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Somaliland

Somaliland, autonomous region and self-proclaimed independent state (2008 est. pop. 3,500,000), c.53,100 sq mi (137,600 sq km), NW Somalia. It is bordered on the N by the Gulf of Aden, on the E by the Puntland region, on the S by Ethiopia, and on the W by Djibouti. Hargeisa is the capital and Berbera is the most important port. The Cal Madow mountin range in the N includes Mt. Shimbiris, at 7,900 ft (2,407 m) the tallest mountain in Somalia. Somaliland is semiarid livestock raising and remittances from Somalis living abroad are the main sources of income.

Between 5,000 and 11,000 years ago, early inhabitants left cave paintings in the rock shelters at Laas Geel, N of Hargeisa. Islam was introduced in the seventh century, and various sultanates ruled the region of Somaliland for several centuries. Parts of Somaliland were occupied by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th cent. and by Egypt in the early 19th cent. The British established the protectorate of British Somaliland in 1848, which became part of the newly created Somali Republic in 1960. When civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991, the region declared its independence as the Republc of Somaliland, and it has has refused to take part in national elections or in the implentation of a federal constitution. Somaliland, however, is not recognized by any country or international organization. There have been border disputes and conflicts with Puntland , and Somaliland has not had complete control over or the full allegiance of some areas within its claimed territory.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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