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The region of northwestern Somalia known as Somaliland (shown in yellow on this map) has been seeking independence from Somalia for more than 30 years. Unlike the rest of Somalia, Somaliland is largely peaceful, with a functioning government and no significant threat from Al-Shabaab terrorism. Somaliland has its own currency, military, and flag. But what it doesn't have is international recognition. Now Somaliland hopes to use its ancient rock paintings, some of the world's oldest, as a bargaining chip with the international community: without recognition of its independence, Somaliland is dependent on Somalia for all aid, including cultural aid, which leaves Somaliland's archaeological treasures, like the rock paintings at Laas Geel, vulnerable to neglect and attack. If the world wants to save these early records of human art, the theory goes, the world needs to pave the way for tourism and outside funding by recognizing Somaliland's independence. www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/02/01/somaliland-independence-laas-geel-rock-paintings
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