Ten Key Facts about Somalia


Somalia is Africa’s easternmost country. It occupies the tip of a region commonly referred to as the Horn of Africa because of its resemblance on the map to the horn of a rhinoceros.  This region also includes EthiopiaEritrea and Djibouti.


Somalia has the longest coastline of Africa and the Middle East, extending over 3,025 kilometres.  The coastline has been of importance chiefly in permitting trade with the Middle East and the rest of the Horn of Africa.


Rainfall is sparse in Somalia, and most of the land is semiarid-to-arid, suitable only for the nomadic pastoralism practiced by well over half the population.


Somalia has experienced over 20 years of conflict, which has led to mass migration and refugee flows, and some of the world’s lowest development indicators.


Britain is home to the largest Somali community outside of Somalia; population estimates range from 110,000 to 1 million (most recent semi-official figures ranged from 300,000-500,000).


Since the early 1990s, remittances from Somalis in the diaspora, estimated to be at least $1 billion annually, have become the lifeline of the Somali population, and the basis for economic development alongside the contributions of international aid donors.


The UK is the most important Somali remittance source country, and London is by far the largest source city in the UK.


The UK Home Office recognises that money transfer outlets are the most recommended location for receiving publicity material in the Somali community (followed by shops and markets, and libraries). This is an indicator of how integrated the MSBs are to community life in the UK.


Somali Money Service Businesses (MSBs) critically rely on movement of funds through the formal financial system, therefore without bank accounts they cannot operate as licenced operators.


Somali MSBs are subject to diverse legislations and regulation in some 40 countries where operators have a network of agents. Introduced after 9/11, regulations continue to grow more stringent, and banks are growing more averse to taking on the perceived risk of this category.

News & Press

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Financial remittance provides millions of people around the world, particularly in the Global South, with a lifeline. However, Barclays Bank’s sudden decision to close genuine accounts held by money transfer businesses has jeopardized this. The impact will…


The decision by Barclays Bank to close accounts held by genuine businesses which run a Somali Money Transfer scheme will have a huge impact on the most vulnerable. The finance sector has collapsed in Somalia and…

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To have a family member in need is distressing enough. When they are thousands of miles away it’s even worse. When a company removes the vital economic lifeline with which you can help them, it is a…

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Today is the deadline for Barclays to close the bank accounts of the remaining four large Somali money transfer businesses. Despite suggestions to the contrary, none of our SOMSA members have been able to secure equivalent alternative banking arrangements ahead of the deadline today. Unless…