|Flag of Somaliland|
In the mid-19th century France gained control of part of the Somaliland territory. At about the same time, Britain became interested in Somaliland as a source of supplying meat to troops stationed in the colony of Aden, where its ships refueled as they sailed to India. When the opportunity arose to take control of strategic parts of Somaliland because Egyptian forces were busy fighting in the Sudan, Britain acted quickly.
Negotiations with local Somali leaders led to the formation of the protectorate in 1887. Treaties with France in 1888 defined the borders between the two colonies. The next year Italy established its presence in other parts of Somaliland.
Throughout its rule by European colonial forces, Somaliland was divided by the whim of nations, often causing hardship for the inhabitants. In 1899 the "mad mullah" Sayid Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan began a Somali rebellion against British rule that was to last almost two decades.
When the British withdrew to their coastal outposts in 1910, they left the interior in chaos. There was constant fighting among the Somalis and little food available. As much as one third of Somaliland's male population may have died from fighting or starvation.
Britain returned to the interior in 1920 and began a series of administrative and social reforms that were halted by World War II. In 1925 Jubaland, a region in Kenya, was added to Italian Somalia. Shortly before World War II Italian-speaking regions of Ethiopia were joined with the Somali territories to become Italian East Africa.
|Map of Somaliland|
During the war Somalia saw a great deal of fighting, with the British taking control of the Italian districts and ruling a combined Somaliland Protectorate from 1941 until 1950, when the Italian districts came under the auspices of the United Nations.
In 1956 Italian Somaliland was granted autonomy, and in 1960 it was granted total independence. In the same year Britain gave its ill-prepared protectorate independence. At the time, Somaliland had only one secondary school and only a few college-educated individuals. An infrastructure was almost nonexistent, and the indirect rule system used by Britain had not trained Somalis for positions of authority. For a period after 1960 Somalia and Somaliland were united as the United Republic of Somalia.