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Somalia was known to the ancient Egyptians as the Land of Punt.
They valued its trees which produced the aromatic gum resins frankincense and myrrh.
Other symbols of Somalia are the five-pointed white star on the Somali flag and the crescent, which represents the new moon and is a universal symbol of the Islamic faith.
Each point of the star represents a land that is home to Somali people: the portion within the national boundaries, once divided into two territories, Italian and British; the Ogaden region of Ethiopia; the Northern Frontier District of Kenya; and Djibouti.
A small percentage of Somalis also speak Italian, and a growing number speak English.
Educated young adults from well-to-do urban families may speak five or more languages. The most widely recognized symbol is the camel, because it provides transportation, milk, meat, income, and status to a majority of Somalis.
It is bordered on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the east by the Indian Ocean, on the southwest by Kenya, and on the west and northwest by Ethiopia and Djibouti.
At approximately 246,200 square miles (637,658 square kilometers), Somalia is about the size of Texas.
Ethnic Somalis make up about 95 percent of the population. In the Afro-Asiatic family of languages, Somali is an Eastern Cushitic language.The remainder are Indians, Pakistanis, other Asians, Arabs, Europeans, and groups of mixed ancestry. Somali did not become a written language until January 1973.Common Somali is the most widely spoken dialect, but Coastal Somali and Central Somali also are spoken.These included Mogadishu, established as the first Arab settlement in East Africa.
The city was at the height of its influence and wealth during the thirteenth century, when it controlled the gold trade on the East African coast. They joined with the Arabs in fighting the Islamic holy wars against Ethiopian Christians in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The Somali people share a common language, Somali, and most are Muslims of the Sunni sect.