Somalia is a nation in eastern Africa. It is situated on the coast of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, along the projection land known as the Horn of Africa.
The region was famed in ancient times for its frankincense and myrrh, fragrant substances derived from trees. Modern Somalia came into being in 1960, with the union of the former colonies of British and Italian Somaliland. THE PEOPLE. The Somalis are thought to be descended from African and Arab peoples.
Almost all speak the Somali language and practice the Muslim religion. Somalis have ethnic ties with peoples in neighboring Djibouti and in the Eritrea and Ogaden regions of Ethiopia. In addition to Somali, the official language, Arabic and some Italian and English are also spoken. (Somalia. Helen Metz. 1992).
The majority of Somalis are nomadic or seminomadic herders of livestock, who travel long distances seeking pasture and water for their animals. About 25 percent of the population are settled farmers, who cultivate the limited areas of fertile soil. Their struggle for existence in an often inhospitable land has made the Somalis a strong and proudly independent people. (Africa Today. Raph Uwechue.
1991). THE LANDThe far northern part of Somalia consists of hills and low mountains, which reach a height of about 8,000 feet. To the south and west is aregion of low plateaus. The chief rivers are the Webi Shebeli and the Juba. The land between them is the country’s chief farming region. The southwestern part of Somalia is largely savanna, or grassland.
About 25 percent of Somalia’s total land is considered to be desert. Only about 13 percent is suitable for farming. Most of the rest is used for graze livestock. The climate is generally hot and dry. Average temperatures range from 75 to 88 degrees farinheit. Rainfall is often scarce and drought is a common occurrence.
(Africa South of the Sahara. James Bennett. 1996). THE ECONOMY. Somalia’s economy is based on livestock raising. Agriculture is second in importance.
The raising of cattle, camels, sheep, and goats is the main occupation in the north. Bananas are the most important commercial crop grown. Exports of live animals, meat, and meat products, hides and skins, and bananas are the principal source of Somalia’s income. The major food crops are corn, sorghum, rice, and beans. Somalia also grows sugarcane and is one of the world’s few producers of frankincense and myrrh, used in making incense and some perfumes.
Industry is limited. The chief manufactured products include refined sugar, canned meat and fish, and other processed foods, leather, and textiles. (Somalia. Helen Metz. 1992).
HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT. Somalia was known to the ancient Egyptians for its sweet incense. Arabs arrived from the mainland of Asia in the 10th century, settling mainly along the coast. Large-scale European colonization of the region gegan in the late 19th century. The British established themselves in the north, in what became British Somaliland. the Italians established themselves in the south, which became Italian Somaliland.
Britain gained control of Italian Somaliland in 1941, during the World War II. The region later became a trust territory of the United Nations. British Somaliland won independence on June 26, 1960. On July 1, 1960, it joined with the former territory of Italian Somililand to create the independent nation of Somalia. (Somalia. Helen Metz.