Somalia Country Facts

By | January 21, 2024
Soomaaliya -الصومال‎ aṣ-Ṣūmāl
Capital city Mogadishu
Surface 637,661 km²
Population 11.3031.00
Road network length 2,608 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Right
License plate code SO

Somalia (Somali: Soomaaliya, Arabic: الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl), formally the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a large country in eastern Africa. The country is approximately 16 times the size of the Netherlands and has 11 million inhabitants. The capital is Mogadishu.


Somalia is the horn of Africa. The country is located on the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. The country borders Djibouti to the north, Ethiopia to the west and Kenya to the south. Across the Gulf of Aden is Yemen. The capital Mogadishu is located on the coast in the south. Somalia consists mainly of desert, and is predominantly flat in the south to mountainous along the north coast. The Shimbiris is the highest point at 2,410 meters. There are no rivers of interest in Somalia. Outside the capital Mogadishu, there are few other large places. Berbera on the north coast still has some importance.

The country is located in the tropics, but unlike other countries at this latitude, it mainly has a dry desert climate, with high temperatures all year round. The northeast and center receive very little precipitation, the northwest and southwest more, up to 600 mm. In the capital Mogadishu, temperatures range from 29-32°C year-round, with 400mm of precipitation, peaking in June.


Somalia’s exact population is unclear, with estimates ranging from 11 to 14 million. In 1950 the population was estimated at 2.3 million.  Somalis are by far the largest group with approximately 85% of the population. In addition, there are descendants of slaves from central Africa, who are mainly of Bantu descent. A relatively large part of the population was traditionally nomadic, but urbanization is increasing. The largest city is the capital Mogadishu, which has approximately 2.4 million inhabitants. Estimated populations of other places vary widely due to the lack of accurate data.

Somali and Arabic are the official languages ​​of the country. Somali has had several alphabets throughout history, the Latin alphabet has been used since the 1970s. English was previously spoken, as well as Italian.


Somalia has hardly any formal economy, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Decades of conflict have left the country underdeveloped. Estimates of the size of the economy vary, but are all small. Much of the economy is informal. About two-thirds of the population works in agriculture, mainly for their own food supply. One of the main export products is livestock. The country also has raw materials, but these are only exploited to a limited extent.


From the Middle Ages, there were relatively powerful Somali empires in the area. At the end of the 19th century, the area was colonized by the British and Italians. British Somaliland was established in the northwest in 1884. The capital of this was Hargeisa. The Italians had Somalia italiana from 1889, of which Mogadhishu was the capital. The Italian part was the largest part of present-day Somalia. It became part of Italian East Africa from 1936. In 1941 it was occupied by the British during World War II and then administered until 1949, when it became the Trustship of Somalia, under the administration of the United Nations.

In 1960, both British Somaliland and the Trust Territory of Somalia became independent, and a few days later were absorbed into the new country of Somalia. In 1969, during a coup d’état, the Somali Democratic Republic, a Marxist-Leninist military dictatorship, was established under President Siad Barre. In 1977, Somalia invaded neighboring Ethiopia in the Ogaden War, which Ethiopia won. In this war, Somalia severed ties with the Eastern Bloc, which supported Ethiopia militarily. It was an isolated country after that. In 1991, the country disintegrated during the Somali civil war, which effectively no longer had a national government. The international community intervened to a limited extent. After 2000, there were several interim governments, but efforts to reunite the country have been difficult due to the ongoing conflict.

In northern Somalia, the Somaliland region declared independence in 1991. This is not recognized internationally, but de facto this is an independent state, largely coterminous with the historic British colony of Somaliland. Somaliland has informal relations with a number of other countries.

Road Network

The road network is in a terrible condition. There is no central government that can carry out maintenance or build roads, so the road network deteriorates over time. The number of roads is extremely limited, three roads lead from Mogadishu to Nairobi, southern Ethiopia and northern Ethiopia. There is also a road parallel to the Ethiopian border to Berbera in the north, which does not extend to the border with Djibouti. Traveling by land is almost impossible due to the lack of paved roads, especially when it has been raining. The road network in Mogadishu is on a grid, but only a very limited number of roads are paved. The road from Mogadishu to Baidoa, where the transitional government resides, has been paved. The coastal road to Kismaayo and Nairobi is not paved, nor is the road from Mogadishu to the north. In the more stable north there are more paved roads, such as the road from Berbera to Garoowe. Further south this road is also paved, but not as far as Mogadishu.

There are no highways in Somalia.

Road numbering

There is no road numbering in Somalia.


Signage is non-existent in Somalia.


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