Burao is the second-most populated city in Somaliland, and it was here that the unilateral declaration of an independent Republic of Somaliland took place in 1991.

Centrally located in the heart of Somaliland, Burao is an important trading hub for goods intended for other parts of the republic. The Burco Meat & Produce market has been running since 2007 and can accommodate over 2,000 merchants.

Despite being located in a an area exposed to a hot desert climate, Burao enjoys a reliable water supply thanks to the presence of groundwater. Nowadays, the city also have 24-hour electricity.


Where is Burao?

Burao is found in the Togdheer region, and is bisected by the Togdheer River.

  • Coordinates: 09°31′27″N 45°32′13″E
  • Elevation: 1,037 meters above sea level
  • Time zone: UTC+3 (EAT)

How many people live in Burao?

Data from the year 2015 show a population of roughly 350,000 people.


Burao is located away from the coast, in a region exposed to a hot desert climate and with only minor seasonal temperature changes. March – October have an average high above 29 degrees C, while November – February have an average high within the 26 – 28 degrees C span. The coldest months of the year are December and January, where the average low is in the 12-13 degrees C interval.

There is a market difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures in Burao, with the nights offering a much needed relief from the heat of the day.


In an average year, Burao gets around 220 mm of rain. The rainiest months are April and May, while November – March tend to be very dry.

Surrounding environment

The landscape in which Burao arose is a rather flat semi-arid one, where the Togdheer river has a strong presence. The city is surrounded by a grassland savannah that is an important grazing ground for animals such as antelopes, wild goats, boars, camels, zebras, kudu, and Somali wild ass. Many bird species have been spotted here. The presence of grazing animals attract predators such as lion and leopard.


The dominating form of public transport in Burao is bus.

Burao Airport

The Burao Airport is found less than one kilometre north-east of the New Bridge in central Burao. It is served by Daallo Airlines which offers scheduled flights to Hargeisa (capital of Somaliland) and certain other cities within the Horn of Africa. There are also a few international flights to Addis Ababa (in Ethiopia) and Sana’a (in Yemen).

    • IATA code: BUO
    • ICAO code: HCMV
    • Elevation: 1,100 meters
    • Coordinates: 09°31′00″N 45°34′00″E

Burao university


In the 1800s, Burao is described as an important watering place controlled by the Habar Yoonis clan, serving as a headquarter for the Habar Yoonis Sultan Awad Diiriye. (In our time, the Habar Yoonis still have a strong presence in the city, alongside the Habar Jeclo and the Ciise Muuse. All three are subclans of the Isaaq clan.) When the English explorer Frank Linsly James had visited Sultan Awad Diirive in 1884, he wrote about the amazing horseback skills of the Habar Yoonis riders.

The Dervish state was founded in Burao in 1899 by Dervish leaders and their clans. This included the Dhulbahante, several Habar Jeclo sub clans, and Sultan Nur Ahmed Aman’s followers from the Habar Yoonis clan.