May 18, 2011 marks the twentieth anniversary of Somaliland’s self-declaration as a separate republic from Somalia. Following a government collapse in 1991, the Somali National Movement declared the region to be independent from the Republic of Somalia. Though not recognized by the international community as a sovereign state, Somaliland exists as an autonomous region characterized by stability and peace.
Located in the northern region of Somalia, Somaliland is bordered by Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the Gulf of Aden with only a figurative border between itself and southern Somalia. Somaliland has existed autonomously for twenty years, bolstered by an economy based on livestock and agriculture.
While the al-Qaida linked Islamist terrorist group, al-Shabab, continues to wreak havoc in Somalia, the government of Somaliland has created a healthy democracy with its own constitution. The Executive branch is led by a President, Vice President, and Council of Ministers while the Legislative branch is led by the Parliament of Somaliland. Along with a separate judicial branch, the Somaliland government maintains a state of relative peace in the region.
In June 2010 after many consecutive setbacks, Somaliland held a successful presidential election which was ultimately recognized as free and fair by the international community. Whether this international recognition will be a step toward becoming an independent country is not yet known; however, the international community will wait for the African Union to make the definitive decision.