About Somalia

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  • Population: 10.1 million
  • Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English
  • Main religions: Sunni Muslim

About Somali-Americans

  • Local population: A few hundred
  • Why they came here: Somalia has been plagued by famine and civil war for decades. A famine in 1991-92 resulted in at least 200,000 deaths. A more recent famine left millions starving in late 2011. While the famine is caused by a drought affecting several African countries, Somalia is hardest hit because of the ongoing conflict there.
  • When they came: Primarily between 2003 and 2005

More resources:

  • "Understanding Somalia and Somaliland: Culture, History, Society," by Ioan Lewis
  • "Where Soldiers Fear to Tread: A Relief Worker's Tale of Survival," by John Burnett
  • "Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival," by Fadumo Korn

Kauthar Salim (left), 13, claps in support of another student while sitting with Khadija Masuo, 3, both of Utica. The students were participating in the Mohawk Valley Somali Bantu Community Association's English as a second language class in Dec. 2010. Credit: Observer-Dispatch
Aukia Mehoza, 35, holds 5-month-old daughter Havija Osman in the living room of their home off Armory Drive in Utica in Jan. 2011. Credit: Nicole Cvetnic/Observer-Dispatch

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, 2006-2010 American Community Survey, BBC.com, O-D archives