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January 2010

Yemen, 2002

Yemen, 2002

The Republic of Yemen, located on the Arabian Peninsula, is 527,970 sq km (about the combined size of California and Pennsylvania). Yemen borders Saudi Arabia and Oman. Its terrain consists of a mountainous interior bordered by desert with a flat and sandy coastal plain. Its climate is temperate in the mountainous regions in the western part of the country, extremely hot with minimal rainfall in the remainder of the country, and humid on the coast.

North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British held a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century but withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. In 1970, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990.

Yemen has an estimated population of 22,230,531 (July 2007). Its major cities are: Sanaa (capital), Aden, Taiz, Hodeida, and al-Mukalla. After North and South Yemen unified, a constitution was ratified in May 1991, establishing a three branch government system. The executive branch consists of a President (seven year term) and a Prime Minister, with a cabinet, appointed by the President. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral legislature. The judicial branch includes a Supreme Court based in Sanaa and separate commercial courts.

Yemen's natural resources include: oil, natural gas, fish and seafood, rock salt, minor deposits of coal and copper. Agricultural products include: qat (a shrub containing a natural amphetamine), coffee, cotton, fruits, vegetables, cereals, livestock and poultry. Yemenis are predominantly Islamic; the Shia Zaidi sect dominates in the north and northwest; the Shafa'i school of Sunni Muslims dominates in the south and southeast. Arabic is the official language, although English is increasingly understood in major cities and several non-Arabic languages are spoken in the Mahra area.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 11/2009; 12/2009

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