Ioan Lewis details the history and culture of the Somali people, providing a unique window into this little-known culture and its increasingly public predicaments. He provides insight into the complex social, historical, and cultural hinterland that is the Somali heritage and pays close attention to the pervasive influence of traditional nomadism, especially its extremely decentralized nature. Lewis also addresses developments in the Somali political region since the collapse of the Republic in 1991, including the formation and steady development of the democratic state of Somaliland. Though it has grown into a de facto personality, this self-governing outpost of democracy is still officially unrecognized internationally. Lewis concludes with a discussion of the Islamist movement that brought a brief but astonishing period of stability to much of Southern Somalia in late 2006.