And so to Somaliland. This is a northern part of Somalia, and its attempt to achieve statehood is an example of see-you-around-suckers secession. As you know, the Somali state largely collapsed during the 1990s, with country's territory being taken over by feuding warlords and suchlike. The northern part of the country, however, managed to escape the general chaos that swept the rest of the country. The locals there managed to setup a separate administration and state-like apparatus, albeit one facing a lot of challenges. The leaders of this northern region then proposed to escape permanently from the rest of Somalia's ongoing nightmare by declaring their area independent, and naming it Somaliland.
Thus far no one has granted Somaliland formal recognition. This is not particularly surprising. The international community abhors secession. In Africa, in particular, there is a far that should any borders start to be re-drawn then the whole continent could slip into the abyss as ambitious leaders try to carve out little empires for themselves. But Somaliland has one ace up its sleeve that means it continuously hovers on the brink of formal acceptance in the family of nations. Its borders are the same as those of the pre-independence colony of British Somaliand. This was merged into Italian Somaliland to create the state we know and love as Somalia, but the Somaliland leaders can say that they are merely reversing this artificial union and bringing a previously existing entity back into being as an independent state. The Somalilanders are invoking the principle of uti possidetis, that post-colonial borders should by default follow pre-independence boundaries. This is good (for them), as it allows the prospect of their independence being recognised without setting a precedent that could lead to the disintegration of other countries.
That's about it for Somaliland. Various reports and stuff have recommended that it be allowed to join the family of nations, but for the moment the country remains unrecognised. If the rest of Somalia were to start showing signs of stabilisation then I imagine that the Somalilanders would be pressured to re-integrate with their former compatriots. But there is no prospect of that happening any time soon. The expectation has to be that Somaliland will sooner or later gain external recognition. In the meantime, this phantom country chugs along. Apparently it is quite nice to visit; its unrecognised status does not prevent a trickle of tourists visiting from Djibouti and Ethiopia to sample the hospitality of this strangely peaceful land.
Would you like to know more? Oh look, the International Crisis Group has a two year old report on Somaliland: Somaliland: Time for African Union Leadership
Somaliland flag from Wikipedia