Capital | Mogadishu
Population | 9,925,640 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 637,657 SQ KM
Official Language | Somali
Holidays | Foundation of the Somali Republic, 1 July (1960); note - 26 June (1960) in Somaliland
Currency | Shilling (SOS)
Time Zone | UTC +3
Best Time to Visit | From July to August or from January to February for the dry season.
Connecting with the Culture | Buying henna and frankincense on the streets of Mogadishu. Observing the rich culture in Hargeisa. Splashing in the reportedly shark-free waters of Gezira beach. Visiting the tannery at Brava. Journeying in the beautiful mountains from Hargeisa to Berbera. Watching herders bringing their livestock to the watering hole at Liboi. Staying right on the beach in the old Arab town of Merca. Wandering amongst the friendly people of Berbera.
Read | Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl by Janice Boddy and Virginia Lee Barnes, a first-person account of the story of a Somalian girl’s life.
Listen | to Waaberi ‘New Dawn’ by Maryam Mursal and the Waaberi ensemble—gentle singing and sounds from one of Somalia’s greatest treasures.
Watch | Black Hawk Down by Ridley Scott, an account of the flawed events surrounding a US military combat mission in Somalia.
Eat | a breakfast of fried onions and sheep liver with bread, baasto (spaghetti) or rice with sauce, or soor (porridge made of sorghum).
Drink | fresh mango or papaya juice.
In a Word | Ma nabad baa? (Greeting; literally ‘is it peace?’)
Characteristics | A large rural population; goats and camels; lively teahouses; tasty, traditional food; women with hennaed hands and feet; wide valleys; street traders; chewing khat; tropical fruit; beautiful old Arab towns; colourful robes; magnificent sunsets.
Surprises | Camel trading at the livestock market; the satin-draped green Sheik Madar’s tomb in Hargeisa; goat herds on the runway at Mogadishu airport.
NEWS ABOUT SOMALIA:
Blast by Female Suicide Bomber Kills Many in Somalia
(Video Al Jazeera)
(HN, 4/4/12) - A female suicide bomber detonated herself during a ceremony at Somalia newly reopened national theater in Mogadishu on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people, including 2 of the country’s top sports officials & wounding dozens. The dead include the president of Somalia’s Olympic committee Aden Yabarow Wiish & the president of its soccer federation Said Mohamed Nur; the wounded include the nation's planning minister. Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was also in attendance but escaped without injury. The national theater reopened for the first time in 20 years, 2 weeks ago.
Today's event featured musicians playing guitars & drums & was attended by dignitaries & VIPS on the 1st anniversary of the launch of the Somali National TV station. Since last year's al-Shabab militant offensive was rebuffed by African Union troops, a period of semi-peace has come to the nation's capital; tho intermittent suicide & roadside bomb attacks continue. FIFA President Sepp Blatter sent his condolences; as well as the Deputy Force Commander of AMISOM, Brigadier General Audace Nduwumunsi, saying, “We are united with the Somali government & stand firm together. This was a despicable crime against the Somali people but it will not stop us achieving peace in Somalia". (Read more at RaxanReeb)
Leaders gather in London for Somalia talks
(HN, 2/20/12) - Conference to focus on international response to poverty, famine, piracy and Horn of Africa nation's ongoing civil war. World leaders are meeting with members of the Somali government to co-ordinate efforts against piracy, poverty and famine, and to discuss the country's civil war. Forty countries are represented at Thursday's conference in London, and attendees include Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.