Somalia is an East African country that makes up the Horn of Africa. It lies along the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and shares borders with Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Prior to their independence, Britain and Italy had colonized sectors of Somalia, known as the British Somaliland Protectorate and the Italian Somaliland, until the 1960s, when they were granted independence. The flag of Somalia is a symbolic representation of its independence, with the five-pointed star represented the 5 regions that Somali ethnicity presides: Djibouti, Somaliland (British Protectorate), the Somali region of Ethiopia, the North Eastern province of Kenya, and Somalia itself (formerly Italian Somaliland). Today, it is understood that the star only represents present-day Somalia. The blue surrounding the star signifies the sky and the masses of water that surround Somalia.
Somali culture is a result of a combination of traditions that were developed during the proto-Somalian era (the ancient people and ancestors of Somalia) and influenced by various regions of Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and the Indian subcontinent. The eclecticism of Somali history is showcased in all aspects of the Somali experience, from their exotic cuisine, their rich musical and art heritage, and even the country’s architecture. Known as the ‘Nation of Poets’, Somali music is centered around Somali folklore, with pentatonic rhythms, and made to accompany poetry. A traditional Somali tune artfully tells the history of the Somali culture through words, as well as the accompaniment by various drums and flutes. Dhaanto is a form of traditional Somali folklore music that is expressed through Dhaanto dancing. The dance is very energetic, full of rhythmic jumping and timed claps.
Their exquisite storytelling is also displayed in their food, as an amalgamation of the rich history and influence of Europe, India, and the overall continent of Africa. Somali cuisine is very aromatic, as spices such as cinnamon, cumin, cardamon, cloves, and garden sage are used in their rice to add flavor to their meals. They are a halal country, meaning that no pork is cooked, no alcohol is served, and no meat that died on its own is eaten. To accompany their aromatic rice and meats, no meal is served without bananas and shigni, which isa tangy hot sauce made of green chile, tomatoes, coriander, and tamarind.