Somali Region (Somali: Gobolka Soomaalida); is the eastern-most of the nine ethnic divisions (kililoch) of Ethiopia. It is often called Somalia, though it is not to be confused with the independent country of the same name. Also known as Western Somali and Ogadenia, the capital of Somali State isJijiga. The capital had been at Kebri Dahar (Qabridahare) but after 1992 it moved to Gode/Godey until April 1994, but due to political considerations it was moved. Other major towns and cities include (the Somali spelling in brackets): Degehabur (Dhagaxbuur), Kebri Dahar (Qabridahare), Shilavo(Shilaabo), Geladin (Geladi), Kelafo (Qalaafe), Werder (Wardheer) and Shinile (Shiniile). The region borders Kenya to the south-west, the Ethiopian regions of Oromia, Afar and Dire Dawa (Diridhawa) to the west, Djibouti to the north and Somalia to the north, east and south.
The region covers much of the traditional territory of Ogaden and it formed a large part of the pre-1995 province of Hararghe. The population is predominantly Somali, and there is internal pressure to remove Ethiopian rule. There have been attempts to incorporate the area into a Greater Somalia. In the 1970s, Somalia invaded Ethiopia in support of a local guerrilla movement, particularly during the Ogaden War.
Until its first-ever district elections in February 2004, Zonal and woreda administrators, and village chairmen were appointed by the Regional government. Senior politicians at the Regional level nominated their clients to the local government positions. In the 2004 local elections, each woreda elected a council including a spokesman, vice-spokesman, administrator, and vice-administrator. These councils have the responsibility of managing budgets and development activities within their respective districts.
In late April 2005, heavy rains caused widespread flooding throughout Somali Region and in Somalia, and caused the Shebelle River to burst its banks. As of May 2005, the flooding in Somali Region alone had caused over 100 confirmed deaths and widespread property damage affecting over 100,000 people. The floods also destroyed shelters housing 25,000 Somali refugees in Kenya near Dorooro in Ogaden.
Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Somali Region has a total population of 4,439,147, consisting of 2,468,784 men and 1,970,363 women; urban inhabitants number 621,210 or 14% of the population. With an estimated area of 279,252 square kilometers, this region has an estimated density of 15.9 people per square kilometer. For the entire region 665,397 households were counted, which results in an average for the Region of 6.6 persons to a household, with urban households having on average 6.3 and rural households 6.7 people. Ethnic groups include Somalis (97.2%), Oromo (0.46%), Amhara (0.66%), foreign-born Somalis (0.20%) and Gurages (0.12%). 98.4% of the population is Muslim, 0.6% Orthodox Christian, and 1.0% are followers of all other religions.
In the previous census, conducted September 1997, the region's population was reported to be 3,439,860, of which 1,875,996 were males and 1,563,864 were females. The urban residents of the Somali Region numbered 492,710 households, with an average of 6.6 persons per household; a high sex ratio of 120 males to 100 females was reported.
The ethnic groups included Somalis (96.23%), Oromo (2.25%), Amhara (0.69%), and Gurages (0.14%). Somali was the working language and is predominantly spoken within the Region, spoken by 95.9% of the inhabitants. Other major languages included Oromifa (2.24%), Amharic (0.92%), and Gurage (0.033%). 98.7% of the population were Muslim, 0.9% Orthodox Christian, and 0.3% are followers of other religions.
According to the CSA, as of 2004, 38.98% of the total population had access to safe drinking water, of whom 21.32% were rural inhabitants and 77.21% were urban. Values for other reported common indicators of the standard of living for Somali as of 2005 include the following: 71.8% of the inhabitants fall into the lowest wealth quintile; adult literacy for men is 22% and for women 9.8%; and the Regional infant mortality rate is 57 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, which is less than the nationwide average of 77; at least half of these deaths occurred in the infants’ first month of life.
The CSA of Ethiopia estimated in 2005 that farmers in Somalia had a total of 459,720 cattle (representing 1.19%% of Ethiopia's total cattle), 463,000 sheep (2.66%), 650,970 goats (5.02%), 91,550 asses (3.66%), 165,260 camels (36.2%), 154,670 poultry of all species (0.5%), and 5,330 beehives (0.12%). For nomadic inhabitants, the CSA provided two sets of estimates, one based on aerial surveys and the other on more conventional methodology:
(conducted 5-23 Nov. 2003)
(conducted 11 Dec. 2003)