The World Factbook (1990)/Somalia

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World Factbook (1990) Somalia.jpg

See regional map VII


Total area: 637,660 km²; land area: 627,340 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: 2,340 km total; Djibouti 58 km, Ethiopia 1,600 km, Kenya 682 km

Coastline: 3,025 km

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 200 nm

Disputes: southern half of boundary with Ethiopia is a Provisional Administrative Line; territorial dispute with Ethiopia over the Ogaden; possible claims to Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya based on unification of ethnic Somalis

Climate: desert; northeast monsoon (December to February), cooler southwest monsoon (May to October); irregular rainfall; hot, humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons

Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north

Natural resources: uranium, and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt

Land use: 2% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 46% meadows and pastures; 14% forest and woodland; 38% other; includes 3% irrigated

Environment: recurring droughts; frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Note: strategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal


Population: 8,424,269 (July 1990), growth rate 0.8% (1990)

Birth rate: 47 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 15 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -24 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 125 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 53 years male, 54 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 7.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Somali(s); adjective—Somali

Ethnic divisions: 85% Somali, rest mainly Bantu; 30,000 Arabs, 3,000 Europeans, 800 Asians

Religion: almost entirely Sunni Muslim

Language: Somali (official); Arabic, Italian, English

Literacy: 11.6% (government est.)

Labor force: 2,200,000; very few are skilled laborers; 70% pastoral nomad, 30% agriculture, government, trading, fishing, handicrafts, and other; 53% of population of working age (1985)

Organized labor: General Federation of Somali Trade Unions is controlled by the government


Long-form name: Somali Democratic Republic

Type: republic

Capital: Mogadishu

Administrative divisions: 16 regions (plural—NA, singular—gobolka); Bakool, Banaadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe, Jubbada Hoose. Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe, Shabeellaha Hoose, Togdheer, Woqooyi Galbeed

Independence: 1 July 1960 (from a merger of British Somaliland, which became independent from the UK on 26 June 1960, and Italian Somaliland, which became independent from the Italian-administered UN trusteeship on 1 July 1960, to form the Somali Republic)

Constitution: 25 August 1979, presidential approval 23 September 1979

National holiday: Anniversary of the Revolution, 21 October (1969)

Executive branch: president, two vice presidents, prime minister. Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral People's Assembly

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President and Commander in Chief of the Army Maj. Gen. Mohamed SIAD Barre (since 21 October 1969);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ali SAMANTAR (since 1 February 1987)

Political parties and leaders: only party—Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP), Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, general secretary

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 23 December 1986 (next to be held December 1993); results—President Siad was reelected without opposition;

People's Assembly—last held 31 December 1984 (next scheduled for December 1989 was postponed); results—SRSP is the only party; seats—(177 total, 171 elected) SRSP 171

Communists: probably some Communist sympathizers in the government hierarchy


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador ABDIKARIM Ali Omar; Chancery at Suite 710, 600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20037; telephone (202) 342-1575; there is a Somali Consulate General in New York; US—Ambassador T. Frank CRIGLER; Embassy at Corso Primo Luglio, Mogadishu (mailing address is P. O. Box 574, Mogadishu); telephone [252](01) 20811

Flag: light blue with a large white five- pointed star in the center; design based on the flag of the UN (Italian Somaliland was a UN trust territory)


Overview: One of the world's least developed countries, Somalia has few resources. In 1988 per capita GDP was $210. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, with the livestock sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and seminomads who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihoods make up about 50% of the population. Crop production generates only 10% of GDP and employs about 20% of the work force. The main export crop is bananas; sugar, sorghum, and corn are grown for the domestic market. The small industrial sector is based on the processing of agricultural products and accounts for less than 10% of GDP. At the end of 1988 serious economic problems facing the nation were the external debt of $2.8 billion and double-digit inflation.

GDP: $1.7 billion, per capita $210; real growth rate -1.4% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 81.7% (1988 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $273 million; expenditures $405 million, including capital expenditures of $219 million (1987)

Exports: $58.0 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—livestock, hides, skins, bananas, fish; partners—US 0.5%, Saudi Arabia, Italy, FRG (1986)

Imports: $354.0 million (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—textiles, petroleum products, foodstuffs, construction materials; partners—US 13%, Italy, FRG, Kenya, UK, Saudi Arabia (1986)

External debt: $2.8 billion (1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 71,000 kW capacity; 65 million kWh produced, 8 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: a few small industries, including sugar refining, textiles, petroleum refining

Agriculture: dominant sector, led by livestock raising (cattle, sheep, goats); crops—bananas, sorghum, corn, mangoes, sugarcane; not self-sufficient in food; fishing potential largely unexploited

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $618 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $2.8 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $1.1 billion; Communist countries (1970-88), $336 million

Currency: Somali shilling (plural—shillings); 1 Somali shilling (So. Sh.) = 100 centesimi

Exchange rates: Somali shillings (So. Sh.) per US$1—643.92 (December 1989), 170.45 (1988), 105.18 (1987), 72.00 (1986), 39.49 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 15,215 km total; including 2,335 km bituminous surface, 2,880 km gravel, and 10,000 km improved earth or stabilized soil (1983)

Pipelines: 15 km crude oil

Ports: Mogadishu, Berbera, Chisimayu

Merchant marine: 3 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 6,563 GRT/9,512 DWT; includes 2 cargo, 1 refrigerated cargo

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 60 total, 45 usable; 8 with permanent-surface runways; 2 with runways over 3,659 m; 5 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 20 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: minimal telephone and telegraph service; radio relay and troposcatter system centered on Mogadishu connects a few towns; 6,000 telephones; stations—2 AM, no FM, 1 TV; 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT earth station; scheduled to receive an ARABSAT station

Defense Forces

Branches: Somali National Army (including Navy, Air Force, and Air Defense Force), National Police Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 1,878,939; 1,052,644 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: NA