Protectorate States

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Traditional southern Arabian political entities protected by British treaty from 1839 to 1967 when they united to form South Yemen.

The dozen or so protectorate states to the north and east of the Aden colony occupied a huge area relative to that of the colony. They were viewed primarily as a political-military buffer for that highly valued port and military base. Over the 125 years of British occupation of Aden since 1839, the protectorates were defined and redefined geographically as well as administratively in a largely ad hoc way. Political-military pressure first from the Ottoman Turks and then from the imamate of North Yemen caused the British to become increasingly involved in the governance of the states in Aden's immediate environs during the first six decades of the twentieth century; local political turmoil in the decades after World War I drew the British more directly into the governance of the vast Hadramawt region far to the east of Aden. Out of these "independent," amorphous protectorates, eventually in combination with Aden itself, the British in the 1960s sought to build the South Arabia Federation, the ship of state they hoped would succeed them when they withdrew in 1967. They failed, but Aden and the protectorate states went on to comprise South Yemen, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY).

see also hadramawt; people's democratic republic of yemen.


Gavin, R. J. Aden under British Rule, 18391967. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1975.

Pieragostini, Karl. Britain, Aden, and South Arabia: Abandoning Empire. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.

robert d. burrowes