SomaliaSomalia, previously known as British Somalia was colonized by the British. It gained independence as the new nation of Somalia in 1960. Nine years later, there was a coup by Mohamed SIAD Barre who established an authoritarian socialist rule characterized by persecution, jailing, and torture of political opponents and dissidents. After the regime’s collapse early 1991, Somalia went into turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. In May 1991, Northern clans declared an Independent Republic of Somalia which now includes the administrative regions of Awdai, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Even though Somalia has a lack of effective governance, Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based on livestock, remittance from companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector with livestock making up about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings.

At a Glance

Politics: President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud (since 10 September 2012).

Capital: Mogadishu

Official Language: Somali

Population: 10, 616, 380 (July 2015 est.)

National Anthem: Soomaaliyeey toosoo

Freedom of Expression: The new constitution calls for freedom of speech and the press, though Somalia is one of the deadliest place for journalists in Africa. According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), 17 media workers were killed in 2012, many at the hands of Al Shabaab or unknown gunmen. Radio is the main news medium in Somalia. Internet and mobile telephone service are widely available in large cities, though poverty, illiteracy, and displacement limit access to these resources. Freedom of assembly and the press were also seriously stifled in Puntland in 2012. After a round of protests in September- which sought to draw attention to perceived moves by Puntland’s president Farole to postpone the January 2013 elections and extend his term by one year- Farole threatened to prosecute opposition, including “failed politicians and so called websites and media” for “supporting Puntland’s enemies.” In November, presidential guards fired on unarmed protestors and journalists in Gardo, resulting in at least four injuries.

For more information on Somalia’s Freedom of Expression landscape click here.

You can also visit BBC country profiles to read further about Somalia.