One of the nine ethnic regions of the country. It was established in 1994 after the overthrow of the military regime of the Derg and the coming to power of the EPRDF (The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front). It is located in the southeast of Ethiopia, bordering Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia. The capital is Jijiga. The autonomous status was ensured by the 1994 Constitution.
Along with three other regions (Benishangul-Gumuz, Afar and Gambela) is recognized as the least socially-economically developed region, which accounts for the largest number of federal grants and subsidies.
The titular ethnic group of the region is Somalis. Historically, they have been divided among several states, and the nationalistic sentiments of Somalis are built around the idea of creating "Great Somalia". At the same time, the neighboring Somali state can be regarded as a kin-state. However, to date, radical groups of Ethiopian Somalis are fighting, rather, not for union with a kin-state, but for increasing the degree of their own autonomy (or for full secession).
Somalis differ from the dominant ethnic groups of Ethiopia (Amhara, Tigrayans) and in language and religion. Their language refers to the Cushitic branch of the Afrasian languages (while the languages of the Amhara and Tigrayans are linked to the Semitic languages).Somalis are Sunni Muslims. Somalis constitute about 98% of the population of the region.
Despite the participation of the Ethiopian Somali People's Democratic Party in the ruling alliance of EPRDF, separatist sentiments are strong in the region, accompanied by armed rebel activities of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. In addition, there is a high tension between Somalis and Oromo, due to mutual territorial claims.