Situated at the tip of East Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean, Somalia (637,657 km²) borders the west of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Ethnic Groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs)
Religion: Sunni Muslim (Islam)
GDP (purchasing power parity): $4.431 billion (2014 est.)
GDP per capita: $400 (2014 est.)
Political system : Transitional government
Population: 10.1 million
Density: 15.99 hab./km²
Fertility rate: 6.7
Population growth: 1.67%
Life expectancy: Women: 56.3 years – Men: 53.1 years
Languages: Somali, Arabic, English, Italian
Religions: Sunni Muslims
Human Development :
Currency: Somali shilling
Growth: not reported
GDP per capita: na
Public debt: na
Somalia is located on the Horn of Africa, a strategic position in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The highest point in Somalia is Shimbiris (2,416 m) in the north of the country.
Somalia was known to the Egyptians as the Land of Punt. Punt was famous for frankincense and myrrh.
The Chinese traded with Somalia in the tenth century.
Over a thousand years ago, Arabs from Yemen colonized the coast of the Gulf of Aden.
Somali people moved into parts of present-day Ethiopia and Kenya, opening up trade routes.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the area.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 made Somalia more accessible from the Mediterranean.
In 1875 Egypt occupied some towns on the Somali coast as well as some inland regions.
Britain colonized the north-west of Somalia in order to produce food supplies for the British in the port of Aden (Yemen). In 1887 Britain set up a Protectorate over Somaliland.
France also colonized parts of the Somali coast. The French Colony of Somaliland became a French Territory in 1946 and the country of Djibouti in 1977.
The Protectorate of Italian Somaliland, in central Somalia, was declared in 1889.
Ethiopia moved into the Ogaden region of Somalia.
In 1899 Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (the Sayyid) began a twenty-year campaign against colonial occupation.
During the Second World War, Italian troops occupied British Somaliland (1940). The following year, British troops retook the Protectorate, adding Italian Somalia and the region of Ogaden.
In 1950 Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trust Territory administered by Italy and in 1956 Italian Somaliland was granted internal autonomy as Somalia.
In 1960 the Somali Republic was formed by the Italian and British territories of Somalia.
The President of Somalia was assassinated in 1969. Muhammad Siad Barre took control of the country.
Somalia suffers from periods of drought. Somalia suffered from drought and famine in the mid 1970s.
Somali forces fought the Ogaden war in 1977-8, an unsuccessful attempt to liberate the Ogaden region from Ethiopian rule.
President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.
Northwestern Somalia, the former British Protectorate of Somaliland, declared independence in 1991.
Many people in Somalia suffered from famine in the 1990s.
A United Nations peacekeeping force was deployed in Somalia between 1992 and 1995. US marines led the multi-nation operation.
In 1998 Puntland, in northeastern Somalia, established a parliament and a regional government.
Further secessions were announced in the new century.
Many thousands of Somalis were made homeless and over a hundred people were killed along the Somali Coast when the 2004 tsunami hit coastal areas and the Somali island of Hafun. (On 26 December 2004, a quake, 8.9 on the Richter scale, occurred under the sea near Aceh in north Indonesia; this produced tsunamis causing flooding and destruction in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Somalia and Kenya on the east coast of Africa.)
In November 2008 Somali pirates seized the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned oil tanker. This was the most daring exploit to date by pirates who operate in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa.