Country of the World Somalia

About the country Somalia, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Forming the horn of Africa on the east coast of that continent, Somalia is bounded on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the East by the Indian Ocean, and on the south by Kenya. Ethiopia juts into Somalia's belly in the west. The northwestern tip of the country abuts the newly independent nation of Djibouti. Most of Somalia is arid and harsh. Most of the population lives at subsistence level, tilling infertile soil or herding camels, goats, sheep, and other animals through the inhospitable desert. Numerous domestic grazing animals are increasing the desertification of the country.

Size: 246,201 sq. mi. (637,657 sq. km.).

Population: 3.4 million.

Who Rules: The Supreme Revolutionary Council of army and police officers was transformed in 1976 into the central committee of the Somali Socialist Revolutionary party, the country's only legal party. The 16 regions of the country are presided over by governors chosen by the central committee.

Who REALLY Rules: In 1969 a military coup engineered by Mohammed Siad Barre toppled Somali's corrupt civilian government. Since then, President Barre and the Somalian army have maintained a firm grip on the reins of government. In the early 1970's, the Marxist Barre regime allied itself with the U.S.S.R., allowing the Soviets to construct a huge naval base at Berbera in northern Somalia. However, in November, 1977, after the Soviet Union began supplying Somalia's archenemy, Ethiopia, with weaponry, President Barre ordered all Soviet and Cuban advisers out of the country and closed the Berbera naval base. A state of war erupted between Ethiopia and Somalia in 1977. In the summer and fall of that year, insurgents belonging to the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) and Somalian Army units invaded and captured Ethiopia's Ogaden region which is inhabited mostly by nomadic Somalian tribesmen. In February, 1978, Soviet--Cuban--Ethiopian forces launched a counteroffensive which drove the Somalians back toward their border. However, neither side appeared capable of winning a decisive victory, as the war degenerated into an expensive and deadly stalemate. Although Somalia has tried to get U.S. military aid, President Carter has refused to supply it, believing that the U.S. should avoid involvement in this seemingly endless conflict.

In 1976, when 10 local sheikhs opposed on religious grounds a new law which gave women equality with men in property inheritance, they were sentenced to death by firing squad. However, 90% of all the teenage girls in Somalia still suffer infibulation--an operation which stitches together the labia in order to prevent sexual intercourse.

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