Official Name: Somali Democratic RepublicSomalia has been without a central government since 1991, and much of the territory has been subject to serious civil strife and inter-clan hostilities. Somalia, or the Somali Democratic Republic, is located in eastern Africa. It is often called the Land of Milk and Myrrh. Somal means "milk of the cow or goat."

Population: 10.7 millions (est.)

Capital: Mogadishu.

Ethnic Groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and others 15% (including Arabs 30,000).

Religion: Islam/Muslim (Sunni) (Sunni Muslim).

Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English, Bantu.

Climate: December to February, northeast monsoon, and very hot in the south;May to October, southwest monsoon, torrid in the north, and hot in the south; irregular rainfall; hot and humid periods (tangambili) between monsoons.

Terrain: Principally desert; mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in the north. 

Government: From 1991 to 2000, Somalia had no working government. A fragile government was set up in 2000-2003, but it failed. In 2004, a new transitional parliament was instituted and a president elected.

Economy: Its economy is pastoral and agricultural, with livestock: cattle, sheep, goats and camels - representing the main form of wealth.

Numbers in New Zealand: 5,000 – 7,000 (estimate).

Cuisine: Somali cuisine was influenced by the English, French and Italian rulers. Traditional Somali foods are meat-based and, accompanied by rice. Like other Muslims, Somali do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Common foods in Somalia include a type of bread called anjara, (a large, spongy

pancake) and sambusas, which are deep-fried triangular-shaped dumplings usually filled with meat or vegetables. Somalis have scrumptious meat and chicken dishes called bariis, often served with basmati rice flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon.

Somali cuisine reflects the people’s clever use of scarce resources. People usually begin the day with flat bread called canjero or laxoo, and either cereal or porridge made of millet or cornmeal. The midday meal is the largest and consists of rice or noodles, (pasta became popular under Italian rule,), with sauce and perhaps meat. The evening meal is light and might include beans, muffo, (patties made of oats or corn) or a salad with more canjero.Somalis adore spiced tea, but sheep, goat and camel's milk are also popular.

Migration to New Zealand: Almost all Somalis arrived in New Zealand from refugee situations.Most came through the annual Refugee Quota; some as asylum seekers; some through the former Humanitarian category and others through the Family Reunion process. The first Somalis to arrive in New Zealand were from the north of their country.They were seeking asylum from the conflict between north and south that raged from 1989

to1991. They arrived in 1993 and were resettled under the official Refugee Quota Programme. Since then many more have settled in Auckland,Hamilton,Wellington and Christchurch. Now Somalis form New Zealand’s largest African community, making positive contributions to their new country.

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