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August 2013



Yemen, slightly larger than twice the size of Wyoming, borders the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea, between Oman and Saudi Arabia. The country is predominantly Arab, but also has Afro-Arabs, South Asians, and Europeans living within its borders. Arabic is the official language; Sanaa is the capital.

North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. In 1967, the British withdrew from the protectorate surrounding the southern port of Aden, creating South Yemen. Shortly thereafter, the South Yemen government adopted a Marxist orientation. A massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990.

A southern secessionist movement and brief civil war in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border. The southern secessionist movement was revitalized in 2008 when a popular socioeconomic protest movement initiated the prior year took on political goals including secession. Protests and violence led to then President Salih to sign a brokered agreement from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 2011. He agreed to step down and to transfer some of his powers to Vice President Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi. Elections were held in February 2012; Hadi won and Salih formally transferred his presidential powers. In accordance with the GCC initiative, Yemen launched a National Dialogue to discuss key constitutional, political, and social issues in mid-March 2013.

Yemen's climate is mostly desert with a hot and humid western coast; a temperate zone in the western mountains affected by seasonal monsoon rains; and extraordinarily hot, dry, harsh desert in the east. The country is a narrow coastal plain backed by flat-topped hills and rugged mountains; it has desert plains sloping into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula. The natural resources of Yemen, include: petroleum, fish, rock salt, marble, coal, gold, lead, nickel, and copper. Sandstorms and dust storms in summer are the major hazards facing the country.

CIA World Factbook, 7/2013

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