Somalia is situated on the Horn of Africa, and is squeezed in between Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the north-west, and Kenya on its south-west. Somalia has a complicated history and a troubling past and political situation. Civil war, military coups and border disputes are all regular occurrences in this country, and it has been that way until the Ethiopian Army withdrew in 2007 after defeating an Islamist government. However, since then violence has been on an icrease due to the re-emergence of Islamist groups and other clans.
Somalia is currently ran by a coalition government which comprises the Internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government and the former Islamist government. However, the Islamic factions are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and the atmosphere in the country is extremely tense, which is a shame, since the country has the longest coastline in entire Africa and would probably be a desirable tourist destination if it weren’t for all the terrorism ruling the country.
Warnings & Dangers in Somalia
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
Somalia is currently a very dangerous destination for potential travelers. Governments in several countries have even issued warnings against traveling to this country, for reasons such as terrorism, kidnappings and other types of violent crime. Visiting Somalia can end in you getting seriously hurt or killed.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : HIGH
Given that Somalia has been without an effective government for 17 years, it has naturally took a toll on its roads and transportation. The roads are bad, and there are only two ways to get around Somalia: buses and taxis. As you can imagine, neither is safe, especially buses that can get road blocked and people inside robbed, mugged or worse.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Crime levels are high in Somalia and this goes for both petty and violent crime. Expect petty crime like pickpocketing, bag snatching, camera snatching, and other forms of theft. Avoid crowded places, if you must leave your accommodation.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Excluding the warfare as it's a man-made disaster, the two main natural hazards that have been known to happen in Somalia are droughts and floods.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
Violent confrontations like muggings, armed robberies and kidnappings are the norm in Somalia so it is recommended that you take extra care on the streets of this country, avoid dark streets and deserted areas. Bear in mind that risks increase after dark.
TERRORISM RISK : HIGH
Terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in Somalia. The biggest threat is coming from Al Shabaab and other groups opposed to the Somali government that persist in carrying out deadly attacks in and around Mogadishu on an almost daily basis.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
This country is so dangerous at the moment that scams are the least of your problems. But yes, there are scammers that will try and take advantage of travelers, so double check your change, never pay anything upfront and negotiate everything in advance. Be very careful around ATMs and be wary of anyone trying to distract you.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH
Somalia is not a safe destination for women. Do not go alone anywhere, and keep in mind that it is best not to move around Somalia at all, except if you're in a car with windows rolled up.
So... How Safe Is Somalia Really?
Somalia is a seriously dangerous country to travel to, and traveling there is strongly advised against. The US State Department and most Western nations advise their citizens against going to Somalia, even if their visit there is of essential importance. Al-Qaeda and the affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab persist in their activitiy across the country, kidnapping people, carrying out suicide bombings and generally causing fear and chaos. There is a particular terrorist threat to foreigners in places where they tend to gather, like airports, government buildings, hotels, and shopping areas.
In fact, in 2016, there were 14 reported attacks in hotels, restaurants, and the international airport in Mogadishu, while the latest attacks in autumn 2017 resulted in the deadliest incident ever in the capital of the country, with over 350 people killed. The only disputably safer place in Somalia is the semi-autonomous region Somaliland where the situation is much better than in the rest of the country.
Terrorism, however, isn’t your only problem in Somalia as you have to be wary of violent crime that exists in this country. Although there is a police force established, keep in mind that corruption is on a high level, which is why crime rates are growing. Do not leave your accommodation, as you are very likely to be kidnapped by a warlord or a criminal, and held for ransom. Again, avoid Somalia at all costs, as traveling there might end up in you being severely injured or killed.
- Visas - Most countries do need a visa in order to enter Somalia, but it can be acquired on arrival at the Bosaso Airport and it lasts for 30 days. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Somali shilling is the official currency in Somalia. ATMs aren't widespread but you can find some, mostly within Somali banks.
- Weather - Climate in Somalia is tropical but not torrid, characterized by little seasonal variation in temperature. In the low areas of the country, the average temperature ranges between 24° C to 31° C. The plateau region of the country is cooler while the southwest is warmer.
- Airports - Aden Adde International Airport, formerly referred to as Mogadishu International Airport, is the main international airport in Somalia. It is located in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Somalia, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.