BETA

Country information: Somalia

Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 9,832,000; Members, fewer than 100; Africa Southeast Area; Kenya Nairobi Mission.

Somalia was formed 1 July 1960 by a merger of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. It is the easternmost country on the African continent and is bordered by the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya. The majority of the population are Sunni Muslim. The official language is Somali, while Arabic, Italian, and English are also spoken.

In 1983, members of an agricultural development project from Utah State University began work in Somalia. Many of those working on the project were members of the Church. To serve this group, the Mogadishu Branch was formed under the direction of the International Mission. When the project concluded, the branch was dissolved.

Michel Guillas, a French doctor, had begun meeting with missionaries in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1983. That same year he moved to Somalia. He soon met a group of Latter-day Saints who were meeting in a private home. Guillas was baptized in the Indian Ocean on 15 December 1984, the first known convert baptized in Somalia.

Drought and border disputes in Somalia continued through the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1992, the Church sent over 1 million pounds of relief supplies to Somalia and other neighboring countries. The Church also funded several water reclamation projects.

Also in 1992, U.S. Marines were sent to Somalia as part of a United Nations peace keeping force. Latter-day Saints within the contingent requested permission from the Africa Area Presidency to hold Church meetings. In response, the Kenya Nairobi Mission sent manuals and hymn books. As of 2004, there was no official Church group in the country.

Sources: "When Michel Guillas First Received a Book," Church News, 23 December 1989; "Deadly Drought," Church News, 26 September 1992; "Church Sends Aid to Africa," Ensign, November 1992; "Church Sends Assistance to Somalia," Ensign, April 1993.

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