A war-torn country with a corner open to visitors.
If you were asked to name the five most dangerous countries in the world for travelers, Somalia would probably be on your list. What with kidnappings, piracy, and a civil war, you’d need a very good reason to visit Mogadishu. Somalia never was a popular tourist destination, and since the collapse of the central government in 1991, journalists, aid workers, diplomats, militants, and heavily armed troops are about the only foreigners heading that way. Yet contrary to popular belief, there is one part of Somalia which is easy to visit, if you’re willing to take small risks. Somaliland, the former British Somalia, declared independence in 1991 and has since functioned separately from the rest of the country, the former Italian Somalia around Mogadishu. Somaliland has its own currency, flag, border controls, and security forces. Visas are readily available at the Somaliland Trade Mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and crossing the border between Harar, Ethiopia, and Hargeisa, Somaliland, is no big deal. Shared taxis on the Somaliland side can carry you to/from the capital Hargeisa in a couple of hours, and everyone in the country happily accepts cash dollars for all purchases. Entry from Djibouti is also possible in theory but problematic and best avoided. Foreigners are required to have a police escort to visit the cave paintings at Las Geel or to go to the city of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden, and the Oriental Hotel in Hargeisa is a good place to meet other travelers willing to share that expense. And while Hargeisa is relatively safe to explore on your own, in Berbera one should stay close to their own hotel after the call to evening prayer. Somaliland is not recognized by any other government so you can rightly claim to have visited Somalia if you go there.