British Somaliland

British Somaliland, officially the British Somaliland Protectorate (Somali: Dhulka Maxmiyada Soomaalida ee Biritishka), was a British protectorate in present-day Somaliland. For much of its existence, the territory was bordered by Italian Somalia, French Somali Coast and Ethiopia. From 1940 to 1941, it was occupied by the Italians and was part of Italian East Africa. On 26 June 1960, British Somaliland declared independence as the State of Somaliland. On 1 July 1960, the State of Somaliland united, with the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somalia) to form the Somali Republic (Somalia).[2][3] The government of Somaliland, a self-declared sovereign state that is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia,[4][5] regards itself as the successor state to British Somaliland.[6][7]

British Somaliland Protectorate

Dhulka Soomaalida ee Biritishka
Coat of arms of Northern Somaliland Protectorate
Coat of arms
British Somaliland
British Somaliland
StatusProtectorate of the United Kingdom
Common languagesEnglish
• Established
26 June 1960
1 July 1960
1904[1]155,399 km2 (60,000 sq mi)
• 1904[1]
CurrencyRupee (1884–1941)
East African shilling (1941–62)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sultanate of Ifat
Adal Sultanate
Khedivate of Egypt
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa
State of Somaliland
Today part of Somalia (de jure)
(de facto)


Treaties and establishment

Chieftains of the Isaaq clan
Sultan Abdurahman Deria (left) of the Habr Awal and Sultan Abdillahi Sultan Deria (right) of the Garhajis subclans of the Isaaq.

In 1888, after signing successive treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans from the Isaaq, Issa, Gadabursi, and Warsangali clans the British established a protectorate in the region referred to as British Somaliland.[8] The British garrisoned the protectorate from Aden and administered it from their British India colony until 1898. British Somaliland was then administered by the Foreign Office until 1905 and afterwards by the Colonial Office.

Generally, the British did not have much interest in the resource-barren region.[9] The stated purposes of the establishment of the protectorate were to "secure a supply market, check the traffic in slaves, and to exclude the interference of foreign powers." [10] The British principally viewed the protectorate as a source for supplies of meat for their British Indian outpost in Aden through the maintenance of order in the coastal areas and protection of the caravan routes from the interior.[11] Hence, the region's nickname of "Aden's butcher's shop".[12] Colonial administration during this period did not extend administrative infrastructure beyond the coast,[13] and contrasted with the more interventionist colonial experience of Italian Somalia.[14]

Dervish Uprising

The National Archives UK - CO 1069-8-36
Aerial view of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan's main fort in Taleh, the capital of his Dervish movement.

Beginning in 1899, the British were forced to expend considerable human and military capital to contain a decades-long resistance movement mounted by the Dervish resistance movement.[15] The movement was led by Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, a Somali religious leader referred to colloquially by the British as the "Mad Mullah".[16] Repeated military expeditions were unsuccessfully launched against Hassan and his Dervishes before World War I.

1911 map of Somalia showing British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.

On 9 August 1913, the Somaliland Camel Constabulary suffered a serious defeat at the Battle of Dul Madoba at the hands of the Dervishes. Hassan had already evaded several attempts to capture him. At Dul Madoba, his forces killed or wounded 57 members of the 110-man Constabulary unit, including the British commander, Colonel Richard Corfield.

In 1914, the British created the Somaliland Camel Corps to assist in maintaining order in British Somaliland.

In 1920, the British launched their fifth and final expedition against Hassan and his followers. Employing the then-new technology of military aircraft, the British finally managed to quell Hassan's twenty-year-long struggle. The aerial attack on the Dervish capital, Taleh, killed many members of Hassan's family who had been lured there by the British for an official visit.[17] Hassan and his Dervish supporters fled into the Ogaden, where Hassan died in 1921.[18]

Somaliland Camel Corps

The Somaliland Camel Corps, also referred to as the Somali Camel Corps, was a unit of the British Army based in British Somaliland. It lasted from the early 20th century until 1944. The troopers of the Somaliland Camel Corps had a distinctive dress. It was based on the standard British Army khaki drill, but included a knitted woollen pullover and drill patches on the shoulders. Shorts were worn with woollen socks on puttees and "chaplis", boots or bare feet. Equipment consisted of a leather ammunition bandolier and a leather waist belt. The officers wore pith helmets and khaki drill uniforms. Other ranks wore a "kullah" with "puggree" which ended in a long tail which hung down the back.[19] A "chaplis" is typically a colourful sandal. A "kullah" is a type of cap. A "puggree" is typically a strip of cloth wound around the upper portion of a hat or helmet, particularly a pith helmet, and falling down behind to act as a shade for the back of the neck.

British Somaliland 1920–1930

The National Archives UK - CO 1069-3-179
Market in Hargeisa.

Following the defeat of the Dervish resistance, the two fundamental goals of British policy in British Somaliland were the preservation of stability and the economic self-sufficiency of the protectorate.[20] The second goal remained particularly elusive because of local resistance to taxation that might have been used to support the protectorate's administration.[21] By the 1930s, the British presence had extended to other parts of British Somaliland. Growth in commercial trade motivated some livestock herders to subsequently leave the pastoral economy and settle in urban areas.[22] Customs taxes also helped pay for British India's patrol of Somalia's Red Sea Coast.[23]

Italian invasion

In August 1940, during the East African Campaign in World War II, British Somaliland was invaded by Italy. The few British forces that were present attempted to defend the main road to Berbera, but were dislodged from their positions and retreated after losing the Battle of Tug Argan. During this period, the British rounded up soldiers and governmental officials to evacuate them from the territory through Berbera. In total, 7,000 people, including civilians, were evacuated.[24] The Somalis serving in the Somaliland Camel Corps were given the choice of evacuation or disbandment; the majority chose to remain and were allowed to retain their arms.[25]

In March 1941, after a six-month Italian occupation, the British Imperial forces recaptured the protectorate during Operation Appearance. The final remnants of the Italian guerrilla movement discontinued all resistance in British Somaliland by the autumn of 1943.

Independence and union with the Trust Territory of Somaliland

Somaliland Protectorate overprinted stamps
Stamps of the Somaliland Protectorate 1953 issue overprinted in 1957 and 1960 to mark events relating to the Legislative Council.

In 1947, the entire budget for the administration of the British Somaliland protectorate was only £213,139.[23]

In May 1960, the British Government stated that it would be prepared to grant independence to the then Somaliland protectorate. The Legislative Council of British Somaliland passed a resolution in April 1960 requesting independence. The legislative councils of the territory agreed to this proposal.[26]

In April 1960, leaders of the two territories met in Mogadishu and agreed to form a unitary state. An elected president was to be head of state. Full executive powers would be held by a prime minister answerable to an elected National Assembly of 123 members representing the two territories.

On 26 June 1960, the British Somaliland protectorate gained independence as the State of Somaliland before uniting five days later with the Trust Territory of Somalia to form the Somali Republic (Somalia) on 1 July 1960.[2][3]

After the state of Somaliland united with the Trust Territory of Somalia to establish the Somali Republic. on July 1, 1960. The legislature appointed the speaker Hagi Bashir Ismail Yousuf as First President of the Somali National Assembly. The same day Aden Abdullah Osman Daar become President of the Somali Republic.


In 1991, after a bloody civil war for independence in the northern part of Somali Democratic Republic, the area which formerly encompassed British Somaliland declared independence. In May 1991, the formation of the "Republic of Somaliland" was proclaimed, with the local government regarding it as the successor to the former British Somaliland as well as to the State of Somaliland. However, the Somaliland region's self-declared independence remains unrecognised by any country.[4][27]

See also


  1. ^ "Census of the British empire. 1901". 1906. p. 178. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b Somalia
  3. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica, The New Encyclopædia Britannica, (Encyclopædia Britannica: 2002), p.835
  4. ^ a b Lacey, Marc (5 June 2006). "The Signs Say Somaliland, but the World Says Somalia". New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  5. ^ "The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic" (PDF). University of Pretoria. 1 February 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2010. "The Somali Republic shall have the following boundaries. (a) North; Gulf of Aden. (b) North West; Djibouti. (c) West; Ethiopia. (d) South south-west; Kenya. (e) East; Indian Ocean."
  6. ^ "Somaliland Marks Independence After 73 Years of British Rule" (fee required). The New York Times. 26 June 1960. p. 6. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  7. ^ "How Britain said farewell to its Empire". BBC News. 23 July 2010.
  8. ^ Hugh Chisholm (ed.), The encyclopædia britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information, Volume 25, (At the University press: 1911), p.383.
  9. ^ Samatar, Abdi Ismail The state and rural transformation in Northern Somalia, 1884–1986, Madison: 1989, University of Wisconsin Press, p. 31
  10. ^ Samatar p. 31
  11. ^ Samatar, p. 32
  12. ^ Samatar, Unhappy masses and the challenge of political Islam in the Horn of Africa, Somalia Online [1] retrieved 10-03-27
  13. ^ Samatar, The state and rural transformation in Northern Somaliap. 42
  14. ^ McConnell, Tristan (15 January 2009). "The Invisible Country". Virginia Quarterly Review. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  15. ^ Mohamoud, Abdullah A. (2006). State Collapse and Post-conflict Development in Africa: The Case of Somalia (1960-2001). Purdue University Press. ISBN 9781557534132.
  16. ^ Jardine, Douglas James (2015-10-15). Mad Mullah of Somaliland. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 9781781519820.
  17. ^ Ross, Sherwood. "How the United States Reversed Its Policy on Bombing Civilians". The Humanist. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  18. ^ Samatar, The state and rural transformation in Northern Somalia, p. 39
  19. ^ Mollo, p. 139
  20. ^ Samatar, p. 45
  21. ^ Samatar, p. 46
  22. ^ Samatar, pp. 52–53
  23. ^ a b Ofcansky and LaVerle Berry, Thomas P. "Ethiopia in World War II". A Country Study: Ethiopia. Library of Congress. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  24. ^ Playfair (1954), p. 178
  25. ^ Wavell, p. 2724
  26. ^ Somali Independence Week Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ UN in Action: Reforming Somaliland's Judiciary

Coordinates: 9°33′N 44°4′E / 9.550°N 44.067°E


Berbera (Somali: Barbara, Arabic: بربرة‎) is a coastal city and capital of the Sahil region in the self-declared but internationally unrecognised Republic of Somaliland. It is the former capital of Somaliland.In antiquity, Berbera was part of a chain of commercial port cities along the Somali seaboard. During the early modern period, Berbera was the most important place of trade in the entire Horn of Africa. It later served as the capital of the British Somaliland protectorate from 1884 to 1941, when it was replaced by Hargeisa. In 1960, the British Somaliland protectorate gained independence as the State of Somaliland and united five days later with the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somalia) to form the Somali Republic. Located strategically on the oil route, the city has a deep seaport, which serves as the region's main commercial harbour.

East African Campaign (World War II)

The East African Campaign (also known as the Abyssinian Campaign) was fought in East Africa during World War II by Allied forces, mainly from the British Empire, against Axis forces, primarily from Italy of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana or AOI), between June 1940 and November 1941. Forces of the British Middle East Command, including units from the United Kingdom and the colonies of British East Africa, British Somaliland, British West Africa, the Indian Empire, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Mandatory Palestine, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and Sudan participated in the campaign. Ethiopian irregulars, the Free French and the Belgian Force Publique also participated.

The AOI was defended by Italian forces of the Comando Forze Armate dell'Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian East African Armed Forces Command), with units from the Regio Esercito (Italian army), Regia Aeronautica (air force) and Regia Marina (navy), about 200,000 Regio Corpo Truppe Coloniali from Italian-occupied Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Italian Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, led by Italian officers and NCOs, 70,000 Italian regulars and reservists. The Compagnia Autocarrata Tedesca (German Motorised Company) fought under Italian command.

Hostilities began on 13 June 1940, with an Italian air raid on the base of 1 Squadron Southern Rhodesian Air Force (237 (Rhodesia) Squadron RAF) at Wajir in the East Africa Protectorate (Kenya) and continued until Italian forces had been pushed back from Kenya and Sudan, through Somaliland, Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1940 and early 1941. The remnants of the Italian forces in the AOI surrendered after the Battle of Gondar in November 1941, except for small groups that fought a guerrilla war in Ethiopia against the British until the Armistice of Cassibile (3 September 1943) ended hostilities between Italy and the Allies. The East African Campaign was the first Allied strategic victory in the war but was overshadowed by the British defeats in the Battle of Greece and the Battle of Crete.

Flag of Somaliland

The flag of Somaliland is used in Somaliland, a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. Having established its own local government in 1991, the region's self-declared independence remains unrecognized by any country or international organization. It contains the Pan-Arab colors of green, black, white and red. On the green stripe, there is the Sunni Shahada in white script, similar to that of the Saudi Arabian flag.

The Constitution of Somaliland, as approved on May 31, 2001, by referendum:

Article 7: The Flag, the Emblem and the National Anthem

1. The flag of the Republic of Somaliland shall consist of three horizontal, parallel and equal sections, the top section, which is coloured green and has inscribed in its midst in white in Arabic language La Ilaha Ill-Allah, Muhammadan Rasulullah ( لا إله إلاَّ الله محمد رسول الله, There is no god except for God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God); the middle section is white and has at its centre a black star; and the bottom section is coloured red.


Hargeisa (Somali: Hargeysa, Arabic: هرجيسا‎) is a city situated in the Woqooyi Galbeed region of the self-declared but internationally unrecognised Republic of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. It is the capital and largest city of Somaliland.

During the Middle Ages, Hargeisa was part of the domain of the Adal Sultanate. The city later succeeded Berbera as the capital of the British Somaliland protectorate in 1941. In 1960, the protectorate gained independence and united as scheduled days later with the Trust Territory of Somaliland (the former Italian Somaliland) to form the Somali Republic (Somalia) on July 1.Hargeisa is situated in a valley in the Galgodon (Ogo) highlands, and sits at an elevation of 1,334 m (4,377 ft). Home to rock art from the Neolithic period, the city is also a commercial hub for precious stone-cutting, construction, retail services and trading, among other activities.

Italian conquest of British Somaliland

The Italian conquest of British Somaliland was part of the East African Campaign (1940–1941), which took place in August 1940 between the metropolitan Italian, Eritrean and Somali forces of Fascist Italy and British, Commonwealth and Somali irregulars. The Italian expedition was intended to exploit mobility and speed but was hampered by the Somali terrain, rainy weather and the British defence of the colony, particularly at the Battle of Tug Argan (11–15 August).

Italian attacks had the advantage of artillery and the outnumbered British, Commonwealth and Imperial forces were gradually worn down and slowly outflanked until the remaining fortified hilltops were made vulnerable to being captured piecemeal. After the failure of a counter-attack towards the Mirgo Pass, the local commander, Major-General Reade Godwin-Austen had too few men to retrieve the situation and to guard an escape route and was given permission to retreat towards Berbera.

The British fought a rearguard action at Barkasan on 17 August and then retreated after dark but the improvised evacuation went better than expected and the second blocking position at Nasiyeh was also abandoned. The Italian advance was slowed by roads being swamped by the rains and the airstrip near Berbera being found to be garrisoned, making a coup de main impractical. The British defeat was controversial and caused a deterioration in relations between General Archibald Wavell, the theatre commander, his subordinates and the Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia

The Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia was a conflict fought from the summer of 1941 to the autumn of 1943 by remnants of Italian troops in Ethiopia, in what had been the short-lived attempt to incorporate Ethiopia as part of Italian East Africa. The guerrilla campaign was fought following the Italian defeat during the East African Campaign of World War II, while the war was still on in Northern Africa and Europe.

King's African Rifles

The King's African Rifles (KAR) was a multi-battalion British colonial regiment raised from Britain's various possessions in East Africa from 1902 until independence in the 1960s. It performed both military and internal security functions within the colonial territory, and served outside these territories during the World Wars. The rank and file (askaris) were drawn from native inhabitants, while most of the officers were seconded from the British Army. When the KAR was first raised there were some Sudanese officers in the battalions raised in Uganda, and native officers were commissioned towards the end of British colonial rule.

List of Presidents of Somaliland

This is a list of Presidents of the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. The Republic of Somaliland regards itself as the successor state to British Somaliland, which was independent for a few days in 1960 as the State of Somaliland. The President of the Republic of Somaliland is an executive head of state, also functioning as the head of government. There is no Prime Minister.

List of colonial governors of British Somaliland

This is a list of colonial governors of British Somaliland from 1884 to 1960. They administered the territory on behalf of the United Kingdom.

No. 216 Squadron RAF

No. 216 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force and, before disbandment operated the Lockheed Tristar K1, KC1 and C2 from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

No. 223 Squadron RAF

No. 223 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. Originally formed as part of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), the Squadron flew in both World Wars.

Postage stamps and postal history of British Somaliland

Originally mail from British Somaliland used postage stamps of Egypt, then India. In 1903, about 30 types of stamps of India were overprinted "BRITISH / SOMALILAND".

Postage stamps and postal history of Somalia

The following is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Somalia. From the late 1800s to 1960, northwestern present-day Somalia was administered as British Somaliland, while the northeastern, central and southern part of the country were concurrently administered as Italian Somaliland. In 1960, the two territories were unified as the Somali Republic.

Revenue stamps of British Somaliland

Revenue stamps of British Somaliland refer to the adhesive revenue or fiscal stamps which were issued by British Somaliland, a British protectorate in present-day Somaliland, between 1900 and 1904. All Somaliland fiscals were revenue stamps of India overprinted BRITISH SOMALILAND.British India Court Fee stamps bearing the portrait of Queen Victoria (originally issued in 1882) were overprinted for use in Somaliland between 1900 and 1903. There are different types of the overprint, and one surcharged stamp is also known. In 1904, similar overprints were applied to Court Fee stamps depicting the new monarch Edward VII.British India revenue stamps, also depicting Queen Victoria and originally issued in 1869, were also similarly overprinted. Once again there are two different types of overprints.Somaliland revenues were withdrawn in 1904, following the introduction of dual-purpose postage and revenue stamps.

Somalia–United Kingdom relations

Somalia–United Kingdom relations are bilateral relations between Somalia and the United Kingdom.


Somaliland (Somali: Somaliland; Arabic: صوماليلاند‎ Ṣūmālīlānd, أرض الصومال‎ Arḍ aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Republic of Somaliland (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland, Arabic: جمهورية صوماليلاند‎ Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd), is a self-declared state, internationally considered to be an autonomous region of Somalia.The government of the de facto state of Somaliland regards itself as the successor state to the former British Somaliland protectorate, which, in the form of the briefly independent State of Somaliland, united as scheduled on 1 July 1960 with the Trust Territory of Somaliland (the former Italian Somaliland) to form the Somali Republic.Somaliland lies in northwestern Somalia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden. It is bordered by the remainder of Somalia (per international recognition) to the east, Djibouti to the northwest, and Ethiopia to the south and west. Its claimed territory has an area of 176,120 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), with approximately 4 million residents. The capital and the largest city is Hargeisa, with the population of around 1,500,000 residents.In 1988, the Siad Barre government began a crackdown against the Hargeisa-based Somali National Movement (SNM) and other militant groups, which were among the events that led to the Somali Civil War. The conflict left the country's economic and military infrastructure severely damaged. Following the collapse of Barre's government in early 1991, local authorities, led by the SNM, unilaterally declared independence from Somalia on 18 May of the same year and reinstated the borders of the former short-lived independent State of Somaliland.Since then, the territory has been governed by democratically elected governments that seek international recognition as the Government of the Republic of Somaliland (Somali: Dowlada Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland, Arabic: جمهورية صوماليلاند‎ Dawlat Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd). The central government maintains informal ties with some foreign governments, who have sent delegations to Hargeisa. Ethiopia also maintains a trade office in the region. However, Somaliland's self-proclaimed independence remains unrecognised by any country or international organisation. It is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, an advocacy group whose members consist of indigenous peoples, minorities and unrecognised or occupied territories.

Somaliland Camel Corps

The Somaliland Camel Corps (SCC) also referred to as the Somali Camel Corps, was a unit of the British Army based in British Somaliland. It lasted from the early 20th century until 1944.

Somaliland Campaign

The Somaliland Campaign, also called the Anglo-Somali War or the Dervish War, was a series of military expeditions that took place between 1900 and 1920 in the Horn of Africa, pitting the Dervishes led by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (nicknamed the "Mad Mullah", although he "was neither mad nor a mullah") against the British. The British were assisted in their offensives by the Ethiopians and Italians. During the First World War (1914–1918), Hassan also received aid from the Ottomans, Germans and, for a time, from the Emperor Iyasu V of Ethiopia. The conflict ended when the British aerially bombed the Dervish capital of Taleh in February 1920.

Warsangali Sultanate

The Warsangali Sultanate (Somali: Saldanadda Warsangeli, Arabic: سلطنة الورسنجلي‎) was a Somali Sultanate ruling house centered in northeastern of Somalia. In 1884, the United Kingdom established the protectorate of British Somaliland through various treaties with the northern Somali sultanates (Dir, Isaaq and Harti including the Warsangali). The Warsangali clan constituted 20,000 of British Somaliland's total population of 640,000 (3.1%).

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