Somaliland celebrated its independence on May 18. Never heard of Somaliland? That may be expected, as the country is not recognized by the international community. Somaliland declared itself an autonomous region in 1991 — 25 years ago. Most of the world does not know about Somaliland, a country that has been referred to as “a rare African miracle” due to its lasting post-conflict union, democracy, and relative peace. It is a country that has built itself so far on its own, without international assistance. As Somaliland clocks a quarter of a century, here are some interesting facts about the country.

 

Statistics

Somaliland is home to 3.5 million citizens, 70 percent of whom are younger than 30 years old. Somaliland is also a peaceful region, thanks to the active police force. Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, is known for its friendly locals, most of whom speak English alongside Somali. There is a large Somaliland diaspora who support the country through remittances.

 

Growing literary culture

The Hargeisa International Book Fair (HIBF) is a literature festival that takes place in Hargeisa every year. This year will be the ninth edition of the HIBF, and with each year it has grown to attract audiences from within Somaliland and other African countries. With the aim of promoting a reading and writing culture in Somaliland, this year’s fair will take place in July with the theme of leadership and creativity. Ghana will be a guest country.

 

 

Prehistoric artwork

A few hours outside Hargeisa is Las Geel, an outcropping of rocks in the desert where some of the most well-preserved Neolithic rock art in Africa can be seen. Some of them date back to 9,000 B.C. More rock art can be seen in other parts of Somaliland, although they are not as well kept as the ones at Las Geel. The government actually works with Las Geel and limits the number of people allowed to see the art at a time in order to preserve it.

 

What will it take for the international community to recognize Somaliland’s sovereignty? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or tweeting to me @rafeeeeta