Somalia is located on the outer edge of the Somali Peninsula, which is also known as “the Horn of Africa.” There is much about Somalia that many people don’t know. With these 50 interesting facts about Somalia, let’s explore its history, culture, people, economy, poverty, pirates and civil war.

10 Facts About Somalia Culture

Fact 1. Restaurants are popular in many cities in Somalia, however, women very rarely dined out with men until the late 1990’s.

Fact 2. While dining at home, it is customary for the women to serve the men first. After the men have finished their meals, they will sit down and eat with the children.

Fact 3. When eating, people in Somalia scoop the food from their bowl using their first three fingers. Some will roll a banana leaf and use that for scooping. Urban Somalis will use silverware while dining, but many would rather use their fingers.

Fact 4. Somali women are expected to submit to men, and fulfill their duties as daughters, mothers, and wives.

Fact 5. Somali women do not wear the Muslim veil, however, they are not allowed to socialize with men in public.

Fact 6. Nomads in Somalia consider the country’s pastureland available to all. If a family digs a water well, it is not considered the property of all. It would just belong to the family.

Fact 7. When a family has a wedding, a birth, or a circumcision, it calls for a huge celebration which involves food. The family would slaughter animals, make bread, and prepare food for guests as well as for the poor who are invited to the celebration as well.

Fact 8. The most widely recognized symbol in Somalia is the camel. This is because the camel provides meat, milk, transportation, income, and status for those who own one.

Fact 9. The main language spoken in Somalia is Somali. Some also speak Arabic, Italian, and English.

Fact 10. Educated young adults in Somalia who come from well to do families speak five languages or more.

Somalia on map with neighboring countries
Somalia on map with neighboring countries

10 Facts About the Civil War in Somalia

Fact 11. The Civil War in Somalia has been going on for over a decade.

Fact 12. The Civil War has been going on against Ethiopia, warlord-led groups, and even the United States.

Fact 13. Since the Civil War in Somalia broke out in the early 1990’s, over 500,000 people have died.

Fact 14. During the Civil War in Somalia, an American Black Hawk helicopter was shot down. The three soldiers who were on board died.

Fact 15. On March 25, 1994, the United States withdrew from Somalia and the Civil War after being there for 15 months.

Fact 16. Since the beginning of the Civil War in the early 1990’s, not one tourist visited Somalia until 2010, when a man from Canada Mike Spencer Brown arrived, shocking authorities by declaring himself a tourist. Read about his adventures journeys here.

Fact 17. Due to the Civil War, the capital of Somalia is an extremely dangerous city. It is where different clans are always battling for control.

Fact 18. The people of Somalia are suffering from famine and drought. Unfortunately, due to the fighting among the competing clans, food delivery is restricted.

Fact 19. The power struggle that has been going on is between two warring clan lords, Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamed.

Fact 20. Due to the Civil War, over 350,000 innocent civilians have died of disease and starvation because they could not get food. Due to the problem, George H.W. Bush ordered emergency airlifts of food and supplies to help the residents.

10 Facts About the Economy and People of Somalia

Fact 21. Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Fact 22. In the year 2000, residents in Somalia have been working to rebuild the cities from the destruction created during the Civil War.

Fact 23. The United States provided Somalia financial assistance, which helped improve the seaports and Mogadishu International Airport.

Fact 24. Many of the industries in Somalia were built with the help of foreign nationals.

Fact 25. The only industries that exist in Somalia are fish and meat canneries, mild processing plants, leather tanning factories, and electrical and pharmaceutical factories.

Fact 26. More than half of the residents of Somalia are self-employed. They are farmers, herders, and independent business owners.

Fact 27. Traditionally, Small clans in Somalia have men and older boys do the important work, such as tending camels and cattle. Girls and young boys tend to the sheep and goats.

Fact 28. Many men were killed during the Civil War or due to diseases, such as tuberculosis. This left it up to the women to fend for themselves.

Fact 29. Women in Somalia have shown a remarkable adaptability and talent for business. Many international organizations have helped them with their education and job training.

Fact 30. When people in Somali get married, there is not just a bond between the man and his wife, but also between the clans and the families.

10 Facts About Somalia’s History

Fact 31. On July 1, 1960, the new country of Somalia was formed.

Fact 32. In 1969, in a bid to become the dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre led a non-violent, bloodless coup.

Fact 33. Between 1977 ad 1978, Somalia invaded the Ogaden portion of Ethiopia.

Fact 34. In 1988, Ethiopia and Somalia finally signed a peace treaty.

Fact 35. In December 1992, a coalition force was launched by the U.N. and led by the United States to restore order so that food could be delivered to the starving Somali people.

Fact 36. The Battle of Mogadishu is one of the worst battles in Somalia. Eighteen American soldiers were killed and over 70 were wounded.

Fact 37. During the Battle of Mogadishu, an American pilot named Michael Durant was captured. He was freed on October 14, 1993.

Fact 38. Due to unsanitary water, hundreds of Somalians were killed during a cholera outbreak. This lead to a severe drought in Somalia.

Fact 39. In 2001, The United Nations was forced to pull staff and aid workers from the country due to the dangerous fighting and kidnappings, due to arguments about religion, government, education, and health.

Fact 40. On August 8, 2011, United States President Barack Obama announced $105 million would be given for emergency funding in the country.

5 Facts About Poverty in Somalia

Fact 41. Over 73 percent of Somalis live on less than $2 U.S. Dollars per day.

Fact 42. The 2011 famine in Southern Somalia was the first in that region in over 30 years.

Fact 43. About one in 8 children in Somalia is acutely malnourished.

Fact 44. Today, over one million people in the country are in desperate need of emergency food assistance.

Fact 45. Due to the two decades of conflict, 1.1 million Somalis are displaced in their own country.

5 Facts About Somalia Pirates

Fact 46. On April 8, 2009, Somali pirates hijacked the U.S. Maersk Alabama. The captain, Richard Phillips, offered himself as a hostage to protect his crew.

Fact 47. The U.S. Navy SEALs fatally shot three of the pirates and the fourth was taken into custody.

Fact 48. A book was written and a movie was made about the Captain’s ordeal.

Fact 49. The pirate who survived was taken to the United States, where he was sentenced to over 33 years in a U.S. federal prison.

Fact 50. The surviving pirate agreed to plead guilty, and the charge of piracy and possession of a machine gun were dropped. He plead guilty to kidnapping and hostage-taking.

Quick/fast facts about Somalia

IndependenceJuly 1, 1960
Capital CityMogadishu
2°2′N 45°21′E
Largest CityMogadishu
2°2′N 45°21′E
Land Area246,200 sq mi
Time ZoneEAT (UTC+3)
Population10,616,380 (2015 est.)
Official LanguageSomali and Arabic
National AnthemQolobaa Calankeed
BordersEthiopia, Djibouti and Kenya
GDP (estimate 2015)$3 billion
Drives on theRight
CurrencySomali shilling (SOS)
Calling Code+252
Average Life Span54.69 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.