Somaliland Seeks Recognition

July 16, 2019

Hargeisa, the largest city of Somaliland.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, is a territory with a long history of ownership disputes, colonial rule, and a desire for recognition as an independent nation.

After years of foreign control, the territory declared independence in 1991. Somaliland isn't internationally recognized as a sovereign nation, but it has a functioning government and its own currency.

The territory's declaration of independence in 1991 followed the overthrow of Somali military dictator and President Mohamed Siad Barre, but disputes over the region started way before that.

Events in the 7th and 14th centuries reflect a struggle between the Islamic world and the Ethiopian Empire for control of the area. In 1888, through treaties with the local sultanates, the British government established the protectorate of British Somaliland. In addition, a portion of Somaliland was acquired around this time by Italy through various treaties.

Just over a decade later, Islamic cleric Mohammed Abdullah revolted against British rule and held the region as the Dervish State until British forces took it back in 1920.

In 1960, the British and Italian parts of Somaliland merged into the Somali Republic.

That brings us up to the territory's 1991 bid for recognition as an independent nation. It came right after Mohamed Siad Barre's forces wreaked havoc on the area, killing thousands of people and destroying whole towns.

Following the removal of Siad Barre, Somalia experienced years of anarchy. That pivotal event in the region's history resulted in Somaliland avoiding much of the violence and chaos that has plagued Somalia.

In 2016, Somaliland celebrated a quarter century of self-declared independence, but the territory remains unrecognized by any country or international organization. It is controlled by a democratically elected government that seeks international recognition as the Government of the Republic of Somaliland.

At Seterra, we'll be keeping an eye on Somaliland. As soon as the rest of the world acknowledges its independence, we'll be ready to add it to our maps and quizzes.

Somaliland flag
The flag of Somaliland