The Republic of Yemen lies to the south of the Arabian Peninsula, bordered by /saudi-arabia- in the north, Oman to the east,the Red Sea to the west and the Arab Sea and Gulf of Aden to the south.
With a total land area of 530,000 sq km and a population of 23 million, Yemen is the only republic and the weakest economy ( due to dwindling natural resources and population growth ) of the lands that make up the Arabian Peninsula.
The country includes 120 islands located mainly in the Red Sea, however Yemen's largest island is Soqatra, situated in the Indian Ocean on the Soqotra Archipelago which consists of four islands, 350 km south of the mainland.
The flora, fauna and animal life found here are ancient relics of a larger land mass that has been preserved. An absence of mammals is indicative of ancient origins, possibly from a time before mammals appeared on earth.
Of it's 900 species of plant, 300 are endemic, including the curious ' Dragon Tree ' ( Dracaena Cinnabari ) so named becouse of it's deep red sap that has been likened to the blood of dragons.
Soqatra's Dragon Tree.
Eight bird species and 80 % of reptiles are endemic to the archipelago, which is now a UNESCO site.
Along with it's distinct bio - diversity, it's people speak Soqotri a Mahri dialect of an ancient Semetic language with Biblical roots, that is spoken nowhere else in the world.
Ancient footbridge at Shaharah.
The mainland of Yemen has a varied topography that consists of four main areas, mountainous, highland, coastal and desert, along with a varied climate which consists of just two long seasons of moderate wet winters and hot dry summers.
Yemen's mountain range of Al Sarat, covers a large area of the country with it's highest peak attaining a height of 3766m, the highest in Arabia, Jabal an Nabi Shu'ayb.
The country hosts no perennial lakes or rivers although oasis ( wadi ) are plentiful in the vast Rub Al Khali, which scientists believe are made up of dried lake beds from when this area was once a very fertile plain, benefitting from monsoon rainy seasons.
These oasis are home to 31 plant species and 24 species of bird, as well as a large source of untapped oil.
This mountain terrain hosts several agricultural regions, resulting in a large populace ( 58 % ) growing fruit, vegetables and cereals, with cotton and mangoes being the country's main exports.
Also grown in these areas is the mildly narcotic qat or khat plant ( Catha Edulis ) which is widely consumed by the male population by chewing it's freshly picked leaves.
Yemen's highlands lie to the north and east of the country,these large escarpments of richly vegetated terraces receive the country's highest annual rainfall of over 700 mm and decend from an altitude of 1000m towards the ' Empty Quarter ' or Rub Al Khali, an area of gravel and sand dunes that receives little annual rainfall and is inhabited only by Bedoin camel herders.
The coast of Yemen is some 2,400 km long made up of large coastal plains some of which are 60 km wide.These arid and flat plains have the highest diurnal temperature in the world, ranging from 30o C by day to 0o C by night.
The country has three UNESCO sites, the ancient city of Shibam which houses the worlds oldest example of urban planning based on vertical construction ( skyscrapers ) dating back to the 16th c.
The ancient city of Zabid which has had an Islamic university for centuries and is supposedly the place of learning which invented algebra, by scholar Al- Jaladi. and it's capital San'a, at an altitude of 7000m has been inhabited for two millenia with many of it's buildings dating back to the 11th century.
Originally the capital grew up around one of it's many wadi or oasis, but it has since dried up, leaving the city one of the few capital cities in the world that has no permanent, natural freshwater supply.
The country as a whole is made up of 20 governates and one municipality, further sub-divided into 333 districts.
Ancient 'skyscrapers ' of Hajaz.
Yemen has one of the highest birthrates in the world, with an annual increase in population of 700,000.
The people are of Arab origins and speak Arabic and live largely as a tribal society.
They follow the Islamic religion, with 53 % of the population following the Sunni denomination and 47 % following Shi'a.
Healthcare in the country is underdeveloped with a low government expenditure rate.Official figures state that there are only 3 doctors per 10,000 of population and 6 hospital beds per 1,000 of population.
Only 25 % of rural areas are covered by regular healthcare in comparison to 80 % urban coverage.
Yemen supplies it's population with free and compulsary education, that has a government expenditure rate of 32 %.
There is a huge disparity between male and female education and rural and urban coverage.
The country's literacy rate is 40 % for females and 77 % for males.
There is a 40 % unemployment rate within the urban areas of the country with what few jobs there are, being specifically taken by males.
The port city of Aden
Yemen's infrastructure is poor and underdeveloped. The country is serviced by 67,000 km of roads, of which only 7,700 km are paved.
There is no rail network.
The country is serviced by eight airports, five of which are major international establishments.
The country's national airline is Yemenia, which has a poor service record.
The country has six major ports, the largest of which is situated in Aden, which caters to both passenger traffic and cargo , but is badly equipped and managed.
Electricity serves only 30 % of the entire population, with rural areas having 60 % of homes with no power at all. Due to internal infrastructure and the winter heavy rains and floods, the small population that is catered for have a poor and unreliable service.
Telephone, mobile and internet services are also poor and unreliable, and very expensive.
Yemen is divided into 20 governates or states and these governates are further sub divided into 333 districts.
Below is the key to the names of the Governates of Yemen.
1 ) Aden
2 ) Amran
3 ) Abyan
4 ) Ad - Dali
5 ) Al - Bayda
6 ) Al Hudaydah
7 ) Al Jawf
8 ) Al Mahrah
9 ) Al Mahwit
10 ) Amanat Al - Asemah
11 ) Dhamar
12 ) Hadhramaut
13 ) Hajjah
14 ) Ibb
15 ) Lahij
16 ) Ma'rib
17 ) Raymah
18 ) Sa'dah
19 ) Sana'a
20 ) Taiz
Yemen is a presidential republic with a bicameral legislature, with a prime minister at it's head and a president as head of state.
it has a 301 seat house of representatives and a 111 member Shura council, with only Muslims eligible to hold office.
Voting is compulsary for all citizens over the age of 18.
The country's judiciary system is based on Sharia law.
Currency; Rial ( YR )
Time Zone; UTC + 3.
Call Code; 967.
Int TLD .ye
All images and maps courtesy of wikimedia commons.
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All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.