Somalia is a country situated in the ÒhornÓ of East Africa. It is bordered by the Gulf of Aden in the north, the Indian Ocean on the east and southeast, Kenya in the southwest, Ethiopia in the west, and Djibouti in the northwest. Somalia is about four times the size of the State of Minnesota, or slightly smaller than Texas. The capital is Mogadishu.
Somalia's population is mostly rural. Nearly 80% of the people are pastoralists, agriculturalists, or agropastoralists. Except for a small number of Somalis who rely on fishing, the rest of the population are urban dwellers. Somalia's chief cities and towns are Mogadishu (the capital), Hargeisa, Burao, Berbera, Bossaso, Marka, Brava, Baidoa, and Kismaayo. In the past few years, civil war and famine have changed urban demographics as hundreds of thousands of displaced Somalis have poured into the cities seeking sanctuary and relief.
Ethnically and culturally, Somalia is one of the most homogeneous countries in Africa. Somalia has its minorities: there are people of Bantu descent living in farming villages in the south, and Arab enclaves in the coastal cities. A small number of Europeans, mostly Italians, live on farms in the south. But the great majority of the people are ethnic Somalis who speak dialects of the same language, Somali, and who practice the same religion, Islam. In a land of sparse rainfall, more than half the population consists of pastoralists or agropastoralists who raise camels, cattle, sheep, and goats. There are farmers, mostly in the south and northwest, and in recent years a new urban group of government workers, shopkeepers, and traders has emerged, but it is the nomadic way of life, with its love of freedom and open spaces, that is c...
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...e or the hand up to the wrist. Its application often signifies happy occasions, such as a marriage or the birth of a baby.
Somalia's economic fortunes are being driven by its deep political divisions. The northern area has declared its independence..
During 1992-1993, Somalia experienced a great famine. This famine was the result of a drought coupled with the disastrous effect that infighting among rival clan militias had on the land and the livestock in Somalia. Somalis have always relied on their land and livestock to support themselves, and so this famine was devastating to them. Consequently, over 900,000 Somalis fled to neighboring countries. Approximately 400,000 of these refugees fled to Kenya. Since that time, some of the refugees have returned to Somalia, yet the situation there is still so tenuous that many have chosen to remain in the refugee camps.
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