Here’s a look at Somalia, an impoverished, war-torn eastern African country that borders the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia and Kenya.
(from the CIA World Fact Book)
Area: 637,657 sq km (slightly smaller than Texas)
Population: 12,094,640 (July 2021 est.)
Median age: 18.5 years
Ethnic groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs)
Religion: Sunni Muslim (Islam)
Somalia is part of the Horn of Africa in the region of eastern Africa. Other countries include Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. This region is subject to repetitive cycles of drought and famine.
July 1, 1960 – The new country of Somalia is formed through the union of newly independent territories British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.
1969 – Mohamed Siad Barre leads a bloodless coup and becomes dictator.
1977-1978 – Somalia invades the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Ethiopia rebels and weakens Somalia’s forces. The two countries have fought on and off since 1960.
1988 – Somalia and Ethiopia sign a peace treaty.
January 1991 – President Barre is forced into exile after the United Somali Congress overthrows his military regime in Mogadishu.
December 1992 – Faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohammed and warlord General Mohammed Farah Aidid sign a cease-fire brokered by US envoy Robert Oakley.
December 1992 – Operation Restore Hope is launched by UN coalition forces and led by the United States in an attempt to restore enough order to ensure food distribution to the Somali people.
June 5, 1993 – General Aidid’s forces attack and kill 24 UN troops from Pakistan.
September 25, 1993 – An American Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter is shot down over Mogadishu, and three soldiers on board are killed.
October 3-4, 1993 – The Battle of Mogadishu: Two Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters are shot down during a raid on Aidid’s high-level staff at Mogadishu’s Olympic Hotel. Eighteen US soldiers and hundreds of Somalis are killed. Pilot Michael Durant is captured.
October 9, 1993 – Aidid calls for a cease-fire with UN forces.
October 14, 1993 – Pilot Michael Durant is freed.
January 1994 – Elder clansmen agree to a new cease-fire. Aidid and Mohammed do not attend the talks.
March 25, 1994 – US troops complete their withdrawal after a 15-month mission.
March 2, 1995 – The last of the UN peacekeepers are evacuated.
June 27, 2005 – Pirates hijack the MV Semlow, a ship carrying UN food aid, and hold the vessel for 100 days.
October 12, 2005 – Another UN ship carrying aid, the MV Miltzow, is hijacked and held for more than 30 hours.
October 2005 – Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi calls on neighboring countries to send warships to patrol Somalia’s coast.
November 27, 2005 – Pirates free a Ukrainian cargo ship seized 40 days prior off the coast of Somalia.
April 4, 2006 – The South Korean ship Dongwon-ho 628 is seized off the coast of Somalia. Four months later, the crew is released after a ransom is allegedly paid.
April 2006 – Somalia grants the US Navy permission to patrol coastal waters.
February 25, 2007 – Pirates hijack the MV Rozen, a cargo ship delivering UN food aid to Somalia. The ship and crew are released after 40 days.
2008 – The United States designates Al-Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia linked to al Qaeda, as a foreign terrorist organization.
June 2008 – The UN Security Council unanimously votes to allow countries to send warships into Somalia’s waters to combat piracy.
September 25, 2008 – The Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, is attacked. Its cargo consists of 33 T-72 tanks, rocket launchers and small arms. The ship is released in February after pirates claim they have received a $3.2 million ransom payment.
November 2008 – The Saudi supertanker Sirius Star is hijacked. The ship is released in January 2009 after pirates claim to have received three million dollars in ransom.
April 8, 2009 – Somali pirates hijack the US-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama. The captain, Richard Phillips, offers himself as a hostage in order to protect his crew.
April 12, 2009 – Phillips is rescued when US Navy SEAL snipers fatally shoot three pirates and take the fourth into custody.
June 19, 2011 – Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo resigns. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali is appointed as an interim leader until a new prime minister can be appointed.
July 20, 2011 – The United Nations declares a famine in the southern Somalia regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle.
July 22, 2011 – Terrorist group Al-Shabaab reverses an earlier pledge to allow aid agencies to provide food in famine-stricken areas of southern Somalia.
August 2, 2011 – The United States updates guidance so humanitarian organizations will not be penalized for aid inadvertently falling into the hands of terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
August 8, 2011 – US President Barack Obama announces $105 million in emergency funding for Somalia.
August 11, 2011 – The United States announces another $17 million in emergency aid for Somalia.
September 5, 2011 – The UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit releases a report saying a total of four million people in Somalia need humanitarian aid and 750,000 people are in danger of “imminent starvation.”
October 4, 2011 – More than 70 people are killed and 150 injured when a truck filled with explosives drives into a government complex in Mogadishu. Most of the victims are students, who were registering for a Turkish education program, and their parents. Al-Shabaab claims responsibility.
September 10, 2012 – Somali parliament members select Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new president. The vote marks a milestone for the nation, which has not had a stable central government since Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown 21 years ago.
January 11, 2013 – French forces attempt to rescue a French intelligence commando held hostage in Somalia by Al-Shabaab. The raid leaves a French soldier dead, another soldier missing and 17 Islamist fighters dead. French President Francois Hollande later acknowledges that the operation “did not succeed” and resulted in the “sacrifice” of two French soldiers and “maybe the assassination” of hostage Denis Allex. Al-Shabaab later declares that it has killed the hostage in retribution for the raid.
January 17, 2013 – For the first time in more than two decades, the United States grants official recognition to the Somali government.
May 2, 2013 – A report, jointly commissioned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, shows that 258,000 Somalis died in the famine between October 2010 and April 2012. Half of the famine victims were children younger than five.
June 19, 2013 – An attack on the UN headquarters in Mogadishu leaves at least 14 people dead and 15 others wounded. Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the attack.
March 5, 2016 – A US strike in Somalia kills as many as 150 suspected Al-Shabaab fighters, according to the Pentagon. Both manned and unmanned aircraft are used.
February 8, 2017 – Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who resigned as prime minister in 2011, is elected president.
February 23, 2017 – President Mohamed names Hassan Ali Khaire prime minister.
March 2017 – US President Donald Trump authorizes the military to carry out precision strikes targeting Al-Shabaab. Prior, the US military was authorized to carry out airstrikes only in self-defense of advisers on the ground.
July 25, 2018 – Somalia announces it will pursue its first prosecution for female genital mutilation, after a 10-year-old dies following the procedure.
December 4, 2018 – The US State Department announces that the United States has reestablished a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia more than two decades after closing its embassy in Mogadishu.
April 5, 2019 – Following an internal review, the US military acknowledges, for the first time, civilian casualties during its air campaign in Somalia. A civilian woman and a child, whose presence were not known, were killed during an April 2018 air strike. At that time, US Africa Command said that no civilians had died and that the strike had killed five Al Shabaab militants.
July 24, 2019 – A suicide bomb attack on a government building kills at least six people and leaves six others injured, including Mogadishu’s mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman. Osman dies from his injuries on August 1.
December 28, 2019 – At least 79 people are killed and 149 more injured after a car bomb explodes at an intersection on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to a government official. Two days later, the death toll rises to 85 and Al-Shabab claims responsibility. Somalia says a foreign government helped to plan the attack.
February 26, 2020 – The International Monetary Fund announces it has “secured sufficient financing pledges to allow the Fund to provide comprehensive debt relief to Somalia.” More than 100 IMF member countries have pledged to provide $334 million in financing. This brings the country closer to reducing its total debt.
February 27, 2020 – The World Bank announces that is working towards normalizing relations with the government of Somalia after 30 years. The move will give the country access to financing for development and pave the way for future investment.
July 21, 2020 – The US military conducts an airstrike in Somalia targeting ISIS fighters that had attacked US-backed local forces that were being advised by US troops.
November 27, 2020 – Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller makes an unannounced visit to Somalia, the first by an American defense secretary.
December 19, 2020 – US forces that had been positioned in Somalia begin their withdrawal from the country. Earlier in the month, Trump ordered the majority of US troops to leave Somalia “by early 2021,” in just one of the major military policy decisions being taken in the final days of his administration.