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Somalia

Somalia Democratic Republic, Al Jumhouriya As-Somalya al-Dimocradia

Last modified: 2008-08-23 by
Keywords: somalia |
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[Somalia] image by Željko Heimer, 20 Jan 2003
Proportions: unspecified
Flag adopted 12 Oct 1954, coat of arms adopted 10 Oct 1956

Other Somali pages:

See also:

Background

 

Somalia was created on 01 July 1960 following the independence of Italian Somaliland from Italy, which then immediately united with British Somaliland to form the Somali Republic.  British Somaliland had gained its independence just five days earlier on 26 June 1960.  Currently Somalia is regarded as a "failed state" with a weak, but recognised central government authority, which is known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).  The TFG only controls the central region of the country.

 

De facto control of the north of the country resides in local authorities, of which Puntland, Maakhir and Galmudug acknowledge the authority of the TFG, and maintain their declaration of autonomy within a federated Somalia.  Southwestern Somalia and Jubaland, in the south, have largely abandoned the idea of autonomy.  Somaliland in the north has declared itself independent from Somalia and does not recognise the authority of the TFG.  Somaliland's self-declared independence is not recognised.

 

The British established a protectorate in 1886 over what became known as British Somaliland and the Italians colonised the south in 1889, which became known as Italian Somaliland.


Italy, under Mussolini, invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935, in an attempt to colonise it.  This action was condemned by the League of Nations, but little was done to prevent it or to liberate Italian occupied Ethiopia. 

On 03 August 1940 Italian troops invaded British Somaliland from Ethiopia and succeeded in occupying the territory until January 1942 when Britain launched a campaign from Kenya with the objectives to liberate British Somaliland, Italian-occupied Ethiopia and conquer Italian Somaliland.  By February 1942, most of Italian Somaliland had been captured by the British and in March, British Somaliland was retaken liberated from the coast with the help of Somali patriotic forces.  

After the cessation of hostilities at the end of World War II, the newly formed United Nations made the former Italian Somaliland a protectorate of Italy in 1949.  The Ogaden province was given to the re-established government of Ethiopia by the British, which also maintained its control over British Somaliland until independence in 1960.  Neighbouring Djibouti was maintained as a French colony until it obtained independence in 1977.
Bruce Berry, 27 June 2007


Flag of Somalia

Somalia adopted a light blue flag in honour of the United Nations Organisation that had controlled the country until the independence. The star has 5 points - one for each branch of the Somalis: Issas of Djibouti, Somalis of Ethiopia, Issaks of Somaliland, Somalis of old Italian Somalia and the Somalis of North Kenya .
Jaume Ollé 27 Jul 1999

The five points of the star on the Somali flag simply represents the previous colonial area where the mostly Somali speaking people live and lived.
Mohamed Aden, 13 Sep 1999

National Flag. CSW/CSW 2:3
Light blue flag with white five-pointed star.

I tried to find out whether there is some legal background of this flag available on the internet, but without success. It seems that a draft new constitution has been tabled but I was unable to locate the text on-line.  I also tried to locate previous legislation relating to the flag, but once again in vain. The previous 1979 constitution is de facto not valid, and apparently no-one quotes it on the internet. The flag is older this as it dates from 1954. I was hoping to find at least a hint on how big the star should be "de jure".

Looking the Somalian government site, it seems they use the same Coat of Arms, without any changes as shown in Smith [smi82], which is the original 1956 design. The site also shows the white-star-in-blue flag nicely.
Željko Heimer, 20 Jan 2003

The front page of the Portuguese newspaper Público today shows a photo by Ali Musa Abdi (of Agence France Presse) showing what seems to be a home-made light assault vehicle covered in an interesting camouflage pattern and with what seems to be a flag painted or pasted on the driver's door as shown below from http://jornal.publico.clix.pt/Default.asp?.

image sent by António Martins-Tuválkin , 06 June 2006

image by António Martins-Tuválkin , 06 June 2006

This is a medium or light blue ~1:2 rectangular panel with four small white five-pointed regular stars pointing up at each corner and a larger one at top center. This design attached.
António Martins-Tuválkin , 06 June 2006

Željko Heimer complains that he has not found any legal text on the flag of Somalia. He refers to the invalid 1979 Constitution, whose relevant articles are quoted by Pascal Vagnat & Jos Poels in their book "Constitutions - What they tell us about national flags and coats of arms" (SAVA, Dec 2004). The Constitution was adopted on 25 August 1979 and came into force in 1984.

Chapter I (General Principles), Section I (The Republic)
Article 2. Flag, emblem and the capital
1. The national flag shall be azure in colour, rectangular, and shall have a white star with five equal points emblazoned in its centre.

2. The emblem of the Somali Democratic Republic shall be composed of an azure escutcheon with a gold border and shall bear a silver five-pointed star. The escutcheon surmounted by an embattlement with five points in Moorish style, the two lateral points halved, shall be borne by two leopards rampant in natural form facing each other, resting on two lances crossing under the point of the escutcheon, with two palm-leaves in natural form interlaced with a white ribbon.

Therefore, the scan of the coat of arms we show below is wrong and Smith is right: the ribbon should be white and not yellow.
Ivan Sache, 26 June 2006


History of the flag

In 1949 the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) decided that Somalia would be under the former colonial power (Italy) as a trusteeship territory for ten years. There were three other governments who were members of the UN Commission that were sent to Somalia as an advisory council of the trusteeship administration of Somalia. They were Egypt, the Philippines and Columbia. In April, 1950 the Italian trusteeship administration took control of Somalia and the British military administration withdrew. During the early months of 1954, a legislative council had been formed by the Italian trusteeship administration and the advisory council of the UN. The members of the legislative council were composed Somalis, Italians, Arabs and Indians. They had to prepare all laws and legislation concerning the country for the ten years of trusteeship under the United Nations. The members were not elected, but each political party, foreign community or any other recognized organizations were asked to select members.

Mr. Mohammed Awale Liban had been selected by the Somali labour trade union. Then members suggested the the Somalia national flag must be adopted by the legislative council in order that the Somali people could get to know their National Flag before independence. When the legislative council agenda reached the discussion on the  Somali National Flag, Mr. Liban proposed that only the Somali members should discuss the issue. According to the legislative council's constitution each new proposal had to be voted on by all the council members. Mr Liban proposal was adopted and the Somali members of the council chose Mr. Sheik Omar to be Chairman. The temporary new chairman said that the issue of the national flag would be debated the next day, following which Mr. Liban went home and started to design the Flag. He chose the blue colour to represent peace and the UN and placed a white 5-pointed star in the centre. Each point of the white star was to represent the five Somali regions which had been divided by the colonial powers.

The next morning the council session started around 10:30. However, once the chairman had opened the session Mr. Liban requested a chance to speak, which was granted by the chairman. He stood up in front of legislative council members and stretched out on his chest the blue flag with a white star in the centre. As he kept on stretching the flag across his chest, the Somali members applauded and cheered while clapping for five minutes. The temporary chairman made a short speech in which he acknowledged the ability of Mr. Liban whose talent had produced such a beautiful flag less then 24 hours.

Mr. Mohammed Awale Liban said the blue color stands the United Nations who help us to reach our dream of independence; white means peace and prosperity; and the star is the five regions of the Somali people.
Faisal H. Jama, 08 Mar 2000

Garowe Online News, 25 June 2006 reports that "Preparations for the celebration of the first day the national flag rose on Somali soil are currently underway in Baidoa, the temporary hub of Somalia's interim government. Tomorrow, Monday, June 26, 2006, marks the 46th anniversary since the first Somali flag was raised in the city of Hargeisa, after the ex-British Protectorate of Somaliland gained independence from European colonialism. Interim Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf is scheduled to give the keynote address in Baidoa to mark the anniversary of Somalia's Flag Day, which will attract thousands of people and government personnel.

A similar celebration is also being prepared in Mogadishu, Somalia's national Capital. This anniversary is special because the notorious warlords have been expelled [from] Mogadishu and a semblance of law and order has returned."

The Flag Day in Somalia is therefore 26 June, celebrating the first hoisting of the flag of the independent Republic of Somalia on 26 June 1960.
As it was the case in other African countries, the flag was adopted before the independence, during the Italian trusteeship (1950-1960).
Ivan Sache, 26 June 2006


Coat of Arms

[Coat of arms - Somalia] scan by Jarig Bakker

In DK's Pocket Book of Flags (1997), it states:

The coat of arms was adopted in 1956. The leopards which support the shield and the white star were also found on the arms used during the Italian administration.
And from Smith [smi80] (1980), with the same picture, except the scroll is white instead of yellow:
The arms of Somalia of 8 June 1919 featured a shield divided horizontally by a wavy white line. The top half of the shield was blue with a leopard in natural colour surmounted by a white five-pointed star. The present arms were adopted on 10 October 1956.
Ivan Sache, 13 Dec 1999

Željko Heimer complains that he has not found any legal text on the flag of Somalia. He refers to the invalid 1979 Constitution, whose relevant articles are quoted by Pascal Vagnat & Jos Poels in their book "Constitutions - What they tell us about national flags and coats of arms" (SAVA, Dec 2004). The Constitution was adopted on 25 August 1979 and came into force in 1984.

Chapter I (General Principles), Section I (The Republic)
Article 2. Flag, emblem and the capital
1. The national flag shall be azure in colour, rectangular, and shall have a white star with five equal points emblazoned in its centre.

2. The emblem of the Somali Democratic Republic shall be composed of an azure escutcheon with a gold border and shall bear a silver five-pointed star. The escutcheon surmounted by an embattlement with five points in Moorish style, the two lateral points halved, shall be borne by two leopards rampant in natural form facing each other, resting on two lances crossing under the point of the escutcheon, with two palm-leaves in natural form interlaced with a white ribbon.

Therefore, the scan of the coat of arms above is wrong and Smith is right: the ribbon should be white and not yellow.
Ivan Sache, 26 June 2006


Airforce Roundel

[Aircraft marking] image by Željko Heimer, 20 Jan 2003

Album des Pavillon [pas94] shows the Somali roundel as a blue disc with a white five-pointed star, the points of the star nearly touching the border of the disc.
This of course does not prove that there are still aircraft showing this roundel. Encyclopaedia Universalis Yearbook says: "Armed forces: Tribal war since 1991."
Ivan Sache, 01 Feb 2002.

Aircraft Marking.
Roundel based on the flag - blue with white star.
Željko Heimer, 20 Jan 2003

Dayuuradaha Xoogga Dalka Somaliyeed was formed in 1961 but is is not active since 1991. [cos98] and [whe86] report the roundel as appears above. [cos98] also reports a fin flash used by some of the planes as light blue vertical oriented rectangle charged with a star at the upper left corner and wavy dark blue bar connecting the right top corner with the lower left.
Some photos show the roundel also as fin flash though.
Dov Gutterman, 24 Jun 2004
 


Police flag

The flag of the Somali Police has a blue background (darker than the national flag's) with the police emblem in the centre - a wreath around a gazelle or cow's head and a star on top, all in white.  It is shown at Yahoo news at  <http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Somalia-Unrest-Mogadishu/ss/events/wl/051006somal\iaunrest/im:/071220/ids_photos_wl/r3071411433.jpg/> and at
<http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Somalia-Unrest-Mogadishu/ss/events/wl/051006somal\iaunrest/im:/071220/ids_photos_wl/r586884284.jpg/>.

It is rather misidentified as the Somali national flag:
"Somali policemen display their country flag during the celebrations of the 64th anniversary of the Somali police in Mogadishu, December 20, 2007. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA) "
Eugene Ipavec, 26 Dec 2007


Flag change?

Did the flag of Somalia undergo a flag change?  I received 3 of these VEX IV flag cards, and on one of these cards, it shows a flag of Somalia which features the star in  a triangle, set against a light blue background;  in addition, there are also 3 stripes consisting of green-white-orange.  Does this flag sound familiar, or is this is an older flag?
Russell Mah, 03 Nov 2003

I cannot identify the "star set in a triangle", but the green-white-orange sounds very like the 1996 flag of the Somaliland Republic (formerly British Somaliland and de facto independent)?  This is a vertical tricolour of green-white-red with a black star in the centre and the Islamic statement of faith in white on the green stripe.
Christopher Southworth, 04 Nov 2003

The flag you describe sounds like that of the Somali National Regional state flag, which is part of Ethiopia, and not to be confused with Somalia.
Martin Grieve, 05 Nov 2003


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