Somalia Dictionary

Somalia, a land of contrasts and resilience, is a nation located in the Horn of Africa. From its diverse landscapes to its complex history, Somalia offers a fascinating tapestry of culture, geography, and heritage. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into every facet of Somalia, from its geographical features to its educational system and transportation networks.

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, and the Indian Ocean to the east. It shares a border with Kenya to the southwest. With its strategic location along major maritime routes, Somalia has long been a crossroads of trade and culture.



Somalia experiences a predominantly arid to semi-arid climate, with hot temperatures and limited rainfall. The country is divided into three main climatic regions: the coastal plains, the central plateaus, and the highlands in the north. Coastal areas have a more moderate climate due to the influence of the Indian Ocean, while inland regions are characterized by harsher conditions.


Despite its arid climate, Somalia is home to a variety of wildlife adapted to its unique environment. Common species include camels, goats, sheep, and various types of antelope. The country’s coastal areas are rich in marine life, including dolphins, turtles, and numerous fish species.

Longest Rivers

Somalia’s rivers are generally short and intermittent, flowing only during the rainy season. The longest river is the Shebelle River, which originates in the Ethiopian highlands and flows through southern Somalia before emptying into the Indian Ocean. The Juba River, also originating in Ethiopia, forms part of Somalia’s southern border with Kenya.

Highest Mountains

The highest point in Somalia is Mount Shimbiris, located in the northern part of the country, with an elevation of approximately 2,416 meters (7,927 feet). Other notable mountains include Mount Surud Cad and Mount Bahaya, both located in the northwestern region of Somalia.



Somalia has a rich archaeological heritage dating back thousands of years. The region was home to early hunter-gatherer communities, as evidenced by cave paintings and stone tools found throughout the country. Somalia’s ancient history is also intertwined with the civilizations of the Horn of Africa, including the Kingdom of Punt and the Land of Ancient Egyptians.

Ancient Civilizations

The Somali Peninsula has been inhabited by various indigenous peoples, including the Cushitic-speaking populations. The region saw the rise of powerful city-states and trading hubs along the coast, such as Zeila and Mogadishu, which played a crucial role in East African trade networks.

Colonialism and Independence

Somalia was colonized by European powers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the northern part of the country falling under British rule and the southern part under Italian control. After gaining independence in 1960, the two regions unified to form the Somali Republic. However, internal tensions and political instability plagued the newly formed nation.

Civil War and Conflict

Somalia descended into chaos and violence following the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, leading to a protracted civil war and the collapse of central authority. The country became a battleground for warring factions and clan-based militias, resulting in widespread humanitarian crises and displacement.


Somalia has a population of approximately 15 million people, with a diverse range of ethnic groups and clans. The majority of Somalis are ethnic Somalis, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims. The official languages are Somali and Arabic, although English and Italian are also spoken in some regions.

Administrative Divisions

Somalia is divided into six federal member states, each with its own regional government and administrative structure. Here are the administrative divisions along with their respective populations:

  1. Jubaland – Population: 2.4 million
  2. Puntland – Population: 3.5 million
  3. South West State – Population: 2.8 million
  4. Galmudug – Population: 2.1 million
  5. Hirshabelle – Population: 2.2 million
  6. Somaliland – Population: 4.5 million

10 Largest Cities by Population

The largest cities in Somalia by population are:

  1. Mogadishu – Population: 2.1 million
  2. Hargeisa – Population: 1.2 million
  3. Bosaso – Population: 900,000
  4. Galkayo – Population: 700,000
  5. Berbera – Population: 500,000
  6. Kismayo – Population: 400,000
  7. Burao – Population: 300,000
  8. Beledweyne – Population: 250,000
  9. Garowe – Population: 200,000
  10. Baidoa – Population: 150,000

Education Systems

Education in Somalia faces numerous challenges due to decades of conflict and instability. While primary education is officially free and compulsory, access to quality education remains limited, particularly in rural areas. The Somali National University, located in Mogadishu, is the country’s main institution of higher education.



Somalia has several airports, with Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu being the largest and busiest. Other major airports include Hargeisa International Airport, Bosaso Airport, and Garowe Airport.

Maritime Transportation

The country’s major ports include the Port of Mogadishu, which serves as the primary gateway for maritime trade, and the Port of Berbera in Somaliland. Other significant ports include the Port of Bosaso and the Port of Kismayo.

Country Facts

  • Population: 15 million
  • Capital: Mogadishu
  • Languages: Somali, Arabic (official); English, Italian
  • Religion: Sunni Islam
  • Race: Ethnic Somalis (majority), minority ethnic groups
  • Currency: Somali shilling (SOS)
  • ISO Country Code: SO
  • International Calling Code: +252
  • Top-Level Domain: .so