Somalia Facts: 50 Interesting Facts About Somalia

Last updated on December 15th, 2018

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Map of Somalia

10 Facts about the Civil War in Somalia

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Flag of Somalia

Flag of Somalia
Flag of Somalia. Image credit – CIA

10 Facts about Somalia’s history

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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