Somalia is one of the very beautiful countries in Africa. It sits on the easternmost part of the continent. Although the country is known for its persistent Civil war and violence, there are several interesting facts about Somalia that are often overshadowed.
Common Facts About Somalia
The country is officially called the “Federal Republic of Somalia,” but Somalia is more affectionately known as the “Horn of Africa.” It has a population of approximately 17 million people.
Somalia is known for its unique serene and beautiful people. It has one of the longest coastlines in mainland Africa. There are many facts about Somalia that might surprise you, especially if war is the only thing you have heard about the country.
Several countries in Africa are prone to armed conflicts and civil/social unrest. Always double check the latest situations from both your government and the local government advisories.
Historical Facts On Somalia
Civil War In Somalia
This is the most well-known and one of the very unfortunate facts about Somalia. The country has witnessed one of the longest civil wars in the history of the world.
The civil war in Somalia has gone on for over a decade. The civil war has been raging since 1991 when the dictator at the time Mohammad Siad Barre was overthrown.
Although there has been significant progress the Somali government is still shaky. The country has never had any effective central government.
Laas Geel Cave Paintings
Here’s an interesting fact about Somalia and its ancient history. It actually houses some of the oldest cave paintings on the continent. The Laas Geel complex in Somalia contains some cave paintings that are suggested to be between 5,000 to 7,000 years.
Nation Of Poet
This is a fact about Somalia that is often trivialized. Most people don’t know that Somalia has a respectable number of poets with amazing poems and pedigree.
Somalia has a generational tradition of oral storytelling and poetry. It has been passed down carefully from one generation to the next.
Most of the poetry in Somalia centers around politics, history, and philosophy. Some of the notable Somali poets include Ismail Mire Elmi, Keinan Abdi Warsame, known by his stage name (K’naan), and Abd Al-Rahman bin Abdullah among others.
Madagascar Got Its Name From Somalia
How about this for a fun fact about Somalia? The island of Madagascar actually got its name from the capital of Somalia “Mogadishu.”
Marco Polo an explorer in the 13th century confused the island of Madagascar with Mogadishu. He called the island Madagascar this was the wrong pronunciation, but it stayed. And the country was finally called Madagascar. What a way for a name to stick.
Geographical Facts About Somalia
Here’s a fun fact about Somalia, its coastline resembles the shape of the number ‘7’.
The coastline of Somalia stretches about 3,025 km. It is the country with the longest coastline in mainland Africa. Somalia has the Indian Ocean on the east while the Gulf of Aden lies towards its north.
In fact, it would have clinched the top spot for the longest coastline in all of Africa if Madagascar wasn’t situated where it is. Being an island, Madagascar has a coastline that runs through the whole of the country, that’s hard to beat.
Nevertheless, Somalia actually has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches because of its long coastline. It is a pity that the country is rather tricky for traveling.
Forest In Somalia
Who would have thought Somalia has any forest? The country is well known for its warm-to-hot climate all year round, but here is the surprising fact about Somalia, 12% of the country’s land area is covered by forest. Interestingly though, only 4% of this forest area has dense tree stands.
Somalia is known for some of its beautiful plateau sites. Lamadaya waterfalls in the northern part of Somalia are one of many beautiful places to behold in the country.
Located on the Cal Madow Mountain in the Sanaag region of the country, this is one of the rare waterfalls which gets a good amount of water flowing all year round.
Cultural Fun Facts Of Somalia
Camel Part Of The Culture
Camels play a significant role in Somali culture. This animal provides milk, and transportation, and they serve as a source of prestige to the Somali people. The camel is an extremely practical and strong animal catering to the landscape and livelihood of the locals.
That said, here’s a fun fact about animals in Somalia. Any home that owns animals, camels in particular is considered a very powerful and well-to-do family.
Eating In Somalia
The eating culture in Somalia is quite unique. Somalis use their first 3 fingers to scoop food from their bowl. While some prefer to use rolled banana leaves to scoop their food.
Somalis in the urban region prefer to use silverware for eating, although many would still use their fingers.
Banana In Somalia
Did you know? Banana is one of Somalia’s major export products, together with livestock and charcoal. The energy loaded fruit is an important ingredient in Somali culture.
In Somalia, many consider a meal incomplete without a banana. Somalis eat every meal with bananas, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is either sliced and served with the meal or accompanied as a side dish.
Languages In Somalia
Considering Somalia is not one of the ethnically diverse countries in the world it is no surprise that there are very few languages spoken in the country.
The official languages in Somalia are Somali and Arabic. However, languages like English and Italian are also spoken in some parts of the country.
Celebrations In Somalia
Ceremonies are common in Somalia, and like every other country, no celebration is complete without food.
Events such as birth, circumcision, or wedding are treated as major ceremonies in the family and many traditional Somali foods are a staple in such celebrations.
The celebrating family slaughters animals like camels, lamb, or chicken. They also make bread available, while preparing food for the poor who are invited to join in the celebration.
Simple And Fascinating Somalia Facts For Kids
Horns Of Africa
You have probably heard that Somalia is known as the Horn of Africa. It earned this name because it is the easternmost country on the continent.
If you look at the world map, the easternmost part of Africa has a horn-like shape hence the name “horns of Africa.”
Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia; it is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and the heartbeat of Somalia. The capital city houses over 2 million of the country’s population.
Mogadishu sits on the coastal Banadir region on the Indian Ocean. It has a land area of 637 square km. The city was said to have been founded all the way back in the year 350 BC.
Poor Literacy Rate
It is safe to say that the education sector in Somalia is poor. Education in Somalia is a problem as only 37% of Somalis over the age of 15 can read and write.
Here is a cool fact about Somalia though. Highly educated Somalis most times boast the ability to speak 5 languages. But that doesn’t change the fact that education is a problem in Somalia.
Leopard The National Animal
Leopard is the national animal in Somalia. These huge wild cats with unique spots on their body. This animal is not endangered or unique to Somalia as it can be found in many parts of the world, including China, India, and sub-Saharan African countries.
Somalia takes a spot as one of the poorest countries in the world, malnutrition is one of the prevalent problems in Somalia.
Here’s one not-so-popular fact about Somalia. A higher percentage of the industries in Somalia are built with help from foreign nationals.
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Other Interesting Facts About Somalia
Low Life Expectancy
Here’s one of the unfortunate Somalia facts. It is in the top 10 countries with the lowest life expectancies in the world.
The low life expectancy in the country is due to the high infant and maternal mortality rates, violence, prolonged civil war, poor sanitation, poverty, and chronic malnutrition among many factors.
Although the country’s life expectancy in the country has witnessed steady growth from 57.78 years in 2021 to 58.34 years in 2023.
Many African countries have diverse ethnic populations. But the story is rather different in Somalia. It is an ethnically homogeneous nation as over 85% of the country’s population are ethnic Somalis.
This is a rather unique fact about Somalia compared to other parts of Africa. The ethnic minorities are mainly situated in the southern part of the country.
Here is some important information about Somalia. The region is known for the Somali pirates; these pirates make international fishing and crossing cargo vessels across the Somali coastlines very difficult.
Moving cargo from eastern countries like China and India needs heavy insurance as the Somali pirates don’t mess around.
High Fertility Rate
Another piece of information about Somalia is that the country has a very high fertility rate. Only Niger and Mali have higher fertility rates than Somalia.
On average, it is estimated that one Somali woman gives birth to 6 children. This is due to reasons like the high adolescent fertility rate and the commonness of polygamous marriages.
Evidently, birth control is not a prominent measure in the country. In addition, giving birth to many children is seen as a thing of prestige in Somali culture traditionally.
Mo Farah’s Home Country
Did you know, one of the British most decorated Olympians “Mo Farah” was born in Somalia in 1983? He moved to the UK and acquired his UK citizenship in 1991.
Mo is regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners in the world. He was born in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
Here’s is Somalia fact most people don’t know. Over 50% of the Somali population are self-employed.
Most of them are herders, farmers, and independent businesspeople. When Somalis find peace, their perseverance and strong adaptability are certainly asset traits in their endeavor to set up flourishing businesses.
There are many flourishing Somali businesses in many African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda. and Tanzania.
Discovering More Facts About Somalia
These are just some of the lesser-known facts about Somalia, as the emphasis tends to be on the misfortunes the country is facing. From a majestic national animal to the beautiful coastline and deep traditions, so many interesting facts about Somali culture are waiting to be discovered. There is much more to learn about this fascinating African nation and hopefully the above is a good start!