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With the withdrawal of the militant group Al Shabab from Mogadishu in 2011 and many towns around Somalia soon thereafter, a fragile peace has allowed residents of a country that hasn’t seen peace in over two decades to slowly pick up the shattered remnants of their lives and begin building again. And while it may be many years, perhaps even decades, before Somalia is once again the country it once was - there is still much to be enthusiastic about.

Both politically and economically Somalia has made large strides in recent years. Elected in 2012 by Somali elders, the country now has its first real government since 1991 and plans to hold democratic elections in 2012. Perhaps it is the economy, though, which really shows promise. Long renowned for their entrepreneurial spirit, Somalis from the diaspora have returned in droves and Mogadishu in particular is going through a period of growth unheard of since it fell into civil war.

Of course, the country is still not without its challenges. Security continues to be a problem, with Al Shabab carrying out insurgent attacks on an almost weekly basis. Corruption also makes it hard to operate, as well as the persistent uncertainty of whether peace will really last. Despite this, however, Somalia has indeed turned a corner and its now up to those there to decide how far down this new road they would like to go.

 
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Dock workers in Mogadishu unload sacks from a cargo ship delivering maize meal to the city. With the withdrawal of most of Al Shabab's forces from the city in 2011, traffic at the port has increased many time over.

 
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A man stands in the recently liberated town of Bule Burte, just a few months after it was liberated by Djiboutian forces from Al Shabab.

 
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Fisherman unload their boat in the early morning light in Mogadishu's old port, where most of the city's smaller boats still operate out of.

 
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A lifeguard, until recently a very unexpected sight, sits on his chair looking over the swimmers at Lido beach. Deserted for almost two decades while the country was in civil war, an unexpected consequence of peace has been an increase in drownings due to an entire generation having grown up never learning how to swim.

 
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A private security convoy escorts foreigners through Mogadishu. For foreigners visiting the city, whether they are NGO workers or journalists, armed convoys are still a necessity when travelling around the town for fear of kidnap or some other form of attack.

 
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Weightlifters at a gym in Mogadishu train together. Sport, another product of peace, has also made a large comeback in Mogadishu with children once again playing football in the streets and new gyms opening every week.

 
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A man gets a facial at a new hair salon in Mogadishu. Returning diaspora from all over the world are a large part of Mogadishu's recent economic success, bringing in both money and new ideas to the city.

 
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African Union soldiers line up in front of a United Nations helicopter at Mogadishu International Airport. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is a hybrid mission, operated by the African Union with the approval and support of the United Nations.

 
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A man walks up a road leading out of Bakara market. Bakara market, once infamous for being the site of the Battle of Mogadishu, is now better known for being one of the city's main business districts.

 
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Military police, as part of the Somali National Army, take place in the country's independence day celebrations - which happen at midnight every year.

 
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A female nurse stands against a wall in Banadir hospital, one of Mogadishu's largest, after screening people for HIV. Once a center for trauma victims in the city, Banadir's day to day business is increasingly resembling that of any normal hospital.

 
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A goat herder stands in the center of Mogadishu's Bakara Animal Market. Traditionally a large part of Somalia's population has been nomadic, with goat and camel exports having long been one of the country's main industries.

 
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Football, once forbidden under Al Shabab, is played by children in the late afternoon light in Mogadishu.

 
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Children cling to the fence as they watch one of the first professional football games in Somalia's newly formed league.

 
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Playing with any instrument they can get their hands on, some donated and others having survived the two decades of war, a brass band plays at a public event at one of Mogadishu's football stadiums.

 
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A radio presenter sits in a recording booth in one of Mogadishu's many radio stations. With large portions of the population still being illiterate or too poor to buy a television, radio is still the main source of news for many in Somalia.

 
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A young internally displaced girl stands just outside of her makeshift camp in the evening light near the town of Beletweyne.

 
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SNA soldiers smoke cigarettes and chew quat next to their Technicals on the evening before an offensive to take the town of Qoryooley from Al Shabab.

 
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Internally displaced people, affected by both flooding and clan fighting, stand around hoping to receive humanitarian assistance at an African Union base near the town of Jowhar.

 
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A man leads his donkey and cart to a well to fill up jerry cans with water in a rural village. Although Mogadishu's economy is growing, life in much of Somalia has not changed in decades.

 
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A young girl rests next to her mother in a medical tent at an IDP camp near the town of Jowhar.

 
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A woman holds her sick granddaughter, suffering from Malaria, at a hospital in the town of Merca. With the ousting of many foreign NGOs by Al Shabab, Somalia's medical system was particularly affected and still remains one of the weakest in the world.

 
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A young child suffering from Malaria recuperates at a clinic operated by the Burundian contingent of AMISOM in Mogadishu. Twice a week the contingent opens its doors to the general public to whom it gives free medical care.

 
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A woman stands by a tree in the middle of her field, where she protects her crops by slinging stones at the birds trying to eat her harvest.

 
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African Union soldiers stand guard outside of an IDP camp near the town of Jowhar, where many people fled to after flooding and fighting between clans forced them out of their homes.

 
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A young IDP walks down a road next to an IDP camp near the town of Jowhar.