Hot and dry, average temperature countrywide: 27C

Seasons:There are four main seasons: Gu rains (April - June), Hagaa dry season (July - September), Deyr rains (October - November) and Jilaal dry season (December - March)
Rainfall: Most of the country receives less than 500 mm annually. Much of north and northeast Somalia receives just 50-150 mm, while some northern highlands and coastal areas receive 500 mm. The southwest receives an average of 330 - 500 mm.
Temperature: Maximum: 30C - 40C. Minimum: 20C - 30C. Colder months: December - February. Hottest months: February - April. Coastal readings are usually 5 - 10 degrees cooler than those inland.


Land Area: 637,657 sq. km
Coastline: 3,025km
Highest Peak: Shimber Berris 2,407m near the town of Erigavo
Main Towns: Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Bossaso, Kismayo, Berbera, Baidoa and Galkaio

Physiographically, Somalia is a land of limited contrast. In the north, a maritime plain parallels the Gulf of Aden coast, which is scrub-covered, semiarid, and is known locally as the Guban (scrubland). Inland from the gulf coast the plain rises to the Karkaar mountain ranges reaching eastward to the tip of the Horn of Africa. Southward the land descend to broken mountain terrain, shallow plateau valleys and usually dry watercourses known as the Ogo. The western plateau merges southward into the Haud, broad undulating terrain that provides some of the best grazing lands for Somali nomads. Southwestern Somalia is dominated by the only two permanent rivers the Jubba and the Shabelle making it a fertile agricultural region and center of the countrys largest sedentary population.


Spoken language: Somali, af-maay (Digil and Mirifle), Arabic, English, Italian.

Written language: In 1972 Somalia adopted an official orthography for the Somali language based on the Latin alphabet. Until then, Somali had been an unwritten language.


Islam is almost universally practiced in Somalia.


Overall: Estimates range from 5.4m to 6.6m
Population under the age of five: Approximately 0.92m
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): 350,000
Refugees: 451,600


The Somali people, of Cushitic descent, are a culturally, linguistically, and religiously homogenous group divided along clan lines. The five principle clans are Dir, Isaaq, Hawiye, Darod and Rahanweyn/Digil. There are minorities of Swahili/Bantu descent mostly in farming villages in the south, and heirs of Arab and other non-African migrants called Gibilad meaning white skin mostly in coastal cities like Brava, Merka, and Mogadishu.


Somalia has been without a central government since the overthrow of former president Siad Barre on 27 January 1991. Self-declared administrations have been set up in both the northwest (Somaliland) and northeast (Puntland). In August 2000, after months of negotiations between various Somali civil society groups in neighboring Arta, Djibouti, a Somali Transitional National Government was selected for an interim 3-year period, with a President, Prime Minister, and Transitional National Assembly which began work in Somalias capital Mogadishu in October 2000.


Nomadic pastoralists or semi-nomadic herders: 60 percent
Farmers, mostly in southern Somalia near the Jubba and Shabelle rivers: 20-25 percent
Town dwellers: 15-20 percent

Children 5 - 14 years of age currently working: 41.9 percent


Gross National Product per capita: US $176
Gross Domestic Product: US $4.3b
External Debt: US $2.6b
Remittances: private business estimates at approximately US $500 million per annum
Donor aid: US $115m for year 2000
Principle export: Livestock: camel, sheep, goats, and cattle. Peak livestock export season: two months prior to the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan and ending with the Hajj - approximately 5 months. Somali livestock exports currently curtailed by Gulf states livestock import ban, due to fears of Rift Valley Fever in the Horn of Africa.


Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 1996 Somalia ranked 172 out of 174 countries on the UN Development Programmes Human Development Index (HDI), thus falling into the category of Least Developed Country. Since then, Somalia has been excluded from ranking on the HDI due to lack of data.


Average life expectancy: 48 years
Doctors per 100,000 people: 0.4
Nurses per 100,000 people: 2.0

Children 1-2 years old vaccinated against ALL childhood diseases: 1.5 percent
Infant Mortality Rate: 132/1000 (UNICEF est. 1999)
Under 5 Mortality Rate: 224/1000 (UNICEF est. 1999)

1. Immediate causes: diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections including pneumonia, measles, malaria and neonatal tetanus.
2. Underlying causes: Malnutrition, anemia, unattended births, female circumcision and infibulation
3. Basic cause: Low status of women

Maternal Mortality Rate: 1600/100,000
Female Genital Mutilation: Approximately 98 percent

HIV/AIDS Awareness: Survey of women aged 15 - 49
Has heard of AIDS: 36.6 percent
Knows 3 ways to prevent HIV transmission: 2.0 percent
Correctly identified 3 misconceptions about HIV transmission: 0.0 percent
HIV/AIDS infection rates in Somalia are currently not well documented

Health Access:
Preliminary results of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) carried out by UNICEF in the Northeast Zone in November 1997 indicated that only one fifth of households reported taking their ill child to a public facility/person, while more than three quarters resorted to a private facility/person for help. About one seventh of households consulted both a public and a private source.


Preliminary results of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) by UNICEF in 1999, surveying malnutrition in children under the age of 5

Moderately undernourished: 17.2 percent
Severely undernourished: 3.5 percent

Moderately undernourished: 21.2 percent
Severely undernourished: 4.6 percent

Moderately undernourished: 14.8 percent
Severely undernourished: 2.4 percent

Moderately undernourished: 10.1 percent
Severely undernourished: 2.0 percent

Water and Sanitation

Population with access to safe drinking water: 28 percent
Population with access to safe excreta disposal: 48.5 percent


Adult literacy: 49.7 percent for men, 25.8 percent for women

Primary School Enrollment:
Overall: 13.8 percent
Males: 14.9 percent
Females: 12.1 percent

Regional Comparisons

Out of the six countries in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan) Somalia ranks:
-Lowest GNP per capita
-Lowest adult literacy rates
-Second lowest life expectancy rate (Ethiopia has lowest rate)
-Highest infant mortality rates

Aid agencies working in Somalia

There are over 100 international and local aid agencies currently working in Somalia. In the year 2000, more than US $115 million from donors was given to aid projects in Somalia. The Somali Aid Coordination Body (SACB) is the umbrella group for assistance to Somalia, and is comprised of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and donors.


Road networks - No official statistics available, but most roads have fallen into disrepair

Airports - Aerodome flight information service stations in Hargeisa, Berbera, Bossaso. Reporting stations in Boroma, Kalabeyed, Burao. Approximately 100 other airstrips, many of them little more than dirt runways. Air traffic services provided by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) through its unique Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS) program.


Telephone lines: 58,000
Public telephones: 68
Cellular mobile subscribers: 11,000
People connected to the internet: 4,500

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