“Though unrecognized by the international community, the country benefits from a strong social contract between government and citizens.”
Drop a pin on a map of eastern Africa and chances are it will not land on a healthy democracy. Somalia and South Sudan are failed states. Sudan is a dictatorship, as are the police states of Eritrea, Rwanda and Ethiopia. In this context tiny Somaliland stands out. Somaliland was a British protectorate, before it merged with Italian Somalia in 1960 to form a unified Somalia. It broke away in 1991, and now has a strong sense of national identity. It was one of the few entities carved up by European colonists that actually made some sense. Somaliland is more socially homogeneous than Somalia or indeed most other African states (and greater homogeneity tends to mean higher levels of trust between citizens). For fear of encouraging other separatist movements in the region, the international community, following the African Union, has never obliged [to recognize Somaliland]. Nation-building on a shoestring helped keep Somaliland’s politicians relatively accountable, and helped to keep the delicate balance between clans.