Puntland profile

  • Published
Map of Puntland

Puntland, an arid region of north-east Somalia, declared itself an autonomous state in August 1998, in part to avoid the clan warfare engulfing southern Somalia.

Despite its relative stability, the region has endured armed conflict, and grabbed the world headlines with an upsurge in pirate attacks on international shipping in the Indian Ocean.

Puntland is a destination for many Somalis displaced by violence in the south.

Unlike its neighbour, breakaway Somaliland, Puntland says it does not seek recognition as an independent entity, wishing instead to be part of a federal Somalia.

The territory takes its name from the Land of Punt, a centre of trade for the ancient Egyptians and a place shrouded in legend.


  • Capital: Garowe (administrative), Bosaso (commercial)
  • Area: 212,510 sq km
  • Population: 4.9 million
  • Languages: Somali, Arabic, English
  • Life expectancy: 53 years (men) 56 years (women)


President: Said Abdullahi Dani

Image source, Getty Images

Said Abdullahi Dani, former federal planning minister, was elected presideet in a closely-fought election in January 2019. In the third round of voting Dani defeated former intelligence officer, Asad Osman Diyano.

As president, Dani is continuing the policies of his predecessor, Abdiweli Gaas, in driving back the al-Shabab Islamist militia and strengthening the remit of the central government.


Image source, Radio Galkayo
Image caption,
Radio Galkayo is affiliated to the authorities

Although Puntland's charter provides for freedom of the press, the authorities have resorted to detaining journalists and closing media outlets.

Private broadcasters are permitted to operate. No newspapers are currently published in Puntland.


Image source, Getty Images

17th-19th Century - The area of current Puntland is ruled by the Sultanate of Majeerteen - a major trading power.

1888-9 - Majeerteen and the rival sultanate of Hobyo become Italian protectorates.

1920s - Both sultanates are annexed to Italian Somaliland.

1960 - Puntland becomes part of a united Somalia with the independence and merger of the Italian and British Somaliland territories.

1998 - Puntland region declares autonomy after the rest of Somalia collapses into anarchy, but does not seek independence.

2005-2012 - Pirates - mainly operating out of Puntland - pose a major menace to shipping off the Somali coast, before falling away as a threat as a result of an international naval operation.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The threat of piracy off Puntland prompted a major naval operation involving EU and other countries' warships

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