Thursday, December 23, 2004

Is Somalia Even a Country?

Maybe folks just need to name everything or they're afraid of having maps like the ones in history textbooks with ungoverned areas in gray, but please, take a break from calling Somalia a country. Somalia hasn't had a national government since 1991.

As the BBC puts it:
Somalia is the only country in the world where there is no government.
And when discussing the Somali parliament:

Somalia has been without a functioning national government for 13 years....

The new Somali parliament and government are based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, because Mogadishu is still considered too dangerous.

In fact, there's a frequently ignored functioning government in the part of Somalia that was once a British colony:
In May of 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence, aided by the overwhelming dominance of a ruling clan and economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian, and American military assistance programs.
All of which raises the question: is it only ok to form a country with the approval of foreigners?

Observant Observations Challenge: great fame will be granted to the person that finds me the map referred to by Newt Gingrich here:
There are ungoverned areas of the world which are so numerous and so difficult to penetrate that there will almost certainly be effective sanctuaries for terrorist organizations. It does no good to speak of “no sanctuaries” when there are areas in which local governments have no control. An unclassified map from the Central Intelligence Agency that outlines the rural areas around the world in which there is little or no government shows just how formidable a challenge this is going to be.
And on a side note, not having a government has helped the people in one way:

Three phone companies are engaged in fierce competition for both mobile and landline customers, while new internet cafes are being set up across the city and the entire country.

It takes just three days for a landline to be installed - compared with waiting-lists of many years in neighbouring Kenya, where there is a stable, democratic government.

And once installed, local calls are free for a monthly fee of just $10.

International calls cost 50 US cents a minute, while surfing the web is charged at 50 US cents an hour - "the cheapest rate in Africa" according to the manager of one internet cafe.

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