The Demographics of Somalia encompass the demographic features of
Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the Northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Oce ...
's inhabitants, including ethnicity, language, population density, education level, health, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population. Somalia is believed to be one of the most homogenous countries in
sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa, Af ...

Ethnic groups

According to ''The Economist'', at independence Somalia was "arguably in ethnic terms the most homogeneous country in sub-Saharan Africa", ahead of
Botswana Botswana (, also ), officially the Republic of Botswana ( tn, Lefatshe la Botswana, label= Setswana; Kalanga: ''Hango yeBotswana''), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African ...
, which is four-fifths Tswana. However, the publication also notes that "its ethnic homogeneity is misleading. Despite also sharing a single language and religion, it is divided into more than 500 clans and sub-clans".


Somalis Somalis ( so, Soomaalida) are an Cushitic peoples, East Cushitic ethnic group native to the Horn of Africa who share a common ancestry, culture and history. The Somali language is the shared mother tongue of ethnic Somalis, which is part of the ...

constitute the largest
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation ...
in Somalia, at approximately 85% of the nation's inhabitants. They are organized into
clan A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even withi ...
groupings, which are important social units; clan membership plays a central part in Somali
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in ...
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that stu ...
. Clans are patrilineal and are typically divided into sub-clans, sometimes with many sub-divisions. Through the '' xeer'' system (customary law), the advanced clan structure has served governmental roles in many rural Somali communities. Somali society is traditionally ethnically endogamy, endogamous. So to extend ties of alliance, marriage is often to another ethnic Somali from a different clan. Thus, for example, a recent study observed that in 89 marriages contracted by men of the Dhulbahante clan, 55 (62%) were with women of Dhulbahante sub-clans other than those of their husbands; 30 (33.7%) were with women of surrounding clans of other clan families (Isaaq, 28; Gadabuursi, 3); and 3 (4.3%) were with women of other clans of the Darod clan family (Marehan 2, Ogaden (clan), Ogaden 1).

Clan structure

Certain clans are traditionally classed as noble clans, referring to their nomadic lifestyle in contrast to the sedentary Sab who are either agropastoralists or artisanal castes. The five noble clans are Hawiye, Dir (clan), Dir, Darod, Isaaq and Rahanweyn . Of these, the Dir and Hawiye are regarded as descended from Irir Samaale, the likely source of the ethnonym ''Somali (soomaali)''. The Isaaq and Darod have separate agnatic (paternal) traditions of descent through Ishaaq ibn Ahmed, Ishaak ibn Ahmed (Sheikh Ishak) and Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti (Sheikh Darod) respectively.I.M. Lewis, ''A Modern History of the Somali'', fourth edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2002), p. 23 Both Sheikh Ishak and Sheikh Darod are asserted to have married women from the Dir clan, thus establishing matrilateral ties with the Samaale main stem. "Sab" is the term used to refer to minor Somali clans in contrast to "Samaale".Laitin, David D. & Said Sheikh Samatar, Samatar, Said S. (1987). ''Somalia: Nation in Search of a State'', Colorado: Westview Press. Both Samaale and Sab are the children of their father "Hiil" whose is the common ancestor all Somali clans. A few clans in the southern part of Greater Somalia do not belong to the major clans, but came to be associated with them and were eventually adopted into one of their confederations: Gaalje'el in Hiran, Somalia, Hiran and elsewhere in central Somalia traces its paternal descent to Gardheere Samaale; Garre in the Somali Region and North Eastern Province (Kenya), North Eastern Province is divided into two branches: Tuuf claiming itself to be Garre Gardheere Samaale,The Quranyo section of the Garre claim descent from Dirr, who are born of the Irrir Samal. UNDP Paper in Keyna http://www.undp.org/content/dam/kenya/docs/Amani%20Papers/AP_Volume1_n2_May2010.pdf and Quranyow, who married Tuuf's daughter, is of Mahamed Hiniftir Mahe Dir lineage; Degoodi in the Somali Region and North Eastern Province is related to Gaaje'el as Saransoor and traces its patrilineage to Gardheere Samaale; Hawaadle in Hiran belongs to the Meyle Samaale; Ajuraan in the North Eastern Province claim descent from Maqaarre Samaale and Sheekhaal acknowledges descent from Sheikh Abadir Umar Ar-Rida, also known as ''Fiqi Umar''. Thus, the Gaalje'el, Garre, Degoodi Ajuraan and Hawaadle are said to have patrilateral ties with the Dir and Hawiye through Samaale to Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, Aqeel Abu Talib, whereas the Sheekhaal traces descent to a different forefather than the Samaale progeny, but also ultimately to Aqeel Abu Talib. The Sheekhaal (var. Sheikhaal (Arabic: شيخال), also known as Fiqi Omar, is a Somali clan. A Group members of hawiye major clan (Martiile hiraab) inhabit Somalia, Ethiopia Djibouti and with considerable numbers also found in the Northern Frontier District (NFD) in Kenya. The Digil and Mirifle (Rahanweyn) are Agriculture, agro-pastoral clans in the area between the Jubba River, Jubba and Shebelle River, Shebelle rivers. Many do not follow a nomadic lifestyle, live further south, and speak Af-Maay, Maay. Although in the past frequently classified as a Somali language, Somali dialect, more recent research by the linguist Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi suggests that Maay constitutes a separate but closely related Afroasiatic language, Afro-Asiatic language of the Cushitic languages, Cushitic branch. A third group, the occupational clans, are treated as outcasts. They can only marry among themselves and other Somalis considered them to be ritually unclean. They lived in their own settlements among the nomadic populations in the north and performed specialised occupations such as metalworking, Tanning (leather), tanning and hunting. These Minority Somali clans are the Gaboye, Tumaal, Yibir, Jaji and Yahar.

Clans and sub-clans

There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures. The divisions and subdivisions as given here are partial and simplified. Many lineages are omitted. Note that some sources state that the Rahanweyn group is made up of the Digil and Mirifle clans, whereas others list the Digil as a separate group from the Rahanweyn. ;Major clans *Isaaq ** Arab, Ayuub, Garhajis, Habar Awal, Habar Jeclo, Tol Jecle, Sanbuur and Cibraan * Darod ** Awrtable, Dhulbahante, Dishiishe, Jidwaq, Leelkase, Majeerteen, Marehan, Mora'ase, Ogaden (clan), Ogaden, Moorsaante Geri Koombe * Dir (clan), Dir (Irir son of Samaale), **Issa (clan), Issa, Gadabuursi, Gadabuursi/Samaroon, Madahweyn or Madawini, Quranyow-Garre, Surre (clan), Surre, Dabruube, Barsug, Madigan, Biimaal, Bajimal * Hawiye (Irir son of Samaale) **Abgaal, Abgal, Mudulood clan (s), Gugundhabe, Xawaadle, Sheekhaal loobage, Baadi Cade, Jajeele, Geel-Jecel, Duduble, Habar Gedir (s), Murusade, Gorgate * Rahanweyn ** Digil *** Dabarre, Jiddu, Garre, Tunni, Geledi ** Mirifle ***Sagaal: Geeladle, Jilible, Gasaargude, Gawaweeyn, Baroosile, Luwaay, Hadame, Yantaar, Hubeer ***Sideed: Elaay. Leysaan, Eemid, Diisow, Maallan Wiin, Harin , Jiron, Naasiye * Saransor ** Issa (clan), Issa, Masare, Gaalje'el, Gaaljecel, Degoodi, Degodia * Mayle **Hawadle ;Minor clans * Ashraaf, Bravanese people, Bravanese, Benadiri people, Benadiri, Eyle people, Eyle, Mehri people, Carab Salaax, Gaboye (Madhiban), Muse clan (s), Tumaal, Yibir

Other ethnic groups

Non-Somali ethnic minority groups make up about 15% of the nation's population. They include Bantus (Somalia), Bantus, Bajuni people, Bajunis, Ethiopians, Indians, Pakistanis, Persian people, Persians, Arabs, Italy, Italians, Sweden, Swedes, and British people, Britons.Gale Research Inc, ''Worldmark encyclopedia of the nations'', Volume 2, (Gale Research: 1984), p.278.Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates, ''Encyclopedia of Africa'', Volume 1, (Oxford University Press: 2010), p.402


Somali language, Somali and Arabic language, Arabic are the official languages of Somalia. The Somali language is the first language, mother tongue of the Somalis, the nation's most populous ethnic group. It is a member of the Cushitic languages, Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic family. In addition to Somali, Arabic, which is also an Afroasiatic tongue,Helena Dubnov, ''A grammatical sketch of Somali'', (Kِppe: 2003), pp. 70–71. is an official national language in Somalia. Many Somalis speak it due to centuries-old ties with the Arab world, the far-reaching influence of the Arabic media, and religious education.Diana Briton Putman, Mohamood Cabdi Noor, ''The Somalis: their history and culture'', (Center for Applied Linguistics: 1993), p. 15.: "Somalis speak Somali. Many people also speak Arabic, and educated Somalis usually speak either English or Italian as well. Swahili may also be spoken in coastal areas near Kenya."Fiona MacDonald et al., ''Peoples of Africa'', Volume 10, (Marshall Cavendish: 2000), p. 178. English language, English is widely used and taught. Italian language, Italian used to be a major language, but its influence significantly diminished following Independence Day (Somalia), independence. It is now most frequently heard among older generations, government officials, and in educated circles. Other minority languages include Bravanese dialect, Bravanese, a variant of the Bantu languages, Bantu Swahili language that is spoken along the coast by the Bravanese people, as well as Bajuni dialect, Bajuni, another Swahili dialect that is the mother tongue of the Bajuni people, Bajuni ethnic minority group.


According to , the total population was in , compared to 2,264,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 44.9%, 52.3% was between 15 and 65 years of age, while 2.7% was 65 years or older.Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
As of July 2020, CIA's estimate of Somalia's population is 11,757,124 people.

Vital statistics

Registration of vital events in Somalia is incomplete. The Population Department of the United Nations prepared the following estimates:

Life expectancy

Demographic statistics

Demographic statistics according to the World Population Review. *One birth every 48 seconds *One death every 3 minutes *One net migrant every 14 minutes *Net gain of one person every 1 minutes The following demographic are from the CIA World Factbook unless otherwise indicated.


:11,259,029 (July 2018 est.) :10,428,043 (2014 est.)

Age structure

:''0-14 years:'' 42.87% (male 2,410,215 /female 2,416,629) :''15-24 years:'' 19.35% (male 1,097,358 /female 1,081,762) :''25-54 years:'' 31.23% (male 1,821,823 /female 1,694,873) :''55-64 years:'' 4.35% (male 245,744 /female 243,893) :''65 years and over:'' 2.19% (male 95,845 /female 150,887) (2018 est.)

Median age

:Total: 18.2 years. Country comparison to the world: 211st :Male: 18.4 years :Female: 18 years (2018 est.)

Birth rate

:39.3 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 9th :40.87 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate

:12.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) :13.91 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate

:5.7 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 6th

Population growth rate

:2.08% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 45th :1.75% (2014 est.)

Net migration rate

:-5.6 migrants/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 199th :-9.51 migrants/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios

:Total dependency ratio: 97.4 (2015 est.) :Youth dependency ratio: 92.1 (2015 est.) :Elderly dependency ratio: 5.3 (2015 est.) :Potential support ratio: 18.8 (2015 est.)


:Urban population: 45% of total population (2018) :Rate of urbanization: 4.23% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.) :''Urban population:'' 37.7% of total population (2011) :''Rate of urbanization:'' 3.79 annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio

''At birth:'' 1.03 males/female
''Under 15 years:'' 1 male/female
''15–64 years:'' 1.07 males/female
''65 years and over:'' 0.66 males/female
''Total population:'' 1.01 males/female (2015 est. )

Infant mortality rate

:Total: 93 deaths/1,000 live births :Male: 101.4 deaths/1,000 live births :Female: 84.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

:Total population: 53.2 years :Male: 51 years :Female: 55.4 years (2018 est.) :''Total population:'' 51.58 years :''Male:'' 49.58 years :''Female:'' 53.65 years (2014 est.)


;HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.1% (2017 est.) ;HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 11,000 (2017 est.) ;HIV/AIDS - deaths <1000 (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

''Degree of risk'': high
''Food or waterborne diseases'': bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
''Vector-borne diseases'': dengue fever, malaria, and Rift Valley fever
''Water contact disease'': schistosomiasis
''Animal contact disease'': rabies (2013)


''Noun:'' Somali (singular) or Somali (plural)
''Adjective:'' Somali

Ethnic groups

*Somalis, Somali 85% *Bantu Somali, Bantu and other non-Somali 15%.


*Islam (Sunni Islam, Sunni) (official)


*Somali language, Somali (official) *Arabic language, Arabic *English language, English


''Definition:'' age 15 and over can read and write
''Total population:'' N/ANo reliable data on nationwide literacy rate. 2013 FSNAU survey indicates considerable differences per region, with the autonomous northeastern Puntland region having the highest registered literacy rate (72%)


See also

Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the Northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Oce ...
* Demographics of Djibouti * Demographics of Eritrea * Demographics of Ethiopia



Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics
', Worldbank, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts
Victims and Vulnerable Groups in Southern Somalia
Country Information and Policy Unit, Home Office, Great Britain, Somalia Assessment 2001
Somali Clan Structure
Country Information and Policy Unit, Home Office, Great Britain, Somalia Assessment 2001

External links

from "Reunification of the Somali People", Jack L. Davies {{Human rights in Somalia Demographics of Somalia,