An arid area with frequent droughts, it supports pastoralism and some agriculture, and there is fishing along the coast. Oil exploration on land and offshore began in the 2000s. In recent years Puntland has been a hub for pirates targeting shipping in the Indian Ocean.
Ruled by various Muslim sultanates for hundreds of years, it came under European influence along with the rest of Somalia in the 19th century. Puntland became part of the newly independent Somalia in 1960. Puntland declared its independence in 1998, but unlike neighboring Somaliland, Puntland is not seeking recognition as an independent entity but is willing reestablish ties with the federal government if the latter shares power and foreign aid with the regions. Puntland has had border disputes and conflicts with Somaliland and Galmudug. Since the 1990s the region has been inundated by refugees from the war-torn south. Al Shabab militants are also a growing presence in the area, having been ousted from other parts of the country by African Union and Somali forces.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Somalia Political Geography
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