Somaliland; a Country that Doesn't Exist

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 27th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>General

A country that isn't recognised; without IMF / World Bank loans and UN intervention, it's working better than other 3rd World nations


Skipping a few thousand years of recorded history, we reach 1888 when the British sign a treaty with a few Sultans and establish a protectorate they named British Somaliland.

The time is significant for it was the age of Empire where every European Nation, (and the United States to a lesser extent) was carving up the World. The 'Somali' area was largely part of the Italian African Empire, and this area suited the Brits as they had a foothold across the Red Sea in the most southern part of Saudi Arabia.

The British first tossed the territory into the catchall administrative department of 'India' untill 1898 when responsibility was moved to the Foreign Office, then to the Colonial Office.

The Brits had little interest in resource poor area; there was nothing to exploit. The purpose of involvement was to "secure a supply market, check the traffic in slaves, and to exclude the interference of foreign powers."

In short, they wanted the area to prevent anyone else getting the territory.

Due to the fertility and greenery of some regions of Somaliland, as many animals come to breed and graze, such as antelope, kudu, chetah, camel, lion, wild goat, warthog sheep, wild boar, Somali Wild Ass, and warthog as well as the largest world population of caracals and many birds it was a source of meat for the British Indian outpost.

British Somaliland was briefly independent on June 26, 1960 then joined with Italian Somaliland on July 1, 1960 forming the Somali Republic.

By 1991 this section of Somalia seceded and created it's own republic, which is unrecognised.


Somaliland as it exists today, claims the entire area of the former British Somaliland although it only controls the western half of the former British Somaliland.

Northeastern Maakhir declared itself a separate state within Somalia on July 2007, and the southeastern Sool state had been under the control of Puntland another autonomous region from 2003 until 2008.

Awdal province threatened to secede if Somaliland's independence is recognised.

Tensions between Puntland and Somaliland have escalated into violence several times between 2002 and 2009. During celebrations of Puntland's 11th anniversary on 2 August 2009, Puntland officials vowed to recapture and area currently under Somaliland control.

Where Somaliland wants independent statehood Puntland desires the re-establishment of a united but federal Somali state.

Politics and Government

Going it alone, Somaliland has created a hybrid kind of government. There are elected officials but there is also a Clan system incorporated into the governance structure as the House of Elders in Parliament.

Seats in the Upper and Lower houses are proportionally allocated to clans according to a predetermined formula.

The government is headed by the executive branch, which consists of a directly-elected President, a Vice President, and a cabinet nominated by the President and approved by parliament. The President is directly elected, and Presidential elections are confirmed by the National Elections Commission.

The House of Elders shares power in passing laws with the House of Representatives, and also has the role of solving internal conflicts

The Somaliland judicial system is divided into district courts which deal with matters that would be, in a British system, dealt with by Resident Magistrates Courts

The highest court is the Somaliland Supreme Court; the divisions are virtual holdovers from the British system, and English is one of the National languages.


As Somaliland doesn't officially exist international aid donors have found it difficult to provide aid. The government relies upon tax receipts and remittances from the large Somali diaspora.

Remittances come to Somaliland through money transfer companies (locally known as hawalad), the largest of which is Dahabshiil, which is one of the few Somali companies to conform to modern money-transfer regulations.

The World Bank estimates that remittances worth approximately $US 1 billion reach Somalia annually from emigres working in the United States, Europe, and the Gulf states.

Traditional exports are beef, (and hides) myrrh, and frankincense. The piracy practiced by Somalia has actually helped as international agencies currently are protecting the key transport corridors and infrastructure, especially sea and air ports.

The Recent Conference

In February of 2012 a conference will be held in London to examine the issue of Somalia in all it's fragments.

Considering the economic problems inherent in a State that doesn't exist, the British government has made money available for traveling for a delegation.

There's a raging debate as to whether or not to attend.

Some consider it a great opportunity that for the first time in more than two decades, Somaliland will be able to present it's case to the leaders of more than 40 countries;

Somaliland's attitude is that they are a democracy, their opponents are sea pirates, warlords and former Al-shabaab allies. As having been a British territory, unlike the others who were until Italian, control their language, structures, and relationships are different and could not be combined with the other regions.


Africa, Anarchy, Clans, Somalia, Somaliland, Tribes, Xeer

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I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Buzz
29th Jan 2012 (#)

Very informative, kaylar. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar kaylar
29th Jan 2012 (#)

You're very welcome Buzz

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author avatar Robb714
30th Jan 2012 (#)

Very interesting, kaylar. Thanks for sharing and increasing my knowledge of a part of the world I know little of. Perhaps Somaliland can one day be a shining example for her neighbors and lead the way to prosperity.

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author avatar kaylar
30th Jan 2012 (#)

It is a far sight better run than Somilia

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author avatar M G Singh
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Thanks for some excellent info

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author avatar kaylar
4th Feb 2012 (#)

you're very welcome

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