Puntland profile

Map of Puntland

Puntland, an arid region of north-east Somalia, declared itself an autonomous state in August 1998, in part to avoid the clan warfare engulfing southern Somalia.

Despite its relative stability, the region has endured armed conflict, and grabbed the world headlines with an upsurge in pirate attacks on international shipping in the Indian Ocean. Puntland is a destination for many Somalis displaced by violence in the south.

Unlike its neighbour, breakaway Somaliland, Puntland says it does not seek recognition as an independent entity, wishing instead to be part of a federal Somalia.

The territory takes its name from the Land of Punt, a centre of trade for the ancient Egyptians and a place shrouded in legend.

FACTS

LEADER

President: Abdiweli Mohamed Ali "Gas"

Somali Prime Minister and Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali speaks during an interview with AFP at his office in Mogadishu on 5 April 2012.

This US-trained economist beat the incumbent Abdirahman Muhammad Mahmud "Farole" by one vote in parliament to become the president of the Puntland autonomous region in January 2014.

Mr Gas, who was born in north-central Somalia in 1965 and holds US and Somali joint citizenship, served as prime minister of Somalia in 2011-2012

In the post, oversaw steady progress to drive back the Al-Shabab Islamist militia and to strengthen the central government's remit.

MEDIA

Screengrab of the Puntland radio station Radio Galkayo. Radio Galkayo is affiliated to the authorities

Although Puntland's charter provides for freedom of the press, the authorities have resorted to detaining journalists and closing media outlets.

Private broadcasters are permitted to operate. No newspapers are currently published in Puntland.

TIMELINE

Fort of the Majeerteen Sultanate in the modern-day Somali region of Puntland. Forts testify to the power of the former Sultanate of Majeerteen

17th-19th century - The area of current Puntland is ruled by the Sultanate of Majeerteen - a major trading power.

1888-9 - Majeerteen and the rival sultanate of Hobyo become Italian protectorates.

1920s - Both sultanates are annexed to Italian Somaliland.

1960 - Puntland becomes part of a united Somalia with the independence and merger of Italian Somaliland (modern-day Somaliland)and British Somaliland.

1998 - Puntland region declares autonomy after the rest of Somalia collapses into anarchy, but does not seek independence.

2005-2012 - Pirates - mainly operating out of Puntland - pose a major menace to shipping off the Somali coast, before falling away as a threat as a result of an international naval operation.

French marine commandos operate on a speed boat just off the French frigate Sirocco as part of the EU naval force combating piracy off the coast of Puntland on 26 March 2014. The threat of piracy off Puntland prompted a major naval operation involving EU and other countries' warships

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