Somalia, known as the country with one of the lowest life expectancy levels, is believed to be one of the few African countries characterized by homogeneity in terms of population. In fact, 85% of its population is comprised of native Somalis who have been inhabiting the northern part of the country since the first day in its history. As for the life expectancy level, the reasons for its decrease have to do with long civil wars, violence, poverty and, sometimes, climate. All the factors combined create an environment in which it’s hard to survive or lead a normal life.
Due to the news of constant wars and conflicts in Somalia, too many people believe that the country is a very dangerous place that has nothing interesting. We want to change this view of Somalia and show our readers that it has a unique culture full of interesting facts. Let’s see what these facts are…
Somalia: 8 interesting facts about one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries of Africa
1. Somalia is infamous for its pirates
A couple of years ago, Somali pirates were the biggest threat to cargo vessels and business of international fishing companies. All in all, the pirates had to plans in accordance with which they acted: they either stole vessels or took the crew of a vessel hostage and asked for ransom. Luckily, the situation has changed for the better as the measures taken by an international community resulted in a safer environment on the Somali coast, an interesting fact about Somalia.
2. Somali cave paintings are known all over the world
We’re talking about the ancient cave paintings discovered near Hargeisa. The bright Las Geel paintings are believed to have been created in the period of time from 9000 to 3000 BC, a fun Somalia fact. Being protected by the nature-born, granite “overhanging” walls, the paintings depicting domesticated animals, humans and even giraffes have withstood the ravages of time and are in good condition.
3. The country’s fertility and HIV infection rates are surprising
In contrast to women living in Western countries, a Somalian woman usually gives birth to at least 6 children. Can you imagine that? In fact, child-bearing is considered to be one of the most important aspects of Somalian culture that identifies it as the primary duty of a woman. However, a high fertility rate guarantees neither a high life expectancy level nor the increase in population. The harsh reality of Somalia is that children die in infancy because of poverty, dangerous diseases and the inability to get adequate treatment.
Unlike many countries of the African continent that fight against AIDS and HIV, Somalia has the lowest rate of people with these infections. Surprising, isn’t it?
4. The Somalis have a habit of perfuming their homes
The Somalis perfume their homes when they are expecting guests. The fragrance they get by burning Frankincense (or any oil) inside a soapstone pot stays in the house for several hours. The procedure takes no more than 10 minutes.
5. Native Somalis like eating at home
Even though there are lots of restaurants where one can enjoy a good meal in the company of a friend, the Somalis prefer eating at home, a fun fact about Somalia. Truth be told, the tendency to dine out appeared only at the end of the 20th century, when women were allowed to dine out with men.
Women and children are allowed to sit down and eat only when all men in the family have finished eating. Probably, it’s due to the fact that daughters, sisters and wives are responsible to serve men while they are eating.
Even though the Somalis living in urban cities know how to use silverware when eating, they prefer to take food from the bowl they are served with the help of their first three fingers. Some people use a banana leaf rolled so that it is convenient to take the food and eat it.
On special occasions, like a wedding or birthday celebration, all the women in a family gather together to prepare delicious meals and bread. The foods and meals are generously shared with the guests no matter whether some of them are poor or wealthy. It’s worth mentioning that the rules accepted in the society do not forbid a rich family to invite poor friends to a celebration.
6. Somali women are totally under the control of men
The traditions that have been existing for centuries clearly state that women should be totally under the control of men. That is one of the biggest differences between Somalia in general and the norms and rules accepted in the countries of Western culture. Mothers, wives and daughters are expected to serve men and fulfil their duties in a family and around a house. Even though women do not have to cover their body and face with the help of a Muslim veil, they are strictly forbidden to talk with men on the streets and in public places.
7. The country’s unofficial symbol is camel
An interesting fact about Somalia is that a picture of a camel is a symbol that one may see most often in this country. The camel symbolizes wealth and high social status of its owner because camels provide milk and meat, serve as a means of transportation and a source of income.
Affluent families often have many camels and have enough funds to give their children a good education. Apart from studying basic subjects, children from such families learn several foreign languages and often can speak 3 or even 4 languages fluently.
8. Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world
Around two-thirds of the population in Somalia lives in poverty and has a budget of $2 per day for food and living. With one in 8 children being malnourished, the rapidly increasing need for food assistance is becoming one of the burning issues of today.
In 2000, Somalia’s authorities and government started taking measures to rebuild the cities destroyed during the Civil War. The majority of industries that exist in Somalia today (electrical and pharmaceutical factories, fish and meat processing industries) were built with the help of foreign investors from all over the world. The majority of the Somalia residents choose to work independently as farmers, herders and businessmen.
I hope that this article on Somalia facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!