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Yemen: the Arabia Felix of the ancients

Yemen (Al-Jumhuriya al-Yamaniya, Arab Republic of Yemen) is an Arab republic, with the capital Sana’a, situated in the south-west of the Arabian peninsula, is washed to the west from the Red Sea and to the south by the Gulf of Aden (Indian Ocean), is bordered to the north by Saudi Arabia, and to the east by Oman. The territory of Yemen includes many islands, the largest of which is the island of Socotra (3,796 sq km) located in the Indian Ocean, about 400 km south of the Yemeni coast and 250 km east of the Somali coast, between Socotra and the African coasts are three other Yemeni islands: Abd al Kuri (133 sq km), Samhah (40 sq km), Darsah (16 sq km).

Other islands belonging to Yemen are in the Red Sea between them: the Hanish islands, the island of Kamaran (108 square kilometres) and that of Perim (13 sq km) situated at the entrance to the Strait of Bab al-Mandab. The territory of Yemen is largely mountainous, the western region, which overlooks the Red Sea, consists of a plateau, cultivated in terraces, where abundant are the precipitation (between 600 and 1000 mm of rain per year) this is the most prosperous area of the country, the west coast along the Red Sea, on the other hand is characterized by a flat semi-arid and dry desert, Tihāma.

The center of the country is formed by the central highlands who are at a height above 2,000 meters and are characterized by irregular rainfall less abundant than those of western highlands, there is also the area where lies the Yemeni capital Sana’a, in whose closesurrondings is the highest mountain of Yemen, Jabal an Nabi Shu’aib (3,760 metres). To the east of the central plateau at altitudes of less than 1,000 metres extends the desert of Rub ‘al-Khālī, a arid sandy desert. Beside the coast of the Indian Ocean rises the Hadhramaut mountains furrowed by deep valleys.

Yemen is a country with an agricultural economy, agriculture (cereals, citrus fruits, bananas, dates, tobacco, cotton, coffee and qat), farming (goats, sheep, cattle) and fishing sectors are the bases of the economy, little industry and mineral resources (copper, oil). Considerable importance has the port of Aden due to its strategic location near the entrance to the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, which connects the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.

  • Area: 527,968 sqkm. (Arable 3%, Pastures 30%, Forests and Woodlands 4%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 63%)
  • Population: 22,230,000 (2007 data)
  • State Capital: Sana’a.
  • Languages: The official language is Arabic.
  • Religion: Muslim 99%.
  • Currency: Yemeni Rial (YER)
  • Time: UTC +3 hours.

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