Republic of Yemen

The state of Yemen borders Saudi Arabia in the north and Oman in the east. The south-western tip is separated from the African continent by the Bab el-Mandeb strait, which is only 30 km wide. Yemen is about 1.5 times the size of Germany.

The seat of government is Sanaa (Sana’a) with approx. 2.4 million residents. Yemen is divided into 5 major landscapes, the coastal strip, the highlands of Yemen in the west, the mountain waste, the sand and gravel deserts in the east and the Djol Plateau in the southeast. Due to the location south of the northern tropic (Tropic of Cancer), the climate is subtropical to tropical with two rainy seasons per year. However, they do not bring reliable amounts of rain.

Short for YE on ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, Yemen is an agricultural country with few raw materials. 90% of its population works in agriculture. The proportion of the rural population is 75%. Child labor is widespread (19%). With government revenues of US $ 3.3 billion, the country has a current account surplus of US $ 0.2 billion (2001).


Tourism plays a not insignificant role economically (around 88,000 visitors / year in 1998, revenue of US $ 84 million). However, due to modest infrastructures and internal political uncertainties, it is subject to strong fluctuations.

The landscape of Yemen (in antiquity “Arabia Felix” = “happy Arabia”; Arabic Al Yaman = “land on the right” of Mecca) lies on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The national territory includes the coral islands of Kamaran Islands in the Red Sea, the volcanic island of Perim Island in the Bab el-Mandeb strait and the Socotra archipelago off the “Horn of Africa”.

Important data about the country

Surface: 527,968 km²
Residents: 20.7 million
Population density: 39 residents / km²
Growth of population: 3.5% / year
Life expectancy: 58 years
State capital: Sanaa (Sana’a)
Form of government: republic
Languages: Standard Arabic, Yemeni dialect
Religions: Muslims 99% (of which Sunnis 53% and Shiites 47%), Jews 1%
Climate: subtropical to tropical climate
Land use: 3.1% arable land, forest (4,000 km² forest remnants)
Economic sectors
(share of employees):
Agriculture 48.5%, industry 15%, services 36.5%
Export goods: crude oil
Gross domestic product: 10,831 million US $ (2003)
Gross National Product: US $ 520 / resident (2003)

Natural space

The natural area is viewed from the point of view of large landscapes, geotectonics and climate.

Large landscapes

Yemen is divided into five major landscapes, the coastal strip, the highlands of Yemen in the west, the mountain waste, the sand and gravel deserts in the east and the Djol plateau in the southeast.

  1. Coastal strip of the Tihamah
    In the west and south extends the semi-desert-like coastal strip of the Tihamah, a 40 to 70 km wide coastal plain including a low mountain range (mountain tihamah) with valley plains reaching deep into the mountain slopes. On the south coast, on the Gulf of Aden, lava fields with attached volcanic cones spread out – unless there is a steep coast. The city of Aden lies in a double crater made of slag.
  2. Yemen highlands
    Tihamah and mountain Tihamah border the highlands of Yemen between Asir (Saudi Arabia) in the north, the Gulf of Aden in the south, the Red Sea in the west and the foothills of the deserts of Saudi Arabia in the east. The highest point of the highlands (and at the same time the highest mountain of the Arabian Peninsula) is the Jabal Nabu Shu’aib with 3760 m.These highlands are traversed by wide basins at an altitude of 2600-2200 m (e.g. the Sadah basin, the Sana’a basin). With an average peak height of 3000 m, the watershed lies on the high edge of the plateau to the west.
  3. Mountain
    drop To the west or south the highlands to the Tihamah break off sharply with a striking mountain drop accompanied by fractures, which, especially on the west side, is broken up over a broad front by deeply incised wadis into numerous isolated mountains and mountain ranges.
  4. Rub al-Chali
    To the east, the highlands are designed as a layered landscape with a partially distinctive break line. Behind it begins the Rub al-Chali (Great Arabian Desert) desert with its extensive gravel areas (Serir), sand and dune fields (Erg).
  5. Djol plateau
    On the eastern south coast, on the Gulf of Aden, the sterile rocky desert (Hamadah) of the Djol plateau, a limestone high plateau from the Eocene period, joins to the north. The Djol is cut by steep-walled wadis over 300 m deep. The Wadi Hadramaut, which runs parallel to the coast for almost 200 km and faces the coast as Wadi Masilah (Maseila), is particularly important.The Djol descends to the north to the Rub al-Chali. The highest elevations (2469 m above sea level) of the plateau are also here on the watershed of the plateau above the front face facing south towards the gulf. From here deeply incised wadis rush north to the Wadi Hadramaut. Agricultural cultivation is only possible in them.


As a result of its location on the eastern edge of the tectonically active trench of the Red Sea, there are chalk sandstones, Jurassic limestone (limestone plateau of Khamir-Kawkaban) and crystalline basement (Precambrian granites and gneisses) over 1000 m thick volcanic nappes (Trapp nappes) from several periods between the Upper Cretaceous and Quaternary involved in geological construction. With the collapse of the Red Sea Trench, young volcanoes pushed through the old rocks at the edge of the trench and the eastern slope. Their barren, impassable lava fields (Harra) stand in contrast to the fertile soils of the weathered older tertiary lava covers. Earthquakes (tectonic instability) and hot springs (post-volcanic activities) are noticeable up to the present day.

Republic of Yemen


Due to the location south of the northern tropic (Tropic of Cancer), the climate is subtropical to tropical with two rainy seasons per year. However, they do not bring reliable amounts of rain (Fig. 10).

As a result of the special geographical conditions, Yemen can be divided into three climatic regions:

  1. Summers are extremely humid in the low-precipitation coastal strip on the Red Sea and in the southern and southeastern provinces (Tihamah and Mountain Tihamah). Here there is a hot and humid tropical climate with summer temperatures above 40 °C and in winter between 30 °C and 35 °C with an extreme humidity between 65% and 90%. At night it hardly cools below 20 °C.
  2. The highlands of Mountain Yemen, including the upstream mountain ranges, are characterized by strong solar radiation with relatively moderate daytime temperatures in winter (20 °C-25 °C) and great heat in summer (25 °C-30 °C). The relative humidity varies between 20% and 50%, the maximum temperatures reach up to 38 °C in June / July. The nights cool down noticeably, however, in December / January the temperatures can even drop below freezing point at night.
  3. In the rain shadow of the mountains, especially in the desert areas in the north and east, towards the central Arabian Rub al-Chali desert, there is always a dry and hot desert climate.


85% of the urban population have access to clean drinking water, but only 64% of the villagers. 87% have sanitary facilities in the city, but only 31% in the country. The share of public health expenditure (in GDP) is 2.4%. Due to poor medical care (2 doctors and 6 hospital beds per 10,000 residents), especially outside the cities, with a fertility rate of 9.6 births per woman (2002) and a population growth of 3.4% (2002), half of the country’s residents are in one Age under 15 years.

Infant mortality fluctuates around 7.6%, that of maternal mortality at 8.5 ‰ of births. Almost half of the children are malnourished. So far, the HIV infection rate is low (0.01%).


The public expenditure on education and training (GDP) will be 6.7%. Although there is general compulsory schooling (6-15 years, school enrollment rate 83%), the illiteracy rate of approx. 62% (2001) is quite high (men 47%, women 74%). The girls’ level of education is particularly low. There has been a university in Sana’a since 1970 and in Aden since 1975.

Religion and way of life

99% of Yemenis are Muslims (53% Sunni sheep and 47% Shiite Zaydites). The proportion of the population of the Jewish religion is low.

Despite an increasing focus on the cultural values ​​of other, especially western countries, traditional-religious structures, such as the veiling of women, extended families and tribal warfare, are still conspicuously up-to-date, especially in the north of the country. The supporting traditional family association continues to play a major role because there is no social insurance.

Settlement image

Various traditional house building styles can be found in the regions of Yemen, depending on the local material resources (clay, stone, wood). The residential towers in Shibam / Hadramaut, which are up to nine floors high, are particularly striking; which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the ornate high-rises up to 30 m high in the old town of Sana’a.

Numerous mountain villages are in z. Sometimes dizzying protective layers on hilltops, spurs and mountain peaks and are thus in stark contrast to the African-looking huts of the Tihamah residents.


In addition to the advancing mechanization, mechanization and motorization (motor pumps), structures and practices that seem archaic have been preserved, especially in agriculture. Field preparations and harvests are still carried out with simple hook plows, harrows, nail-reinforced threshing boards and hand sickles.

Although it is only possible to cultivate 3.1% of the country’s area despite artificial irrigation, more than half of the workforce is employed in agriculture. About 30% of the usable area is irrigated. Over 90% of the available fresh water flows into agriculture. The keeping of animals (goats, sheep, cattle, poultry) forms because of the increasing overgrazing marginal spaces are a serious problem in agriculture. Nomadism, on the other hand, plays a very subordinate role. Most of the rural population are sedentary farmers with mostly small farms, 3-5 hectares in size. Less than 10% of the population are nomads.

Noteworthy is a 30-40% decline in agricultural production over the past 40 years, linked to farmers’ increasing financial dependence on urban lenders.

The land in the foothills was once covered with forest. Except for 4,000 km² of forest remnants (including juniper), it has been cleared almost entirely and outside of the cultivated land it is predominantly savanna with acacia and euphorbian vegetation. The annual clearing is 92 km².

The fishing has become an important industry.


Of raw materials is at Marib only in the South and in the disputed border area with Saudi Arabia Oil (energy production 20.25 million tonnes ÖE) promoted.

The modest industrialization with support from abroad (textile, cement and cigarette factories in the north, oil refineries in the south) is characterized by unskilled workers, emigration of workers, high energy costs (energy consumption 3.14 million tonnes of OE), limited sales opportunities and declining investments. The reason is often the traditional tribal structures.

Foreign trade

Thanks to the oil discovery, Yemen is generating a foreign trade surplus despite high foreign debts. The export volume approximately 95% is attributable to crude oil. The import accounts for 20% of machinery and means of transport, 15% of industrial intermediate products and 36% of food. The main trading partners are the Arab countries and increasingly the EU countries.


Tourism plays a not insignificant role economically. However, it is subject to strong fluctuations due to modest infrastructures and domestic political uncertainties (civil wars, kidnappings, suspected connections to the terror network Al-Qaeda). In addition to the appropriately varied landscape character, numerous attractive travel destinations can be found in historical cities with their architectural monuments and labyrinthine alleys, such as in the old town of Sana’a (world cultural heritage) and in remnants from antiquity, such as the temple complexes of Saba or the ancient dam near Marib.


Since pre-Christian times, especially under the legendary Queen of Saba (Sabaean Empire, Marib) and the Kingdom of Himyar, today’s Yemeni region has had a favorable climate because of its climatic conditions, but especially as an economic and cultural transit country on the Frankincense Route between India, eastern Africa and the Mediterranean region played a major role.

It came under the influence of the Ethiopians and Persians after the third century AD and after a short Christian and Jewish epoch became Muslim as part of the caliphate empire.

From the tenth century onwards, Saidite imams were political and religious rulers in Yemen. The country was independent, then partly (especially the Tihamah) came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire (1538-1630, 1849-1918). In 1839 the British occupied the port city of Aden as a base for the sea route to India.

In the kingdom of Yemen, which was independent after 1918, a war with Saudi Arabia (1933/34) and domestic political problems (revolts against the Imamate) led to civil war in 1962 and the split of the country into a “Yemen Arab Republic” in the north (Northern Yemen) with the Capital Sana’a and a South Arab federation (later “Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen”, South Yemen) with Aden as its center.

In 1990 the two parts of the country merged again to form the “Republic of Yemen”. The capital became Sana’a. Today Yemen is an Arab, Islamic and independent republic (Arabic: Al-Djumhuriya al-Yamaniya). The democratization that has begun, the boycott by Arab states (Saudi Arabia) and the USA (withdrawal of economic credits) because of Yemen’s pro-Iraqi stance in the 1991 Gulf War and suspected links to the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda led to domestic and foreign policy conflicts. Tensions between tribes loyal to the office (in the north and east) and forces loyal to the government have persisted to the present.