Based on 2005 figures from the Central Statistical Agency, Gode has an estimated total population of 68,342, of whom 39,479 were males and 28,863 were females. Gode is the largest settlement in Gode woreda.
Before the start of the Ogaden War, Gode was garrisoned by the 5th Brigade of the 4th Division, distributed around the town in five military camps. Gode's capture near the end of July 1977 by the Western Somali Liberation Front allowed the Somali side to consolidate their hold on the Ogaden, and concentrate their forces on an advance that led to the capture of Jijiga.
Gode has been at the center of several recent famines: one in 1981; the next in 1991, which required the UN High Commission for Refugees to airlift food to 80,000 people stranded outside the town; and most recently in 2000, which had caused Gode to swell to a reported size of 100,000 inhabitants. This led John Graham to grimly remark in the Addis Observer, "The main claims to fame of Gode are not inspiring - they are famine and war."