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British Somaliland

The British Somaliland Protectorate was a British protectorate in the north part of the Horn of Africa, later part of Somalia.

Egypt dominated the area in the 1870s, but withdrew in 1884, upon which the British established a protectorate and garrisoned it from Aden. The protectorate was administered from British India until 1898, then by the Foreign Office, and after 1905 the Colonial Office.

The protectorate was occupated by Italy in August 1940, but recaptured in a campaign in March 1941.

A referendum indicated support for unification with Somalia, which occurred 1 July 1960.

Postage stamps

Originally mail from Somaliland used postage stamps of Egypt, then India. In 1903, about 30 types of stamps of India were overprinted "BRITISH / SOMALILAND".

In 1904 the protectorate issued its own stamps, featuring a profile of King Edwarf VII, and inscribed "SOMALILAND PROTECTORATE". Issues of George V used the same design with George's profile.

After George VI ascended the throne, the new series of 12 values used three pictorial designs; a Berbera blackhead sheep, Greater Kudu antelope, and a map. The 1938 series included a 3/4 portrait of the king; in 1942, with the restoration of civil postal service, new stamps used a full-face portrait, and the sheep design was re-engraved.

Around 1950 the currency changed from annas and rupees to centss and shillings, and the 1942 stamps were appropriately surcharged. Ironically, the UPU 75th anniversary issue was printed in cents and shillings, but its issue date was 10 October 1949, before the changeover, so those stamps had to be surcharged in the old currency.

Queen Elizabeth II ushered in a new series featuring a variety of local wildlife and scenes. Some values of these stamps were overprinted 21 May 1957 with "OPENING / OF THE / LEGISLATIVE / COUNCIL / 1957", and on 5 April 1960 with "LEGISLATIVE / COUNCIL / UNOFFICIAL / MAJORITY, / 1960" to mark the events as named by the overprints.

All the stamps of British Somaliland were withdrawn from sale on 25 June 1960; for the week prior to formal unification on 1 July, stamps of Italian Somaliland and Somalia were used.