20 Fascinating Facts About Somalia

20 Fascinating Facts About Somalia


1. Somalia is the easternmost country of Africa, located in what is known as the Horn of Africa.

2. The northern and eastern Somali coasts have been open to the outside world for centuries. Somalia formed part of Punt, an ancient region of Africa known as ‘the land of aromatics and incense’. It was cited in ancient Egyptian and Greek scripts.

3. Between the 7th and 19th centuries Somalia was ruled by a series of sultanates following the arrival of Islam in the 7th century.

4. Somalia was created in 1960 by an Italian colony and a former British protectorate.

5. Following the overthrow of the military regime in 1991, Somalia collapsed into anarchy and has been struggling to recover ever since.

6. In 1992 it was estimated that 350,000 Somalis had died of disease, starvation, or civil war. Reacting to news images of the famine and war, U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered emergency airlifts of food and supplies to Somalia.

7. Recently, Somalia has again been struggling with famine following a two-year drought that ended in 2017. Millions are at risk of hunger following dry rainy seasons which has led to failed crops and the death of livestock.

8. In 1993, US Army Rangers were killed when Somali militias shot down two US helicopters in Mogadishu. In the ensuing Battle of Mogadishu, hundreds of Somalis and 18 Americans died.

9. The event was depicted in the 1999 book by Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down, and a 2001 movie by Ridley Scott.

10. England’s first female Muslim football referee is from Somalia. Jawahir Roble used to live in Mogadishu but now referees football matches in northwest London.

11. In 1991, Somaliland declared unilateral independence from Somalia. Although not officially recognized, Somaliland is far more stable and open to foreign visitors.

Somaliland Map

12. Injera is a traditional bread in Somalia. The spongy flatbread is usually topped with meat and vegetable curries such as okra, chickpeas, and lentils.

13. Madagascar got its name from the Somali capital city of Mogadishu. Famous 13th-century explorer Marco Polo confused the island of Madagascar with Mogadishu and called it ‘Madageiscar’ – a corrupted transliteration of Mogadishu.

14. Somalia has a very simple flag consisting of a white star on a light blue background. The light blue was inspired by the United Nations flag as it played an intrinsic role in supporting Somalia’s move towards independence. The white star is the Somali national symbol. Each of its five points represents a Somali homeland.

15. An intrinsic part of Somali culture is the camel. Camels provide milk, transportation, income, and status for owners. Camel meat is also a delicacy in Somali cuisine.

16. At over 800kg, Somalia’s camels are the largest in Africa.

Camels Somalia


17. Throughout the 2000s pirates operated in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden regularly seizing ships and taking hostages. Piracy in the region reached its peak in 2010 when Somali pirates hijacked 49 ships and took over 1,000 hostages.

18. The 2009 highjacking of the Maersk Alabama inspired the 2013 movie, Captain Phillips.

19. Somalia is currently ranked the 2nd poorest country in the world (after Burundi) according to 2018 GDP per capita.

20. Prehistoric rock paintings dating back 5,000 years have been found in parts of Somalia, including one of the earliest known depictions of a mounted hunter.

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