Somalia (/səˈmɑːliə, soʊ-/ sə-MAH-lee-ə, soh-; Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Federal Republic of Somalia (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Federaalka Soomaaliya, Arabic: جمهورية الصومال الفيدرالية Jumhūrīyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl al-Fidirālīyah), is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Guardafui Channel and Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. It is separated from Soqotra by the Guardafui Channel in the northeast. Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa’s mainland, and its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. Climatically, hot conditions prevail year-round, with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall.
In terms of culture, religion, ethnicity and linguistics, it has been described as the “only” and the “most” homogeneous country in Africa. Somalia has an estimated population of around 14.3 million. Around 85% of its residents are ethnic Somalis, who have historically inhabited the northern part of the country. Ethnic minorities are largely concentrated in the southern regions. The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic, both of which belong to the Afroasiatic family.Most people in the country are Muslim, with the majority being Sunni.
In antiquity, Somalia was an important commercial centre. It is among the most probable locations of the fabled ancient Land of Punt. During the Middle Ages, several powerful Somali empires dominated the regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. In the late 19th century, through a succession of treaties with these kingdoms, the British and Italian empires gained control of parts of the coast and established the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. In the interior, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s Dervish State repelled the British Empire four times and forced it to retreat to the coastal region, before succumbing to defeat in 1920 by British airpower. The toponym Somalia was coined by the Italian explorer Luigi Robecchi Bricchetti (1855–1926). Italy acquired full control of the northeastern, central and southern parts of the area after successfully waging the so-called Campaign of the Sultanates against the ruling Majeerteen Sultanate and Sultanate of Hobyo. Italian occupation lasted until 1941, yielding to British military administration. British Somaliland would remain a protectorate, while Italian Somaliland in 1949 became a United Nations Trusteeship under Italian administration, the Trust Territory of Somaliland. In 1960, the two regions united to form the independent Somali Republic under a civilian government.
The Supreme Revolutionary Council seized power in 1969 and established the Somali Democratic Republic. Led by Mohamed Siad Barre, this government later collapsed in 1991 as the Somali Civil War broke out. Various armed factions began competing for influence in the power vacuum, particularly in the south. During this period, due to the absence of a central government, Somalia was a “failed state”, and residents returned to customary and religious law in most regions. A few autonomous regions, including the Somaliland and Puntland administrations emerged in the north. The early 2000s saw the creation of fledgling interim federal administrations. The Transitional National Government (TNG) was established in 2000, followed by the formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004, which reestablished national institutions such as the military. In 2006, the TFG, assisted by Ethiopian troops, assumed control of most of the nation’s southern conflict zones from the newly formed Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU subsequently splintered into more radical groups such as Al-Shabaab, which battled the TFG and its AMISOM allies for control of the region.
By mid-2012, the insurgents had lost most of the territory that they had seized. In 2011–2012, a political process providing benchmarks for the establishment of permanent democratic institutions was launched. Within this administrative framework a new provisional constitution was passed in August 2012, which reformed Somalia as a federation.Following the end of the TFG’s interim mandate the same month, the Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war, was formed and a period of reconstruction began in Mogadishu. Somalia has maintained an informal economy, mainly based on livestock, remittances from Somalis working abroad, and telecommunications.
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