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October 2011



Somalia (637,657 sq. km.), slightly smaller than Texas, lies on the tip of the Horn of Africa. Mogadishu is its capital city; other major cities are: Beledweyne, Kismayo, Baidoa, Jowhar, Merca, Gaalkayo, Bosasso, Hargeisa, and Berbera. In 2009 it was estimated that Somalia's population was 9.9 million. Somali is the official language, however Arabic, Italian, and English are also spoken.

The northern part of the country is hilly, and in many places the altitude ranges between 900 and 2,100 meters (3,000-7,000 ft.) above sea level. The central and southern areas are flat, with an average altitude of less than 180 meters (600 ft.). The Juba and the Shabelle Rivers rise in Ethiopia and flow south across the country toward the Indian Ocean. The Shabelle does not reach the sea.

The natural resources of Somalia include: uranium and largely unexploited reserves of iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, and natural gas. Natural hazards facing Somalia are: recurring droughts, frequent dust storms over eastern plains in summer, and floods during rainy season.

Mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in the north, Somalia's climate is seasonally diverse. From December to February moderate temperatures are experienced in the north, and very hot in the south; from May to October it can be torrid in the north, and hot in the south. Somalia has irregular rainfall with hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 9/2011; 9/2011

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