Sanaag (Somali: Sanaag; Arabic: سناغ‎ Sanāgh) is a region (gobol) in northern Somalia. Sanaag is claimed by the two self-proclaimed but internationally-unrecognized states of Somaliland and Puntland. It was the largest region of formerly British Somaliland protectorate. Its capital city is Ceerigaabo (Erigavo).

Sanaag has a long coastline facing the Gulf of Aden to the north and is bordered by the Somalian regions of Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool and Bari.

The eastern, southern and northern part of the region or 80% of Sanaag is inhabited by the Darod subclan of Warsangali and the western part by the Darod subclan of Dhulbahante and Isaaq subclans, Habar Jeclo and Habar Yoonis, as well as some minority groups.

The most important towns are Ceerigaabo, Badhan, Las Khorey, Dhahar, Ceel Afweyn, Hadaaftimo, Xingalool, Buraan, Damala Xagare, Maydh, Ceelbuh, Gar Adag, Hadaaftimo, Kaladhacda, and Awrboogays.


A severe drought in the region in the early part of the 21st century caused an 80% or greater loss of livestock, though two good rainy seasons in 20042005 helped restore the area. Over a 15-year period of analysis, from 19882003, there was a 52% loss of forest and a 40% loss of grassland, and a 370% increase in bare land. Soil erosion due to weather and human activities and clearing of wood and brush for such uses as charcoal and fuel are issues leading to a degredation of the environment.[1]

Territorial dispute

Areas disputed between Somaliland, Puntland and the Republic of Somalia shown in banded orange and blue, as of 18 May 2007

Sanaag is a disputed region, claimed as sovereign territory by the two self-proclaimed but internationally-unrecognized states of Somaliland and Puntland, as well as defined as part of the Somali Republic according to the 2004 Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The dispute between Somaliland and Puntland stems from 1998, when Puntland formed and declared the region as part of its territory.[2] Prior to that, it had been claimed by Somaliland since the 1991 events of the Somali Civil War.

Beginning in 2003, the forces of Puntland entered and occupied the region based on irredentist desires, due to the large Darod clan population in the area. Somaliland claimed the territory as part of the original bounds of British Somaliland. Fighting between the two forces led to casualties and captured prisoners, who were later exchanged. As a related contention, in 2005 Puntland tried to sell off mineral rights to foreign investors, including the disputed territories of Sool and Sanaag.[3][4]

The dispute with the TFG stems from the passage of the new Charter in November 2004. However, this was not a pragmatic issue until the military successes of the government in the 20062007 war in Somalia. Assertions of sovereignty in January 2007 by the TFG leadership sparked riots in Somaliland, both for and against a reunification with the south.[5][6]

Districts of Sanaag Region

According to the Republic of Somali, before 1991 Sanaag was Divided into 5 Districts which are as follows:[7]

Badhan - Warsengeli
Ceel Afwayn - Isaaq
Ceerigaabo - Isaaq, Warsengeli and Dhulbahante
Dhahar - Warsengeli
Laasqorey - Warsengeli

According to the Republic of Puntland, the Sanaag region consists of 10 districts with Badhan being the Capital of the region. The Transitional Federal government also recognizes Puntland as an official state so as as its regions and districts. The Districts of Sanaag are:

Erigabo - Warsengeli and Dhulbahante
Hadaaftimo - Warsengeli
Xingalol - Warsengeli
Dhahar - Warsengeli
Buraan - Warsengeli
Xabasha Wacle - Warsengeli
Badhan - Warsengeli
Las Khorey - Warsengeli
Kaladhacda - Warsengeli
Ceelbuh - Warsengeli

According to the Republic of Somaliland, as of July 2002, Sanaag was formally divided into 10 districts, rated "A" through "D" in terms; districts graded "D" were limited, because "their district councils shall not be elected at first local government elections as their borders have not yet been delineated."[9] Thusly, under the 2005 elections for the lower house of Parliament, Sanaag was described as only having six districts.[10] Here is the list of districts of Sanaag and their "Grade":

ErigaVo (A) - Isaaq, Warsengeli and Dhulbahante
El-Afweyn (A) - Isaaq
Badhan (A) - Warsengeli
Lasqoray (A) - Warsengeli
Dhahar (A) - Warsengeli
Gar-adag (D) - Isaaq
Xingalool (B) - Warsengeli
Ceelbuh (D) - Warsengeli
Buraan (C) - Warsengeli
Hadaaftimo (C) - Warsengeli