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Somalia:
Geography

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Background
Definition
Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 to allow its protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland and form the new nation of Somalia. In 1969, a coup headed by Mohamed SIAD Barre ushered in an authoritarian socialist rule that managed to impose a degree of stability in the country for a couple of decades. After the regime's collapse early in 1991, Somalia descended into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence and continues efforts to establish a constitutional democracy, including holding municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections. The regions of Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring self-declared autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998 but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides toward reconstructing a legitimate, representative government but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. A two-year peace process, led by the Government of Kenya under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed as President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the formation of an interim government, known as the Somalia Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs). The Somalia TFIs include a 275-member parliamentary body, known as the Transitional Federal Assembly (TFA), a transitional Prime Minister, Nur "Adde" Hassan HUSSEIN, and a 90-member cabinet. The TFIs are based on the Transitional Federal Charter, which outlines a five-year mandate leading to the establishment of a new Somali constitution and a transition to a representative government following national elections. While its institutions remain weak, the TFG continues to reach out to Somali stakeholders and work with international donors to help build the governance capacity of the TFIs and work towards national elections in 2009. In June 2006, a loose coalition of clerics, business leaders, and Islamic court militias known as the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) defeated powerful Mogadishu warlords and took control of the capital. The Courts continued to expand militarily throughout much of southern Somalia and threatened to overthrow the TFG in Baidoa. Ethiopian and TFG forces, concerned over links between some CIC factions and the al-Qaida East Africa network and the al-Qaida operatives responsible for the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, intervened in late December 2006, resulting in the collapse of the CIC as an organization. However, the TFG continues to face violent resistance from extremist elements, such as the al-Shabaab militia previously affiliated with the now-defunct CIC.
Location
Definition
Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, east of Ethiopia
Geographic coordinates
Definition
10 00 N, 49 00 E
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 637,657 sq km
land: 627,337 sq km
water: 10,320 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 2,340 km
border countries: Djibouti 58 km, Ethiopia 1,600 km, Kenya 682 km
Coastline
Definition
3,025 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
principally desert; northeast monsoon (December to February), moderate temperatures in north and hot in south; southwest monsoon (May to October), torrid in the north and hot in the south, irregular rainfall, hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons
Terrain
Definition
mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Shimbiris 2,416 m
Natural resources
Definition
uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas, likely oil reserves
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 1.64%
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 98.32% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
2,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
15.7 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 3.29 cu km/yr (0%/0%/100%)
per capita: 400 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; floods during rainy season
Environment - current issues
Definition
famine; use of contaminated water contributes to human health problems; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
Geography - note
Definition
strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal


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