Monday, August 20, 2007

Have you ever posted a letter to Somalia?

One of (Alan’s) wonders of the modern world is that you can send an email to nearly anyone, anywhere. As a student, I remember the good old days of UUCP bang paths and mail gateways that forwarded email from SMTP onto CompuServe or IBM etc.

At that time, there wasn’t a single standard mail protocol and messaging service. Even in work, there were islands of users on different email systems, with what felt like yoghurt pots and wet string in-between. Now it’s ubiquitous.

Of course, not everyone has an email address. Not everyone has access to their own or a public shared internet-connected computer.

And similarly in the offline world, not everyone has access to snail mail. Not everyone has a fixed abode. Not everyone has an address that they can be reached at. But at least you can post a letter from Europe to any country in the world?

Window on the World logo from

Well, nearly. The Royal Mail’s website includes its International Incident Bulletin, titled Window on the World.

Apparently, posting to Somalia was suspended in October 1991, and has never been lifted. A whole country unreachable by putting a stamp on an envelope and posting it into a red pillar box. For over 25 15 years?

1 comment:

Cosmo said...

I think you mean more than 15 years??

Anyway, if needs be, you can hop across the border and pop a letter in a green pillar box. An Post say they can deliver a letter to Somalia in 7-9 days (which is still better than 15 years).