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Somalia

“Nabad miya?” “Is there peace?” Is the greeting in Somalia, the country on the Horn of Africa!

Civil war raged in Somalia for many years. Somalis are happy that the divided parties have finally signed a peace treaty. Since then, the cities have been rebuilt, children go back to school and the herdsmen are once again moving through the plains with their herds.

                       

 

Location and landscapes

Somalia is in East Africa, on the peninsula Horn of Africa. In addition to Somalia, there are also Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti on the peninsula. The easternmost protrusion of the continent looks like the horn of a rhinoceros, which is why it is also called the "Horn of Africa". Somalia borders the Indian Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Aden to the north. Djibouti and Ethiopia are in the west and Kenya in the south. The country stretches like a broad ribbon along the Horn of Africa. As a result, Somalia has the longest coastline of any African country. The country is almost twice the size of Germany, but not as densely populated. Somalia consists of different parts of the country. Northern Somalia has declared itself independent as Somaliland. Puntland, which is also in the north, as well as Galmudug have also declared themselves independent. The independence of Jubaland was also proclaimed.

The coast

Somalia has a flat coastline on the Indian Ocean of 2720 km in length. The coral reef chain of the Bajuni Islands stretches off the coast from Kismayo to Raas Kiyaambo. Cape Guardafui is the most easterly point in Africa.

                      

The Somali current, a warm ocean current to the south, runs off the coast from December to March. On the Gulf of Aden, a mountain range up to 2,000 m high extends along the coast.

The North

In the north of Somalia, the Somali highlands, which are 900–2100 meters high, extend. Here lies the highest mountain in the country, the Shimbiris with a height of 2450 m. The second highest mountain is the Bahaya with 2200 m height. The north and the center of the country are covered by the Somali desert. Overgrazing and deforestation for charcoal export have resulted in more and more of the pastureland becoming desert.

                     

The South

The south consists of flat land, the Somali desert extends here. The desert is very dry. The land is fertile only along the Schabeelle and Jubba rivers. Grains, vegetables and fruits are grown here. The baobab trees donate water for humans and animals. Umbrella acacias provide shade. It rains every now and then between April and June. If the rain doesn't come, the land will suffer from drought.

 

                          

 

The desert is spreading more and more, because forests are being cut down and dry savannas are being grazed by the herds of cattle. If there is no rain for a year, steppes turn into deserts.

The waters

In the center and in the south Somalia is crossed by the rivers Jubba and Shabeelle. Both rivers have their source in Ethiopia. The Shabeelle flows into the Jubba, but it only reaches it when there is enough rain. All other rivers, especially the Nogal in the north, do not carry water all year round.

climate

The climate of Somalia is a hot and dry monsoon climate with two rainy and two dry seasons. The great rainy season starts in April and lasts until June. It is followed by the dry season from July to September, followed by a rainy season until November. The long dry season lasts from December to March. The frequency of rain and the amount of rain change, so that droughts and floods in the river valleys occur again and again.

animals and plants

Large wild animals have become rare in Somalia. In the past crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions, antelopes and zebras were found. These animals have only survived in national parks. In the national park in Kismayu you can see the many former inhabitants of East Africa.

Primate species such as baboons and monkeys live in the forests and savannahs. The southern green monkey lives in open forests and savannas. This primate species can also be found in the vicinity of humans. They are diurnal and can be found both on the ground and in trees, where they spend the night. They live together in groups that can contain up to 50 animals and consist of several males, numerous females and their cubs. Their fur is gray-green on top, while the underside is lighter. Her hands, feet and face are black, but this is framed by light hair on the cheeks and forehead. Like all green monkeys, the males of the southern green monkey have bright blue testicles and a red penis. The southern vervet monkey can be found from Ethiopia and Somalia through Kenya and Tanzania down to South Africa.

Various species of antelope such as the hunter antelope, the lesser kudu and the billy goat live in the dry savannahs and deserts.

The hunter antelope is one of the hartebeest. Their horns can be up to 70 cm long. The animals live in groups of around 30 animals and prefer open grass plains. Like all antelope species, they feed on grasses. Between March and April it's all about the antelope kingdom, then it's mating season.

 

The little kudu belongs to the antelope species that are only native to eastern Africa. The males of the Lesser Kudu can weigh up to 100 kg - with a shoulder height of up to 1 m. The females are slightly smaller and can weigh up to 60 kg. Only the males have screw horns up to 90 cm long. The animals are gray-brown in color and have white horizontal stripes on their bodies. They prefer acacia forests and thick scrub. Their diet consists of leaves and grass.

 

The gauntlet, also known as gemsbok or oryx gazelle, is one of the antelopes that can also survive in deserts. You don't have to rely on surface water. They get water from grasses, succulents, roots and wild fruits. The male billy goats defend their territory and all females that are in their territory. Territorial fights are only carried out ritually, because in a real fight they could quickly injure themselves with their pointed horns. Gourmets are a symbol of toughness and resilience. Therefore they are immortalized in the coat of arms of Namibia.

 

The somali wild donkey is a subspecies of the African wild ass. African wild asses are native to the dry savannas of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. The animals have a shoulder height between 110 to 130 cm, with a head-trunk length of about 180 to 210 cm. Their ears become over 8 inches long. The legs are strikingly striped, which distinguishes the African donkey from the Asian donkey. The donkey lives in small herds. He protects himself against enemies with kicks on his hind legs. Wild donkeys feed on grasses, shrubs and desert plants. They are particularly active at dawn and dusk. The female gives birth to her young after a gestation period of around 12 months.

Hunter in the grasslands

There are two leopards in the coat of arms of Somalia. They used to be numerous, today there are only a few leopards left in the north of the country. Other hunters in the grasslands are the Somali deer and the black-backed jackal.


The black-backed jackal resides in short grassland as well as in damp forests or dry scrubland. Black-backed jackals live in monogamy as a couple. The black-backed jackal eats everything it can get. It hunts small mammals, sheep and young cattle, but also eats the carrion of larger predators. Large groups of up to 30 animals can quickly eat their fill on such a carrion. Black-backed jackals can also locate small rodents with their keen hearing. In the case of larger prey, the couple hunt together. One chases the victim, while the other cuts off the victim's path and attacks from an ambush. The black-backed jackals defend their territory against other jackals. It is defended particularly vigorously during the mating season and when food is scarce. The area is marked with feces and urine and serves as a border. The young often stay with their parents for up to 2 years. They help the couple feed and guard the current litter. The black-backed jackal is also a cultural follower and is often seen in the vicinity of human settlements. He can adapt very well to his surroundings.

 

The Somali wild dog is a subspecies of the African wild dog. The black and dark brown basic color is covered with brown, reddish, yellow and white spots, whereby the coat pattern is different for each animal. Since the coat has no undercoat and is coarse and short, the bare, black skin shines through in some places. Therefore, the animals appear to the layman as if they were sick. They live together in packs that are led by an alpha couple. They hunt antelopes, gazelles, impalas and warthogs in packs. The animals have no fixed territories. In Somalia, wild dogs mainly live in semi-deserts and stone deserts.

Scorpions and a large number of different venomous snakes live in the desert and rocky areas of the country.

More about the animals of the Sahel

Mogadishu

Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia. The port city is located in the south of the country on the Benadir coast to the Indian Ocean. Mogadishu used to be known as the pearl of East Africa. The city's rise began in the 10th century with the settlement of Arab traders. Many immigrants came from the Arabian Peninsula. They were wealthy and shared their wealth with the local population. A mosque was built in 1296, the Fakr-ad-Din Mosque. It is one of the oldest Islamic buildings in Africa.

                        

Mogadishu, once Somalia's largest city with millions and millions, was hit hard by the civil war. Then a devastating mass exodus began. Many streets and buildings were destroyed during the civil war. The capital of Somalia is still classified as a lawless and dangerous city. In the chaotic city, for example, you can buy clothes, fruit and fish as well as uncontrolled weapons at the Bakara market. Cautious estimates assume that around 1 million people now live in Mogadishu. Mogadishu has remained the economic center of Somalia. The city has an international airport and an important seaport.

                       

Hargeisa
Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland, which broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991. Around one million people live in Hargeisa, which is considered to be the safest city in Somalia. The city was badly damaged in the civil war, but was rebuilt after the declaration of independence. Hargeisa is more progressive and western than the state capital Mogadishu. Hargeisa is also an important business location in Somaliland and has a good infrastructure. There is also an international airport with flights to Djibouti and Dubai. There are four universities in the city. There isn't much to see in Hargeisa itself, but nearby are the Naasa Hablood hills, the Laas Geel caves, and the Sheikh and Daallo Mountains with their fascinating wildlife.

 

Peoples and languages

The population of Somalia is between about 10 and 13 million. The majority of Somalis belong to the Somali people. The name Somalia comes from the Somali people, the majority of whom inhabit the country. The Somali are also resident in the neighboring countries. They are descendants of the Kushites, the inhabitants of the former kingdom of Kush. They mixed up with Arab immigrants and took over the clan system from them.

 

Every Somali - of paternal origin - belongs to a clan. A clan, like a clan, consists of many related families. Sometimes a clan has 100,000 members. There are five large clan families and innumerable subclans in Somalia. There are always fights and acts of revenge between the clans. In addition to the Somali, there are various black African groups who are referred to by the Somali as Jarir, ie as "curly haired". They are also called Somali Bantu. In addition, there are the Swahili minorities and people of mixed origins such as the Bajuni and Brawanese. 25 percent are farmers, while the rest have settled in the urban regions of Somalia. In addition, there are actually around 1 million Somalis who have been expelled from the country since 2007.

The family

Many families live as nomads or semi-nomads. They roam the country with their goats and camels in search of water and food. The men and boys tend the camels, the girls and women the goats and other small animals. A Somali child grows up with six or more siblings. Girls grow up differently than boys. They have to help with the household and look after the younger siblings. You will be prepared for marriage early. Education is not seen as important, only a few graduate from secondary school. Child mortality is high because health care in the country is not good. Infectious diseases and malnutrition are troublesome for children. It is estimated that around 70 percent of Somalis do not have access to safe drinking water. Unfortunately, female genital mutilation is still practiced across the country.

religion

The many mosques in the country show that the population belongs to Islam.  Somalia is almost 100 percent Islamic. In doing so, the people follow the Sunni direction. Sunni Islam was made the official religion of Somalia's transitional constitution in 2004, which also applies in the autonomous Somali country. It was also determined that the people should live according to the law of the Shari'a. Islam in the country and among the nomads is more moderate and closely related to the customary law of the clans or tribes.

                      

The influence of radical Wahabi Islam, which is the state religion in Saudi Arabia, is growing in the cities. Islamization affects women and girls very differently. The Islamic jurisprudence gives them a better position than the customary law of the nomadic rural population. They are also supported by some Islamic scholars in the fight against female genital mutilation. However, in return for being veiled, women are stopped and pushed out of the public space.

languages

Somali and Arabic are official languages; Arabic, Italian and English are only used as commercial and educational languages. A few Banti speak the Bantu language Zigula, peoples on the coast speak Swahili.

Music and literature

Somalia is known as the "land of poets". The nomads have numerous fairy tales and legends to tell. The narrators know a multitude of stories, Somali authors like Nurrudin Farah have enriched the world with wonderful novels. Musically, Somalia is characterized by traditional Somali folklore. Somali music sounds similar to that in Ethiopia and Sudan. But if you listen carefully, you can see the special Somali melody styles. A well-known Somali singer was Maagol. Besides Maryam Marsal, Magool's nephew K'naan is the most famous living Somali musician. With the pop song Wavin'Flag he reached number 1 in numerous international charts.

What do nomads eat and how do they cook

Most of the time, pancakes are baked. Every now and then there is meat, millet or rice with hot butter. One often drinks yogurt with it. Vegetables are rarely eaten. Only in the markets can you find tomatoes, onions and local vegetables. There is a wide range of fruits of all kinds and fish.

Schools in Somalia

Good schools invite children to study. It costs money and requires good teachers. And Somalia lacks that. All Somalis are of good will. But there is no peace and therefore the economy is also doing badly. Unfortunately there are only a few schools because many buildings were destroyed in the long war, and most of the schools that still exist are in cities. This makes it difficult for students in rural areas to go to school. In addition, most families are unable to pay the costs for school.

Of all Somalis, only around 13 percent of boys and 7 percent of girls go to school because there is no official education system. Most boys attend Koran schools, private schools can only be afforded by the wealthy. Since there are almost only private schools or Koran schools, education is heavily influenced by Islam. Every child needs to know the names of everyone who is related to them. A child can never get to know all relatives personally, because a clan or clan sometimes consists of hundreds of thousands of members. More about schools in Africa

What do children play in Somalia

Droughts are common in Somalia. The long civil war made the situation worse. According to Unicef, every fifth child suffers from malnutrition. Children therefore have to take responsibility for their younger siblings from an early age. There is hardly any time to play. During the day they work on the dusty streets as shoe shine or do jobs for the soldiers. In the evenings, the boys kick a football that their mothers made from scraps of cloth and plastic waste. The girls play with dolls, which are also made by themselves.The girls also like to play city-country-river games or bean games.

In Special you can find more about bean games

Economy and Natural Resources

Somalia's economy has been hit by the long civil war. That is why there is hardly any industry. However, large deposits of petroleum are suspected in the soils.

Agriculture

Somalia means something like "go and milk" in the language of its inhabitants. Most of the Somali people make a living from agriculture and animal husbandry. In the north and center of the country, nomadic cattle breeding is the main practice. Sheep, goats, cattle or camels are kept. Only livestock is profitable. Somalia exports around three million sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates annually. The animals are supplied by ranchers from all over Somalia. For millennia, shepherds have adapted their way of life perfectly to the natural environment.

Sedentary livestock farming is practiced in southern Somalia, mainly in the Jubba and Shabeelle valleys and in the area between these two rivers. Most farmers grow for their own needs. The surplus is sold in the markets. In addition to subsistence farming, there are also banana plantations that were established in Italian Somaliland during the colonial era. In Somaliland there are also smaller areas with arable farming and oasis cultures. More recently, civil war and periods of drought have damaged agriculture and led to hunger. In the photo below you can see a nomad family looking for firewood.

                 

fishing

Fishing also plays a role, especially on the northeast coast. However, it is made more difficult by the fact that Thai, Spanish, Chinese and Russian fleets are illegally overfishing the waters off Somalia. Some Somali fishermen have lost their livelihoods as a result. They fight back by attacking the illegal fleets and also raiding freighters and passenger ships. The coastal waters of Somalia are among the hardest hit by piracy.

Industry

With around 10 percent of GDP, this branch of industry makes up the smallest share of the entire economy. Kismayo was a food processing center. Of the few factories in Somalia, quite a few were looted during the civil war. A Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mogadishu was temporarily converted into a refugee camp. A new facility of this type was opened in 2004, and during heavy fighting in 2007 it was looted again. Oil reserves are suspected in Somalia, especially in the northern areas. The Siad Barres government had granted concessions to various US oil companies. But the political situation made it difficult to extract these supplies. Puntland has licensed oil exploration to China, and Somaliland also began selling licenses in its territory in 2008.

Services and Commerce

There are ten telecommunications companies in Somalia. The telecommunications network is considered to be cheaper and more functional than in neighboring countries. Money transfer institutions are in steady demand as much of the Somali population depends on money transfers from relatives abroad. These transfers account for over 20 percent of the average household income. Many women work in the markets and in small businesses as domestic helpers, seamstresses or hairdressers.

Prosperity and poverty

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to statistics, 60 percent of Somalis live below the poverty line, which means that they earn the equivalent of less than US $ 2 a day. Half of Somali children are forced to work to support themselves and their families. In Somalia, child labor usually means that the children work in the parents' farm or as temporary workers. In the photo on the left you can see a Somali in Mogadishu who runs a shop with his two sons.

Already knew? Somalia is just being discovered for tourism. Some of the most beautiful beaches in Africa can be found on the Gulf of Aden. Divers can snorkel through unique coral reefs here.

Sightseeing in Somalia

There are numerous traces of the long history of Somalia all over the country. The imposing Garesa Palace, a building from the 19th century, is located in Mogadishu. A landmark of the city is the Arba-Rucun Mosque. The mosque is said to have been built in 1269. In the town of Hargeisa, the Naasa Hablood hills and the cave paintings of Laas Geel attract many visitors. The cave paintings were created between 9000 and 6000 BC. They are a testament to the millennia-old settlement of Africa. The cave painting on the right shows a cow.

You can find more sights in the afrika-junior travel guide

history

Ancient pyramidal buildings, mausoleums, and remains of ancient cities are signs that Somalia was once ruled by an ancient kingdom. Vit was probably the heart of the former trading empire of Punt. This is evidenced by the contacts with ancient Egypt, Greece, China and India. Punt was called "Myrrheland". Myrrh, spices, gold, ebony and ivory, hides and cattle were traded. The goods were so popular that the pharaoh Hateschepsut even set up an expedition to the Puntland. This expedition was based on the reliefs of the temple of Hatshepsut Deir el Bahari held.

More about the history of Somalia

Somalia today

The dry climate, the civil war and the politically insecure conditions make Somalia a country with very difficult living conditions. Most politicians engage in clan politics instead of caring about the common good. The extremists of Al-Shabaab are fighting for a godly state using terrorist means. They prevent aid deliveries to areas of hunger. Corruption is widespread. So it happens that, for example, food deliveries from the World Food Program are often not distributed to those in need, but end up in local markets because middlemen and authorities divert parts of the deliveries. Another example of the difficult life is piracy on the coasts of Somalia. Somalia is often in the headlines because of the pirates off its coast. Why? Dumping toxic waste and overfishing by foreign ships mean that Somali fishermen can no longer support their families. Since there is also no real coast guard, the fishermen have armed themselves to protect their fishing grounds. They started to hijack merchant ships and extort ransom money. There are hardly any earning opportunities in the country.

                  

Due to the long civil war, the country is considered a "state without a government". Millions of people were on the run. Countless people left behind depend on international aid. Since the end of 2011, more and more Somalis have been returning to the country. Since then Somalia has experienced a political and economic boom. In September 2012, a joint Somali government was re-elected for the first time. Somalis want to be able to make a living from their work. You need well paying jobs. Above all, the government must ensure the safety of the children, who have suffered most from the civil war. This includes building schools and improving vocational training. Artists in the country have expressed their view of the situation on street signs. The sign above, which you have put up opposite the parliament building, reads: “You there, stop it! It is enough, we need all of these people. "

 

Children's rights in Somalia

Children's rights are not doing well in present-day Somalia. First, there is the tradition of genital cutting, it prevents girls from growing up unharmed. So it is good that Muslim scholars are now also opposing the old tradition of female circumcision. They are heard by the population, and practice is slowly changing. The majority of Somali children suffer particularly from the difficult living conditions. According to Humanium, 40 percent of children are malnourished. There is only no famine because of humanitarian aid. Medical care is not good, so infant mortality is high. And the educational opportunities are very limited. Poverty and civil war prevent fundamental children's rights from being fulfilled.

 

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