Quick reference

General isssues: Somaliland 1960, Republic 1960-1969, Democratic republic 1969-1991, Republic 1991-2012, Federal republic 2012-Present

Country name on general issues: Somaliland, Somalia, Somaliya, Soomaaliya

Currency: 1 Somalo = 100 Centesimi 1960-1961, 1 (Somali) hilling = 100 Centesimi 1961-Present

Population: 2 230 000 in 1960, 10 500 000 in 2013

Political history Somalia

Postal history Somalia

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Somalia is located in eastern Africa, in the Horn of Africa. The Somali are an Afro-Asiatic people living across the Horn of Africa. In the second part of the 19th century, during the ‘Scramble for Africa’, the land of the Somali is divided: the British gain British Somaliland, the French the French Somali Coast[1]The current Djibouti. , the Italians Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia the Ogaden. In the complex history of the region, several attempts have been made to undo this division. As early as the late 19th century, the Dervish State – a Somali state – conquers parts of the land of the Somali across the borders as drawn by the colonial powers and Ethiopia. The Dervish State is defeated by the British in 1920. After WWII, it’s the British – in possession of British Somaliland and occupying Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland – that propose to form a unified Somali state – without success.

Current Somalia eventually is formed from British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. British Somaliland has become a British protectorate in 1887. During WWII, for a short time in 1940-1941, British Somaliland was occupied by Italy. In 1960, British Somaliland gains independence as the State of Somaliland. Italian Somaliland has become an Italian protectorate in 1889 and is annexed as an Italian colony in 1905. In 1925, Jubaland – part of British Kenya – is transferred by the British to Italy to become part of Italian Somaliland in 1926. From 1936, Italian Somaliland is made part of Italian East Africa as the province of Somalia of which the Ogaden is also a part. Occupied by the British in 1941, Italian Somaliland will become the United Nations trust territory of Somalia, again under Italian administration. Italian Somaliland gains independence in 1960. Upon gaining independence Italian Somaliland joins with the State of Somaliland to form the republic of Somalia.

After a coup d’etat in 1969, the democratic republic of Somalia is formed – a socialist state. The authoritarian socialist regime is ousted in 1991 and Somalia once again becomes a republic. The change of power, however, plunges Somalia in a civil war that reverberates until today. Ever changing factions have fought each other, interventions from the United Nations, from 1992 to 1995, and from Ethiopia and the African Union, from 2006 to 2009, have at best had partial success in restoring stability.

Members of the al-Shabaab faction - one of the many factions in the ongoing Somalia civil war

Members of the al-Shabaab faction – one of the many factions in the ongoing Somalia civil war

As early as 1991, the republic of Somaliland – the larger part of the former British Somaliland – declares full independence. Although the republic of Somaliland is not recognized internationally, it has succeeded in attaining relative stability and keeping the civil war largely outside of its borders. Other parts of the country – Jubaland in the south, Puntland in the north – have declared themselves to be largely self governing.

In 2012, Somalia becomes a federal republic that includes several of the self governing parts of the country. However, until today, Somalia is home of many opposing factions. The economy has not had a chance to develop during the continuing years of civil war.

Part of the border between Somalia and Ethiopia – drawn by the British as an ‘administrative line’ – is disputed since independence, Somalia claiming parts of the Ogaden. Tensions have, in 1977-1978, led to a war between Somalia and Ethiopia that ended in the status quo ante bellum.

Postal history Somalia

The first stamps used in current Somalia were Egyptian stamps used at the Egyptian offices in Berbera and Zeila from 1881 to 1884. Next the British, from British India, set up post offices  in Somalia from 1887 – in Berbera and Zeila in British Somaliland and in Hobyo[2]Then known as Obbia. in Italian Somaliland. These offices were closed in 1907.

Postal history Somalia

1960 – First issue of the republic of Somalia, commemorating independence.

Both in British and Italian Somaliland, stamps have been issued, from 1903, by the colonial administration. In British Somaliland these will be used until independence of British Somaliland in 1960. In Italian Somaliland they will be superseded by the stamps of Italian East Africa used from 1936 until 1941. During the British occupation of Italian Somaliland, a range of occupation issues has been used – please refer to the profile of Italian Somaliland. These are, from 1950, superseded by the issues from the Italian trust administration.

When the State of Somaliland becomes independent on 26 June 1960, the British stamps are withdrawn and a set of stamps is issued on behalf of the State of Somaliland – these being stamps from Italian Somaliland overprinted ‘Somaliland  Independence 26 June 1960’. The first issue for the joined republic of Somalia follows on 1 July 1960 – definitives commemorating the founding of the newly independent republic.

With the start of the civil war in 1991, the postal services in Somalia have come to a standstill. Since its installation in 2012, the federal government has been working on the reestablishment of the postal services. Stamps issued since 1991 by various factions in the country – including the de facto independent republic of Somaliland – are not recognized by the UPU and are not listed in the worldwide catalogs.

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2 Responses to Somalia

  1. William Smith

    In paragraph 4 of Political history Somalia “British Somaliand” should be “British Somaliland”. In the last sentence of paragraph 2 of that section you refer to “State of Somalia” (also in first sentence of paragraph 3 of Postal history Somalia) although in profile for British Somaliland you use “State of Somaliland” in same context. Please verify which term you mean to use.

    • Gerben


      Thanks for spotting this – across profile – issue. The name of the short’ lived state was ‘State of Somaliland’. I updated the profile accordingly.

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