The Horn of Africa

Which country makes up the horn-shaped part of the Horn of Africa?

And the answer: Somalia.

Somalia (in red) on a map of Africa

Located on the southern end of the Red Sea and stretching into the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa is the easternmost region of the continent. Including the countries of Djibouti, Somaliland, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, the area is sometimes called the Land of the Berbers, or the Somali peninsula.

Somalia is home to rich history and tradition, with mythology dating back before even the rise of Islam. Oral history frames Somali culture and often represents the country's unique cultural interchange, as indigenous beliefs remain strong and are often syncretized with those of the Islamic Qurʾān. Somali mythology often surrounds includes belief in jinn, supernatural spirits, and ghouls, treacherous shape-changing spirits who are said to inhabit significant features of the landscape, including wells, crossroads, and burial grounds.

The Somali people comprise the grand majority of Somalia's population. However, as due to the arbitrary creation of the country's borders following European conquest in the region, Somalia's culture, language, and way of life is largely synchronous with nearby northeastern Kenya, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and the southern part of Djibouti. As a result, the Somali language as well as Arabic are regionally known and widely spoken.

As a country historically dependent upon various farming practices, roughly two-fifths of the Somali population live permanently in settled communities while the other three-fifths are nomadic pastoralists. Most of the settled population resides in the northern regions of Somalia where rainfall and general access to water is greater.

Fun Fact!

In 1973, Somalia adapted an official orthography as based on the Latin alphabet. Up until that point, Somali had been an unwritten language upheld largely through oral transmission.

While war and internal conflict continue to plague this historic region, Somalia continues to revive their tradition and cultural practices for generations to come. Learn more about Somali culture in the video below.

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