Somaliland has been a self-governing region of Somalia for more than two decades now, but its self proclaimed independence is not recognized by Mogadishu (capital of Somalia), the African Union, the UNO or any foreign government.

Somaliland’s history as a distinct region of Somalia dates back to the late 1800s. The territory was a Britsh protectorate until 1960 when it unified with the rest of present-day Somalia, which has been under Italian rule. The merger faced challenges early on, with many Somalilanders rejecting the centralization of power in the country’s south.

A rebel group, the Somali National Movement (SNM), emerged in Somaliland in the 1980s opposing the military junta of President Siad Barre (who seized power in 1969). In January 1991, SNM and other isurgent groups ousted Barre, whose forces had killed tens of thousands Somalilanders and destroyed much of the region’s infrastructure. SNM refused to recognize an interim government led by another militia group, and in May it declared Somaliland’s independence, with the city of Hargeisa as capital.

  • Area: 68,000 square miles
  • Border countries Ethiopia, Djibouti, Puntland (region of Somalia)
  • Coast Gulf of Aden
  • Capital Hargeisa
  • Population 4 million (estimated)
  • Major Languages Somali, Arabic, English
  • Primary Religion Islam
  • GDP (BIP) $2 billion
  • Form of Government Elected president and legislature; appointed judiciary