Very few people have heard of Somaliland. Officially still part of Somalia, Somaliland declared itself an independent republic on May 18, 1991, and has been building its nation ever since.
Somaliland has everything one would expect any “normal” democracy to have, with the exception that it is situated within, and officially still part of a country that has absolutely nothing of the sort: Somalia. One of the most volatile and violent countries in the world today, Somalia is tarnished by its ongoing civil war, unmatched brutalities and absence of government.
Photographer Chantal Heijnen’s fascination with Somaliland started in 2009, when she and her Somaliland born friend Fatma Ali traveled to this democratic enigma within what is essentially a failed state. In the two years that followed, they began documenting the Somaliland people who are building the democratic institutions of governance in their unrecognized republic.
Ghost Republic Somaliland: Democracy against all odds is a photo document focused on the Somalilanders who are organizing, maintaining and governing a nation that is effectively cut off from the rest of the world.