The Sanaag region and northeastern Somaliland in general is home to numerous archaeological sites, with rock art, ancient ruins, buildings and cairns found at numerous sites like Gudmo Biyo Cas, Heis, Maydh, Haylan, QaŅableh, Qombo'ul and El Ayo to name a few. However, many of these old structures have yet to be properly explored, a process which would help shed further light on local history and facilitate their preservation for posterity.
In recent history, the Sanaag region normally maintained a diverse economy, producing and then exporting to other regions, it produced livestock, frankincense, and leather for export, this was happening while the region lacked basic infrastructure, but sadly, after the outbreak of civil war the region's economy collapsed from loss of markets and dilapidated infrastructure has never helped, and lack of investment. Now the region only supports one main economy, livestock rearing. The Somali livestock ban imposed by Gulf countries in which was Sanaag's largest market has virtually destroyed the economy in the region, reducing purchasing power and forcing pastoralists in the region to survive on subsistence activities.
The dispute between Somaliland and Puntland stems from 1998, when Puntland formed and declared the region as part of its territory. Prior to that, it had been claimed but with no control over the region by Somaliland since the 1991 events of the Somali Civil War. In 1994, the historic USP political party was reinstated by Awad Ahmed Asharo, former party chairman of the main Warsangeli clan. With the support of Sanaag pro-union civil society, local admin and politicians, USP was subsequently recognized by UNISOM as the legitimate representative of Sanaag.
On July 1, 2007, the state of Maakhir also known as Badhan District was declared in the area. It claimed autonomy from both Puntland and Somaliland, but was eventually incorporated into Somaliland during late 2007.