Somalia

Driving Directions Somalia

SOMALIA is a republic lying on the horn of Africa’s east coast. Somalia bounded in the north by the Gulf of Aden and in the south and east by the Indian Ocean. Its neighbors are Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

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Hills and mountains, rising between 915-2,135 meters or 3,000-7,000 feet, dominate the north behind the coastal plain, while most of the southern interior comprises a dry and rugged plateau. Two rivers, the Jubba and the Shebele, enter southern Somalia from Ethiopia, and their valleys provide useful agricultural land.

The country has a hot, dry climate with lower temperatures in the northern mountains. There is a rainy season from April to June, but amounts are slight in many areas. The natural vegetation consists of tough grasses, bushes, and some trees, particularly on the mountain slopes and in the south.

However, trees are extensively cut down for fuel, which has led to environmental degradation coupled with overgrazing. Wildlife includes many of the larger African species, such as lion, elephant, giraffe, zebra, and various reptiles and snakes.

Most people live in the mountains and river valleys, and there are a few towns on the coast. The country has few natural resources, but there are copper, petroleum, iron, manganese, and marble. The main exports are live animals, meat, hides, and skins. The rivers found a few large-scale banana plantations. The civil war in the 1980s and early 1990s resulted in a massive loss of life and widespread famine.

International UN peacekeeping forces deployed, and humanitarian aid is given to avert a catastrophe, but these withdrew in 1995. The situation remains unresolved, although there has been some recovery in agriculture and food production.

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Somalia’s land consists mostly of plateau regions that rise to hills in the northern part of the country. Somalia is predominantly scrubland and desert. Only 13 percent of the land is arable, and there are few rivers or other dependable sources of freshwater. Somalia faces daunting food and water management issues that have often reached a state of crisis.

The Gulf of Aden, an inlet of the Indian Ocean, lies to the north of Somalia and separates Yemen. Because it leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden is a crucial shipping lane, particularly for petroleum vessels. The eastern coast of Somalia directly faces the Indian Ocean.

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