- Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland and the largest city in Somaliland (population 1,300.000). The city was the colonial capital of the British Somaliland protectorate from 1941 to 1960, when it gained independence as the State of Somaliland and united with Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic.
Today Somaliland is an unrecognised self-declared sovereign state, but it is internationally recognised only as an autonomous region of Somalia. The government of Somaliland considers itself as the successor state to the British Somaliland protectorate, which was independent for a few days in 1960 (as the State of Somaliland) before uniting with the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) to form the Somali Republic.
After years of civil war and the collapse of the central government, the local government declared independence from the rest of Somalia on May 18, 1991. Since then, the territory has been governed by an administration that seeks self-determination as the Republic of Somaliland. The local government maintains informal relations with some foreign governments, who have sent delegations to Hargeisa. However, Somaliland’s self-proclaimed independence remains unrecognised by any country or international organisation.
Hargeisa, the capital city, is a commercial hub for precious stone-cutting, construction, retail services and importing and exporting activities. On the outskirts of Hargeisa there is an area with numerous cave paintings from the Neolithic period. This area, known as the Laas Gaal complex, contains ten rock alcoves (caves) in an excellent state of preservation. Inside the caves there are paintings showing human figures with their hands raised and facing long-horned cattle.