The HORN OF AFRICA (Somali : Geeska Afrika, Oromo : _Gaaffaa
Amharic : የአፍሪካ ቀንድ? _yäafrika qänd_,
Arabic : القرن الأفريقي _al-qarn al-'afrīqī_,
Tigrinya : ቀርኒ ኣፍሪቃ? ) (shortened to HOA) is a peninsula
Northeast Africa . It juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian
Indian Ocean , lying along the southern side of the Gulf of
Aden . The area is the easternmost projection of the African continent
. The Horn of
Africa denotes the region containing the countries of
Ethiopia , and
It covers approximately 2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi) and is
inhabited by roughly 115 million people (Ethiopia: 96.6 million,
Somalia: 12.3 million, Eritrea: 6.4 million, and Djibouti: 0.81
million). Regional studies on the Horn of
Africa are carried out,
among others, in the fields of
Ethiopian Studies as well as Somali
* 1 History
* 1.1 Prehistory
* 1.2 Ancient history
Middle Ages and Early Modern era
* 1.4 Modern history
* 2 Geography
* 2.1 Geology and climate
* 2.2 Ecology
* 3 Ethnicity and languages
* 4 Culture
* 5 Religion
* 6 Sports
* 7 Economy
* 8 See also
* 9 Notes
* 10 References
* 11 External links
Laas Geel and
Dhambalin _ The Horn of
one of the proposed urheimat _ (original homelands) of the
Proto-Afroasiatic language .
Shell middens 125,000 years old have been found in Eritrea,
indicating the diet of early humans included seafood obtained by
According to both genetic and fossil evidence, archaic Homo sapiens
evolved into anatomically modern humans solely in
200,000 and 100,000 years ago. Evidence to support the theory that
recent modern humans originated in East
Africa is not conclusive.
Bab-el-Mandeb crossing in the
Red Sea : now some 12 miles (20 km)
wide, in prehistory narrower
Today at the
Bab-el-Mandeb straits, the
Red Sea is about 12 miles (20
kilometres) wide, but 50,000 years ago it was much narrower and sea
levels were 70 meters lower. Though the straits were never completely
closed, there may have been islands in between which could be reached
using simple rafts.
It has been estimated that from a population of 2,000 to 5,000
individuals in Africa, only a small group of possibly as few as 150
to 1,000 people crossed the
Red Sea .
According to linguists, the first Afro-Asiatic -speaking populations
arrived in the region during the ensuing
Neolithic era from the
family's proposed urheimat ("original homeland") in the
Nile Valley ,
Near East . Other scholars propose that the Afro-Asiatic
family developed in situ in the Horn, with its speakers subsequently
dispersing from there. Genetic analysis also indicates that,
beginning in the pre-agricultural period, settlers from the Near East
founded communities in Northeast Africa. These early settlements
eventually gave rise to the Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations in the
Maghreb as the groups spread.
Land of Punt ,
Dʿmt , and
Aksumite Empire Further
information: History of
Ethiopia , History of
Eritrea , and Ethiopian
historiography Queen Ati, wife of King Perahu of Punt , as
depicted on Pharaoh
Hatshepsut 's temple at
Deir el-Bahri .
Together with northern
Djibouti , the
Red Sea coast of
Eritrea is considered the most likely location of the land
known to the ancient
Egyptians as _Punt _ (or "Ta Netjeru," meaning
god's land), whose first mention dates to the 25th century BCE.
King Ezana\'s Stela at
Aksum , symbol of the Aksumite civilization .
Dʿmt was a kingdom located in
Eritrea and northern
Ethiopia , which
existed during the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. With its capital at Yeha
, the kingdom developed irrigation schemes, used plows , grew millet ,
and made iron tools and weapons. After the fall of
Dʿmt in the 5th
century BCE, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor
kingdoms, until the rise of one of these kingdoms during the 1st
century, the Aksumite Kingdom , which was able to reunite the area.
The Kingdom of
Aksum (also known as the Aksumite Empire) was an
ancient state located in the highlands of present-day
Eritrea, which thrived between the 1st and 7th centuries CE. A major
player in the commerce between the
Roman Empire and
Ancient India ,
Aksum's rulers facilitated trade by minting their own currency . The
state also established its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush
and regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian
peninsula , eventually extending its rule over the region with the
conquest of the
Himyarite Kingdom . Under
Ezana (fl. 320-360), the
Aksum became the first major empire to adopt
and was named by Mani as one of the four great powers of his time,
along with Persia , Rome and China . _ Ancient trading centers in
the Horn of
Africa and the
Arabian peninsula according to the Periplus
of the Erythraean Sea _
Somalia was an important link in the Horn, connecting the
region's commerce with the rest of the ancient world. Somali sailors
and merchants were the main suppliers of frankincense , myrrh and
spices, all of which were valuable luxuries to the Ancient
Phoenicians , Mycenaeans ,
Babylonians and Romans . The Romans
consequently began to refer to the region as _Regio Aromatica_. In the
classical era , several flourishing Somali city-states such as
Malao also competed with the Sabaeans , Parthians and
Axumites for the rich Indo -
The birth of
Islam opposite the Horn's
Red Sea coast meant that local
merchants and sailors living on the Arabian
Peninsula gradually came
under the influence of the new religion through their converted Arab
Muslim trading partners. With the migration of
Muslim families from
Islamic world to the Horn in the early centuries of Islam, and the
peaceful conversion of the local population by
Muslim scholars in the
following centuries, the ancient city-states eventually transformed
Merka , which
were part of the _Berber civilization _. The city of
to be known as the "City of Islam" and controlled the East African
gold trade for several centuries.
MIDDLE AGES AND EARLY MODERN ERA
Adal Sultanate ,
Ajuran Sultanate , Warsangali
Sultanate of Showa ,
Sultanate of Ifat , Sultanate of the
Zagwe dynasty , Sultanate of
Aussa Sultanate ,
Majeerteen Sultanate , and
Sultanate of Hobyo Ruins of the
Sultanate of Adal in
In ancient and medieval times, the Horn of
Africa was referred to as
the _Bilad al Barbar _ ("Land of the Berbers"). It is also known as
the Somali peninsula.
Middle Ages , several powerful empires dominated the
regional trade in the Horn, including the
Adal Sultanate , the Ajuran
Sultanate , the
Warsangali Sultanate , the
Zagwe dynasty , and the
Sultanate of the Geledi .
Sultanate of Showa , established in 896, was one of the oldest
local Islamic states. It was centered in the former
Shewa province in
central Ethiopia. The polity was succeeded by the Sultanate of Ifat
around 1285. Ifat was governed from its capital at
Zeila in northern
Somalia and was the easternmost district of the former Shewa
Adal Sultanate was a medieval multi-ethnic
Muslim state centered
in the Horn region. At its height, it controlled large parts of
Djibouti and Eritrea. Many of the historic cities
in the region, such as
Maduna , Abasa ,
Harar , flourished during the kingdom's golden age. This period that
left behind numerous courtyard houses , mosques , shrines and walled
enclosures . Under the leadership of rulers such as
Sabr ad-Din II ,
Mansur ad-Din ,
Jamal ad-Din II , Shams ad-Din , General
Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi , Adalite armies continued the struggle
Solomonic dynasty , a campaign historically known as the
Conquest of Abyssinia or _Futuh al Habash_.
Warsangali Sultanate was a kingdom centered in northeastern and
in some parts of southeastern Somalia. It was one of the largest
sultanates ever established in the territory, and, at the height of
its power, included the
Sanaag region and parts of the northeastern
Bari region of the country, an area historically known as
Maakhir Coast _. The Sultanate was founded in the late 13th
century in northern
Somalia by a group of Somalis from the Warsangali
branch of the
Darod clan, and was ruled by the descendants of the
Gerad Dhidhin . The citadel in
Gondershe , an important city in
Through a strong centralized administration and an aggressive
military stance towards invaders, the
Ajuran Sultanate successfully
resisted an Oromo invasion from the west and a Portuguese incursion
from the east during the Gaal Madow and the Ajuran-Portuguese wars .
Trading routes dating from the ancient and early medieval periods of
Somali maritime enterprise were also strengthened or re-established,
and the state left behind an extensive architectural legacy . Many of
the hundreds of ruined castles and fortresses that dot the landscape
Somalia today are attributed to Ajuran engineers, including a lot
of the pillar tomb fields, necropolises and ruined cities built during
that era. The royal family, the House of Gareen, also expanded its
territories and established its hegemonic rule through a skillful
combination of warfare, trade linkages and alliances.
Zagwe dynasty ruled many parts of modern
Ethiopia and Eritrea
from approximately 1137 to 1270. The name of the dynasty comes from
the Cushitic -speaking
Agaw people of northern Ethiopia. From 1270
onwards for many centuries, the
Solomonic dynasty ruled the Ethiopian
Empire . The
Lalibela churches carved by the
Zagwe dynasty in the
In the early 15th century,
Ethiopia sought to make diplomatic contact
with European kingdoms for the first time since Aksumite times. A
letter from King
Henry IV of England to the Emperor of Abyssinia
survives. In 1428, the Emperor Yeshaq sent two emissaries to Alfonso
V of Aragon , who sent return emissaries who failed to complete the
The first continuous relations with a European country began in 1508
Portugal under Emperor Lebna Dengel , who had just inherited the
throne from his father. This proved to be an important development,
for when Abyssinia was subjected to the attacks of the Adal Sultanate
Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (called "_Gurey_" or
"_Grañ_", both meaning "the Left-handed"),
Portugal assisted the
Ethiopian emperor by sending weapons and four hundred men, who helped
his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule. This
Abyssinian–Adal War was also one of the first proxy wars in the
region as the
Ottoman Empire , and
Portugal took sides in the
conflict. King Fasilides\'s Castle in
When Emperor Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years
of revolt and civil unrest followed resulting in thousands of deaths.
The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local
Ethiopians. On June 25, 1632, Susenyos's son, Emperor Fasilides ,
declared the state religion to again be Ethiopian Orthodox
Christianity , and expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other
During the end of 18th and the beginning of 19th century the Yejju
dynasty (more specifically, the Warasek) ruled north
the official language of
Amhara people to Afaan Oromo, including
inside the court of
Gondar which was capital of the empire. Founded by
Ali I of Yejju several successive descendants of him and Abba Seru
Gwangul ruled with their army coming from mainly their clan the Yejju
Oromo tribe as well as Wollo and Raya Oromo. The Sultanate of
Hobyo 's cavalry and fort
Sultanate of the Geledi was a Somali kingdom administered by the
Gobroon dynasty, which ruled parts of the Horn of
Africa during the
18th and 19th centuries. It was established by the Ajuran soldier
Ibrahim Adeer , who had defeated various vassals of the Ajuran Empire
and established the _House of Gobroon_. The dynasty reached its apex
under the successive reigns of
Yusuf Mahamud Ibrahim , who
successfully consolidated Gobroon power during the
Bardera wars , and
Sultan Ahmed Yusuf , who forced regional powers such as the Omani
Empire to submit tribute .
Majeerteen Sultanate (Migiurtinia) was another prominent Somali
sultanate based in the Horn region. Ruled by King Osman Mahamuud
during its golden age, it controlled much of northeastern and central
Somalia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The polity had all of
the organs of an integrated modern state and maintained a robust
trading network. It also entered into treaties with foreign powers and
exerted strong centralized authority on the domestic front. Much of
the Sultanate's former domain is today coextensive with the autonomous
Puntland region in northeastern Somalia.
Sultanate of Hobyo was a 19th-century Somali kingdom founded by
Yusuf Ali Kenadid . Initially, Kenadid's goal was to seize
control of the neighboring
Majeerteen Sultanate, which was then ruled
by his cousin
Boqor Osman Mahamuud. However, he was unsuccessful in
this endeavor, and was eventually forced into exile in
Yemen . A
decade later, in the 1870s, Kenadid returned from the Arabian
Peninsula with a band of Hadhrami musketeers and a group of devoted
lieutenants. With their assistance, he managed to establish the
kingdom of Hobyo, which would rule much of northeastern and central
Somalia during the early modern period.
First Italo-Abyssinian War , Second Italo-Abyssinian
East African Campaign (World War II) , Italian East
Africa , and
Somaliland Campaign Building of regional administration in
In the period following the opening of the
Suez canal in 1869, when
European powers scrambled for territory in
Africa and tried to
establish coaling stations for their ships,
Italy invaded and occupied
Eritrea . On January 1, 1890,
Eritrea officially became a colony of
Italy . In 1896 further Italian incursion into the horn was decisively
halted by Ethiopian forces. By 1936 however,
Eritrea became a province
of Italian East
Africa Orientale Italiana), along with
Italian Somaliland . By 1941,
Eritrea had about 760,000
inhabitants, including 70,000 Italians. The Commonwealth armed
forces, along with the Ethiopian patriotic resistance, expelled those
Italy in 1941, and took over the area's administration. The
British continued to administer the territory under a
UN Mandate until
Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia, as per UN resolution
390(A) and under the prompting of the United States adopted in
December 1950. Map of
Africa in 1909, the Horn region is the
easternmost projection of the African continent.
The strategic importance of Eritrea, due to its
Red Sea coastline and
mineral resources, was the main cause for the federation with
Ethiopia, which in turn led to Eritrea's annexation as Ethiopia's 14th
province in 1952. This was the culmination of a gradual process of
takeover by the Ethiopian authorities, a process which included a 1959
edict establishing the compulsory teaching of
Amharic , the main
language of Ethiopia, in all Eritrean schools. The lack of regard for
the Eritrean population led to the formation of an independence
movement in the early 1960s (1961), which erupted into a 30-year war
against successive Ethiopian governments that ended in 1991. Following
a UN-supervised referendum in
UNOVER ) in which the
Eritrean people overwhelmingly voted for independence, Eritrea
declared its independence and gained international recognition in
1993. In 1998, a border dispute with
Ethiopia led to the
Eritrean-Ethiopian War . Place Menelik in
Djibouti City in 1905
From 1862 until 1894, the land to the north of the Gulf of Tadjoura
situated in modern-day
Djibouti was called _Obock_ and was ruled by
Somali and Afar Sultans , local authorities with whom
various treaties between 1883 and 1887 to first gain a foothold in the
region. In 1894,
Léonce Lagarde established a permanent French
administration in the city of
Djibouti and named the region _Côte
française des Somalis_ (
French Somaliland ), a name which continued
In 1958, on the eve of neighboring
Somalia 's independence in 1960, a
referendum was held in the territory to decide whether or not to join
the Somali Republic or to remain with France. The referendum turned
out in favour of a continued association with France, partly due to a
combined yes vote by the sizable Afar ethnic group and resident
Europeans. There was also reports of widespread vote rigging , with
the French expelling thousands of Somalis before the referendum
reached the polls. The majority of those who voted no were Somalis
who were strongly in favour of joining a united Somalia, as had been
Mahmoud Harbi , Vice President of the Government Council.
Harbi was killed in a plane crash two years later.
gained its independence from
France in 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon
, a Somali politician who had campaigned for a yes vote in the
referendum of 1958, eventually wound up as the nation's first
president (1977–1999). In early 2011, the Djiboutian citizenry took
part in a series of protests against the long-serving government,
which were associated with the larger
Arab Spring demonstrations. The
unrest eventually subsided by April of the year, and Djibouti's ruling
People\'s Rally for Progress party was re-elected to office.
Statue of Sayyid
Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (the "Mad Mullah"), leader
Mohammed Abdullah Hassan 's
Dervish State successfully repulsed the
British Empire four times and forced it to retreat to the coastal
region. Due to these successful expeditions, the
Dervish State was
recognized as an ally by the Ottoman and German Empires . The Turks
also named Hassan
Emir of the Somali nation, and the Germans promised
to officially recognize any territories the Dervishes were to acquire.
After a quarter of a century of holding the British at bay, the
Dervishes were finally defeated in 1920 as a direct consequence of
Britain's new policy of aerial bombardment . As a result of this
bombardment, former Dervish territories were turned into a
protectorate of Britain.
Italy faced similar opposition from Somali
Sultans and armies, and did not acquire full control of parts of
Somalia until the
Fascist era in late 1927. This occupation
lasted until 1941, and was replaced by a British military
administration . Northern
Somalia would remain a protectorate , while
Somalia became a trusteeship . The Union of the two regions
in 1960 formed the Somali Republic. A civilian government was formed,
and on July 20, 1961, through a popular referendum , a new
constitution that had first been drafted the year before was ratified.
Due to its longstanding ties with the
Arab world ,
accepted in 1974 as a member of the
Arab League . During the same
year, the nation's former socialist administration also chaired the
Organization of African Unity , the predecessor of the
African Union .
In 1991, the
Somali Civil War broke out, which saw the collapse of
the federal government and the emergence of numerous autonomous
polities, including the
Puntland administration in the northeast and
Somaliland , an unrecognised self-declared sovereign state that is
internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia, in the
northwest. Somalia's inhabitants subsequently reverted to local forms
of conflict resolution, either secular , Islamic or customary law ,
with a provision for appeal of all sentences. A Transitional Federal
Government was subsequently created in 2004. The Federal Government
Somalia was established on August 20, 2012, concurrent with the end
of the TFG's interim mandate. It represents the first permanent
central government in the country since the start of the civil war.
The Federal Parliament of
Somalia serves as the government's
Haile Selassie 's reign as emperor of
Ethiopia is the best known and perhaps most influential in the
Ethiopia and its current borders are a result of significant
territorial reduction in the north and expansion in the east and south
toward its present borders, owing to several migrations, commercial
integration, treaties as well as conquests, particularly by Emperor
Menelik II and
Ras Gobena . From the central province of Shoa,
Menelik set off to subjugate and incorporate ‘the lands and people
of the South, East and West into an empire.’ He did this with the
help of Ras Gobena's Shewan Oromo militia, began expanding his kingdom
to the south and east, expanding into areas that had not been held
since the invasion of
Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi , and other areas
that had never been under his rule, resulting in the borders of
Ethiopia of today. Menelik had signed the Treaty of Wichale with
Italy in May 1889, in which
Italy would recognize Ethiopia’s
sovereignty so long as
Italy could control a small area of northern
Tigray (part of modern Eritrea). In return Italy, was to provide
Menelik with arms and support him as emperor. The Italians used the
time between the signing of the treaty and its ratification by the
Italian government to further expand their territorial claims. Italy
began a state funded program of resettlement for landless Italians in
Eritrea, which increased tensions between the Eritrean peasants and
the Italians. This conflict erupted in the
Battle of Adwa on 1 March
1896, in which Italy’s colonial forces were defeated by the
The early 20th century in
Ethiopia was marked by the reign of Emperor
Haile Selassie I , who came to power after Iyasu V was deposed. In
1935, Haile Selassie's troops fought and lost the Second
Italo-Abyssinian War , after which point
Haile Selassie subsequently appealed to the
League of Nations
League of Nations , delivering an address that made him a worldwide
figure and 1935's _Time _ magazine Man of the Year. Following the
Italy into World War II,
British Empire forces, together with
patriot Ethiopian fighters, liberated
Ethiopia in the course of the
East African Campaign in 1941.
Addis Ababa , capital of Ethiopia
Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, when a Soviet-backed
Marxist-Leninist military junta , the
Derg led by Mengistu Haile
Mariam , deposed him, and established a one-party communist state ,
which was called the People\'s Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia . In
July 1977, the
Ogaden War broke out after the government of President
Siad Barre sought to incorporate the predominantly
Ogaden region into a Pan-Somali Greater
Somalia . By
September 1977, the Somali army controlled 90% of the Ogaden, but was
later forced to withdraw after Ethiopia's
Derg received assistance
Cuba , South
East Germany and
North Korea ,
including around 15,000 Cuban combat troops.
In 1989, the Tigrayan Peoples\' Liberation Front (TPLF) merged with
other ethnically based opposition movements to form the Ethiopian
Peoples\' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and eventually
managed to overthrow Mengistu's dictatorial regime in 1991. A
transitional government, composed of an 87-member Council of
Representatives and guided by a national charter that functioned as a
transitional constitution, was then set up. The first free and
democratic election took place later in 1995, when Ethiopia's
longest-serving Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi was elected to office. As
with other nations in the Horn region,
Ethiopia maintained its
historically close relations with countries in the
Middle East during
this period of change. Zenawi died in 2012, but his Ethiopian
People\'s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party remains the
ruling political coalition in Ethiopia.
GEOLOGY AND CLIMATE
The Horn of
Africa as seen from the
Space Shuttle in May
1993. The orange and tan colors in this image indicate a largely arid
to semiarid climate.
The Horn of
Africa is almost equidistant from the equator and the
Tropic of Cancer . It consists chiefly of mountains uplifted through
the formation of the
Great Rift Valley , a fissure in the Earth's
crust extending from
Mozambique and marking the separation
of the African and Arabian tectonic plates . Mostly mountainous, the
region arose through faults resulting from the Rift Valley.
Geologically, the Horn and
Yemen once formed a single landmass around
18 million years ago, before the
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden rifted and separated the
Horn region from the Arabian
Peninsula . The
Somali Plate is bounded
on the west by the East African Rift, which stretches south from the
triple junction in the
Afar Depression , and an undersea continuation
of the rift extending southward offshore. The northern boundary is the
Aden Ridge along the coast of
Saudi Arabia . The eastern boundary is
Central Indian Ridge , the northern portion of which is also known
Carlsberg Ridge . The southern boundary is the Southwest Indian
Extensive glaciers once covered the Simien and
Bale Mountains but
melted at the beginning of the
Holocene . The mountains descend in a
huge escarpment to the
Red Sea and more steadily to the
Indian Ocean .
Socotra is a small island in the
Indian Ocean off the coast of
Somalia. Its size is 3,600 km2 (1,390 sq mi) and it is a territory of
The lowlands of the Horn are generally arid in spite of their
proximity to the equator. This is because the winds of the tropical
monsoons that give seasonal rains to the
Sahel and the
Sudan blow from
the west. Consequently, they lose their moisture before reaching
Djibouti and Somalia, with the result that most of the Horn receives
little rainfall during the monsoon season. The Horn of Africa.
In the mountains of Ethiopia, many areas receive over 2,000 mm (80
in) per year, and even
Asmara receives an average of 570 mm (23 in).
This rainfall is the sole source of water for many areas outside
Egypt . In the winter, the northeasterly trade
winds do not provide any moisture except in mountainous areas of
northern Somalia, where rainfall in late autumn can produce annual
totals as high as 500 mm (20 in). On the eastern coast, a strong
upwelling and the fact that the winds blow parallel to the coast means
annual rainfall can be as low as 50 mm (2 in).
The climate in
Ethiopia varies considerably between regions. It is
generally hotter in the lowlands and temperate on the plateau. At
Addis Ababa , which ranges from 2,200 to 2,600 m (7,218 to 8,530 ft),
maximum temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F) and minimum 4 °C (39.2 °F).
The weather is usually sunny and dry, but the short (_belg_) rains
occur from February to April and the big (_meher_) rains from mid-June
to mid-September. The
Danakil Desert stretches across 100,000 km2 of
arid terrain in northeast Ethiopia, southern Eritrea, and northwestern
Djibouti. The area is known for its volcanoes and extreme heat, with
daily temperatures over 45 °C and often surpassing 50 °C. It has a
number lakes formed by lava flows that dammed up several valleys.
Among are Lake Asale (116 m below sea level) and Lake Giuletti/Afrera
(80 m below sea level), both of which possess cryptodepressions in the
Danakil Depression . The Afrera contains many active volcanoes,
including the Maraho, Dabbahu , Afdera and
Erta Ale .
In Somalia, there is not much seasonal variation in climate. Hot
conditions prevail year-round along with periodic monsoon winds and
irregular rainfall. Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 28 to
43 °C (82 to 109 °F), except at higher elevations along the eastern
seaboard, where the effects of a cold offshore current can be felt.
Somalia has only two permanent rivers, the Jubba and the Shabele ,
both of which begin in the
Ethiopian Highlands .
The Horn region has the world's largest population of camels .
About 220 mammals are found in the Horn of Africa. Among threatened
species of the region, there are several antelopes such as the beira ,
the dibatag , the silver dikdik and the Speke\'s gazelle . Other
remarkable species include the
Somali wild ass , the desert warthog ,
the hamadryas baboon , the Somali pygmy gerbil , the ammodile , and
the Speke\'s pectinator . The Grevy\'s zebra is the unique wild equid
of the region. There are predators such as spotted hyena , striped
hyena and African leopard . The endangered painted hunting dog had
populations in the Horn of Africa, but pressures from human
exploitation of habitat along with warfare have reduced or extirpated
this canid in this region.
Some important bird species of the Horn are the black boubou , the
golden-winged grosbeak , the
Warsangli linnet , and the Djibouti
The Horn of
Africa holds more endemic reptiles than any other region
in Africa, with over 285 species total (and about 90 species found
exclusively in the region). Among endemic reptile genera, there are
Haackgreerius _, _
Haemodracon _, _Ditypophis_, _Pachycalamus_ and
_Aeluroglena_. Half of these genera are uniquely found on Socotra.
Unlike reptiles, amphibians are poorly represented in the region.
There are about 100 species of freshwater fish in the Horn of Africa,
about 10 of which are endemic. Among the endemic, the cave-dwelling
Somali blind barb and the Somali cavefish can be found.
Myrrh , a
common resin in the Horn
It is estimated that about 5,000 species of vascular plants are found
in the Horn, about half of which are endemic. Endemism is most
Socotra and northern Somalia. The region has two endemic
plant families : the
Barbeyaceae and the
Dirachmaceae . Among the
other remarkable species, there are the cucumber tree found only on
Socotra (_Dendrosicyos socotrana_), the Bankoualé palm, the yeheb nut
, and the Somali cyclamen .
Due to the Horn of Africa's semi-arid and arid climate, droughts are
not uncommon. They are complicated by climate change and changes in
agricultural practices. For centuries, the region's pastoral groups
have observed careful rangeland management practices to mitigate the
effects of drought, such as avoiding overgrazing or setting aside land
only for young or ill animals. However, population growth has put
pressure on limited land and led to these practices no longer being
maintained. Droughts in 1983–85, 1991–92, 1998–99 and 2011 have
disrupted periods of gradual growth in herd numbers, leading to a
decrease of between 37% and 62% of the cattle population. Initiatives
by ECHO and USAID have succeeded in reclaiming hundreds of hectares of
pastureland through rangeland management, leading to the establishment
of the Dikale Rangeland in 2004.
ETHNICITY AND LANGUAGES
Besides sharing similar geographic endowments, the countries of the
Africa are, for the most part, linguistically and ethnically
linked together, evincing a complex pattern of interrelationships
among the various groups. Saho women in traditional attire
According to _
Ethnologue _, there are 10 individual languages spoken
in Djibouti, 14 in Eritrea, 90 in Ethiopia, and 15 in Somalia. Most
people in the Horn speak
Afroasiatic languages of the Cushitic or
Semitic branches. The former includes Oromo , spoken by the Oromo
people in Ethiopia, and Somali , spoken by the
Somali people in
Djibouti and Ethiopia; the latter includes
Amharic , spoken
Amhara people of Ethiopia, and Tigrinya , spoken by the
Tigrayans of Ethiopia, respectively. Other
Afroasiatic languages with a significant number of speakers include
the Cushitic Afar , Saho , Hadiyya , Sidamo and Agaw languages, as
well as the Semitic Tigre ,
Gurage , Harari , Silt\'e and Argobba
tongues. The major
Afroasiatic languages spoken in Ethiopia.
Omotic languages are spoken by Omotic communities
inhabiting Ethiopia's southern regions. Among these idioms are Aari ,
Dizi , Gamo , Kafa , Hamer and Wolaytta .
Languages belonging to the Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo families are
also spoken in some areas by Nilotic and Bantu ethnic minorities,
respectively. These tongues include the Nilo-Saharan Me\'en and Mursi
languages used in southwestern Ethiopia, and Kunama and Nara idioms
spoken in parts of southern Eritrea. In the riverine and littoral
areas of southern Somalia, Bajuni , Barawani , and Bantu groups also
speak variants of the Niger-Congo Swahili and Mushunguli languages.
The Northern Stelae Park in
Axum with King Ezana\'s Stele at the
centre. The Great Stele lies broken.
The countries of the Horn of
Africa have been the birthplace of many
ancient, as well as modern, cultural achievements in several fields
including agriculture, architecture, art, cuisine, education,
literature, music, technology and theology to name but a few.
Ethiopian agriculture established the earliest known use of the seed
Teff (Poa abyssinica) between 4000-1000 BCE.
Teff is used to
make the flat bread injera /taita.
Coffee also originated in Ethiopia
and has since spread to become a worldwide beverage. Ethiopian art is
renowned for the ancient tradition of Ethiopian Orthodox Christian
iconography stretching back to wall paintings of the 7th century CE.
Somali architecture includes the Fakr ad-Din
Mosque , which was built
in 1269 by the Fakr ad-Din, the first
Sultan of the Sultanate of
Mogadishu . Ethiopia, too is renowned for its ancient churches, such
as at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at
The Horn has produced numerous indigenous writing systems, most
notably the script known as Ge\'ez (ግዕዝ _Gəʿəz_), (also
controversially called _Ethiopic_) for 2000 years. It is an abugida
script that was originally developed to write the Ge\'ez language . In
speech communities that use it, such as the
Amharic and Tigrinya, the
script is called _fidäl_ (ፊደል), which means "script" or
Osmanya writing script
In the early 20th century, in response to a national campaign to
settle on a writing script for the
Somali language (which had long
since lost its ancient script ),
Osman Yusuf Kenadid , a Somali poet
and leader in the
Majeerteen Sultanate of
Hobyo and nephew of Sultan
Yusuf Ali Kenadid , also devised a phonetically sophisticated alphabet
Osmanya (also known as _far soomaali_; Osmanya: 𐒍𐒖𐒇
𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘), for representing the sounds of Somali.
Though no longer the official writing script in Somalia, the Osmanya
script is available in the
Unicode range 10480-104AF .
The Somali writer
Nuruddin Farah has also garnered acclaim as perhaps
the most celebrated writer ever to come out of the Horn of Africa.
Having published many short stories, novels and essays, Farah's prose
has earned him, among other accolades, the Premio Cavour in Italy, the
Kurt Tucholsky Prize in Sweden, and in 1998, the prestigious Neustadt
International Prize for Literature . In the same year, the French
edition of his novel _Gifts_ also won the St. Malo Literature
The music of the Ethiopian highlands uses a unique modal system
called _qenet_, of which there are four main modes: _tezeta_, _bati_,
_ambassel _, and _anchihoy_. Three additional modes are variations on
the above: tezeta minor, bati major, and bati minor. Some songs take
the name of their qenet, such as tezeta, a song of reminiscence.
In the field of technology, the Great Stele of
Axum , at over 100
feet (30 m) long, was the largest single stone ever quarried in the
ancient world .
Additionally, the glossy lifestyle magazine _Sheeko _ is published
quarterly for and by the Horn community.
The Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
allegedly houses the original
Ark of the Covenant .
Most inhabitants in the Horn of
Africa follow one of the three major
Abrahamic faiths. These religions have had a longstanding adherence in
The ancient Axumite Kingdom produced coins and stelae associated with
the disc and crescent symbols of the deity Ashtar . The kingdom later
became one of the earliest states to adopt
Christianity , following
the conversion of King
Ezana II in the 4th century. Engraving of
the 13th-century Fakr ad-Din
Mosque built by Fakr ad-Din, the first
Islam was introduced to the region early on from the Arabian
peninsula , shortly after the hijra . At
Muhammad 's urging, a band of
persecuted Muslims had fled across the
Red Sea into the Horn. There,
the Muslims were granted protection by the Aksumite King Aṣḥama
ibn Abjar . In the late 9th century,
Al-Yaqubi wrote that Muslims
were living along the northern Somali seaboard. He also mentioned
that the Adal kingdom had its capital in
Zeila , suggesting that the
Adal Sultanate with
Zeila as its headquarters dates back to at least
the 9th or 10th centuries.
Judaism has a long presence in the region. The _Kebra
Negast _ ("
Book of the Glory of Kings") relates that Israelite tribes
Menelik I , purported to be the son of King
Solomon and the
Queen of Sheba
Queen of Sheba (Makeda). The legend relates that
Menelik as an adult returned to his father in
Jerusalem , and then
resettled in Ethiopia, and that he took with him the Ark of the
Covenant . The
Beta Israel today primarily follow the Orit (from
Aramaic "Oraita" - "
Torah "), which consists of the Five Books of
Moses and the books Joshua , Judges and Ruth .
A number of ethnic minority groups in southern
Ethiopia also adhere
to various traditional faiths . Among these belief systems are the
Surma people 's acknowledgment of the sky god _Tumu _.
Cyclists competing in the Tour of
In the modern era, the Horn of
Africa has produced several
world-famous sports personalities, including long distance runners
such as the world-record holder
Kenenisa Bekele and
Derartu Tulu , the
first Ethiopian woman to win an Olympic gold medal and the only woman
to have twice won the 10,000 meter Olympic gold in the short history
of the event. One of the most successful runners from the region has
Haile Gebrselassie who was acclaimed as "Athlete of the Year
1998" by the International Association of Athletics Federations
(IAAF). As well as numerous gold medals in various events,
Gebrselassie achieved 15 world records and world bests in long and
middle distance running, including world record marathon times in 2007
and 2008. Somali athlete
Abdi Bile became a world champion when he won
the 1500m for men at the
1987 World Championships in Athletics ,
running the final 800m of the race in 1:46.0, the fastest final 800m
of any 1,500 meter track race in history.
Eritrea has established the cycling event the Tour of
In recent years, the
Somali diaspora produced a football star in Ayub
Daud , a midfielder who plays for
Juventus in Italy's
Serie A . Zahra
Bani , a Somali-Italian javelin thrower , has garnered attention with
her performances that so far have earned her adopted
Italy a silver
medal at the
2005 Mediterranean Games , as has
Mo Farah , a
Somali-British athlete that took gold for his adopted Great Britain in
the 3000m at the 2009 European Indoor Championships in
Turin and later
golds in both the 10,000m and 5,000m at the 2012 London Olympics.
Vegetable shop in Asmara,
According to the IMF, in 2010 the Horn of
Africa region had a total
GDP (PPP) of $106.224 billion and nominal of $35.819 billion. Per
capita, the GDP in 2010 was $1061 (PPP) and $358 (nominal).
States of the region depend largely on a few key exports :
* Economy of
Coffee 80% of total exports.
* Economy of
Somalia : Bananas and livestock over 50% of total
Over 95% of cross-border trade within the region is unofficial and
undocumented, carried out by pastoralists trading livestock. The
unofficial trade of live cattle, camels, sheep and goats from Ethiopia
sold to other countries in the Horn and the wider Eastern Africa
Djibouti , generates an estimated total
value of between US$250 and US$300 million annually (100 times more
than the official figure). This trade helps lower food prices,
increase food security, relieve border tensions and promote regional
integration. However, there are also risks as the unregulated and
undocumented nature of this trade runs risks, such as allow disease to
spread more easily across national borders. Furthermore, governments
are unhappy with lost tax revenue and foreign exchange revenues.
Much of the Horn nations' trade links are with Middle Eastern
countries. In 2011, an event hosted by the
Arab Center for Research
and Policy Studies in
Qatar devoted several days of discussion
to ways in which countries in the Horn region and the adjacent Arabian
peninsula could further strengthen these historically close economic,
social, cultural and religious ties.
Land of Punt
* Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of
* History of
* History of
* History of
* History of
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Kingdom of Gumma
Kingdom of Jimma
Kingdom of Kaffa
Sultanate of Hobyo
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