Most of you would have heard about Somalia. But, how many of you know about a country called Somaliland? It must be very few because this country does not exist on the roaster maintained by the United Nations or foreign governments. There are 9 self-declared countries, including Somaliland, that are not recognized by the UN or the international community.
The Republic of Somaliland enjoyed a short stint — after the British colonial past — as an independent country till it was merged with Somalia in 1960. It broke away from Somalia in 1991 and declared as an independent country. Though, the international community considers Somaliland as an autonomous region of Somalia, many countries have trade missions in the country. Besides, Turkey had opened its embassy in Hargeisa, the capital city, a few years back. Somaliland has a population of 4 million residing in a land of 176,120 square kilometers and is located in East Africa.
I visited Hargeisa, in December 2017 for business. Somalia is still in the midst of militancy, but Somaliland is a peaceful place, and the people are very friendly. We can see money-exchangers sitting with huge bundles of currency notes at the roadsides. Many women selling gold ornaments can also be seen at open markets in the downtown, with their small portable glass-shelves carrying gold ornaments but without any security staff guarding them — signs of social security and safety.
Most part of Hargeisa still looks like a village. The roads are a mix of paved and unpaved tracks, with all kinds of vehicles, including donkey-carts, plying.
A night-walk in Hargeisa is safe. It is a poor country but coming up well. Somaliland has started its journey to progress. Hargeisa has very few multi-storey buildings.
There are only a few hotels to put up in Hargeisa. The city away from the thoroughfare looks like countryside. Many lanes that connect to the thoroughfare are unpaved ones, and a few meters away from the thoroughfare looks like country side. In other words, Hargeisa is still in the initial stage of its birth, and urbanization has just begun. But the winds of change are sweeping across this nascent nation with many foreign companies setting up shops in its peaceful environs, away from the tumultuous Somalia.
I was fortunate to get to meet Mustafa, a Sri Lankan national, and he took good care of me during may stay. He works for the company that we are dealing with.