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A map of SomaliaA map of Somalia Somalia is a country located on the tip of the Horn of Africa. It consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. In the north rise the rugged Karkaar Mountains. A narrow plain, the Guban, lies between this range and the coast of the Gulf of Aden. Stretching off to the south is the high Somali Plateau, which slopes down to the Indian Ocean coast as the Mudug Plain. This is a semi-arid region crossed by dry watercourses, such as the Nugaal Valley, and grazed by nomadic herders. Still farther south, the region between the Juba and Shebeli rivers (the country's only two permanent rivers) is agricultural land. Somalia is a hot, dry country, with a desert or semi-desert climate dominating its northeastern and central regions. Some of the world’s highest average annual temperatures have been recorded in the country—maximum temperatures in Berbera on the northwestern coast regularly top 38°C (100 °F) from June to September. Thanks to the southwestern monsoon, Somalia does have some irregular rainfall.

A map of SomaliaA map of SomaliaSomali childrenSomali children


Ethnic Somalis make up about 85% of the population. They are divided into two main clans (people with the descended from a common ancestor): the Samaal and the Saab. These are, in turn, divided into "sub-clans" (extended family groups). The Samaal are mainly nomadic or semi-nomadic herders, while the Saab tend to be settled farmers. Most Somalis are Sunni Muslims.

Ever since the Somali Civil War broke out in 1991, various groups have vied for power in Somalia. With no central government established in the country until 2012, Somalia was often described as a “failed state”. Its people have nevertheless survived by livestock faming, money sent to them from Somalis who have emigrated to other parts of the world and telecommunication companies offering mobile phone and internet money transfer services.

The name "Somali" is said to come from the Somali words “soo” and “maal”, which together mean "go and milk" (Somalis have a long tradition of herding livestock).

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