This article seeks to understand the secession of Somaliland by exploring its historical, political and legal motives and rationales. It suggests that the secession is a notable outcome of the structural, political and cultural factors surrounding the emergence and unification of the Somali state post-independence. The article argues that the historical perspective offers a better understanding of not only the secession of Somaliland, but also why Somalia is a textbook case for the failure of the nation-state. The article starts with a general background on the modern socio-historical history of the Somali peninsula and analyses four key moments, starting from the history of the formation of the modern state in British and Italian Somaliland, leading to the establishment of Somalia as a unified nation-state. Accordingly, the article explains the rationale behind the secession of Somaliland from Somalia in 1991, as well as the obstacles to this secession, and concludes with an evaluation of the attitude and approaches of the international community.