SomalilandDaily mail (Araweelo News Network)Somaliland is a breakaway region of Somalia that declared independence from the rest in 1991 It currently has a democratic political system and a stable government, no pirates and no Al Shabaab

Empire: The Ottoman Empire conquered Somaliland in the 1500s and remained until the British took control. Buildings such as this, in Berbera, remainEmpire: The Ottoman Empire conquered Somaliland in the 1500s and remained until the British took control. Buildings such as this, in Berbera, remain


Women have been granted equal treatment and are protected under Somaliland law – some are even policewomen
The country hopes to become a tourist destination and has incredible beaches and lots of ancient monuments
Somaliland is currently not recognised as independent by the wider world but has trade links with the UK
Until 1960, was known as British Somaliland and ruled separately to the rest of Somalia, which was run by Italy

It’s the home of Al Shabab, pirates and a civil war that has ground on for almost three decades but for some intrepid tourists, Somalia, or to be specific, the breakaway region of Somaliland, has become the perfect place for a holiday.

And as these incredible images taken by French photographer Eric Lafforgue reveal, there’s no shortage of things to do – whether you’re in the market for a spot of culture or fancy a day on one of the country’s spectacular Indian Ocean beaches.

‘To most people, Somalia and Somaliland are one and the same,’  explains Constantine Savvides who travelled to the region with Lafforgue. ‘Hardly anyone speaks of its struggle for independence and desire to disassociate itself from the violent turmoil afflicting the rest of the country
Welcome to Somaliland: An elderly man photographed in the town of Baligubadle in front of a huge mural that depicts the national flag of Somaliland

Precious: Livestock is a key source of wealth in Somaliland, with camels proving particularly valuable. Here, a herdsman in Lughaya carries a newborn camel.

Somaliland has functioned independently of the rest of Somalia since 1991 and was once known as the British Somaliland Protectorate, only joining the rest of Somalia, formerly Italian Somaliland, after gaining independence from the UK in 1960.

But by 1988, relations between the inhabitants of Somaliland and the rest of Somalia had disintegrated beyond repair, with a series of massacres ordered by former Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre proving the spark that triggered a vicious civil war.

When the beleaguered Somali government finally collapsed in 1991, Somaliland declared itself independent, although it is yet to be recognised as such by the rest of the world.

Now, despite its proximity to regions controlled by Al Shabaab and to Puntland, another breakaway region and home to Somalia’s notorious pirates, Lafforgue and Savvides say travelling in Somaliland is safe.

‘Media attention has traditionally focused on the ongoing war between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is backed by the international community, and Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate,’ explains Savvides.

‘Most of the unrest is concentrated in an area referred to in Somaliland as the “South”, which, as the name implies, comprises the bottom portion of the country including the capital, Mogadishu.

Scars: The rusting remains of a Soviet era tank outside the port of Berbera. Somaliland has been at peace since breaking away from Somalia in 1991

Busy: A man outside his popular patisserie in the town of Boorama (left) and an elderly man selling the popular narcotic khat outside his house in Baligubadle

‘Coverage has also focused largely on piracy in the Gulf of Aden where 16,000 to 22,000 ships, roughly eight per cent of the world’s trade, pass through annually. The sea bandits are based in Puntland, the easternmost part of the country and the very tip of the horn of Africa.’

By contrast, Somaliland has a democratic government and the streets of its capital, Hargeisa, are peaceful. And despite being unrecognised by much of the world, it has struck up trading relationships with a number of countries, among them the UK, South Africa and Belgium.

Now the Somaliland government hopes that the country’s stunning, deserted beaches and ancient cultural sites will encourage tourists to overcome their worries and give Somaliland a try.

‘The capital Hargeisa is a vivacious place,’ reveals Savvides. ‘The busy streets are lined with vendors of all kinds and there is a Russian MiG airplane war memorial in the middle of the city.

‘The reason for all the Russian matériel is because Somalia initially aligned itself with the USSR during the Cold War. But when the Soviets intervened in the Ogaden War and supported Somalia’s arch-rival, Ethiopia, the Somalis quickly shifted their allegiance to the United States.’

Further along the coast is the city of Berbera, a port that began life as the ancient town of Malao in the first century B.C, and is described by Lafforgue and Savvides as having ‘a relaxed seaside atmosphere’, although the city centre does still bear the marks of war.

Unlike its war-torn neighbour, Somalia, Somaliland is a peaceful democracy that boasts trade links with South Africa, Belgium, Ethiopia and the UK among others.

But it wasn’t always so. For substantial chunks of its history, Somaliland has been ruled by foreign powers and was a part of the Ottoman Empire for almost 400 years before being incorporated into the British Empire as British Somaliland.

Then, as now, Somaliland was separate and bordered what was then Italian Somaliland. When independence came on the 26th June 1960, Somaliland became a sovereign state; a state of affairs that lasted just five days before the country became part of Somalia.

Peace, however, would prove elusive, and a tumultuous political saga soon began, thanks to the violent totalitarian regime of dictator, Mohammed Siad Barre.

When Barre’s dictatorship was overthrown in 1991, Somalia quickly descended into a state of anarchy with warlords battling for power. On May 18th of that same year, Somaliland declared its independence from the rest of the country, attempting to reclaim what it once had.

Today, while fighting continues in the rest of Somalia, Somaliland is now stable and hopes to be recognised as a fully independent state by the wider world.

Within striking distance of Berbera are the ancient Laas Gaal cave paintings, which are thought to date from 9,000 B.C. ‘The Neolithic art depicts humans and a range of animals in a variety of positions,’ adds Savvides. ‘They’re amazingly well preserved with vibrant colours and clear outlines, and look a little bit like Picasso’s work.’

Equally impressive, reveals Savvides, are the locals; most of whom proved incredibly welcoming. ‘Many women wear qasil, a natural beauty product that rejuvenates skin and protects from the sun,’ he adds.

‘It is made from the ground leaves of a tree and it gives their faces a yellow tint – an effect made all the more alluring when coupled with colourful clothing.’

Despite their charm, many in Somaliland are all too aware of the image problem created by the ongoing violence across the Somali border and hope more visitors will come to the region so they can see how different things really are.

‘The people of Somaliland are very aware of their tarnished public image due to their historical association with Puntland and the South,’ explains Savvides.

‘In every city I visited, people urged me to show how Somaliland was different from Somalia. They want the world to know that it’s peaceful. Though Somaliland may share a common history, language, and blood with the South, the people of Somaliland deserve to be seen differently.’

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Motivated, teamwork-oriented, and responsible manegment , Development, Data analyst with significant experience in increasing comprehension of reports and presentations, and working in the Somaliland media, human rights, social affairs, democracy and the nation-building process for the past two decades, by the average professional.experien and Highly educated, possessing a Professional Certificate of Journalism ,DIploma and BA Journalism and Politics.

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