The Somali Republic is the eastern-most extension of the African continent, located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

The southern region between the Juba and Shebelle rivers is the main area of settled agriculture. However, as only 13 per cent of the land is arable, there is intense pressure on available pasture and water.

Occupying the south-central portions of the country, Hawiye (part of the Irir clan family) is probably the largest clan within Somalia, while Darood is the largest clan among all Somalis across borders. Since independence Hawiye have occupied important administrative positions in the bureaucracy and the top ranks of the army.

According to Amnesty International, the Somali minorities comprise principally the "African" Bantu/Jarir, who are mostly landless labourers; the Benadiri/Rer Hamar urban traders of Middle Eastern origin; and the smaller dispersed Midgan (Gaboye), Tumal and Yibro occupational groups of metal-workers, leather-workers, hairdressers, herbalists and others. There are other smaller minorities, such as the Ashraf and Shikhal Muslim religious communities, Bajuni fishing people, and remote hunter-gatherer groups.

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