The relatively extensive social protection system that
was sought to build up in the 1970s in Somalia was severely
undermined in the 1980s due to lack of funding to finally
collapse in total in 1991. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of SOM and acronym for Somalia. Since then, in principle, only
the healthcare offered as a disaster relief or by
international NGOs exists. These organizations have also
occasionally stopped their activities because of the
prevailing anarchy. In the "Republic of Somaliland" (see
State and politics below), the voluntary organizations'
health care provision has been more stable, and living
conditions there and in Puntland are considered somewhat
better than in the rest of the country.
As a result of civil war and drought disasters, the
latest 2010-11, living conditions have deteriorated further.
This is especially true in rural areas, where only about 10
percent of the population has access to clean water.
Starvation and diseases such as diarrhea and malaria reap
many sacrifices, especially among children. Other common
diseases are measles, cholera and tuberculosis. In contrast,
Somalia is relatively spared from HIV/AIDS; only 1 percent
of the population aged 15-49 is estimated to be infected
At only about every third childbirth, qualified staff are
available, with high maternal mortality as a result.
Civil war and drought have also forced millions of people
to leave their homes at some point. Many have been able to
return, but others are trapped in refugee camps, either in
Somalia or in one of the neighboring countries.
The United States imposed partial military sanctions on
Somalia for its use of child soldiers. Instead, its
arbitrary aerial bombardments escalated by civilians and
supposed militia groups. Due. the serious security situation
and the risk to journalists, news of the carnage never or
rarely came out of the country.
Despite the carnage in Somalia, 20,000 refugees arrived
from Yemen during 2016. An indication that Saudi Arabia's
war on this had created a humanitarian disaster of even
greater magnitude than possible in Somalia.
In October-November 2016 elections were held for
Parliament's two chambers. Due. the security situation in
the country it could not be implemented as a normal direct
choice. Instead, the state assemblies elected the 54 members
of the House of Commons, while the 275 members of the House
of Commons were elected by an Electoral College consisting
of 14,025 people from across the country appointed by the
country's clan leaders.
Well-preserved rock paintings show that perhaps 10,000
years ago, livestock-eating people lived in today's
Somaliland. Otherwise, little is known about the country's
early history, but archaeologists are leaning towards the
fact that for many hundreds of years there was a slow
immigration of people from the southern part of the present
From the 6th century, Persians and Arabs brought Islam in
conjunction with the establishment of trading stations along
the coast, but it took several hundred years before the new
religion became firmly entrenched in larger population
From the 1300s, today's Somaliland was part of the mighty
Sultanate of Adal, which also included parts of today's
Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia. Via the town of Saylac (Zeila)
at the northern tip of Somaliland, extensive trade in
coffee, gold and slaves was made from Ethiopia to the Middle
East and Asia.
In 1548, Zeila was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire
and remained an important trading town for hundreds of
years. Since the Suez Canal opened in 1869 and the European
superpowers' race across Africa gained momentum, French,
British and Italians competed on the coastal areas along the
Horn of Africa. France subjugated the northwestern part,
today's Djibouti, while Britain took Somaliland and Italy
current Somalia. However, the British did not gain full
control of Somaliland until 1920, after more than 20 years
of resistance struggle on the part of the population.
At the time of the decolonization in 1960, the former
British Somaliland was independent for five days, before the
country merged with the former Italian-controlled area and
formed the state of Somalia.
Ibrahim Egal, who had been prime minister in Somaliland
during the five days of independence, was given a post of
minister in the new Somali government. He was prime minister
from 1967 until a coup in 1969 that led General Mohamed Siad
Barre to power.
A failed war against Ethiopia in 1977–1978 (see Somalia:
Modern History) led to severe economic problems and
increased dissatisfaction with the regime. Particularly
strong was the opposition to Barre in the northwest, where
the issaaq clans felt politically past. Somalis in exile in
London in 1981 formed the opposition group Somali National
Movement (SNM) which aimed to overthrow Barre. During the
1980s, SNM carried out armed attacks on Somali targets from
bases in Ethiopia. A major uprising in 1988 was brutally
defeated by the Ethiopian army. The cities of Hargeisa and
Burao were bombed, some 40,000 people were killed and almost
400,000 fled to Ethiopia.
An independent Somaliland is proclaimed
Opposition to Barre's regime spread across the country
and in the north, SNM gradually took control of increasingly
large areas. In January 1991, Barre was ousted from power by
an alliance of armed movements, but the fighting against the
regime immediately turned into a clan war that led SNM and
other representatives of the Issaq clans to proclaim the
independent state of Somaliland on May 18, 1991.
SNM leader Abdirahman Ahmed Ali Tuur was named president,
but the world's reluctance to recognize the new state
prompted him to advocate reunification with Somalia in a
federal system, which isolated him from other leaders. He
resigned in 1993 and was replaced by the experienced Mohamed
Ibrahim Egal, who was elected by an elder council. He led
the country until his death in 2002. During his time in
power, Somaliland stabilized and the economy improved.
Despite the diplomatic isolation, Somaliland was able to
establish informal trade relations with a number of
countries and receive some assistance. The country got its
own currency and the citizens were able to obtain Somali
Egal was succeeded by Dahir Rayale Kahin, during whose
presidency general elections were held at all levels - by
the president, parliament and local assemblies - in
relatively orderly forms. Somaliland appeared to be the only
reasonably acceptable democracy in an unstable part of
Admittedly, in the 2003 election, Kahin won by just 80
votes margin over challenger Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, but he
accepted the result after first claiming that there had been
The first parliamentary elections were held in September
2005 and won by Kahin's party Udub, which received 33 seats.
Kulmiye received 28 seats and Ucid 21 (for presentation of
the parties, see Politics and Economics). After the
election, the two opposition parties formed an alliance and
were thus able to control the House of Representatives.
In the years that followed, tensions between President
Kahin and the opposition rose, including both the local
elections, which were to be held in 2007, and the
presidential elections, which were scheduled for 2008, were
postponed several times.
In the fall of 2008, Somaliland and the neighboring
Somali region of Puntland were also shaken by several
concerted suicides. In the capital, Hargeisa, attacks were
carried out against the UN Development Agency's UNDP
premises, the presidential palace and the Ethiopian
consulate. A total of at least 27 people were killed. In
Hargeisa, the registration of voters was suspended before
the municipal elections, which would instead be held at the
same time as the 2009 presidential election. The process of
establishing electoral length had major problems and the
electoral commission was accused of cheating.
The turmoil in the country escalated in 2009 since the
May Elder extended the mandate of President Kahin for
another year. The opposition claimed that this violated the
Constitution, and there was also uncertainty about the
length of the vote. The opposition tried to get the
president before the national court and threatened with an
election boycott while its supporters demonstrated in
Hargeisa. The Electoral Commission decided to postpone the
parliamentary elections indefinitely, and the President
temporarily closed the House of Representatives when the
House was to discuss a judicial process against him. Violent
protests erupted in Hargeisa, killing at least four people.
At the same time as the political crisis, the country was
hit by severe drought and in September 2009, 400,000 people
were reported to be in need of food assistance.