Puntland, an arid region of northeastern Somalia, declared itself an autonomous state in August 1998, in part to prevent clan warfare from engulfing southern Somalia.
Despite its relative stability, the region has endured armed conflicts and grabbed global headlines with an increase in pirate attacks on international shipping in the Indian Ocean.
Puntland is a destination for many Somalis displaced by violence in the south.
Unlike its neighbour, separatist Somaliland, Puntland says it does not seek recognition as an independent entity, instead desiring to be part of a federal Somalia.
The territory takes its name from the Land of Punt, trading center for the ancient Egyptians and a place wrapped in legend.
Capital: Garowe (administrative), Bosaso (commercial)
Area: 212,510 sq km
Population: 4.9 million
Languages: Somali, Arabic, English
Life expectation: 53 years (men) 56 years (women)
Chairman: Abdullahi Dani said
Said Abdullahi Dani, a former federal planning minister, was elected president in a closely contested election in January 2019. In the third round of voting, Dani defeated former intelligence officer, Asad Osman Diyano.
As president, Dani continues the policy of his predecessor, Abdiweli Gaas, by pushing back the Islamist al-Shabab militia and strengthening the mandate of the central government.
Although Puntland’s statute provides for freedom of the press, the authorities have resorted to arresting journalists and shutting down the media.
Private broadcasters are allowed to operate. No newspapers are currently published in Puntland.
XVII-XIX century – The area of present-day Puntland is governed by the Majeerteen Sultanate, a major trading power.
1888-9 – Majeerteen and the rival Hobyo Sultanate become Italian protectorates.
1920 – Both sultanates are annexed by Italian Somaliland.
1960 – Puntland becomes part of a united Somalia with the independence and merger of the territories of Italian and British Somaliland.
1998 – The Puntland region declares autonomy after the rest of Somalia has sunk into anarchy, but does not seek independence.
2005-2012 – The pirates, who operate mainly out of Puntland, pose a major threat to shipping off the Somali coast, before disappearing as a threat following an international naval operation.