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Mogadishu's oldest sector, Hammawein, contains the mosque of Fakr al-Din as well as many old Arab-style buildings. Italian occupants also built their own neighborhoods in Mogadishu. Much of this architecture was heavily damaged in the civil war, along with modern Somali government buildings such as Parliament House and Somali National University.

The former palace of the sultan of Zanzibar still stands, although in poor condition, as a museum in Mogadishu. A few statues and monuments were erected in Mogadishu but several were destroyed, among them an equestrian statue of Muhammad Abdullah Hasan, erected after Somalia's independence in A monument to independence also was built in Mogadishu.

The city's oldest mosque, the mosque of Sheik Abdul Aziz, built in , survived the civil war, along with a Roman arch built in the early twentieth century. Food in Daily Life. Milk from camels, goats, and cows is a major food for Somali herdsmen and nomadic families. Young men tending camel herds during the rainy season may drink up to ten quarts of milk a day. Aging camels may be slaughtered for their meat, especially when guests are expected for a celebration, and the fatty camel's hump is considered a delicacy.

Meat, including liver, from sheep and goats also is popular, but meat is served only a few times a month, usually on special occasions. Durra a grain sorghum , honey, dates, rice, and tea are other food staples for nomads. Farmers in southern Somalia grow corn, beans, sorghum, millet, squash, and a few other vegetables and fruits. Boiled millet and rice are staples, but rice must be imported. The most popular bread is muufo, a flat bread made from ground corn flour. Somalis season their food with butter and ghee, the clear liquid skimmed from melted butter.

They also sweeten their food with sugar, sorghum, or honey. A holdover from Italian occupation in the south is a love for pasta and marinara sauce. Although fish is plentiful in the waters off the Somali coast, Somalis generally do not like fish. In accordance with the Muslim faith, they do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Milk, tea, coffee, and water are favorite drinks. Carbonated drinks are available in cities. Among nomads and farmers, cooking is usually done over a wood or charcoal fire outdoors or in a communal cooking hut, because homes are large enough only for sleeping.

Grain is ground by hand, using primitive tools. Restaurants are popular in cities, but women seldom dined out with men until the late s. Arab cuisine is popular fare in many restaurants, Italian at others. Especially in Mogadishu, international restaurants serve Chinese, European, and sometimes American foods. At home it is customary for women to serve the men first, and then eat with their children after the men have finished.

Rural Somalis eat by scooping food from a bowl with the first three fingers of their right hand or with a spoon as in many other Muslim and African cultures, the left hand is considered unclean because it is used for washing the body. A rolled banana leaf also may be used for scooping.

Urban Somalis may use silverware when they dine, but many still enjoy eating with their fingers. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Weddings, births, circumcisions, and Islamic and secular holidays call for celebrations involving food. Families slaughter animals, make bread, and prepare food for guests and for the poor, who are often invited to join the celebration. Basic Economy. Somalia is one of the world's poorest countries, and many gains made during the years after independence were lost in the destruction brought about by civil war in the s. However, in , individuals had begun to help rebuild cities through independent businesses.

Among the factors hindering economic development is lack of adequate transportation. The country has no railroads, only one airline, and few paved roads. Financial assistance from the United States helped improve Somalia's major seaports and Mogadishu International Airport during the s. Telecommunication systems were largely destroyed during the civil war. However, in , independent businessmen in some towns established satellite telephone systems and electricity, and Somali livestock traders and other entrepreneurs conducted much of their business by telephone.

Banking networks also were being established. The basic monetary unit is the Somali shilling, with one hundred cents equal to one shilling. A large amount of the income received by Somalis comes from Somalis who have migrated to other countries to find work and send money and goods home to relatives. Land Tenure and Property. In precolonial times, land claims were made by families and through bargaining among clan members. During European colonization, Italians established plantations in the riverine area and settled many poor Italian families on the land to raise crops.

Since independence much of this land has been farmed by Somalis. Somali nomads consider pastureland available to all, but if a family digs a water well, it is considered their possession. Under Siad Barre's socialist regime there was an effort to lease privately owned land to government cooperatives, but Somalis resented working land they did not own. Some land was sold in urban areas, but grazing land continued to be shared. Commercial Activities. In the colonial era Italians developed banana, sugarcane, and citrus fruit plantations in southern Somalia. These again thrived in the late twentieth century with Italian assistance after a decade of decline due to high government taxation of exports in the s.

Livestock and animal products make up a large portion of the goods produced in Somalia. The country's few natural resources, such as gypsum-anhydrite, quartz, uranium, iron ore, and possibly gold, have not been widely exploited. Major Industries. Although Somalia is not an industrialized nation, there are some industries, such as fish and meat canneries, milk-processing plants, sugar refineries, leather-tanning factories, and pharmaceutical and electronics factories.

Many of these were built with the help of foreign nations such as the former Soviet Union. Some mining and petroleum exploration has been done, with the help of Middle Eastern countries. Transportation equipment, machinery, cement and other building materials, iron, and steel are major imports of Somalia.

Livestock is the country's main export, especially camels, which are sold to Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations. Animal hides also are exported. Bananas are the chief crop export. Coffee, cotton, peanuts, mangoes, citrus fruits, and sugarcane are other important crops. Fishing and the export of frankincense and myrrh add to the economy. Division of Labor. More than half of all Somalis are self-employed, as herders, farmers, or independent business owners.

In the cities, some workers once held government jobs, and in a growing percentage of workers had factory, plantation, or fishing-industry jobs. Among rural Somalis of the Saab clan-family, lower castes still provide certain types of goods and services. Classes and Castes. The Samaal believe that their clan-family is superior to the Saab. The Saab clan-family developed a caste system that awards status to different groups based on their heritage or occupation.

Lower-class groups among the Digil and Rahanwayn were identified by occupation. The largest group was the midgaan a derogatory name , who served as barbers, circumcisers, and hunters. The Tumaal were blacksmiths and metalworkers. The Yibir served as fortune-tellers and makers of protective amulets and charms. In the late twentieth century, many from these groups found work in towns and cities and raised their status, and the old arrangements whereby they served certain clans had largely disappeared by the s. A small percentage of the peoples of the riverine and southern coastal area are descendants of a pre-Somali people who lived in the Horn of Africa.

Added to this group are descendants of Africans once enslaved by the Somalis. These cultural groups are called habash. While not poorly treated, habash are considered inferior by the Somalis. Most habash are Muslims and speak Somali, although some, such as the coastal groups Bajuni and Amarani, speak Swahili. Symbols of Social Stratification. Among the nomads, wealthier men were traditionally those who owned more camels and other livestock.

Warriors and priests were considered to have the most prestigious vocations. In some Rahanwayn and Digil settlements, members are divided between Darkskins and Lightskins, with those of darker skins having slightly more prestige in ceremonies, although the two are considered equal in other ways. By , education, income, and the ability to speak foreign languages had become standards by which status was attained among urban Somalis. During most of the s there was no central government in Somalia. However, some of the fifty districts and eight regional councils formed at the Addis Accords of March survived into In August , Somalis met in a representative council in Djibouti and took the first steps toward reestablishing a government for Somalia.

A member assembly made up of men and women representing all clans chose a new president and wrote a transitional constitution. The assembly was to function as a transitional government for three years. Allied with the Islamic courts and Somali businessowners, Salad proposed unity, peace, and prosperity for all of Somalia. After three years under the transitional government, national elections were to be held. Leadership and Political Officials. Somalis are traditionally an independent and democratic people but are fiercely loyal to their clan and its associated political party.

Ceremonial clan leaders are called sultans, or bokor in Somali, a term referring to binding the people together. Actual rule and enforcement of clan laws usually fall to the elders and a council made up of the clan's adult males. A Women greeting each other in Mogadishu. Somali women generally do not socialize with men in public places.

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Throughout Somalia's modern history it remained the strongest political party. During Siad Barre's dictatorship, political parties were prohibited in Somalia, but several organized outside the country and sought to overthrow the regime. After ousting the dictator, however, disagreements and fighting broke out among the three parties as well as the clans, subclans, and various guerrilla groups, plummeting the nation into civil war that lasted throughout the s.

Social Problems and Control. Under the central government formed at independence, Somalia developed a Western-style judicial system, with a penal code, a code of criminal court procedures, and a four-tiered court system. Islamic law Shari'a and Somali customary law heer were retained in many civil and interclan matters. The Somali Police Force evolved from forces organized during colonial administration by the Italians and the British. The most common crimes committed are shootings, robbery and theft, looting, and kidnapping for ransom.

Somali clans have a traditional means of compensating for lives lost in interclan disputes, thereby discouraging violence and encouraging peaceful settlement. The clan responsible for the death pays the victim's clan a fine, called dia, traditionally a set number of camels or other livestock. A certain percentage of the dia—called jiffo —is paid by the immediate relatives of the one responsible for the death to the immediate family of the deceased.

Dia is also paid, in a lesser amount, for other crimes, such as rape, adultery, and theft. Dia-paying groups are formed by agreement among closely related clan members. Enforcement of dia customs falls to the elders and the clan council. If a matter cannot be settled peacefully, fighting breaks out between clans, followed by another peace council.

Military Activity. Somalia was allied with the Soviet Union during the s, receiving both military training and weapons from the Soviets, as well as from Egypt and other Muslim states. Before the Ogaden War of —, Somalia's military was one of the largest and best-armored and mechanized in sub-Saharan Africa. After it lost the war and the Soviets withdrew support, however, the Somali military declined. However, when the Western world learned of human-rights violations under Siad Barre, it withdrew military support.

After Siad Barre's fall, the Somali military ceased to exist.

Probably the largest efforts at social welfare and change in Somalia came during the s and s, the years after independence, and the early years of Siad Barre's socialist regime. Barre attempted to do away with the clan system and create a heterogeneous society. Some nomads were settled as farmers, ranchers, or fishermen.

Under Barre the status of women improved, a written alphabet was created for Somalia, and there were increased efforts in the areas of literacy and education. Somalis provided a large portion of this care as well. In and , a dozen U. They continue to be assisted by NGOs both from around the world and within Somalia.

In a group of Somali women educated in Western countries returned to their homeland to help Somali women who were striving to rebuild the economy by starting their own businesses. The group, called the Somali Women's Trust, also helped establish girls' schools and women's health centers, and helped reestablish refugees in Somalia. Another Somali women's group, Candlelight, provides similar services. Division of Labor by Gender. In traditional Samaal clans, men and older boys do the important work of tending camels and cattle, the most valuable animals.

Girls and young boys tend sheep and goats. Somali men are considered warriors waranle , except for those few who choose the religious life. Adult men are also expected to serve on their clan-family council. Urban men may work as businessmen, blacksmiths, craftsmen, fishermen, or factory workers. Women in nomadic clans are responsible for caring for children, cooking, and moving the family aqal. Women and girls in farming clans are responsible for planting and harvesting crops, caring for children, and cooking. Urban women may hold jobs in shops or offices or may run their own business.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Somali women are expected to submit to men and to fulfill their duties as daughters, wives, and mothers.

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Although they do not wear the Muslim veil, they generally do not socialize with men in public places. Somali women living in the cities, especially those A Somali nomad woman ties roof supports together to reconstruct a portable hut after moving to a new location. The aqal is easy to break down and reassemble. Given the right to vote in newly independent Somalia, women began to take an active interest in politics and served on government committees and the People's Assembly.

They served in military units and played sports. Opportunities for secondary and higher education had increased for women before the collapse of the government in With many Somali men killed during the civil war or lost to diseases such as tuberculosis, women have learned to fend for themselves. They have shown remarkable adaptability and a talent for business.

The United Nations and other international organizations launched campaigns in the late s to help Somali women and girls get better health care, an education, and job skills training. Somali natives who have been educated abroad are returning to help with these endeavors. Several programs have been started to promote nomadic women's enterprises, such as the collecting of henna leaves for grinding into natural cosmetics.

Women in urban areas sell wares in the streets or marketplaces or run their own shops. In spite of condemnation by the United Nations and by modern Muslim leaders, nearly all Somali girls are forced to undergo the dangerous and disfiguring circumcision rite known to the United Nations as "female genital mutilation" FGM. Somalia also has one of Africa's highest maternal mortality rates; approximately sixteen mothers die for every one thousand live births. Widespread efforts to correct unsafe practices in reproductive health are expected to improve these conditions in the twenty-first century.

Somali marriages have traditionally been considered a bond between not just a man and a woman but also between clans and families. Until very recently, most Somali marriages were arranged, usually between an older man with some wealth and the father of a young woman he wished to wed. These customs still hold true in many rural areas in the twenty-first century. The man pays a bride price—usually in livestock or money—to the woman's family. Samaal traditionally marry outside their family lineage, or, if within the lineage, separated from the man by six or more generations.

Saab follow the Arab tradition of marrying within the father's family lineage, with first cousins often marrying. A Somali bride often lives with her husband's family after marriage, with her own parents providing the home and household goods. She keeps her family name, however. Weddings are joyous occasions, but the couple often signs an agreement giving the bride a certain amount of property should the couple divorce, which is common in Somalia. The husband holds the property in trust for her. Tradition calls for the wife to relinquish her right to the property if she initiates the divorce.

Islamic law permits a man to have up to four wives if he can provide them and their children with equal support. If a man repeats three times to his wife, "I divorce you," the couple is considered divorced. The wife is given a three-month grace period, however, in case she should be pregnant. Today many urban Somalis choose a mate based on love and common interests rather than accepting an arranged marriage. Domestic Unit. The Somali domestic unit consists of a man, his wife or wives, and their children. Elderly or unmarried relatives may live with the family.

In homes with more than one wife, each wife usually lives with her children in her own house, and the husband and father divides his time among them. In the case of a divorce, children usually remain with their mother. The male is considered the head of the household, except where it is headed by a divorced or widowed woman. Inheritance passes from father to son in Somali families. A wife remains a part of her father's lineage, while her children belong to her husband's lineage. Under Islamic law, daughters are entitled to inherit half of what sons get, but in Somali society daughters usually did not receive valuable animals or land.

Under Siad Barre's regime, social reforms included equal inheritance rights for women, although this was opposed by some Islamic leaders. Kin Groups. Somali society is based on a clan-family structure. The two major clan groups are the Samaal or Samale and the Saab or Sab , named for two brothers who are said to have been members of the prophet Muhammad's tribe, the Quraysh of Arabia.

The Samaal, which make up about three-quarters of the Somali population, are divided into four main clan-families: the Dir, Daarood, Isaaq, and Hawiye. The Saab are divided into the Digil and Rahanwayn clan-families. Major clans can have thousands of members, each claiming descent from a common ancestor. These clans are subdivided into subclans and into primary lineage groups.

Somali men trace their membership in a particular clan-family through their patrilineage, going back a dozen or more generations. Clan groups with the longest ancestry have the most prestige. Clans and subclans are associated with the territory they occupy for most of the year. Child Rearing and Education. Somali children are raised with much love but are also disciplined and taught to work from age five or six, with little time for play.

In spite of numerous hardships, Somali children are known for their sense of joy and abundant laughter. Children are taught independence and self-reliance and to carefully observe the world around them. Both boys and girls are circumcised during a ceremony and celebration. Boys and girls are kept separated, according to Islamic law, and traditionally do not date, although a group of teenage males do a courtship dance for girls of marriageable age.

Because of the high incidence of divorce, many children grow up with only one parent, usually the mother, although boys may stay with their father and his wives. Multiple wives make for family groups with many children. Education for Somali children in all but the wealthiest urban families was practically nonexistent, except for training in reading the Qur'an, before the early s. Boys in rural areas attended outdoor schools where they learned Arabic using wooden slates.

Before independence some attended Roman Catholic schools, where they learned Arabic or Italian. Under Siad Barre, a Latin-based alphabet was created for the Somali language, which previously had no written form. The leader undertook a massive literacy campaign in Somalia and achieved some success, although many nomadic children still did not attend school, and many others, especially girls, dropped out after four years of primary school. Students learned reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as Arabic, animal husbandry, and agriculture.

A lack of trained teachers, materials, and schools, however, made secondary-school classes inadequate, and only about 10 percent of students went on to secondary school. When civil war broke out, most secular education stopped, as schools were bombed and the government, which had hired teachers, collapsed. However, some dedicated teachers struggled on during A woman and child in Og Village, Ainabo. Somali children are raised with much love, combined with discipline.

Students continued to come, eager to learn even when there were no chairs or desks and no roof on the school. In the absence of a government, parents contributed what they could toward supplies so their children could continue to get an education. Higher Education. Somali National University in Mogadishu, founded in , was the nation's principal university before the civil war. Courses were offered in education, sciences, law, medicine, engineering, geology, economics, agriculture, and veterinary science.

The National Adult Education Center was established in the late s to combat a relapse in literacy among the adult nomadic population. In the Nomad Education Program was created by the Barre government, which established boarding schools in ten regions and selected students from various clan-families to attend school for sixty days. Students ranged in age from fourteen to fifty, but most were in their twenties. After completing the course, they went home and taught what they had learned to other members of the clan-family.

The most relevant courses for the nomad students were those related to geography and the environment. Other valuable classes were those in personal hygiene, nutrition, first aid, and midwifery for female students. The Nomad Education Program, like so many others, died during the civil war. Somali National University was largely destroyed in the fighting in Mogadishu. University professors and Somali intellectuals began working in to establish a private university in Mogadishu.

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The new Mogadishu University was finally opened in September Somaliland also opened a private university, Amoud University, in It is largely supported by international funding and by Somalis living in the United Arab Emirates. In the Somali language soo maal, a common greeting of welcome, refers to the act of milking, offering a guest the opportunity to milk an animal and get himself something to drink. Somalis offer a milky tea and burn incense to welcome visitors. Somalis greet one another by saying, "Maalin wanaagsan" Good day or "Nabad myah? Men of the same clan-family then share a long handshake.

Women greet one another informally and may hug and kiss one another on the cheek. Members of unrelated clan-families do not shake hands or exchange intimacies. Somalis also use certain Arab hand gestures to communicate. Religious Beliefs. Religion is a major influence on the lives of Somalis. They are Sunni Muslims of the Shafi'ite rite, with great interest in Sufi spiritualism, characterized by chanting, whirling, chewing qat, a narcotic leaf , and falling into a trance as a way of communing with Allah.

They also include the veneration of Somali saints in religious worship. Added to the daily practice of Islam is a belief in mortal spirits called jinn, said to be descended from a fallen heavenly spirit. According to folk beliefs, jinn can cause misfortune and illness or can help humans. Somalis believe the poor, weak, or injured have special spiritual powers given by Allah, so Somalis are always kind to the less fortunate in hopes that they will not use this power for evil against them. Religious Practitioners.

Unlike other Muslims, Somalis believe that both their religious and secular leaders have the power to bless and to curse people. This power, believed to be given by Allah, is called baraka. Baraka is believed to linger at the tombs of Somali saints and to help cure illness and resolve other troubles upon a visit to the tomb. Islamic teachers and mosque officials make up a large portion of religious practitioners Islam has no priests.

Somali followers of Sufiism, given the name Dervishes, dedicate themselves to a life of religion by preaching Islam and giving up all possessions. The Sufi are also known for the farming communities and religious centers they established in southern Somalia, called jamaat. Among nomads, a respected male leader or religious devotee might be appointed wadad. His duties are to lead prayers and to perform ritual sacrifices on religious holidays and special occasions.

He also learns folk astronomy, which is used for healing, divination, and to determine times for migration. Other religious practitioners include the Yibir clan of the Saab. Yibir practitioners are called on to exorcise spirits and restore health, good fortune, or prosperity to individuals through prayers and ceremonies, including animal sacrifice. Rituals and Holy Places. Mosques can be found in all Somali cities and towns. Nomads worship wherever they are, with men and women praying and studying the Qur'an separately.

In accordance A pedestrian passes a billboard in Mogadishu. Somali did not become a written language until They should recite the creed of Islam and observe zakat, or giving to the poor, if able. They should make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once and should observe the fast of Ramadan. Tombs of the Somali holy men or sheiks, venerated as saints, have become national shrines. Pilgrims visit on the saint's annual feast day, usually in the month of his birth, when his power is believed to be the strongest.

Religious holidays include the Islamic holidays of Ramadan the month of fasting ; Id al-Fitr the Little Feast ; the First of Muharram when an angel is said to shake the tree of life and death ; Maulid an-Nabi the birth of the prophet Muhammad ; and Id al-Adha commemorating the story of Abraham and his son Ishmael. Islamic holidays fall at different times of year according to the Islamic calendar. Holidays are celebrated with feasting and storytelling, visiting graves, giving to the poor, parades, plays, and ceremonies. Death and the Afterlife. Somalis hold the Muslim view that each person will be judged by Allah in the afterlife.

They also believe that a tree representing all Muslims grows at the boundary between Earth and Heaven some believe the boundary is on the Moon. Each person is represented by a leaf on the tree. When an angel shakes the tree on the first day of the new year, in the Islamic month of Muharram, it is said that those whose leaves fall off will die within the coming year. Muslims also believe that a person who dies while fasting during Ramadan is especially blessed by Allah.

When a Somali dies, feasting and celebration are held, as they are at a birth. A Somali wife must mourn her husband's death in seclusion at home for four months and ten days, according to Islamic practice. Before the civil war of the s, Somalia's Ministry of Health regulated all medical practices and personnel, but with the breakdown of the government and the destruction of most hospitals and clinics, Somalia's health care system has declined.

There are few doctors and hospitals, and many unqualified persons practice a form of medicine at private facilities, especially in Mogadishu and other cities. The absence of regulation carries over to prescription drugs, which are often improperly dispensed by pharmacies. Most health care is free, but some hospitals charge patients a fee to help recover costs. Tuberculosis and malaria are the two major causes of illness and death in the nation.

Somalia had one of the world's highest tuberculosis rates in , but it also had one of the highest cure rates, thanks to U. In these organizations launched an aggressive program to fight malaria. They have also conducted ongoing polio, measles, and tetanus vaccination campaigns.

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Cholera and other gastrointestinal diseases had become endemic in Mogadishu and other areas by , largely because of the piles of rubbish and poor sanitation conditions resulting from civil war. Malnutrition and starvation, schistosomiasis, tetanus, leprosy, venereal disease, and skin and eye infections claim life and limb unnecessarily. In late studies showed from 8 to 9 percent of the subjects were HIV positive. Health workers are being trained in prevention and management of sexually transmitted diseases. Somali folk medicine is often practiced by nomads and farmers who have no immediate access to medical care.

Somalis believe that some kinds of illnesses are caused by possession of the body by spirits, which can be exorcised through ritual. Somalis celebrate Independence Day on 26 June, the date in when British Somaliland gained its independence. They celebrate the Foundation of the Republic on 1 July. At the beginning of August they hold a secular New Year celebration called Dab-Shid Fire-Lighting when they light a stick and jump over the fire.

Somalia has long been known as a nation of poets. A people with few possessions and no written language until the s, Somalis developed an oral tradition of poetry and storytelling, that has been passed down through generations. Many of these poems and stories were written down in the late twentieth century. A popular new genre of song on the radio in the late twentieth century was heello, taken from Somali poetry. Some themes of Somali poetry are history, philosophy, and clan politics, as well as praise or ridicule of humans or animals.

Islamic poetry is also a Somali tradition; many poets were great religious leaders and are now considered saints. Somali Islamic poetry is written in Arabic, often in the form of prayer. Although Somali poets have been writing since at least the twelfth century, the most well-known Somali Islamic poets of recent times are Seylici d. Somali Islamic prose written in Arabic is called manqabah.

Writers record the deeds and virtues of Somali sheiks, or religious leaders, some with miraculous powers. Somalis also read Arabic religious classics. Modern Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah b. He was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in Performance Arts. Somali plays were performed in the late twentieth century at the National Theater in Mogadishu and at small theaters in other cities.

Somalis began to write plays under the influence of British and Italian colonists. Somali plays are now written in Somali, Arabic, English, and Italian. Astronomy has been a popular career for Somalis; astronomer Muusa H. Science and engineering students who might have studied in Somalia if not for civil war have emigrated to other countries to study, where they have successful careers in medicine and the physical and social sciences. Some have returned to Somalia to help their people. In the late twentieth century, telecommunications and computer science became popular areas of study and enterprise for Somalis as they sought to rebuild their war-torn country and keep pace with new technology.

In Somalia had one of Africa's most well developed telecommunications systems, as well as Internet service for its expanding computer networks. Abdi Sheik-Abdi. Divine Madness: Mohammed Abdulle Hassan — , Andrzejewski, B. Brook, Diane L. D'Haem, Jeanne. Ditmars, Hadani. Fisher, Ian. Fox, Mary Virginia. Hassig, Susan M. Howe, Jonathan T. Larson, Charles R. Lewis, Ioan M. Metz, Helen Chapin, ed. Somalia: A Country Study, Press, Robert. Bower, Hilary. United Nations Development Programme Somalia. Toggle navigation. History and Ethnic Relations Emergence of the Nation.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space Nomadic herders spend nearly all of their time outdoors. Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. Social Stratification Classes and Castes. Married women tend to wear headscarves referred to as shaash. They also often cover their upper body with a shawl , which is known as garbasaar. Unmarried or young women, however, do not always cover their heads. Traditional Arabian garb, such as the jilbab and abaya , is also commonly worn.

Additionally, Somali women have a long tradition of wearing gold jewelry , particularly bangles. During weddings, the bride is frequently adorned in gold.

Many Somali women by tradition also wear gold necklaces and anklets. The Somali flag is an ethnic flag conceived to represent ethnic Somalis. The Somalis staple food comes from their livestock, however, the Somali cuisine varies from region to region and consists of a fusion of diverse culinary influences. In the interiors, the cuisine is mainly local with usage of Ethiopian grains and vegetables while in the coast it is the product of Somalia's rich tradition of trade and commerce.

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Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. There are therefore no pork dishes, alcohol is not served, nothing that died on its own is eaten, and no blood is incorporated. Breakfast quraac is an important meal for Somalis, some drink tea shahie or shaah others coffee qaxwa or bun. The tea is often in the form of haleeb shai Yemeni milk tea in the north.

The main dish is typically a pancake-like bread canjeero or canjeelo similar to Ethiopian injera , but smaller and thinner, or muufo a Somali flat bread traditionally baked on a clay oven. These breads might also be eaten with a stew maraqe or soup at lunch or dinner. Spices like cumin , cardamom , cloves , cinnamon , and garden sage are used to aromatize these different rice delicacies. Somalis eat dinner as late as 9 pm. During Ramadan , supper is often served after Tarawih prayers; sometimes as late as 11 pm. In some regions , xalwo halva is a popular confection eaten during festive occasions such as Eid celebrations or wedding receptions.

It is made from sugar, corn starch , cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and ghee. Peanuts are also sometimes added to enhance texture and flavor. Somali scholars have for centuries produced many notable examples of Islamic literature ranging from poetry to Hadith. With the adoption of the Latin alphabet in to transcribe the Somali language, numerous contemporary Somali authors have also released novels, some of which have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim.

Most of the early Somali literature is in the Arabic script and Wadaad writing. Various such historical manuscripts in Somali nonetheless exist, which mainly consist of Islamic poems qasidas , recitations and chants. The rest of the existing historical literature in Somali principally consists of translations of documents from Arabic. Somalis for centuries have practiced a form of customary law , which they call xeer. Xeer is a polycentric legal system where there is no monopolistic agent that determines what the law should be or how it should be interpreted.

It is assumed to have developed exclusively in the Horn of Africa since approximately the 7th century. Given the dearth of loan words from foreign languages within the xeer's nomenclature, the customary law appears to have evolved in situ. Xeer is defined by a few fundamental tenets that are immutable and which closely approximate the principle of jus cogens in international law : payment of blood money locally referred to as diya or mag , assuring good inter- clan relations by treating women justly, negotiating with "peace emissaries" in good faith, and sparing the lives of socially protected groups e.

Thus, one can find odayal judges , xeer boggeyaal jurists , guurtiyaal detectives , garxajiyaal attorneys , murkhaatiyal witnesses and waranle police officers to enforce the law. Somali architecture is a rich and diverse tradition of engineering and designing. It involves multiple different construction types, such as stone cities , castles , citadels , fortresses , mosques , mausoleums , towers , tombs , tumuli , cairns , megaliths , menhirs , stelae , dolmens , stone circles , monuments , temples , enclosures , cisterns , aqueducts , and lighthouses.

Spanning the ancient, medieval and early modern periods in Greater Somalia, it also includes the fusion of Somali architecture with Western designs in contemporary times. In ancient Somalia, pyramidical structures known in Somali as taalo were a popular burial style. Hundreds of these dry stone monuments are found around the country today. Houses were built of dressed stone similar to the ones in Ancient Egypt. The peaceful introduction of Islam in the early medieval era of Somalia's history brought Islamic architectural influences from Arabia and Persia.

This had the effect of stimulating a shift in construction from drystone and other related materials to coral stone , sundried bricks , and the widespread use of limestone in Somali architecture. Many of the new architectural designs, such as mosques, were built on the ruins of older structures. This practice would continue over and over again throughout the following centuries.

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Civil strife in the early s greatly increased the size of the Somali diaspora , as many of the best educated Somalis left for the Middle East, Europe and North America. Statistics Canada's census ranks people of Somali descent as the 69th largest ethnic group in Canada. While the distribution of Somalis per country in Europe is hard to measure because the Somali community on the continent has grown so quickly in recent years, the Office for National Statistics estimates that 98, people born in Somalia were living in the United Kingdom in An estimated 20, Somalis emigrated to the U.

Community-based video rental stores likewise carry the latest Somali films and music. There is a sizable Somali community in the United Arab Emirates. Somali-owned businesses line the streets of Deira , the Dubai city centre, [] with only Iranians exporting more products from the city at large. Star African Air is also one of three Somali-owned airlines which are based in Dubai. Besides their traditional areas of inhabitation in Greater Somalia , a Somali community mainly consisting of entrepreneurs, academics, and students also exists in Egypt.

Primarily concentrated in the north and Khartoum , the expatriate community mainly consists of students as well as some businesspeople. According to Y chromosome studies by Sanchez et al. Our initial results indicate a sharp cline in M1 frequencies that generally does not extend into sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, there existed a significant amount of homogeneity within the M1 haplogroup.

This sharp cline indicates a history of little admixture between these regions. This could imply a more recent ancestry for M1 in Africa, as older lineages are more diverse and widespread by nature, and may be an indication of a back-migration into Africa from the Middle East. According to an autosomal DNA study by Hodgson et al. It reaches a frequency peak among ethnic Somalis, representing the majority of their ancestry.

The Ethio-Somali component is most closely related to the Maghrebi non-African genetic component, and is believed to have diverged from all other non-African ancestries at least 23, years ago. On this basis, the researchers suggest that the original Ethio-Somali carrying population s probably arrived in the pre-agricultural period from the Near East, having crossed over into northeastern Africa via the Sinai Peninsula. The population then likely split into two branches, with one group heading westward toward the Maghreb and the other moving south into the Horn.

It consists of several disciplines such as anthropology , sociology , linguistics , historiography and archaeology.

Culture Name

The field draws from old Somali chronicles , records and oral literature, in addition to written accounts and traditions about Somalis from explorers and geographers in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. Since , prominent Somalist scholars from around the world have also gathered annually to hold the International Congress of Somali Studies. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the Somali ethnic group. For other uses, see Somali disambiguation.


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Main article: proto-Somali. Part of a series on the. Macrobians Berber city-states c. Middle Ages. Adal Sultanate 9thth c. Ifat Sultanate 12thth c. Ajuran Sultanate 13thth c. Warsangali Sultanate 13thth c. Sultanate of Mogadishu 13thth c. Early modern. Geledi sultanate 16th Majeerteen Sultanate 16th Sultanate of Hobyo Colonial period — Modern Somalia since Main articles: History of Somalia and Maritime history of Somalia.

Main article: Demographics of Somalia. Main article: Somali aristocratic and court titles. Main article: Somali language. Main article: Culture of Somalia. Main article: Music of Somalia. Main article: Cinema of Somalia. Main article: Somali art. Main article: Sports in Somalia. Main article: Somali cuisine. Main article: Somali literature. Main article: Xeer. Ajuran aqueducts. Qandala castle town. Citadel of Gondershe. Cape Guardafui Lighthouse. Main article: Somali architecture. Main article: Somali diaspora. Main article: Somali Studies. Retrieved 06 October December Archived from the original PDF on 5 March Retrieved 3 September The Kenya Housing and Population Census.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. August Retrieved 17 December Retrieved 26 February Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 9 December Figure given is the central estimate. Options UK. Retrieved 21 February Retrieved 20 August Somali Diaspora Groups in Sweden. Retrieved 18 December A safe haven for Somalis in Uganda?. J Sociology Soc Anth, 1 : KRE Publishers. Retrieved 6 March Retrieved 12 July Statistics Finland. Retrieved 6 June Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Retrieved 4 August Archived from the original on 17 April Retrieved 18 October Daily Jang. Retrieved 10 November International Centre for Migration Policy Development. Retrieved 22 March World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 31 May The Society. Retrieved 17 April Laitin, Said S. Cassanelli, The shaping of Somali society: reconstructing the history of a pastoral people, , University of Pennsylvania Press: , p. Lewis, A modern history of the Somali: nation and state in the Horn of Africa , 4, illustrated edition, James Currey: , p.

D The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 10 March University of East Anglia, Annales d'Ethiopie. Westview Press. Ethiopia: the era of the princes: the challenge of Islam and re-unification of the Christian Empire, — And inclosure 3 in No. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Haan Associates. Italian Colonialism in Somalia. University of Chicago. Governance: The Scourge and Hope of Somalia. Trafford Publishing. The Colonial Legacy in Somalia p. Somalia: A Country Study. Archived from the original on 16 January Retrieved 25 February Skin to Sumac , Volume 25, Grolier: , p.

James Currey Publishers. Retrieved 8 July Retrieved 14 November Culture and Customs of Somalia. Greenwood Publishing Group. The Invention of Somalia. The Red Sea Press. Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates ed. Encyclopedia of Africa. Oxford University Press. The Total Somali Clan Genealogy second edition. African Studies Center Working Paper Leiden: African Studies Center. Lewis Lars Buur and Helene Maria Kyed ed.

Springer Palgrave. Levine University of Chicago Press. University of Pennsylvania Press. Somali clans, while fiercely egalitarian with regards to leadership and political control, contain divisions of unequal status". But it is their Arabian ancestry which traditionally is their greatest pride. Ultimately all Somali genealogies go back to Arabian origins, to the Prophet's lineage of Quraysh and those of his companions.

Nevertheless, it is their proud pretensions to noble Arabian origins which unite all the Somali clans and lineages into one vast genealogical system. Horrobin The Politics of Dress in Somali Culture. Indiana University Press. The Yibir , also members of the Saab caste, were responsible for crafting amulets hardas , prayer mats, and saddles, and for performing rituals designed to protect nomads from snakes and scorpions, illnesses and harm during marriage and childbirth".

University of London. Retrieved 15 November Eno and Abdi M. The difference is that these communities are stigmatized because mythical narratives claim that a they are of unholy origin, and b they engage in denigrated occupations. Somali Sultanate: the Geledi city-state over years. Transaction Publishers.

Retrieved 19 December Whatever their origins, their physical features and occupations distinguished them from Somalis and placed them in an inferior sociopolitical position in Somali cosmology. The primary lineage is normally, and the dia-paying group always, exogamous, because these units are already so strongly united that marriage within them is considered to threaten their cohesion. Indeed, in the devastated capital, Mogadishu, women who had married outside their own clan found themselves at a serious disadvantage, they and their children being disowned and left unprotected by both sets of kin.

Insecurity required maximum clan solidarity, including now clan endogamy rather than exogamy. This new trend was further encouraged by the intensified contact with the Arab society, and its preference for cousin marriage, through the experience of labour migration in the Gulf. The tension between this politically expedient practice and traditional cultural precepts was reflected in the popular view that such endogamous marriage amounted to a kind of incest akin to the mating of animals. Esposito, Natana J. Computers and Translation. A tree for poverty: Somali poetry and prose.

McMaster University Library Press. The Other Paper. Retrieved 25 January Horseed Media. Retrieved 19 October Malta Independent. The Illustrated Flag Handbook. Silverdale Books. Retrieved 20 October CRW Flags. World Atlas. Archived from the original on 15 September July In Praise of Somali Literature.