With a population estimated at 10.8 million in 2015, Somalia is rapidly expanding at an annual population growth rate of 2.6%.[1] The Somali population is the youngest among Arab countries with 93.5% of the total population below the age of 30 and a very high fertility rate of 6.3 births per woman in 2015.[1] The majority of the Somali population is rural, with an urban population of 39% in 2014.[2] 

Somalia faces drought risks, food insecurity, poor healthcare, and lack of access to basic services and livelihood. But above all, Somalia suffers decades of one of the world’s most complex and protracted conflicts. The under-five years and maternal mortality rates in Somalia are amongst the highest in the world; one out of every seven Somali children dies before reaching 5 years old and the maternal mortality rate was 732 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 down from 1080 per 100,000 live births in 2000.[3]

The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is indeed among the most prolonged emergencies in the world. Because of the rising conflict across the country and widespread environmental vulnerabilities, around 4.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as of September 2015 and more than 1.1 million are internally displaced (January - December 2016).[4]

Somalia has the highest value for Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) among Arab states. According to the last available data that dates back to 2012, 82% of Somalis were considered poor across multiple dimensions.[5] Also, 4.9 million Somalis are considered to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2016 following decades of climatic crises and internal strife.[10] 

As the majority of Somalis rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, predictable seasonal shocks like flooding and drought continue to pose a serious challenge to an already weak economy. An estimated 308,000 children under age 5 are acutely malnourished, with 56,000 of them facing death if not treated. Some 3.2 million people lack access to emergency health services, while 2.8 million require improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene.[10] 

In 2012, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 31% for Somalia —26% for females against 36% for males, according to a joint UNDP/World Bank survey. Despite a substantial increase in the number of operational primary and secondary schools, opportunities for formal education are still inaccessible. About 50% of the population aged 6-29 was not attending schools in 2012, with females exceeding males.[5] 

Somalia is a low-income country [6] with GDP (current USD) amounting to USD 5.9 billion in 2015 and a low GDP per capita reaching USD 551.9 in 2015.[7] Economic activity is estimated to have expanded by 3.7% in 2014, driven by growth in agriculture, construction, and telecommunications, and declined to 2.7% in 2015.[8] Inflation remained under control at about 4% in 2015.[8] External debt leveled as high as 92% of GDP in 2014.[9] 

The international trade-to-GDP ratio in Somalia amounted to 75 in 2014, with exports amounting to 14% of GDP and imports 61% of GDP. Consequently, Somalia’s external balance scored a deficit of 2.6 billion US dollar in 2014.[7] Livestock are Somalia’s top exports while food imports constitute the majority of its imports.

Labor force participation rate in Somalia remained constant over the last years averaging 54.3% with women participating less in the labor force. Women participation rate stood at 33.2% in 2015 compared to 75.9% for men.[11] The unemployment rate also remained constant at 7.5% and the gender gap between men and women in unemployment was low. Women unemployment rate registered 8.6% in 2015 compared to 7.1% for men.[11] Youth unemployment also scored close numbers for both sexes. Young men aging between 15 and 24 had an unemployment rate of 11.1% compared to 13.1% for young women.[11]

Somalia also suffers from energy insecurity given its limited resources. It has only 200 billion cubic feet of proved natural gas reserves. In 2006, the country consumed 1.5 million barrels of crude oil which declined to 365 thousand barrels in 2008.[12]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016. 


  1. World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  2. World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  4. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)
  5. UNDP Human Development Report 2012
  6. The World Bank
  7. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  8. International Monetary Fund (IMF), July 2015
  9. World Economic Outlook, Adjusting to Lower Commodity Prices, October 2015, International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  10. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Nov 2015. “Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan January-December 2016
  11. KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)
  12. International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)​

Somalia Statistical Snapshot 2016
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