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Islamic Countries - Yemen


North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what becameSouth Yemen. Three years later, 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 theRepublic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border.


Location:Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea, between Oman and Saudi Arabia


Total: 527,970 sq km
land: 527,970 sq km
note: includes Perim,Socotra, the former Yemen Arab Republic (YAR or North Yemen), and the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY orSouth Yemen)
water: 0 sq km

Coastline: 1,906 km


Population: 19,349,881 (July 2003 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.42% (2003 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2003 est.)

Noun: Yemeni(s)
adjective: Yemeni 

Ethnic groups: predominantly Arab; but also Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans

Languages: Arabic


Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported strong growth in the mid-1990s with the onset of oil production, but has been harmed by periodic declines in oil prices.Yemen has embarked on an IMF-supported structural adjustment program designed to modernize and streamline the economy, which has led to substantial foreign debt relief and restructuring. International donors, meeting in Paris in October 2002, agreed on a further $2.3 billion economic support package. Yemen has worked to maintain tight control over spending and implement additional components of the IMF program. A high population growth rate and internal political dissension complicate the government's task.

Industries:crude oil production and petroleum refining; small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods; food processing; handicrafts; small aluminum products factory; cement

Agriculture products: grain, fruits, vegetables, pulses, qat (mildly narcotic shrub), coffee, cotton; dairy products, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, camels), poultry; fish


Telephones main lines in use: 291,359 (1999)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 32,042 (2000)

Television broadcast stations: 7 (plus several low-power repeaters) (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)

Internet users: 17,000 (2002)


Railways: 0 km

Highways: total: 67,000 km
paved: 7,705 km
unpaved: 59,295 km (1999 est.)

Waterways: none

Airports: 44 (2002)


Country name:

Conventional long form:Republic ofYemen
conventional short form: Yemen
local short form: Al Yaman
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Yamaniyah
Government type:republic

Capital: Sanaa

Administrative divisions19 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Abyan, 'Adan, Ad Dali', Al Bayda', Al Hudaydah, Al Jawf, Al Mahrah, Al Mahwit, 'Amran, Dhamar, Hadramawt, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahij, Ma'rib, Sa'dah, San'a', Shabwah, Ta'izz
note: there may be one additional governorate of the capital city of Sanaa

Independence: 22 May 1990, Republic of Yemen was established with the merger of the Yemen Arab Republic [Yemen (Sanaa) or North Yemen] and the Marxist-dominated People's Democratic Republic of Yemen [Yemen (Aden) or South Yemen]; previously North Yemen had become independent on NA November 1918 (from the Ottoman Empire) and South Yemen had become independent on 30 November 1967 (from the UK)

Constitution: 16 May 1991; amended29 September 1994 and February 2001

Legal system:based on Islamic law, Turkish law, English common law, and local tribal customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Field Marshall Ali Abdallah SALIH (since 22 May 1990, the former president of North Yemen, assumed office upon the merger of North and South Yemen); Vice President Maj. Gen. Abd al-Rab Mansur al-HADI (since 3 October 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Abd al-Qadir BA JAMAL (since 4 April 2001)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister
election results: Ali Abdallah SALIH elected president; percent of vote - Ali Abdallah SALIH 96.3%, Najib Qahtan AL-SHAABI 3.7%
elections: president elected by direct, popular vote for a seven-year term (recently extended from a five-year term by constitutional amendment); election last held 23 September 1999 (next to be held NA 2006); vice president appointed by the president; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:there are over 12 political parties active in Yemen, some of the more prominent are: General People's Congress or GPC [President Ali Abdallah SALIH]; Islamic Reform Grouping or Islah [Shaykh Abdallah bin Husayn al-AHMAR]; National Arab Socialist Baath Party [Dr. Qassim SALAAM]; Nasserite Unionist Party [Abdel Malik al-MAKHLAFI]; Yemeni Socialist Party or YSP [Ali Salih MUQBIL]
note: President SALIH's General People's Congress or GPC won a landslide victory in the April 1997 legislative election and no longer governs in coalition with Shaykh Abdallah bin Husayn al-AHMAR's Islamic Reform Grouping or Islah - the two parties had been in coalition since the end of the civil war in 1994; the YSP, a loyal opposition party, boycotted the April 1997 legislative election, but announced that it would participate in Yemen's first local elections, held in February 2001; these local elections aim to decentralize political power and are a key element of the government's political reform program


Muslim including Shaf'i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi'a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu


People have been setting up shacks in the area known as Yemen for more than 3000 years. Ancient kingdoms earned their cash by selling scented tree resins known as myrrh and frankincense to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Various states rose and fell along the trade routes; mightiest among them was Saba, which hung around for 14 centuries from 1000BC, and based its huge agricultural wealth around the famous dam of Ma'rib. When, in the 1st century AD, the Greeks and Romans discovered they could travel to and from India by boat, Yemen's ports made a killing, eclipsing the towns which had grown up along land trade routes. In 395 the Holy Roman Emperor Theodisius made Christianity the new state religion, effectively putting an end to the demand for frankincense and sending the Sabean kingdom into an irreversable decline. By 575 the Persians had waltzed in and were lords of all they surveyed.
In the 7th century the Persian governor of Yemen converted to Islam - like good subjects, the rest of the population soon followed, and by mid-century the Yemenis had knocked up a mosque or three. As the centre of Islamic power moved from the Arabian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf, Yemen was left more or less to its own devices and a number of short-lived dynastic kingdoms sprang up. The Zaydi dynasty, a strict Islamic state founded in 897 in the north of the country, survived untilYemen's 1962 revolution. The Kathirids, who took power in the south in the 15th century, lasted until 1967.
Europe's feisty colonial powers first started grabbing at the peninsula in 1513, when Portugal set its sights on Aden. Egypt's Mamluks and Turkey's Ottomans were none to keen on this Iberian invasion, and after a four-year tussle Yemen fell to the Ottomans. In 1636 they Zaydi dynasty threw the Turks out, but in 1839 the British took Aden and made it a protectorate, extending their rule over most of the south by the 1950s. The Ottomans returned in 1849, taking over the north-west of the country. The local sheiks refused to buckle under this foreign authority, and after decades of insurrection the Ottomans, already destroyed by WWI, left Yemen to its new king, Imam Yahya (although Britain still held on to its protectorate states).
Although the Imam had control of the Tihama, Yemen's northern tribes were determined to have their own leader in power, and allied with the newly-formed state of Saudi Arabia. The 1934 Saudi-Yemeni war resulted inSaudi Arabia taking over Yemen's 'Asir region. Over the next 30 yearsYemen remained isolated and underdeveloped - by the 1960s there were no paved roads in the country, almost no doctors and very low literacy levels.
Throughout the 50s, Yemen indulged in several border scuffles with theAden protectorate, eventually turning toCairo for help. As part of its pact withEgypt,Yemen joined the United Arab States, made up ofEgypt and Syria. In 1962, when the Imam died, a group of army officers held a coup and founded the Yemen Arab Republic. Forces loyal to the Imam's son fled to the northern mountains, where they attained the support of Britain and Saudi Arabia and waged war on the Republicans, supported byEgypt and the USSR. In 1967 the Egyptians pulled out, but the Royalists were unable to defeat the Republicans. In 1970 the Imam-in-waiting was exiled to Britain and the Yemen Arab Republic was recognized by Saudi Arabia.
All the trouble up north got a few southern Yemenis stirred up enough to start a revolution of their own. The National Liberation Front - a Marxist, nationalist guerilla group - began a war against the British in 1963. In 1967 the British abandonedAden and the People's Republic of SouthYemen was born. Without British cash, and with the recent closure of theSuez Canal, the new Republic was in dire economic straits. In order to get economic support from Communist countries it nationalized much of the economy and declared itself a Marxist state, changing its name in 1969 to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.
Of course, nothing spells trouble like two countries with the same name. Throughout the 70s, the two Yemens had border spats aplenty, as well as plenty of internal instability. In 1978 Lietenant Colonel Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of the YAR, introducing a period of non-democratic stability that lasted through the 80s, while in the PDRY things got so bad that they ended up fighting a civil war with themselves in 1986. When the Soviet Union collased at the end of the 80s, the PDRY lost its source of cash and gave up on the struggle, choosing to unite with the YAR.
The Unified Republic of Yemen was declared on 22 May 1990, and in 1991 the people of Yemen ratified a constitution which provided for free elections, a multi-party system and recognition of human rights. But the problems couldn't be signed away - power struggles between the two factions led to full-scale civil war in 1994. Although the southerners tried to, once again, found their own state, the northerners were too powerful and the country was eventually reunified under the leadership of President Saleh.
Reconciliation between north and south Yemen has been slow going. A widely publicised 1998 kidnapping that left four tourists dead was apparently masterminded from abroad (several of the perpetrators were British and Algerian nationals), but southern guerrilla groups have tried to take responsibility for that and other actions. Rioting in mid-1999 followed an IMF-madated increase in prices on staple goods. Border disputes with Saudi Arabia and Eritria haven't heaped on any warm fuzzies, either. In general, however, security has improved and the government is committed to keeping the country safe for tourists. The peninsula's poorest nation also slashed its international debt in half by the end of 1999, an impressive feat given the depressed oil prices that have plagued the region recently. Democracy remains very much in the cards, but has yet to be dealt.

Taken From: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/middle_east/yemen/history.htm

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