conventional long form: Republic of Yemen

conventional short form: Yemen

local short form: Yemen

local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Yamaniyah

North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border.

LOCATION: Middle East

The country is situated on the strategically important south western part of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and lies between Oman and Saudi Arabia.



527 970 km2 (area smaller than France); 21 governorates + 1 municipiality

It includes the land of former Yemen Arab republic (YAR or North Yemen) and the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY or South Yemen) and islands with the most important Perim, Soqotra and Kamaran.

More than two thirds of the land is non-populated, the population is concentrated in the mountains and on the western coast.

THE CAPITAL: Sana’a (3 mil.), other big cities: Taizz, Aden, Al Mukalla, Al Hudaydah
BORDER COUNTRIES: Saudi Arabia (1458 km) and Oman (288 km)
BRANCHES/LEGISLATIVE: Executive, Prime minister with Cabinet Bicameral Legislative Assembly with 111 seats, Shura Council and 301 seats in Parliament
POPULATION: 26,737,317 (July 2015 est.)
ETHNIC GROUPS: Predominantly Arab, but also Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans, cca 2 millions of Somalians.
RELIGIONS: Muslims (99,1%): Shaf’i (Sunni), Zaydi (Shi’a), 0,9% of Ismaili, small numbers of Jewish, Christian and Hindu.


male: 63.05 years

female: 67,41 years

Yemeni woman gives birth on average to 3,91 children (2015 est.).

GDP– per capita: Officially 3800 USD (2014 est.), but the real numer is unknown.
LABOUR FORCE: Most of the people are employed in agriculture and herding; services, construction and commerce account for less than one fourth of the labour force.
MILITARY BRANCHES: Army (includes Special Forces, established in 1999), Navy, Air Force, Air Defence Forces, Republican Guard.

The military service is professional.

NATURAL RESOURCES: Oil, fish, rock salt, marble, small deposits of coal, gold, lead, nickel and copper, fertile soil.


Crude oil production and petroleum refining, fisheries, livestock, agricultural products, cotton, coffee, small scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods, food processing, handicrafts, small aluminium products factories, cement, commercial ship repair.
EXPORT COMMODITIES: Crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas; export partners: China 28.3%, South Korea 23%, Thailand 11.2%, Japan 8.1%, UAE 5.3% (2014)
IMPORT COMMODITIES: Food, live animals, machinery and equipment, chemicals; import partners: China 15.9%, UAE 14%, India 9.6%, Saudi Arabia 6.6%, Kuwait 5%, Turkey 4.6% (2014)


Yemen has a big network of paved roads connecting all the principal cities and most of the secondary ones. There are several public and private corporations providing high quality land transport.
PORTS AND HARBOURS: Aden, Al Hudaydah, Al Mukalla, As Salif, Ras Issa, Mocha, Nishtun.
AIRPORTS: Yemen has 17 airports. Yemenia provide flights between the cities.


Topography of Yemen is very variable. Both, narrow coastal plain, parallel to Red Sea called Tihama (western mountains: NW-SW) and the plain along the Arabic sea (eastern and southern mountains: SW-SE) are backed by flat-topped hills and rugged mountains. Dissected upland desert plains in centre slope into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula called Ar Ruba’-al-Khali. Among the desert and SE mountains lies the complex of wadis called Hadramawt.

Seas: in the south: Arabic sea, on the east: Red sea. Both seas stitch together in the strait Bab al Mandab.

Mountains: The highest mountain is Jabal an Nabi Shu`ayb 3760 m.



Yemen lies in the Sahel belt and shares many features with African countries at around same latitude. It’s because of high mountain ridges laying parallel to the coast and trapping the moisture from winds blowing in from the nearby seas, that the country does not suffer the lack of water. As a result Yemen is one of the most arable spots on Arabian Peninsula. Because of extensively variable topography Yemen has several distinct climate regions.

The hot lands of Tihama are characterised by hot and humid climate year round. The rainfall is scanty with most rains between late July and September, while during the rest of the year only occasional showers appear.

The western and southern slopes of the western highlands collect the highest amount of rainfall that makes these regions (governorate of Taizz and Ibb) the most fertile on Arabian Peninsula.

The central and eastern mountains have hot and dry summer with most of the rains in two seasons: March-April and August. Daily temperatures does not vary much during the year (daily temperature in Sana’a is always around 25-30 °C) while night temperatures drop to 10 °C in July or to zero in the winter time. To the east and north the rains become less frequent, ceasing altogether in the northern central parts of the country where the stony semi deserts gradually turn into sandy deserts of Ar-Ruba’al-Khali with desert climate. Where today only grasses and shrubs survive was in the past enough water to sustain entire civilisations.

In the eastern part of the country Wadi Hadramawt with its neighbouring wadis collect scanty rains in April and August. However this water is enough to allow a sizeable population to derive living from agriculture.




Intensive agriculture and hunting during last centuries decreased the natural vegetation and fauna. Today Yemen accounts for about 3000 plant species, among them are 300 endemic; 85 mammals, 400 birds and over 100 reptile species. However, Soqotra island has its own, unique flora and fauna and is among 5 most endemic island in the world (with over 300 endemic plant species)


Trees: date palm tree, acacia, ilb tree (Ziziplus spina chisti), frankincense tree (Boswellia) and myrrh tree (Commiphora), mangrove trees. Fruits: dates, banana, papaya, mango, continental fruits, oranges. Vegetables: all kind of continental vegetables: potato, tomato, carrot, cabbage, pumpkins, onion, garlic, beans… Cereals: sorghum, barley, wheat, corn. Qat, coffee


Sadly, many species of wild animals disappeared because of hunting and cutting down the forests. While travelling in Yemen, apart from domestic animals, you’ll be able to see only lots of birds, some reptiles, while other animals are rare. However, in remote areas with preserved virgin forests, one can still observe foxes, mongooses, genets and in mountains hamadryas baboons (Jabal Burra). A stripped hyena or Arabian wolf is less common.

Birds: 17 endemic species, among them are four in the island of Soqotra. A large variety of migratory birds from Europe and Northern Asia either spend their winter here or traverse the country on their route to East Africa as the narrow Bab-el-Mandab strait is for the birds the best place to cross the Red Sea.  Reptiles: 90 species, among them geckos, chameleons and blue colour reptile called AGAMID, 40 species of snakes, among them 7 poisonous. Insects: scorpions, mosquitoes, 100 species of butterflies