Monday, July 5, 2010

Imagining Somaliland

I've been watching a lot of the show Pawn Stars on the History Channel lately. My favorite guest expert on the show is Sean Rich, who specializes in antique arms and armor. He eloquently discusses his interest in antique arms in terms of imagining who it was to have held a gun or what someone must have been thinking when striking a blade to another blade in combat during the Civil War. Sean says that each weapon has a story to tell. That same thought, wonder and imagination is one of the reasons I'm so fascinated by maps. Each little tiny dot with a name next to it represents not just a city, but a place - with residents, history, landmarks and a story to tell. A world map is of particular interest because one can view the spatial relationship of all of these places at one time.

A place with an intriguing story to tell is Somalia, which, on July 1st celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence. Strife has plagued the young country for much of its existence following its independence from Britain. Today it is arguably the most unstable place on earth. Despite its strategic location on the horn of Africa, the gulf of Aden and serving as the entry point to the red sea and the Suez canal, the country ranks 224th in per capita GDP.

The northern reaches of what is recognizes internationally as Somalia, Somaliland, declared independence from Somalia in 1991. In an effort to build an economy and gain international recognition as an independent State, they began printing their own currency in 1994, the Somaliland Shilling. The release of the currency coincided with the elimination of the Somali Shilling as an accepted currency in Somaliland.

After a little research I became interested in obtaining some Somaliland currency. To my surprise I was able to find Somaliland shillings for sale. I used what the transformers use to find rare artifacts...ebay. I purchased a 500 shilling note from Robert at Robertsworldmoney.com. If you're looking to purchase foreign currency check out Robert's site. He has a wonderful collection of uncirculated currency. He also is a very kind salesman and is one of the very few who has been able to successfully blend hobby and business.

Here is an example of the 500 Somaliland Shilling note. They really are beautiful and one wonders how they are able to print something of such quality with a value of less than a dime.

Despite the lack of international recognition as a State, Somaliland appears to be a beautiful place in its own right. Check out a great collection of images from Somaliland.

More to come on Somaliland's quest for recognition.

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