Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Somali, a people of East Africa, whose domain comprises most of the eastern peninsula terminating at Cape Guardafui, and stretching from the Gulf of Aden south to the Tana river, with undetermined western limits towards Gallaland and Abyssinia. The Somali, who belong to the Ethiopic or eastern branch of the Hamitic family (q.v.), intermediate between the Western Gallas and Northern Afars (Danakil), form three main divisions, with several sub-groups, as under: (1) Hasiya (Mijertin, War-Sengali, Dolbohanti, Habr-Awal, Habr-Tol, Habr-Yunis, Issa, Gadbursi), from Tajurah Bay round to the Indian Ocean, and from the Gulf of Aden south to the central plateau of Ogaden; (2) Hawiya (Habr-Jaleh, Habr-Gader, Karanle, Rer-Dollol), Ogaden and Webi-Shebeli basin; (3) Rakanwin (Kalalla, Barawa, Wadan, Abgal), southern steppes, Juba basin, and thence to the Tana estuary. The type differs little from that of the Gallas (q.v.), except that the Somali are taller (5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet), and darker (a deep shade of brown), with smaller and longer heads, shghtly arched nose, full lips, deep-set black eyes, long crisp black hair, slim extremities; but there is a strain both of Arab and Negro blood causing considerable modifications in different districts. All are Mohammedans, and the little culture they possess, such as a slight knowledge of letters, and the national costume (a flowing robe of white cotton, clasped to the left shonlder), is entirely due to their Arab teachers. Beneath this outward varnish the savage instincts are still rampant, as shown in the prevalence of brigandage, lawlessness, tribal feuds, the vendetta, and a curious indifference to physical pain. All go armed, the national weapons being the spear, long knives or daggers, and the sif, a two-edged sword, reserved for the chiefs. These chiefs possess little authority over the innumerable rers or fakidas (clans and septs), and even the so called "Sultans" of the Hasiyas exercise scarcely any influence beyond their immediate surroundings. The coast people engage in fishing, navigation, and trade, or seek employment as caravan leaders. In the interior nearly all are nomads, and possess a fine breed of camels, noted for extaordinary staying power. By the recent international conventions the Northern Somali have become British, the Suuthern Italian subjects, though few of the inland tribes are yet aware of this political arrangement.