Introducing Somaliland, Puntland & Somalia
Travel Alert: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommends against all travel to this area, please check with your relevant national government.
Somalia has been a horror show for more than a decade. The law of the gun, kidnapping of aid workers, fighting among rival factions and a host of humanitarian crises have created a post-apocalyptic feel in this part of the Horn.
In fact, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. Somalia is a patchwork state. Since 1991 the country that is still known internationally as Somalia has effectively been three countries in one: Somalia in the south, Somaliland in the northwest on the Gulf of Aden, and Puntland perched in the northeast corner. The situation in each zone is radically different. The south, and Puntland (while a little more stable), have long been riddled with clan clashes.
Amid chaos, there is a success story: Somaliland, which, like a phoenix, has risen from ashes. Discreetly. So discreetly that nobody knows that it has a parliament, a capital, a flag, a currency, a university and multiparty elections! But Somaliland remains in limbo, with very few diplomatic supporters and little media coverage to voice its achievements.
Even in Somalia, the situation may be not insurmountable. There were a few glimmers of hope at the time of writing. The Islamists that seized power in 2006 had restored relative peace and order, and humanitarian agencies may step in and help the impoverished Somalis.
Hopefully a safe and stable Somalia will emerge one day. And travellers will start trickling in again. In the meantime, all you can do is cross fingers or play it safe in Somaliland.
Last updated: Mar 30, 2012
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