds.
Due to the fertility and greenery of some of the regions of Somaliland, wild animals (e.g. zebras) come to the area; to either breed or graze making it a grassland savannah. However, there are many animals which are native to Somaliland. The promident animals found in Somaliland are the Kudu, wild boar, Somali Wild Ass, warthogs, antelopes, the Somali sheep, wild goats and camels. Moreover, many birds and different types of fish are also found in Somaliland.
Somaliland's economy is in its developing stages, as is Somaliland itself. The Somaliland shilling, while stable, is not a currency recognized by any other government, and currently has no official exchange rate with any other currency. The country's central bank, the Bank of Somaliland, was established under the auspices of the country's constitution in 1994.
The bulk of Somaliland's exports are of livestock (whose quantity in Somaliland has been estimated at 24 million): in 1996, 3 million heads of livestock were exported to the Middle East alone. Saudi Arabia has banned imports of beef from Somaliland. Other exports include hides, skins, myrrh and frankincense.
There is considered to be "serious potential" for agriculture, most significantly cereal production and horticulture. Mining currently consists solely of quarrying, although there exist confirmed deposits of petroleum, natural gas, gypsum, lime, mica, quartz, lignite coal, lead, gold and sulphur, among others.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
There are about 3.5 million people living in Somaliland, and virtually all of all the Somalis in the country are Sunni Muslims. The official language of Somaliland is Somali (art.6 of Constitution 2001); Arabic is widely spoken and it is taught in schools and mosques around the country. English is also spoken and it is also taught in schools as well.
 Somali history
The origins of the Somalis and their time of entry into present-day Somalia has been debated, with Somalis claiming descent from Arabian families who settled on the coast 1,000 years ago, and historians tracing the origins to pre-15th century. By the 12th century, the ancestors of some of the clan familes were already established in their present territories, while others moved southward through the 19th century. The borders of Somalia were set at the end of the 19th century and a great number of Somalis were left out by the border placement, leaving them in eastern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. It is estimated that northern Somalis were the first Africans to convert to Islam, around the 10th century.
 Clan system and marriage
There are approximately 6.5 million people in Somalia and the Somalis constitute about 12% of the population of people living on the Horn of Africa. The Somali society is organized into clan families, which range from 100,000 to over one million in size. The six large Somali clans are: Darod, Isaaq, Hawiye, Dir, Digil, and Rahanweyn. There are also a number of smaller clan groups. Each of the large clan families is divided into lineage units, typically ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 members. It is possible for Somalis to know how they are related simply by giving their name and clan membership. Isaaq is the largest, but certainly not the only clan of Somaliland.
Arranged marriages are common. In the case of arranged marriages, brides are usually much younger than the grooms. Marriage to a cousin from the mother's side of the family (of a different lineage) is traditionally favored to strengthen family alliance, but this practice is not as common as earlier. Virginity is valued in women prior to marriage. In addition, divorce is legal in Somalia. Romantic marriages are becoming more common and are now the majority of marriages in Somalia. But even these choices are influenced by the partner's clan.
Except for a few communities along the southern Somali coast where Swahili (a Bantu language) and Arabic dialects are spoken, Somali nationals (including persons of non-Somali origin) speak one of several Somali dialects. Somali belongs to a set of languages called lowland Eastern Cushitic spoken by peoples living in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Kenya. Eastern Cushitic is one section of the Cushitic language family, which in turn is part of the great Afro-Asiatic stock.
Of the Somali dialects, the most widely used is Common Somali, a term applied to several subdialects, the speakers of which can understand each other easily. Common Somali is spoken in most of Somalia and in adjacent territories (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti), and is used by broadcasting stations in Somalia and in Somali-language broadcasts originating outside the country. Coastal Somali is spoken on the Banaadir Coast (from Cadale to south of Baraawe) and its immediate hinterland. Central Somali is spoken in the interriverine area, chiefly by members of the Rahanwayn clan-family. Speakers of Common and Coastal Somali can understand each other after a few weeks of close contact, speakers of Common and Central Somali only after a few months.
Facility with language is highly valued in Somali society; the capability of a suitor, a warrior, or a political or religious leader is judged in part by his verbal adroitness. In such a society, oral poetry becomes an art, and one's ability to compose verse in one or more of its several forms enhances one's status.
Speakers in political or religious assemblies and litigants in courts traditionally were expected to use poetry or poetic proverbs. Even everyday talk tended to have a terse, vivid, poetic style, characterized by carefully chosen words, condensed meaning, and alliteration.
Until the establishment of the Somali Latin script in January 1973, there were two languages of government--English and Italian. In the prerevolutionary era, English became dominant in the school system and in government, which caused some conflict between elites from northern and southern Somalia. However, the overarching issue was the development of a socioeconomic stratum based on mastery of a foreign language. The relatively small proportion of Somalis (less than 10 percent) with a grasp of such a language--preferably English--had access to government positions and the few managerial or technical jobs in modern private enterprises. Such persons became increasingly isolated from their nonliterate Somali-speaking brethren, but because the secondary schools and most government posts were in urban areas the socioeconomic and linguistic distinction was in large part a rural-urban one. To some extent, it was also a north-south distinction because those educated in the Italian system and even in Italian universities found it increasingly difficult to reach senior government levels.
Even before the 1969 revolution, Somalis had become aware of social stratification and the growing distance, based on language and literacy differences, between ordinary Somalis and those in government. The 1972 decision to designate an official Somali Latin script and require its use in government demolished the language barrier and an important obstacle to rapid literacy growth.
In the years following the institution of the Somali Latin script, Somali officials were required to learn the orthography and attempts were made to inculcate mass literacy--in 1973 among urban and rural sedentary Somalis, and in 1974-75 among nomads. Although a few texts existed in the new script before 1973, in most cases new books were prepared presenting the government's perspective on Somali history and development. Somali scholars also succeeded in developing a vocabulary to deal with a range of subjects from mathematics and physics to administration and ideology.
By the late 1970s, sufficient Somali materials were available to permit the language to be the medium of instruction at all school levels below the university. Arabic was taught to all students, beginning at the elementary level and continuing into the secondary phase. Because Italians dominated the senior faculty at the national university in the late 1970s, Italian remained in wide use. By the late 1980s, Somali was the language of instruction at the university as well.
"The official language of the Republic of Somaliland is Somali, and the second language is Arabic."(art.6 of Constitution 2001)
Almost all Somalis are Sunni Muslims; Islam is the principal faith. Though traces of pre-Islamic traditional religion exist in Somaliland (as people before Islam worshiped cows), Islam is extremely important to the Somali sense of national identity. Many of the Somali social norms come from their religion. For example, men shake hands only with men, and women shake hands with women. Many Somali women cover their heads and bodies with a hijab when they are in public. In addition, Somalis abstain from pork, gambling, and alcohol, and receiving or paying any form of interest. Muslims generally congregate on Friday afternoons for a sermon and group prayer. Accordance with these prohibitions depends on each individual's level of orthodoxy.
Nevertheless there has been Catholic missionary activity. In colonial day, British Somaliland was under the care of the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia, like the Vicariate Apostolic of the Gallas (including French Somaliland as well as its Ethiopian main territory) confided to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
 Miscellaneous topics on Somali culture and cuisine
It is considered polite for one to leave a little bit of food on a plate after finishing a meal at another's home. This tells the host that one has been given enough food. If one were to clean his or her plate that would indicate that he or she is still hungry. Most Somalis don't take this rule so seriously, but it is certainly not impolite to leave a few bits of food on one's plate. Traditionally, the main meal of the day is eaten at lunchtime and Somali people usually begin their day with a flat bread called Laxoox or La'hooh, liver, toast, cereal or porridge made of millet or cornmeal. Lunch can be a mix of rice or noodles with meat and sauce. When the Italians ruled the Horn of Africa they brought some of their cuisine to Somaliland for example Pasta Al Forno (in Somali Paasto Forno} and they also planted bananas in the south of the region. Also during Lunch they diet may consist of a traditional soup called maraq (It is also part of Yemen cuisine) made of vegetables, meat and beans and usually eaten with Flat bread or Pitta bread. Later in the day a lighter meal is served which includes beans, Ful medames, muffo (patties made of oats or corn), Hummus or a salad with more Laxoox/Injera. A minority of Somalis drink Turkish coffee which they brought from Arab countries to their homeland. Turkish tea is also drank in Somaliland, they adapted it to become on of the famous drinks in the region - the Shah Hawaash. The majority drink a traditional and cultural tea known as Shah Hawaash, it is made of cardamom (Somali Hawaash} and cinnamon barks (Somali Qoronfil).
Islam and poetry have been described as the twin pillars of Somali culture. Most Somalis are Sunni Muslims and Islam is vitally important to the Somali sense of national identity. Most Somalis don't belong to specific mosque or sect and can pray in any mosque they find. Celebrations come in the form of religious festivities, two of the most important being Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr which marks the end of the fasting month. Families get dressed up to visit one another. Money is donated to the poor. Other holidays include June 26, which celebrates the north's Independence, and July 1, which celebrates the unification of the North and South.
In a nomadic culture, where one's possessions are frequently moved, there is little reason for the plastic arts to be highly developed. Somalis embellish and decorate their woven and wooden milk jugs and their wooden headrests, and traditional dance is important, though mainly as a form of courtship among young people. Saving face is very important to Somalis, so indirectness and humor are often used in conversation. Somalis deeply value the family with the strength of family ties providing a safety net in times of need and suffering.
 Miscellaneous topics
- Cuisine of Somaliland
- Constitution of Somaliland
- Communications in Somaliland
- Transportation in Somaliland
- Military of Somaliland
- Holidays in Somaliland
- Foreign relations of Somaliland
- Banknotes of Somaliland
- Coins of Somaliland
- Postal Orders of the Somaliland Protectorate
- Bank of Somaliland
 See also
- British Somaliland
- French Somaliland
- Italian Somaliland
- Elections in Somaliland
- List of Somaliland politicians
- List of unrecognized countries
- Places That Don't Exist - BBC Four miniseries on unrecognised countries that featured Somaliland
 Sources and references
<references />1. art. 6 of Constitution (2001), "1)The official language of the Republic of Somaliland is Somali, and the second language is Arabic. 2)Other languages shall be used when necessary." http://www.somalilandforum.com/somaliland/constitution/revised_constitution_segment1.htm#C1P1GenDes
 External links
- Somaliland official website
- Somaliland Forum website
- Somaliland.Org news website (primarily Somali language; some English)
- Somaliland Times English language news website.
- Somaliland BBC Country Profile
- Hyenas killing people in Somaliland
- Map of Somaliland: Landmine Impact Survey, 2003 (885KB PDF file)
- Somaliland.net: News and commentary
- News and Discussions: News and discussions
- Postal and Monetary History of British Somaliland
- Somaliland photos at flickr.com
- United Kingdom parliamentary debate on recognition of Somaliland, February 4 2004 led by Tony Worthington
- UK parliamentary questions, 13 Dec 2005. Ian Pearson says "We believe that African countries should take a lead in any eventual recognition process."
|Regions of Somaliland||Image:Flag of Somaliland.svg|
|Awdal | Saaxil | Sanaag | Sool | Togdheer | Woqooyi Galbeed|
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