History: A republic in the Horn of Africa, Somali Democratic Republic was formed by the union of the former Italian Somaliland and the British Somaliland on July 1, 1960. Somalia is essentially a pastoral country, with 80% of people depending on livestock rearing. It has 40.1 m livestock. Half the population s nomadic.

The year 1992 saw one of the worst famines in Somalia. Ravaged by civil war, the country was in a state of anarchy. Starvation threatened 50% of the population. Over 800,000 fled to Kenya. Relief efforts were hampered by battles between rival clan factions. In Jan., 1991 President Siad Barre was toppled, ending 21 years of one man rule. Somalia has been ruled by feuding warlords since the overthrow of siad Barrw.

Ali Mahdi Muhammad (United Somali Congress) became President in Aug. 1991. Interfactional fighting continued. A new coalition government under the chairmanship of Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid agreed to a UN military presence to back up relief efforts to help famine victims (estimated at 1.5 to 2m.) in Dec. ’92, leaders of two of the 14 warring factions, Ali Mahdi Muhammad and Muhammad Farah Aidid, agreed to a peace plan under the aegis of the UN.

In March, ’94, the last of the 30,000 American troops who had landed in Dec. ’92 left can troops who had landed in Dec.’92 left Somalia, closing a chapter in the costliest humanitarian venture in UN history. A peace accord was signed in June, ’94 by 19 Somali leaders, but violence continued. In July, ’96 there was heavy fighting between Gen. Aidid’s forces and the opposing alliance of self-styled interim President Ali mahdi Mohamed. Gen. Aidid died in August. Armed factions controlled different parts of the country. President Abdiqasim Salat Hassan and 245 legislators were elected in August, 2000 at a peace conference in Djibouti.

It is estimated that the war and the famine have killed at least 350,000 Somalis. UN said in Aug. ’99 that a “blackhole of anarchy’’ prevailed in Somalia.

In Somaliland, an unrecognized state, independent from Somalia since 1991, a huge majority voted in favour of independence from the rest of Somalia, in 2000. Rival militias fought for the ports of Ksmayo and Bossasso. After 1991, clan-based factional fighting reduced the country into batting fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias. Puntland, unrecognized like Somaliland, declared independence from Somalia in 1998.

Economy: Sugarcane, bananas, sorghum, maize are the main crops.

Recent Events: In July 2005, Abdulkadir Yahya Ali, a prominent peace activist, was murdered by gunmen in front of his wife in Mogadishu.

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