Djibouti (Arabic: جيبوتي Jībūtī, French: Djibouti, Somali: Jabuuti, Afar: Gabuuti), officially the Republic of Djibouti (Arabic: جمهورية جيبوتي Jumhūriyyat Jībūtī, French: République de Djibouti, : Gabuutih Ummuuno, : Jamhuuriyadda Jabuuti), is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east. Islam is the largest religion in the country, practiced by 94% of the population. The land was known as French Somaliland in the 19th century; in 1967, it changed its name to Afars and Issas after new treaties with France. The territory was declared an independent nation in 1977 and changed its name to the "Republic of Djibouti" after its principal city. Djibouti joined the United Nations on September 20, 1977.
Through close contacts with the adjacent Arabian Peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Issa and ethnic groups in the region became among the first populations on the continent to embrace Islam.
The Ifat Sultanate was a medieval kingdom in the Horn of Africa. Founded in 1285 by the Walashma dynasty, it was centered in Zeila. Ifat established bases in Djibouti and northern Somalia, and from there expanded southward to the Ahmar Mountains. Its Sultan Umar Walashma (or his son Ali, according to another source) is recorded as having conquered the Sultanate of Shewa in 1285. Taddesse Tamrat explains Sultan Umar's military expedition as an effort to consolidate the Muslim territories in the Horn, in much the same way as Emperor Yekuno Amlak was attempting to unite the Christian territories in the highlands during the same period. These two states inevitably came into conflict over Shewa and territories further south. A lengthy war ensued, but the Muslim sultanates of the time were not strongly unified. Ifat was finally defeated by Emperor Amda Seyon I of Ethiopia in 1332, and withdrew from Shewa.
From 1862 until 1894, the land to the north of the Gulf of Tadjoura was called Obock and was ruled by and Sultans, local authorities with whom France signed various treaties between 1883 and 1887 to first gain a foothold in the region. In 1894, Léonce Lagarde established a permanent French administration in the city of Djibouti and named the region French Somaliland. It lasted from 1896 until 1967, when it was renamed the Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas (TFAI) ("French Territory of the Afars and the Issas").
In 1958, on the eve of neighboring Somalia's independence in 1960, a referendum was held in Djibouti to decide whether or not to join the Republic or to remain with France. The referendum turned out in favour of a continued association with France, partly due to a combined yes vote by the sizable ethnic group and resident Europeans. There was also widespread vote rigging, with the French expelling thousands of Somalis before the referendum reached the polls. The majority of those who voted no were Somalis who were strongly in favour of joining a united Somalia as had been proposed by Mahmoud Harbi, Vice President of the Government Council. Harbi was killed in a plane crash two years later.
In 1967, a second plebiscite was held to determine the fate of the territory. Initial results supported a continued but looser relationship with France. Voting was also divided along ethnic lines, with the resident Somalis generally voting for independence, with the goal of eventual reunion with Somalia, and the Afars largely opting to remain associated with France. However, the referendum was again marred by reports of vote rigging on the part of the French authorities. Shortly after the referendum was held, the former Côte française des Somalis (French Somaliland) was renamed to Territoire français des Afars et des Issas.
In 1977, a third referendum took place. A landslide 98.8% of the electorate supported disengagement from France, officially marking Djibouti's independence. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a politician who had campaigned for a yes vote in the referendum of 1958, eventually wound up as the nation's first president (1977–1999).
Djibouti is a , and Muslim country, which regularly takes part in Islamic affairs. It is also a member of the Arab League, as well as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Djibouti is a semi-presidential republic, with executive power in the central government, and legislative power in both the government and parliament. The parliamentary party system is dominated by the People's Rally for Progress (RPP); the President is currently Ismail Omar Guelleh. The country's current constitution was approved in September 1992. Djibouti is a one party dominant state with the People's Rally for Progress in power. Other parties are allowed, but the main opposition, Union for a Presidential Majority, boycotted the 2005 and 2008 elections leaving all of the legislative seats to the RPP. (See Elections in Djibouti.)
The government is seen as being controlled by the Issa Dir clan, who enjoy the support of the clans, especially the Isaaq (the clan of the current president's wife and many ministers & government officials) and the Gadabuursi Dir (who are the third most prominent clan in Djibouti politics). The country has recently come out of a decade-long civil war, with the government and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) signing a peace treaty in 2000. Two FRUD members are part of the current cabinet.
Djibouti's second president, Guelleh, succeeded Hassan Gouled Aptidon in office in 1999. Despite elections of the 1990s being described as "generally fair", Guelleh was sworn in for his second and final six-year term as president after a one-man election on 8 April 2005. He took 100% of the votes in a 78.9% turnout.
The Prime Minister, who follows the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), is appointed by the President. The Parliament (Chambre des Députés) consists of 52 members who are selected every five to nine years.
In 2001, the Djiboutian government leased the former French military base Camp Lemonnier to the United States Central Command for operations related to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). In 2009, Central Command transitioned responsibilities in Africa to AFRICOM.
France's 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion is based in Djibouti, but not in Djibouti City.
In early 2011, the Djiboutian citizenry took part in a series of protests against the long-serving government, which were associated with the larger Arab Spring demonstrations. The unrest eventually subsided by April of the year, and Djibouti's ruling People's Rally for Progress party was re-elected to office.
Djibouti is situated in Northeast Africa on the Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. It lies between latitudes 10° and 13°N, and longitudes 41° and 44°E. The country's coastline stretches 314 kilometres (195 miles), with terrain consisting mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. Djibouti has a total area of 23,200 square kilometres (8,958 sq mi). Its borders extend 506 km, 113 km of which are shared with Eritrea, 337 km with Ethiopia, and 58 km with Somalia.
There is not much seasonal variation in Djibouti's climate. Hot conditions prevail year-round along with winter rainfalls. Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 32 to 41 °C (90 to 106 °F), except at high elevations, where the effects of a cold offshore current can be felt. In Djibouti city, for instance, average afternoon highs range from 28 °C (82 °F) to 34 °C (93 °F) in April. Nationally, mean daily minimums usually vary from about 15 to 30 °C (59 to 86 °F). The greatest range in climate occurs in eastern Djibouti, where temperatures sometimes surpass 41 °C (106 °F) in July on the littoral plains and the freezing point during December in the highlands. In this region, relative humidity ranges from about 40% in the mid-afternoon to 85% at night, changing somewhat according to the season.
Djibouti's climate ranges from arid in the northeastern coastal regions to semiarid in the central, northern, western and southern parts of the country. On the eastern seaboard, annual rainfall is less than 5 inches (131 mm); in the central highlands, it is about 8 to 11 inches (200 to 300 mm). Although the coastal regions are hot and humid throughout the year, the hinterland is typically hot and dry.
|Climate data for Djibouti City|
|Record high °C (°F)||34 |
|Average high °C (°F)||29 |
|Average low °C (°F)||23 |
|Record low °C (°F)||19 |
|Rainfall mm (inches)||10 |
|Avg. rainy days||3||2||2||1||1||0||1||1||1||1||2||2||17|
|Source: BBC Weather|
Regions and districts
Djibouti is sectioned into five regions and one city. It is further sub-divided into eleven districts.
The regions and city are:
- Ali Sabieh Region (Région d'Ali Sabieh)
- Arta Region (Région d'Arta)
- Dikhil Region (Région de Dikhil)
- Djibouti (city) (Ville de Djibouti)
- Obock Region (Région d'Obock)
- Tadjourah Region (Région de Tadjourah)
The economy of Djibouti is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location and status as a free trade zone in northeast Africa. Two-thirds of the inhabitants live in the capital city, the remainder being mostly nomadic herders. Scant rainfall limits crop production to fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported.
In April 2005, the United Nations World Food Programme warned that 30,000 people in Djibouti face serious food shortages following three years of poor rains.
Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. It has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. Salt Investment, a Djiboutian company, is overseeing a $70 million operation to industrialize the collection of Djibouti’s plentiful salt in the Lake Assal region.
There are gold miners from India, geothermal experts from Iceland, Turkish hotel managers, Saudi oil engineers, French bankers and American military contractors. Investors from Dubai have leased the country's port, in an effort to develop the area as a gateway to the region. Saudi investors are reportedly exploring the possibility of linking the Horn of Africa with the Arabian Peninsula via an 18-mile (29 km) long oversea bridge referred to as the Bridge of the Horns. Tarek bin Laden, half brother of Osama bin Laden, has been linked to the project.
An unemployment rate of 40% to 50% continues to be a major problem. Inflation is not a concern, however, because of the fixed tie of the franc to the U.S. dollar. Per capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% over the last seven years because of recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and refugees). The secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia has been beneficial to Djibouti, as the Port of Djibouti is now serving as landlocked Ethiopia's primary link to the sea. Faced with a multitude of economic difficulties, the government has fallen into arrears on long-term external debt and has been struggling to meet the stipulations of foreign aid donors.
Djibouti was ranked the 177th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
Djiboutian Army soldiers scanning the terrain during Operation Able Dart 08-01 on Forward Operating in Ali Sabieh.
The Djibouti Armed Forces have a combined troop strength of around 13,000 active personnel. It includes the Djibouti National Army, which consists of the Coastal Navy, the Djiboutian Air Force (Force Aerienne Djiboutienne, FAD), and the National Gendarmerie (GN).
The first war which involved the Djiboutian armed forces, was the Djiboutian Civil War between the Djiboutian government, supported by France, and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The war lasted from 1991 to 2001, although most of the hostilities ended when the moderate factions of FRUD signed a peace treaty with the government after suffering an extensive military setback when the government forces captured most of the rebel-held territory. A radical group continued to fight the government, but signed its own peace treaty in 2001. The war ended in a government victory, and FRUD became a political party.
Djibouti has fought in clashes against Eritrea over the Ras Doumeira peninsula, which both countries claim to be under their sovereignty. The first clash occurred in 1996 after a nearly two-months stand-off. In 1999, a political crisis occurred when both sides accused each other for supporting its enemies. In 2008, the countries clashed again when Djibouti refused to return Eritrean deserters and Eritrea responded by firing at the Djiboutian forces.
Djibouti is a multiethnic country. The two largest ethnic groups are the (60%) and the (35%). The clan component is mainly composed of the Issas, and Gadabuursi. Both are sub-clans of the larger Dir; the Issas form part of the Madoobe Dir, while the Gadabuursi are part of the Madaluug Dir. The remaining 5% of Djibouti's population primarily consists of Arabs, Ethiopians and Europeans (French and Italians). Most local residents are urban dwellers; the remainder are pastoralists.
In addition, Djibouti is a multilingual nation. According to Ethnologue, the majority of the population speaks (297,000 speakers) or (99,200 speakers) as a first language, which are the mother tongues of the and ethnic groups, respectively. Both languages belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic family. There are two official languages in Djibouti: Arabic (Afro-Asiatic) and French (Indo-European). Arabic is of social, cultural and religious importance. In formal settings, it consists of Modern Standard Arabic. Colloquially, about 36,000 local residents speak the Ta'izzi-Adeni Arabic dialect, also known as Djibouti Arabic. French was inherited from the colonial period and is the primary language of instruction. About 10,200 Djiboutians speak it as a first language. Immigrant languages include Omani Arabic (38,900 speakers), Amharic (1,400 speakers), Greek (1,000 speakers) and Hindi (600 speakers).
The life expectancy at birth is about 60 for both females and males. Fertility is at 2.71 children per woman. In the country there are about 18 doctors per 100,000 persons.
In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Djibouti is 300. This is compared with 461.6 in 2008 and 606.5 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 95 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 37. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Djibouti the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 6 and 1 in 93 shows us the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women.
According to a 2005 World Health Organization estimate, about 93.1% of Djibouti's women and girls have undergone female genital cutting, a pre-marital custom mainly endemic to Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East that has its ultimate origins in Ancient Egypt. Although legally proscribed in 1994, the procedure is still widely practiced, as it is deeply ingrained in the local culture. Encouraged and performed by women in the community, circumcision is primarily intended to deter promiscuity and to offer protection from assault. About 94% of Djibouti's male population has also reportedly undergone male circumcision.
Education is a priority for the government of Djibouti. As of 2009, it allocates 20.5% of its annual budget to scholastic instruction.
The Djiboutian educational system was initially formulated to cater to a limited pupil base. As such, the schooling framework was largely elitist and drew considerably from the French colonial paradigm, which was ill-suited to local circumstances and needs.
In the late 1990s, the Djiboutian authorities revisted the national educational strategy and launched a broad-based consultative process involving administrative officials, teachers, parents, national assembly members and NGOs. The initiative identified areas in need of attention and produced concrete recommendations on how to go about improving them. The government subsequently prepared a comprehensive reform plan aimed at modernizing the educational sector over the 2000–10 period. In August 2000, it passed an official Education Planning Act and drafted a medium-term development plan for the next five years. The fundamental academic system was significantly restructured and made compulsory; it now consists of five years of primary school and four years of middle school. Secondary schools also require a Certificate of Fundamental Education for admission. In addition, the new law introduced secondary-level vocational instruction and established university facilities in the country.
As a result of the Education Planning Act and the medium-term action strategy, substantial progress has been registered throughout the educational sector. In particular, school enrollment, attendance and retention rates have all steadily increased, with some regional variation. From 2004–05 to 2007–08, net enrollments of girls in primary school rose by 18.6%; for boys, it increased 8.0%. Net enrollments in middle school over the same period rose by 72.4% for girls and 52.2% for boys. At the secondary level, the rate of increase in net enrollments was 49.8% for girls and 56.1% for boys.
The Djiboutian government has especially focused on developing and improving institutional infrastructure and teaching materials, including constructing new classrooms and supplying textbooks. At the post-secondary level, emphasis has also been placed on producing qualified instructors and encouraging out-of-school youngsters to pursue vocational training.
Institutions of higher learning in the country include the University of Djibouti.
Djibouti's population is predominantly Muslim. Islam is observed by 94% of Djibouti's population (about 740,000) (2010 estimate), while the remaining six percent follow Christianity.
|Religion in Djibouti|
Every town and village in Djibouti has a mosque where people go to worship. Tombs of former religious leaders and those considered holy are known as sacred spaces. The most famous sacred space for Islam in Djibouti is the tomb of Sheikh Abu Yazid, which is found in the Goda Mountains. In addition to the Islamic calendar, Muslims in Djibouti recognize New Year's Day (January 1) and Labor Day (May 1) as holidays.
The Republic of Djibouti names Islam as the sole state religion. The Constitution of 1992 provides for the equality of citizens of all faiths (Article 1) as well as the freedom to practise any religion (Article 11). Djibouti's Family Code (Code de la Famille) of 2002 prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men, unless the men convert to Islam. According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2008, while Muslim Djiboutians have the legal right to convert to another faith or marry outside of Islam, "converts may face negative societal, tribal, and familial attitudes towards their decision" and often face pressure to revert to Islam.
Between 7,000 and 8,000 Catholics live in Djibouti, of which some 300 are local Djiboutians, the rest being foreigners. The Christian population largely consists of foreign-born or expatriate residents. Djibouti has a Catholic diocese, four Catholic priests all of whom are foreigners, and about 40 Catholic missionaries.
Djiboutian attire reflects the region's hot and arid climate. When not dressed in western clothing such as jeans and t-shirts, men typically wear the macawiis, which is a sarong-like garment worn around the waist. Among nomads, many wear a loosely wrapped white cotton robe called a tobe that goes down to about the knee, with the end thrown over the shoulder (much like a Roman toga).
Women typically wear the dirac, which is a long, light, diaphanous voile dress made of cotton or polyester that is worn over a full-length half-slip and a bra. Married women tend to sport head-scarves referred to as shash, and also often cover their upper body with a shawl known as garbasaar. Unmarried or young women, however, do not always cover their heads. Traditional Arabian garb such as the male jellabiya (jellabiyaad in ) and the female jilbāb is also commonly worn. For some occasions such as festivals, women may adorn themselves with specialized jewelry and head-dresses similar to those worn by the Berber tribes of the Maghreb.
A lot of Djibouti's original art is passed on and preserved orally, mainly through song. Many examples of Islamic, Ottoman, and French influences can also be noted in the local buildings, which contain plasterwork,carefully constructed motifs and calligraphy.
The Wildlife of Djibouti, consisting of flora and fauna, is in a harsh landscape with forest accounting for less than one percent of the total area of the country. The flora and fauna species are most found in the northern part of the country in the ecosystem of the Day Forest National Park at an average altitude 1,500 metres (4,900 ft), including the massif Goda, with a peak of 1,783 metres (5,850 ft). It covers an area of 3.5 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi) of Juniperus procera forest, with many of the trees rising to 20 metres (66 ft) height. This forest area is the main habitat of critically endangered and endemic Djibouti Francolin (a bird), and another recently noted vertebrate, Platyceps afarensis (a colubrine snake). The area also contains many species of woody and herbaceous plants, including boxwood and olive trees, which account for sixty percent of the total identified species in the country.
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This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.