Places That Don't Exist Episode 1: Somaliland

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Places That Don't Exist Episode 1: Somaliland

Author Simon Reeve undertakes a thrilling journey through the most obscure countries in the world – PLACES THAT DON'T EXIST.
This award-winning five part series on breakaway states and unrecognised nations, broadcast on BBC2 and broadcasters internationally, took Simon to little-known parts of the world including Somaliland, Transniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ajaria, South Ossetia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Somalia, Moldova, Taiwan, and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

WINNER - 2005 One World Broadcasting Trust Awards - "for an outstanding contribution to greater world understanding"

Somaliland and Somalia
In the north of Somalia – one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world – is Somaliland, a stable working democracy which no other nation recognizes as a proper country. Somaliland used to be linked to Britain, but joined with Somalia in the 1960s to form one country. When the relationship soured Somaliland sought independence, but had to fight a bitter war against the Somali dictator during which thousands died.

Simon’s first stop on the way to Somaliland is Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, where a dozen armed guards are needed to prevent kidnap or killing. The war-ravaged city, abandoned by the rest of the world, is in a state of anarchy with warlords instead of a government, but the rest of the world recognizes Somalia as an official state. Because there’s no government there’s also no police force. In the main market, Simon buys himself a Somali diplomatic passport from a man called Mr Big Beard, then heads north to Somaliland.

Although this nation of 3.5 million people is relatively stable, with a government, police force and traffic lights, no country recognizes it officially. Simon is guided around by Yusuf, a national hero and former guerilla fighter who spent 10 years battling for Somaliland’s independence. Because Somaliland is not recognized it’s having trouble getting foreign aid to help with the worst drought in decades. Tens of thousands of people are at risk of starvation.
The President tells Simon he runs the country on just a few million pounds a year. Because nobody recognizes the government it cannot get loans, making Somaliland one of the few poor countries on the planet not burdened by foreign debt repayments. Because there is no money sloshing around, there’s also little corruption.
Some countries want Somaliland to reunify with Somalia. Over a camp fire, Yusuf warns Simon that this could lead to war, and he would be prepared to fight.