Somalia Somalia

Statistical Snapshot

Estimated at 15.1 million in 2018,[1] the Somali population is the youngest among Arab countries with 73.7 percent of the total population below the age of 30 and a high fertility rate of more than 6.3 births per woman.[1] The majority of the population is rural, with 45 percent of the population living in urban areas.[2]


Cyclical climatic shocks, ongoing armed conflict and violence in Somalia are the drivers of one of the most challenging and enduring humanitarian crises in the world. While the situation slightly improved in 2018 due to the above-average rainfall and continuous humanitarian response, alarming protection and humanitarian distresses in Somalia persist with 4.2 million people—around one third of the population— requiring humanitarian assistance and protection by the end of 2018. Furthermore, over 1.5 million Somalis suffer from acute food insecurity and require immediate assistance for their survival while marginalized communities, civilians in conflict-affected areas and nearly 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have limited or no access to quality basic services.[3]


Since the early 90s, Somalia suffers from one of the world’s most complex and protracted conflicts that continues to inflict significant damage to an already weak economy.


Economic activity in Somalia mainly relies on the services and agriculture sector that experienced near full collapse with crop failures, shortage of water, and increased livestock mortality. Somalia’s real GDP growth rate reached 3.1 percent in 2018, up from 2.3 percent in 2017.[4] Somalia has the highest value for Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) among Arab states with 82.2 percent of Somalis considered poor.[5]


The implementation of fiscal policy has significantly improved in the last couple of years, but the Somali government is still struggling with basic challenges in its fiscal operations. Trade taxes pulled domestic revenues up by around 27 percent compared to 2016 while 90 percent of total spending are directed to the security and administrative services hence crowding-out provision for the socio-economic services.[6]


Somalia’s health system is nearly destroyed. Three million people require critical healthcare services. Women and children are particularly exposed to high health risks. Somalia has the world’s highest child mortality rate with one out of seven children dying before the age of ­five. Somali women suffer from the sixth highest maternal death risk in the world, only one of ten births is attended by skilled health personnel, while Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) prevalence is as high as 98 percent.[3]


Somalia has one of the world’s lowest school gross enrolment rates with only 30 percent of children enrolled at the primary education level and 26 percent at the secondary level.[7] Around three million children, or more than 60 percent of school aged children in Somalia, are currently out of school.[3]

This overview was last updated in February 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2017. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 January 2019].

[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2017. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 January 2019].

[3] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2019. 2019 Somalia Humanitarian Needs Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 February 2019].

[4] International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2018. World Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7 February 2019].

[5] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2018. Human development report.  [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7 February 2019].

[6] The World Bank. 2018. Somalia Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 February 2019].

[7] The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Education Cluster. 2017. Somalia education cluster annual report 2016.  [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7 February 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • 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.

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Additional Resources