Somaliland is a de facto independent republic of 3.5 million people located in the eastern Horn of Africa. The Somaliland Republic broke away from the country of Somalia in 1991. Though Somaliland still technically falls within the country borders of Somalia, it has its own government and economy, and has formed alliances with several Western governments. While the country of Somalia remains in turmoil, Somaliland has managed to form a stable self-governing republic.
The land that is now Somaliland was first annexed by Great Britain in 1884, when it was ruled by the British as the British Somaliland protectorate. In 1960, the territory was unified from Great Britain and was reunited with the rest of Somalia. After the central government of Somalia dissolved in 1991, however, Somaliland broke away from the country as the rest of Somalia began a civil war.
Since its formation, Somaliland has established its own system of government that combines both tribal and Western influences. The government consists of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, similar to the United States government; it also includes a council of Somali elders who are responsible for choosing the president and helping to control internal conflicts within Somaliland. Somaliland also has a government constitution, military and police forces, a flag, its own currency, and its own passport. However, Somaliland is not entirely self-sufficient, and receives financial support from outside countries.
Because Somaliland has remained peaceful since its break away from Somalia, it is beginning to attract a small amount of foreign tourism. One of its most interesting attractions is the Las Geel cave, where ancient tribal paintings have been discovered. Somaliland is also home to many beautiful historic towns and cities that show examples of British colonial and Ottoman architecture. Somiland is also home to many savannahs, where wildlife can be found. However, because Somaliland has not gained international recognition as an independent country, the tourism industry there is still in its beginning stages.
The people of Somaliland typically speak Somali and Arabic. English is also relatively common, and is taught in schools throughout the region. Nearly all of the people there are Sunni Muslims, and Islamic tradition dictates much of their culture. Families in Somaliland are all divided into clans of lineage, which have between 5,000 and 500,000 members.