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FIRST STAMPS inscribed BENADIR 12 October 1903.

Local chiefs had already placed themselves under Italian protection when in 1892 the Benadir coast was leased by the Italians from the sultan of Zanzibar. Sovereign rights were bought from the sultan and direct rule assumed 19 March 1905 under the name Italian Somaliland. Further territory was purchased from Ethiopia in 1908. Jubaland (see below) was added in 1925 as part of Italy's reward for joining the Allies in 1915.

Italian Somaliland, together with Eritrea and Ethiopia, became Italian East Africa (see below) 1 June 1936 to 1941. Occupied by British imperial forces in 1941, the territory was separately administered by the British until it was placed under United Nations trusteeship on 21 November 1949 with Italy as trustee nation for ten years. It became an independent republic in 1960, joining with ex-British Somali-land (see Somaliland Protectorate). After an army coup in 1969, it adopted a communist regime and the title Somali Democratic Republic.

Postal History
Unstamped Italian mail from the southern ports was handled in 1885-97 by an Italian consulate in Zanzibar, and in 1897-1903 by the P0 at Kismayu where British East African stamps were applied.

Later stamps are overprinted or inscribed SOMALIA ITALIANA.

Stamps in use in 1936 were valid throughout Italian East Africa and can be found used in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. Also used stamps of Italian East Africa in 1938-41.

Italian East Africa
(Africa Orientale Italiana)

FIRST STAMPS for combined territories 7 February 1938.

Subsequent issues were Valid in parts of Italian East Africa remaining in Italian hands until the surrenders of 20 May 1941 (Amba Alagi) and 27 November 1941 (Gondar).

Jubaland (Oltre Giuba)


FIRST STAMPS 29 June 1925.

A province of Kenya ceded to Italy with effect from 29 June 1925 and incorporated into Italian Somaliland on 30 June 1926. Used stamps of British East Africa from opening of Kismayu PO c.1896.

From 1 July 1926 used stamps of Italian Somaliland.

British Occupation of Italian Somaliland

Civilian mail was handled at Mogadishu by a military office (EA APO 74), using stamps of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, until Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA) was operative.
Under OETA used stamps of Britain overprinted M.E.F. from 13 April 1942.
Used stamps of Britain overprinted E.A.F. from 15 January 1943.
Used stamps of Britain overprinted B.M.A. Somalia from 27 May 1848.
Used stamps of Britain overprinted B.A. SOMALIA from 2 January 1950.

(Owing to lateness of availability, each of these issued overlapped into the following period of administration.)

Somalia (Italian Trust Territory)

FIRST STAMPS 1 April 1950.

Somalia (Republic including exBritish Somaliland)

FIRST STAMPS 26 June 1960 overprinted 'Republic of Somaliland'.
Later issued inscribed as follows:
1 July 1960 - 20 October 1960 SOMALIA.
from 1974, JAM. DIM. SOOMAALIYA.


1960, 100 centesimi = 1 somalo.
1961, 100 centesimi = 1 Somali shilling.

The Trust Territory became independent on 1 July 1960, but in 1969, the armed forces seized power and established a Revolutionary Council under the leadership of Siad Barre.

Siad Barre was overthrown in January 1993 which started a civil war between clan-based movements. The United Somali Congress (USC) seized control in Mogadishu and an interim administration was formed under Ali Mahdi Muhammed.

In the north, the Somali National Movement formed a rival administration under the leadership of Ahmed Ali. Fighting between the USC and supporters of the Somali National Alliance (SNA) of General Aideed devastated Mogadishu and large parts of South Somalia which increased the problems already caused by famine conditions.

The UN operation proved in effectual in securing aid distribution routes and was replaced by a further US led, UN force, UNITAF. On 4 May 1993, UNITAF handed over to a 28,000 strong UN force (UNOSOM). Clashes between the UN force which was trying to establish some form of settlement in the country and the resulting civil war left 90 Un troops and 2.00 Somalis dead between June and November 1993.

The Western part of the UN alliance withdrew from the operation in March 1994. This left troops from India, Pakistan and Egypt that were easily overrun by the Somali factions.

The UN withdrew all troops in March 1995 which allowed General Aideeds's militia to take control of the city's port and airport. On 12 June 1995, Aideed was ousted as leader by a joint USC/SNA Congress that nominated Osman Ali as its leader. However, Aideed responded by declaring himself President on 15 June 1995, but he was killed by gunshot a year later and was succeeded by his son, Hussein. Fighting between the factions continued through out 1996 and 1997.

On 22 December 1997, 26 out of 28 factions signed the Cairo Declaration which aimed at the establishment of a thirteen member Presidential Council and a Council of Deputies in preparation for full elections to be held no later than 2003. Despite this declaration, fighting has continued and, following the capture of Baidoa by militamen loyal to the Aideeds on 2 May 1999, Ethiopian forces assisted in the recapture of the town a month later.

Not surprisingly, the postal services throughout the country have been totally disrupted and although some stamps have been issued, their provenance and usefulness is doubtful.

The Somali Embassy in London was closed in January 1992 and has not reopened.

Somaliland Protectorate (British Somaliland)



1903, 16 annas = 1 rupee.
1951, 100 cents = 1 shilling.

In Arab hands for centuries, the region came under Egyptian influence after 1870. When the Egyptian garrisons were withdrawn in 1884, the British government established a protectorate, garrisoned from Aden and administered by India until 1898. Control passed from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office in 1905. Occupied by Italian forces in August 1940, it was liberated 16-24 March 1941 by a small force from Aden. Civil posts were restarted on 27 April 1942. By referendum the population opted for unification with newly independent Somalia on 1 July 1960.

Egyptian stamps used at Berbera and Zaila in 1881-4 (see Egypt).

Stamps withdrawn from sale 25 June 1960.

Used stamps of Somalia Trust Territory 25-30 June 1960, and thereafter stamps of Somalia.


A sultanate inland of Lamu under German protection 27 May 1885-30 June 1890. The local stamps 'issued' here with inscriptions in Swahili or Arabic have never had universal official recognition.


FIRST STAMPS French Colonial General Issues from 1883.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED French Colonies overprinted 1 February 1892.


1892, as France.

A Somali coast town purchased in 1857 by the French Consul in Aden. Arrangement ratified by local chiefs in 1862 and area occupied by French from 1883. It lost all importance to Djibouti (q.v.) and the administration was moved there in 1894, when the Obock PO was closed.

Obock issues were used in Djibouti until supplies were exhausted.


FIRST STAMPS Obock, and Obock overprinted, from 1893.



1894, as France.

Founded in 1888, the year in which the Cote Francaise des Somalis (French Somali Coast protectorate) was established. Became the capital in 1894. The boundaries of Cote Francaise were established between 1888 and 1901.

In 1902, stamps of Djibouti were replaced by issues bearing the title of the protectorate.

French Somali Coast (Cote Francaise des Somalis)

FIRST STAMPS as Obock and Djibouti.



1902, as France.

Established in 1888 and replaced the former areas of Obock and Djibouti. Developed slowly and in 1915 still had only one PO. Adhered strongly to Vichy France in World War II and was blockaded by British imperial forces until it surrendered in December 1942.

Stamps continued to be issued until 1967 but sometimes contained the title 'Djibouti' as well as the protectorate's full name - notably in the case of the Free French issue of 1943.

The French maintained a link through their territory to Ethiopia by rail, thus giving Ethiopia its only direct link to the coast. The Free French kept alive their civil air rights by running an airmail service between Djibouti and Madagascar in 1943-4.

French Territory of Afars and Issas

FIRST STAMPS Obock, Djibouti and Cote Francaise des Somalis.



1967, as France.

A referendum was held in the Cote Francaise des Somalis in March 1967 and 60 per cent of the population voted to continue association with France rather than for independence. The name was changed by decree on 5 July 1967. The territory attained independence as the Republic of Djibouti on 27 June 1977.

Republic of Djibouti



1977, francs (Djibouti).

An independent state created on 27 June 1977 from the former French territory of Afars and Issas.

Horn of Africa 1908
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