The second-largest city in Somaliland and capital of Togdheer Province, Burao–transliterated as ‘Burco’ in Somali – lies 100km east of Hargeisa as the crow flies, but more than twice that distance along the only surfaced road, through Berbera and Sheikh.
The population, estimated at close to 300,000 in 2015, comprises the Habar Yoonis and Habar Jeclo subclans of the Isaq clan, whose propensity for outbursts of inter-subclan violence has often flared up in the post-independence era.
The town straddles the seasonal Togdheer (literally ‘Long River’), a watercourse that is dry for most of the year and is spanned by Burao Bridge in the north and Deero Bridge in the east.
Today Burao, like most other towns in Somaliland, offers little in the way of prescribed sightseeing, the one exception being its famous livestock market. That said, it is a pleasant enough spot, with a decent selection of hotels and other amenities, and for many visitors, it might be worth visiting simply because it is the furthest east you can easily travel in Somaliland without private transport.
Burao is also the springboard for 4×4 trips further afield to Erigavo and Daallo Forest, a drive that’s sufficiently long and daunting to make an overnight stop here as good as obligatory.