Somalia on the Horn of Africa is severely
affected by conflicts. During the Cold War, the
strategically located country was a chip in the game
between the United States and the Soviet Union. Since
1991, the country has lacked a functioning central
power. Clan struggles and conflicts between Islamist
groups and weak governments have, along with recurring
periods of drought, hit the civilian population hard.
The Somali government is highly dependent on external
financial and military support.
Brief profiles of Somalia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Somalia lies at the far end of the
wedge-shaped committee of eastern Africa called the Horn
of Africa. The land, which on the surface is almost one
and a half times the size of Sweden, has long coasts to
the Indian Ocean to the east and to the Gulf of Aden. In
the northwest Somalia borders Djibouti, in the west and
south to Ethiopia and Kenya. Somaliland in the northwest
declared itself as an independent state in 1991, but has
not been officially recognized by any other country.
The landscape in Somalia is mostly made up of tree,
grass or shrubbery, and in some cases semi-desert. The
coastal plain along the Aden Bay in the north, Guban, is
hot and dry. Inside the Guban, steep mountains rise,
which in the south and southwest flatten out into the
vast Haud plateau. This continues through Ogaden, the
part of neighboring Ethiopia that cuts into Somalia.
Twice Somalia has fought with Ethiopia for Ogaden (see
There are good pastures on the Haud Plateau during
the rainy season, and the livestock nomads drive their
herds, often across the border with Ethiopia. However,
during winter drought, it is difficult to find water on
Haudplatån. Most of Somalia's nomads spend that time in
more coastal areas where there are permanent water
To the south is a flat lowland. From the highlands of
Ethiopia the rivers Juba and Shabelle flow into southern
Somalia. Between them, in the rivers, lies Somalia's
most important cultivated fields. The coast towards the
Indian Ocean is bordered by large fields of sand dunes.
South of the capital Mogadishu, the dunes have begun to
migrate towards the river country.
The equator cuts through the southernmost part of
Somalia. Somalia has a tropical desert climate, which is
most pronounced in the north, with hot days and cold
nights. The temperature is lower along the sea and on
the high plateaus. The country has two economical rainy
seasons and two dry seasons.
The long rains, gu, fall from March to June; the
short rains, dayr, from October to December. Between
these rainy seasons lie two dry times: "the severe
drought" jilaal, and hagaa. In some years, the rainy
periods may be more or less absent. In the rivers, rainy
weather can cause severe flooding.
Severe drought has led to several famine disasters
(see Modern History). In the summer of 2019, at least
two million people depended on emergency aid as the
country suffered the worst drought in the area in 35
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
637,660 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 2 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti
Capital with number of inhabitants
Mogadishu just under 2.1 million (estimate 2018)
Other major cities
Hargeisa (in Somaliland), Merca, Bossasso (in
Puntland), Berbera (in Somaliland), Kismayo
Surud Ad (2408 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Mogadishu 97 mm (June), 1 mm (Jan)
Average / day
Mogadishu 28 °C (March), 25 °C (August)
Islamists go to Puntland
At least about 30 Poundland soldiers are killed or injured as fights erupt
after a car bomb attack in Puntland. According to reports, an increasing number
of al-Shabaab rebels have sought refuge, as Amisom strengthened its grip on
parts of southern Somalia.
Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan becomes Somalia's first female foreign minister
Ten new ministers are appointed, which is fewer than the previous
governments. Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan becomes the country's first female foreign
minister. The ministerial posts are distributed so that the balance between
different clans is maintained, but not all subclans are represented.
AU takes control of Kismayo
Representatives of Amisom say at the beginning of the month that control of
Kismayo has now been secured. However, the city is shaken by a series of bomb
attacks. Nearly 400 people are later arrested by the AU force in Kismayo,
suspected of supporting al-Shabaab.
Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid becomes new prime minister
Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid is appointed new Prime Minister. He has limited
political experience, and is said to have stood outside Somali clan politics.
Puntland's regional selection is postponed
At the end of the month, Puntland President Abdirahman Muhammed Mahmud
"Farole" announces that elections in the region will be postponed until January
2013, leading to street protests.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud becomes new president
University lecturer Hassan Sheikh Mohamud unexpectedly defeats Sheikh Sharif
Sheikh Ahmed in a second round of elections in the presidential election. He
wins by 190 votes to 79 for Sheikh Ahmed. Before the vote is held, the last of
the MPs will take office. Also approves the candidates rejected by the Review
Committee; In several places in Somalia, demonstrations are held in support of
the new president, who will formally take office on September 16.
35 candidates in the presidential election
35 candidates are running for president. Top candidates include incumbent
President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and former
President Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. Several candidates have lived abroad for
many years, including the academic Ahmed Ismail Samatar, who has lived in the
United States for over 30 years, and Yusuf Garaad Omar, a journalist who was
previously head of the British BBC's Somali-language broadcasts.
MEPs are rejected
20th of August
16 candidates have been rejected for accusations of war crimes. A dispute
arises as to whether they should nevertheless become MPs, as President Sheikh
Ahmed advocates. He says the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court. The
UN and the Review Committee, for their part, argue that the Court has no right
to make that decision. According to analysts, the 16 who have failed are people
who have important militia groups, and there is a risk that they will disrupt
the continuing process if they are not approved.
Corruption accusations sunk new parliament
The new Parliament for the first time, despite the fact that not all members
have been appointed yet. From several quarters, people in the group of elders
who appointed members are accused of receiving bribes from powerful businessmen
(some must have paid $ 20,000- $ 40,000 for their place).
Proposed new constitution clear
A constituent assembly of 825 members approves with a large majority a
proposal for a new constitution that stipulates, among other things, a number of
civil rights, makes Islam a state religion and Islamic law, sharia, forms the
basis for all legislation. The country's regions will also be merged into 18
states. The constitution would have been approved in a referendum but this plan
is rejected as it cannot be implemented in the al-Shabaab controlled areas of
the country. Instead, the constitution must be approved by the new parliament.
The appeal for new food assistance
Save the children appeal for new food aid to Somalia. Lack of rain and the
ongoing conflict, according to the aid organization, meant that many people
risked food shortages this year as well.
Talks start between Somalia and Somaliland governments
At the end of the month, Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his
colleague from Somaliland Ahmed Silanyo will hold talks in Dubai. This is the
first time that Somali and Somaliland representatives have met for formal talks.
The United States promises rewards in the fight against al-Shabaab
The United States promises rewards for accessing al-Shabaab's supreme leader.
The rewards range from three to seven million dollars.
Assistance on rest roads?
According to a report from the World Bank, the transitional government has
not been able to report on how it spent $ 130 million it received in support in
The government side takes control of Afgoye, Elasha Biyaha and Afmadow
The AU force, together with government forces, occupies an area northwest of
Mogadishu where the Islamists are strong, since al-Shabaab withdrew. Later,
Elasha Biyaha and Afmadow are also captured. This too happens without a fight.
According to media reports, the transitional government's forces are being
accused of gross abuses against the local population, including a number of
The EU intervenes against pirates
The EU's naval forces carry their first scare against pirate bases on the
An agreement is reached on a new parliament
In the middle of the month, representatives of the Transitional Government,
the Government of Finland and Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca meet in Garowe in Puntland
where they agree to create a new parliament with 225 members instead of today's
550 and an upper house with 54 elders. According to the plan, women will be
given 30 percent of seats in parliament and they will be appointed by
New suicide act in Mogadishu
At least 15 people were killed in a bill bomb attack at a cafe in Mogadishu
on February 9. al-Shabaab takes on the deed. The cafe is located in a district
where many government representatives are moving.
The government side takes Badhadhe
Kenyan troops and faithful transitional groups in Mogadishu conquer the city
of Badhadhe in southern Somalia from al-Shabaab.
The famine over in Somalia, but many dependent on relief
The UN considers that there is no longer hunger in Somalia. A good harvest
and massive outside help are given as an explanation. However, the situation is
still serious, the UN points out, which estimates that almost a third of the
country's residents depend on emergency aid.
Ten dead in suicide attack against Ethiopian AU base
al-Shabaab kills ten Ethiopian soldiers in a suicide attack against a
military base in Beledweyne.
Offensive starts against al-Shabaab
Towards the end of the month, the government side, with the support of the AU
force, will launch an offensive against al-Shabaab. At the same time, reports of
famine still prevailed in several parts of the country.
New dispute between the President and Parliament
A conflict over the election of a new president breaks out in the transition
parliament at the beginning of the month and leads to a hand in hand between
several members. Parliament appoints Madobe Nunow as new president, but the
president refuses to approve him without insisting that the post is still held
by Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.