Somalia (Somal. Soomaaliya, Arabic. الصومال‎ es-Sumal), the full official name is the Federal Republic of Somalia is an East African state. As a result of the civil war and the activities of the separatists, Somalia actually ceased to exist as a state for a long time and fell apart into many parts. In 2012, the Constitutional Assembly in Mogadishu adopted an interim constitution defining Somalia as a federation. Member of the UN since September 20, 1960.


The toponym "Somalia", referring both to the state and to the peninsula of the same name, according to available estimates, goes back to the ethnonym "Somali" - the name of the main ethnic group of the country's population. The ethnonym probably comes from the Arabic and Cushitic ethnonyms.

The relief of the country is predominantly flat. In the north and in the interfluve of the Juba and Vebi-Shebeli, plateaus 500-1500 m high, composed mainly of sandstones and limestones, predominate. In depressions on the plateau - "ballehs" - rainwater accumulates, since ancient times they have served as sources of drinking water. The plateaus are separated by shallow, wide valleys (Nogal, Daror and others), along which roads and caravan routes run, linking the hinterland with the coast.

The northern edge of the plateau is dissected by deep gorges. The mountains of Warsangeli-Midzhurtina rise there (the highest point is 2406 m, Mount Surud-Ad). In the north and southeast, the Somali plateaus are bordered by lowlands. Due to the dry climate and the high water resistance of the rocks, the plateaus are waterless, which prevents the development of agriculture and the emergence of permanent settlements. Since ancient times, this area is predominantly nomadic pastoralism.

The bowels of Somalia have been poorly explored. Known deposits of gypsum (near Berbera) and common salt (Hordio and Jesira). In the interfluve of the Juba and Webi-Shebeli there are deposits of ore minerals - iron ore, as well as uranium-thorium ores in the Bur-Akaba region and uranium-vanadium ores in Mudug. Oil and gas reserves were discovered near Mogadishu in the early 1980s, and titanium ores were discovered in southern Somalia.

The climate of Somalia is dry and hot. The temperature in winter is +23…+24°C, in summer from +26 to +34°C. During the year, only 200-300 mm of precipitation falls on the main part of the territory of Somalia (up to 600 mm in the southwest).

Of the country's rivers, only the Juba and Webi-Shebeli do not dry up. In their valleys and in the interfluves, the main arrays of cultivated land are concentrated.

Almost 90% of the territory of Somalia is occupied by extensive grass-shrub semi-deserts and dry savannahs. The grass cover is dominated by perennial grasses. Among the shrubs are acacias and tamarisks, there are also many candelabra-like spurges.

Wooded areas are extremely rare. It is represented by narrow strips of gallery forests along the lower reaches of Juba and Webi Shebeli, with 20-meter ficuses, garcinias, acacias, palm trees (dum and date).

The fauna of Somalia is very diverse. In the savannas and semi-deserts, there are different types of antelopes, as well as zebras, giraffes, buffaloes and various predators - lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals. Elephants, rhinos, warthogs, and many monkeys live in the coastal thickets of river valleys. There are hippos and crocodiles in the rivers. Lots of birds, reptiles and all kinds of insects.

The coastal sea waters of Somalia are rich in fish and shrimp.


Ancient times
From the middle of the III millennium BC. e. the Egyptians sailed to the shores of northern Somalia (called by them the “country of Punt”), taking out gold, fragrant resins, wood and slaves from there. Trying to establish their dominance here, the rulers of Egypt raised the children of the local nobility at their court.

In the III century BC. e. in the north of Somalia, the Greeks and Egyptians, subjects of the Ptolemies, founded their trading posts. They were engaged, among other things, in trapping and sending elephants to Egypt.

At that time, the main population of Somalia was made up of nomadic pastoralists, but on the coast of the Gulf of Aden there were already port settlements ruled by local princes. In the 1st-2nd centuries A.D. e. the population of the coast of northern Somalia through the ports of Avalit, Malao, Opona traded with the Roman Empire, South Arabia, and India. Fragrant resins, spices, ivory, tortoise shells, slaves were exported from Somalia, while handicrafts and food products were imported.

During the heyday of the Aksumite kingdom (ancient Ethiopia, 4th-6th centuries AD), the northern part of Somalia fell under its rule, and the important port of Zeila (east of present-day Djibouti) arose.

With the decline of Aksum's influence in northern Somalia, the early state formation of the Berbers and the alliance of the Hawiya tribes arise. They included semi-sedentary pastoralists, as well as nomads.

Middle Ages
In the 12th-13th centuries, Islam spread to the territory of Somalia, although it did not completely supplant local cults.

In the XII-XVI centuries, sultanates periodically arose on the territory of modern Somalia, which quickly disintegrated.

In the XIV-XV centuries there were constant wars of the Muslim Sultanates of Somalia against the Christian Ethiopian Empire. The first mention of the ethnonym "Somali" appears in the Amharic song of the beginning of the 15th century, in honor of the victory of the Ethiopian emperor Yishak.

In 1499, Portuguese ships under the command of Vasco da Gama appeared off the coast of Somalia. The Portuguese captured the Somali cities - Mogadishu in 1499, Barowe - in 1506, Zeila - in 1517. As a result, the Portuguese subjugated the entire coast of Somalia.

However, the Egyptian Mamluks and Ottomans opposed the Portuguese, using the support of local Somalis. Ethiopia joined the fight on the side of Portugal. In 1530-1559, a bloody and devastating war was fought on the territory of Somalia between the Somalis, Mamluks and Ottomans against the Ethiopians and the Portuguese. As a result, Ethiopia won, and the Somali tribes broke up into small alliances that fought among themselves.

As a result of internecine wars, the population of Somali cities has sharply decreased. Some cities were abandoned altogether. Zeila came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. From the middle of the 17th century, the coastal cities in eastern Somalia began to subjugate the Sultanate of Oman. After the transfer of the residence of the Omani sultans to Zanzibar and the subsequent division of the sultanate into the African and Asian parts, the eastern coast of Somalia went to Zanzibar, and the northern coast to the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, many local sultanates (Rakhanvein, Mijurtini, Geledi, Tunni and others) formed in the interior of Somalia, which controlled internal trade routes and fertile lands of highlands and river valleys, not recognizing the authority of the Ottoman Empire and Zanzibar.

19th century
In the 19th century, internecine wars between sultanates and tribes became more frequent in Somalia, accompanied by the resettlement of large groups of residents, mainly to the southern regions.

At the beginning of the 19th century, various teachings of Muslim movements and sects began to spread in Somalia, periodically declaring "jihad" to their neighbors.

In 1819, one of the sects founded the theocratic state of Bardera, which began to fight against the Geledi, Tunni and Baraue sultanates. In the middle of the 19th century, Bardera was destroyed by its neighbors, but the centers of jihad remained.

In the middle of the 19th century, Zanzibar tried to strengthen its control over the cities of Somalia (in 1843 it captured Mogadishu, in 1862 - Mercu), but these attempts were not crowned with much success.

Since 1869, the ports of Somalia began to capture Egypt. However, by 1885, the Egyptians left Somalia, unable to withstand the resistance of local rulers.

In 1884-1888, Great Britain, Italy and France divided the entire coast of Somalia among themselves.

The southern part of Somalia (sultanates of Mijurtini and Obbiya) accepted the protectorate of Italy. The Germans also claimed the southern regions of Somalia, but the British did not allow this. The northern coast came under the rule of Britain, and Djibouti - to France. Some Somali tribes in the interior of the country recognized Ethiopian authority.

20th century
Since 1899, the Muslim preacher Said Mohammed Abdille Hasan has been fighting the Italians and the British for a long time under the slogans of jihad, the expulsion of foreigners and the establishment of a truly Islamic state. During the First World War, Hasan counted on the help of the Ottoman Empire and Germany. It was possible to defeat Hassan only in 1920; in independent Somalia, he was considered a national hero; the country's military academy was named after him.

In the 1920s, the Italian colonialists began to develop a European-style plantation farming system in Somalia. The fascist government of Mussolini allocated substantial financial subsidies for this, and also organized the construction of roads and irrigation facilities in Somalia. The Fascist authorities in Italy also encouraged the resettlement of Italian peasants in Somalia.

In the same period, the British colonialists in their part of Somalia were mainly engaged in the construction of roads, the improvement of ports and the export of skins (mainly goats).

During the Second World War, Somalia was united first under the Italian flag, then under the British. The further fate of the colony caused great controversy at the international level, and in the end it was decided to grant her independence after a long transition period.

period of independence
Somalia gained independence in 1960. It was then that the two former colonies formally united - Italian Somalia and British Somalia (Somaliland). Aden Abdullah Osman Daar became the first president. In September 1960, the USSR established diplomatic relations with Somalia. Six months later, an official state delegation went to Somalia. In 1961, Somali Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali Shermark visited the Soviet Union as part of a small delegation. During the visit, an agreement on economic and technical cooperation was signed. The agreement provided for the provision by the Soviet Union of assistance in the development of agriculture and the food industry; construction of a reservoir, a seaport; conducting geological prospecting for tin and lead; drilling wells for water.

In December 1961, in northern Somalia, a group of officers attempted to raise an uprising against the central government and restore the independence of the state of Somaliland. However, this uprising was crushed in a matter of hours.

From 1963 to 1967, Somalia supported the Somali insurgency in Kenya.

Somali Democratic Republic
In 1969, as a result of a military coup, General Mohamed Siad Barre came to power, declaring a course towards building socialism with Islamic specifics. In 1970-1977, Somalia received significant Soviet military and economic assistance, and the Soviet fleet received a base in Berbera at its disposal. The number of Soviet specialists working in the country by the mid-1970s was estimated at several thousand, and during the famine, after the severe drought of 1974, even greater casualties were avoided only thanks to the actions of Soviet pilots who transported part of the nomadic population from the affected areas.

After gaining independence, Somalia made territorial claims to neighboring countries and territories - Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti (then the Territories of Afar and Issa) and encouraged the irredentist aspirations of local Somali communities. Mohamed Siad Barre in 1977 unexpectedly attacked the second Soviet ally in the Horn of Africa - Ethiopia, deciding to take advantage of the neighbor's difficulties, pursuing a policy of creating a Greater Somalia and aiming to seize the Ogaden region, captured by Ethiopia at the beginning of the 20th century and inhabited by Somali tribes. Since pro-Soviet governments had settled in both countries by that time, the USSR was forced to choose a side of the conflict, and the Ethiopian leadership seemed more reliable. As a result of the war, the Ethiopian army, using massive deliveries of Soviet weapons and Cuban volunteers, defeated the aggressor. In 1978, an attempted coup by pro-Soviet army officers took place in Somalia, and Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, from 2004 to 2008, the formal head of state, also took part in it.

The period after the Ogaden War was marked by a general crisis in the economic and political spheres. In the 1980s, civil war broke out in the north of the country, and as a result of the ongoing crisis, President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, and the country plunged into chaos. At least 60,000 people fled to Yemen alone.

period of chaos
Somalia as a state actually ceased to exist, having lost all the attributes of a single statehood and disintegrated into many shreds controlled by warring warlords. The northern part of the country declared its independence as the Republic of Somaliland and remains relatively stable. Some sources tend to assess the current situation in the country as anarchy.

In 1991-1992, as a result of the collapse of all social structures, a severe famine broke out in Somalia, which claimed the lives of 300 thousand people. In December 1992, as part of Operation Restore Hope, UN peacekeeping forces were brought into the country to protect workers from organizations distributing humanitarian aid from the actions of local warlords. The operation was successful, but the UN forces allowed themselves to be drawn into the internal Somali conflict and began to be attacked by militants of one of the contenders for the presidency of the country, field commander Mohammed Aidid. After several skirmishes between peacekeepers and militants, and as the conflict escalated, on October 3, 1993, 18 American soldiers were killed in action and two helicopters were shot down (Battle of Mogadishu (1993)). In the United States, these events were perceived by the public as a sign that America was being drawn into the Somali civil war, which forced President Clinton to withdraw American troops from Somalia. In March 1995, UN units from other countries also left the country. After the death of Aidid in 1996, the role of leader passed to his son Hussein Farah Aidid, but his faction never again played a serious role in the life of the country.

The conflict went into a latent stage, fighting occurred only for economic reasons, such as the division of income from the arms market or control over the export of resources. Somalia has become a base for pirates in the Indian Ocean. The seizure of ships and hostages became a frequent occurrence. Pirates use boats, weapons - machine guns and grenade launchers.

In 2000, an attempt was made to unify the country, when representatives of the field commanders, having gathered in the city of Arta in Djibouti, elected Abdul-Kassim Salat Hassan, a graduate of a Soviet university, as president. However, the field commanders, who had the support of Ethiopia, refused to obey him. In 2004, Ethiopia lobbied for the creation of an alternative interim government led by Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Following the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government in 2004, the Transitional Parliament held its first meeting in Baidoa in early 2006. At that time, the TFG controlled almost all territories, including the southern “microzones”. By May 2006, a factional struggle had begun in southern Somalia, much greater than in the last ten years. The Islamic Courts Union faced an allied TFG confederation, the Transitional Government was supported by the UN, the African Union and the United States.

In the spring of 2006, Mogadishu became the scene of fighting between Islamists from the Islamic Courts Union and warlords from the Counter-Terrorism Alliance for the Restoration of Peace. On June 5, 2006, the Islamic Courts Union took full control of the capital. The decisive role in this was played by the formations of the field commander "Indaad". On September 24, the Islamic Courts Union took control of the strategic port of Kismayo without a fight.

A few months later, the Islamic Courts Union already controlled seven of the ten regions in southern Somalia, including Mogadishu. They called it a period of "unprecedented stability" and "tremendous success in the fight against crime". The removal of roadblocks, the clearance of debris, the opening of air and sea ports, and the emphasis on a broader judicial system have resulted in increased security and freedom. The established regime received widespread support (95%), marking the first time since the breakup of Somalia in 1991 that ordinary citizens can safely walk the streets of Mogadishu. In response to the expansion of SIS influence, Ethiopia increased its military presence in Baidoa and partly in Bakul and Gedo in support of the vulnerable TFG. The SIS strongly objected and insisted that all foreign troops must leave the country. Further negotiations facilitated dialogue between the TFG and SIS, but they failed in the second half of 2006. Thus, SIS and Ethiopia mobilized their troops. A UN report published in November 2006 expressed concern about the uncontrolled flow of weapons into the country, which involved dozens of states that violated the embargo on supplies. At the same time, there were fears that Somalia could become the scene of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The presence of foreign fighters in the SIS was a source of concern in the West. US policy towards Somalia has taken on a definite character. US officials have argued that the leadership of the SIS is under the control of al-Qaeda, and this will be seen as a reason for the US to support Ethiopia's actions.

At the end of 2006, Ethiopia intervened in the conflict on the side of the warlords. The main Ethiopian military operation unfolded on December 24, during which the SIS suffered a crushing defeat. Ethiopia defeated the military formations of the Union of Islamic Courts and installed the government of Yusuf Ahmed in Mogadishu. Seizing the opportunity, Ethiopia and the TFG announced a peace conference in the last days of 2006, while occupying Mogadishu and other key sites at the same time. The winning side called on the international community to immediately deploy African Union (AU) forces to support the TFG, as armed criminals began to appear on the streets of Mogadishu again, and as a result, Islamist leaders promised to start an asymmetric war against Ethiopia and the transitional government in particular. Despite the intervention of Ethiopia, the situation remained tense, Ahmed's administration did not control most of the country. On December 29, 2008, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigned. On January 25, 2009, Ethiopia completed the withdrawal of its troops from Somalia. Formations of the Islamic group "al-Shabaab" took control of most of the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu.

On January 31, 2009, at a meeting of the Somali Parliament in Djibouti, the leader of the moderate Islamists, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected President of Somalia. On April 18, 2009, the Somali Parliament adopted a decision on the introduction of Sharia law in the country. The adoption of this law in the parliament was expected from March 10, when the cabinet of ministers of the new president of the country, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, voted for this decision. Experts assumed that this move by Ahmed would undermine the position of the militants, who were hiding behind the ideas of Islam. In addition, it was expected that this would attract the approval of potential sponsors in the wealthy countries of the Persian Gulf.

However, despite these measures, al-Shabaab maintained their dominant position in Somalia. Sharif Ahmed's government controlled only a few square kilometers of the capital, largely thanks to an inter-African peacekeeping force made up mostly of Ugandans and Burundians. This part of the capital is still constantly shelled by Islamist rebels. Al-Shabaab Islamists have introduced Sharia law in the territories they control. The public chopping off of the hands of Somalis accused of theft has become commonplace. The rebels finance their activities partly through smuggling along the border with Kenya, and partly through the support of sympathetic traders and small businesses. International observers suspect the possibility of contacts between al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda.

On October 31, 2010, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who has dual Somali-American citizenship, became Prime Minister of Somalia.

Against the backdrop of a conflict between President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, on July 28, 2011, Abdiweli Mohammed Ali, a graduate of the Harvard Economics Department, was appointed the new Prime Minister of Somalia. He set the task of forming a new cabinet from among the Western-educated Somalis, urging them to return to their homeland to rebuild the country after decades of civil war and civil strife. Thus, an English teacher from London, Mohammed Ibrahim, was appointed to the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somalia.

According to the UN, due to the famine in Somalia in 2010-2012, about 260 thousand people died, and half of them were children under the age of five (the number of victims exceeded the 1992 figure, when 220 thousand people died of starvation).

Since 2012, the federal government has been consistently negotiating, as a result of which autonomous entities controlled or allied to the federal government are gradually being formalized.