Ask anyone in Hargeisa and they’ll tell you that the city isn’t a part of Somalia at all, but rather the self-proclaimed capital of Somaliland – a break-away state that’s been governing on its own, without the sanction of Somalia’s federal government or the United Nations, since 1991. And while the political machine that’s housed in the mansions of Hargeisa officially doesn’t exist – at least in the eyes of outsiders – there’s plenty to be said for this onetime vassal of British East Africa.

For starters, the place is relatively peaceful and non-violent.

There are honorific monuments to the great struggles with Siad Barre’s totalitarian rule in the 90s, and signs of law and order not found elsewhere in the country: traffic lights; police; even the occasional tourist!

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