Somalia Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Somalia Country Overview

Where is Somalia located? The Republic of Somalia is located in East Africa, right on the Horn of Africa. Somalia owes its name to the majority of its inhabitants, the Somali people. The time zone map places Somalia in the East Africa time zone, where there is a standard time offset of +3 hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This time difference also remains in summer, since in Somalia, as in many other African countries, there is no changeover to daylight saving time.

Somalia National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Somalia is 11,757,124, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 11,757,124
Population growth rate 2.21%
Birth rate 39.60 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 51.19 years
Men life expectancy 49.22 years
Women life expectancy 53.23 years
Age structure
0-14 years 42.87%
15-64 years 54.93%
65 years and above 2.19%
Median age 17.80 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 1.01
Population density 18.44 residents per km²
Urbanization 34.80%
approx. 95% Somal tribes (Isaaq, Absami, Habargidir, Abgal, Darod, Digil, Issa, Hawiye etc.) and others
Muslims (Sunnis) 99.8%, Christians 0.1; Others 0.1

People in Somalia

About 15.4 million people live in Somalia. That is not so much compared to the size of the country. By the way, the people who live in Somalia are called Somalis. Somali, on the other hand, are only the Somalis who actually belong to the Somali people. However, this is the largest proportion of Somalis: 85 out of 100 people are also Somali.

The Somali live mainly in the north of the country. Minorities live more in the south. They mainly belong to the Somali Bantu and are also referred to here as Jarir. There are also the Bajuni with mixed origins, the Brawanese, the Benadiri as well as Arabs and a few Indians.

Nomads and clans

25 out of 100 residents live as nomads or semi-nomads. They roam the country with their herds of cattle. These are mostly camels or goats. 22 out of 100 work as farmers. 40 out of 100 Somalis live in cities. The proportion of urban residents in Somalia is increasing. The area around the capital Mogadishu is most densely populated.

However, there is also a second capital, the city of Hargeysa in northern Somalia. This is the capital of the Republic of Somaliland. However, this republic has not yet been recognized internationally. More people are said to live in this area than in Mogadishu.

The Somali are divided into clans based on their descent, a kind of family association. There are five major clans. The Darod, Dir, Hawiye and Isaaq have traditionally been nomadic. You look down on the fifth group, the sedentary Rahanweyn who live as farmers. This last group is sometimes subdivided. Each clan has its ancestral settlement area. You will find a map on the next page.

Each clan is also divided into many subclans. Belonging to a clan is inherited through the father. You can always tell from the name. Their own names are always followed by those of their father, grandfather, etc. Every child learns the sequence by heart.

Lots of kids

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The life expectancy of people is very low at 56 years. The health system is poor and education is lagging behind. Many babies die at or shortly after birth. But the birth rate remains high, so the population is growing rapidly despite this high death rate. 43 out of 100 Somalis are younger than 15 years old. On average, every woman has six children.

Languages in Somalia

In Somalia we speak Somali. It is the language of the Somali people, but it is also spoken by the minorities in the country. The Somali language is an Afro-Asian language. These languages ​​are spoken in the north of Africa and in the west of Asia, that is, on the Arabian Peninsula.

In Somali, many words come from Arabic, English, and Italian. English and Italian were the official languages ​​in the country before independence. Today Somali and Arabic are the country’s official languages.

Religions in Somalia

The Islam is the state religion in Somalia and almost all residents are Sunnis. Sharia, Islamic law, applies. The decisive factor in Somalia is not so much religious affiliation but affiliation to the clan. While moderate Islam prevails in many parts, there are now also radical currents.