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Djibouti

DJIBOUTI

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS DJIBOUTIANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Djibouti

République de Djibouti Jumhouriyya Djibouti

CAPITAL: Djibouti

FLAG: A white triangle, with a five-pointed red star within, extends from the hoist; the remaining area has a broad light blue band over a broad light green band.

ANTHEM: No information available.

MONETARY UNIT: The Djibouti franc (dFr) of 100 centimes is the national currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 Djibouti francs, and notes of 500, 1000, 5000, and 10,000 Djibouti francs. dFr1 = $0.00563 (or $1 = dFr177.72) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 27 June; Christmas Day, 25 December. Movable religious holidays are Milad an-Nabi, Laylat al-Miraj, 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and Muslim New Year (1st of Muharram).

TIME: 3 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Djibouti (formerly known as French Somaliland and then as the Territory of the Afars and the Issas) is situated on the east coast of Africa along the Bab al-Mandab, the strait that links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. It is bordered by Eritrea to the n, Ethiopia n, w, and s, by Somalia on the se, and by the Bab al-Mandab, Gulf of Tadjoura, and Gulf of Aden on the e. Djibouti encompasses approximately 22,000 sq km (8,494 sq mi) and has a total boundary length of 830 km (516 mi), which includes a coastline of 314 km (195 mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Djibouti is slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts.

Djibouti's capital city, Djibouti, is located in the eastern part of the country.

TOPOGRAPHY

Originally formed by volcanic action that accompanied the uplifting and faulting of the East African shield and the Rift Valley system, Djibouti consists of a series of high, arid tablelands surrounding faults, within which are low plains. Many areas exhibit thick layers of lava flow. There are three principal regions: the coastal plain, less than 200 m (656 ft) above sea level; the mountains, averaging about 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level; and the plateau behind the mountains, rising 3001,500 m (9844,921 ft). The highest point, Mt. Moussa Ali, rises to 2,028 m (6,654 ft) on the northern frontier. The saline Lake Assal, at 155 m (509 ft) below sea level, is the lowest point in Africa and the second-lowest in the world.

In general, the terrain is bare, dry, desolate, and marked by sharp cliffs, deep ravines, burning sands, and thorny shrubs. There is very little groundwater except in an area along the southern border with Somalia, and Djibouti is dependent on saline subterranean aquifers. Located above the meeting point of the Arabian and African tectonic plates, low magnitude earthquakes are common.

CLIMATE

The climate is torrid, and rainfall is sparse and erratic. During the hot season, from May to September, daytime temperatures in the capital average 31°c (87°f) and the northeastern monsoon blows. During the warm season, from October to April, average daytime temperatures moderate to 37°c (99°f). Humidity is high all year, but annual rainfall averages less than 13 cm (5 in).

FLORA AND FAUNA

Over 90% of the land in Djibouti is desert. On Mt. Goda, near Tadjoura, there are rare giant juniper trees, acacias, and wild olive trees. However, most of the vegetation is typical of the desert and semidesert, consisting of thorn scrubs and palm trees.

In its animal reserves, Djibouti has antelopes, gazelles, hyenas, and jackals.

ENVIRONMENT

Djibouti's most significant environmental problems are deforestation, desertification, water pollution, and the protection of its wildlife. Djibouti's forests are threatened by agriculture and the use of wood for fuel. The rare trees on Mt. Goda are protected within a national park. The water supply is threatened by increasing salinity. Underwater reserves have been established in the Gulf of Tadjoura to prevent overfishing of tuna, barracuda, grouper, and other species. No hunting of wild animals is permitted, but abuses continue. Haramous-Loyada is a Ramsar wetland site.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included four types of mammals, six species of birds, nine species of fish, and two species of plants. Threatened species include the spotted eagle, several species of sharks, the green turtle, the spotted hyena, and Grevy's zebra.

POPULATION

The population of Djibouti in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 793,000, which placed it at number 155 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 41% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 20052010 was expected to be 1.9%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,107,000. The population density was 34 per sq km (89 per sq mi). The vast majority lives in and around the capital, with much of the rest of the country inhabitable.

The UN estimated that 82% of the population lived in urban areas (primarily Djibouti) in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.81%. The capital city, Djibouti, had a population of 502,000 in that year.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Djibouti. The UN estimated that 7.1% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001, with an estimated 11% of those ages 1524 infected with the virus. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.

MIGRATION

The peoples of Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea are historically nomadic, migrating with flocks of camels and goats across borders that now separate their nations. Somalis from Djibouti have also historically sought work across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms.

In mid-1993, some 18,000 Afar refugees from Djibouti fled into northeastern Ethiopia because of ethnic clashes and the civil war. A peace agreement was signed in 1994. Almost all voluntarily repatriated to Djibouti by the end of 1997.

Between September 1994 and November 1996, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helped repatriate 31,617 Ethiopian refugees from Djibouti; 2,500 remained. In 2004, Somalian refugees numbered 25,444, of which 8,448 were voluntarily repatriated. At of the end of 2004, there were 18,035 refugees in Djibouti, and no asylum seekers. In 2005 the estimated net migration rate was zero migrants per 1,000 population, a considerable change from the -11.4 migrants per thousand in 1990.

ETHNIC GROUPS

The Issa branch of the Somali people and related clans constitutes 60% of all Djibouti's inhabitants; most live in southern Djibouti or in the capital. The Afars, a related people of north and west Djibouti, who also live in the Danakil depression of neighboring Ethiopia, number about 35%. The remaining 5% consists of French (about 3%), Arabs of Yemeni background, Ethiopians, and Italians.

LANGUAGES

Although French and Arabic are the official languages, the home languages of the vast majority of Djiboutians are Somali and Afar, both of Cushitic origin.

RELIGIONS

Over 99% of the population practices Islam, which is the state religion. However, the constitution provides for freedom of religion and there is not widespread discrimination against other faiths. A small number of Djiboutians are Roman Catholic, Protestant, or affiliated with the Baha'i Faith. A large foreign community also supports Greek and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. Proselytizing is not prohibited, but is discouraged. Christmas is the only non-Muslim holiday that is officially recognized. Religious groups must register with the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry of Muslim Affairs oversees all Muslim activities.

TRANSPORTATION

Djibouti had about 100 km (62 mi) of single-track, narrow gauge railway in 2004, which linked the capital with Addis Ababa. It was closed during the Somali-Ethiopian War of 197778; by the time it reopened, the Ethiopians had developed their port of Assab (now part of Eritrea), so traffic did not return to its former level. However, in 1998, Djibouti and Ethiopia announced plans to revitalize the century-old railroad that links their capitals.

Djibouti had 2,890 km (1,796 mi) of road in 2002, 364 km (226 mi) of which was paved. A tarred road runs most of the distance from Djibouti city to Dikhil, Yoboki, and Galafi, on the Ethiopian border, where it connects with the main Assab-Addis Ababa highway. Except for the 40-km (25-mi) road from Djibouti city to Arta, all other roads are rough. A secondary road connects Obock and Tadjoura, on the northern side of the Gulf of Tadjoura, with Randa and Dorra in the northern interior. A highway between Djibouti city and Tadjoura was completed by 1991.

Djibouti's improved natural harbor consists of a roadstead, outer harbor, and inner harbor. The roadstead is well protected by reefs and the configuration of the land. The inner harbor has five outer and six inner berths for large vessels. A quarter of Ethiopia's imports and half of its exports move through the port. Car ferries ply the Gulf of Tadjoura from Djibouti city to Tadjoura and Obock, which are ports of minor commercial importance. As of 2005, Djibouti had one cargo ship totaling 1,369 GRT.

Also in 2004, there were an estimated 13 airports, only 3 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Ambouli Airport, about 6 km (4 mi) from the city of Djibouti, is the country's international air terminal. There are local airports at Tadjoura and Obock. Air Djibouti, partly government-owned and partly owned by Air France, provides domestic service to six centers and flies to a number of overseas destinations.

HISTORY

Somali (Issa) and Afar herders, nomadic, Muslim and Cushiticspeaking, lived in and around Djibouti for hundreds of years before European explorers in the 19th century brought the region to the attention of the modern West. Obock and, later, Djibouti city were recognized as ports of great usefulness on the sea routes to India, Mauritius, and Madagascar. The Italians and British were active colonizers farther south along the Somali coast, and Britain was gaining control in what are now Yemen, the Sudan, and Egypt. France decided to establish its colonial foothold in 1862 along what is now the northeastern coast of Djibouti. This tentative venture became in 188485 the protectorates of Obock and Tadjoura, which were merged to form French Somaliland.

The administrative capital of French Somaliland was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1896, a year before the boundaries of the colony were officially demarcated between France and Ethiopia. In 1898, a French consortium began building the narrowgauge railway that finally reached Addis Ababa in 1917. During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during the early part of World War II, there were constant border skirmishes between French and Italian forces. In December 1942, French Somaliland forces joined the Free French under Gen. Charles de Gaulle.

After World War II, French Somaliland gradually gained a measure of local autonomy. In 1957, it obtained a territorial assembly and a local executive council to advise the French-appointed governor-general. The following year, the voters of French Somalil- and opted to join the French Community as an overseas territory, electing one deputy and one senator to the French National Assembly. In late 1958, the first elections to the local assembly were held under a system of proportional representation. In the second elections, held in 1963, plurality voting based on party lists in seven districts replaced proportional voting. The result was the election of an Afar leader as head of the executive council; the more numerous Issas felt they had been prevented by the new electoral procedures from gaining control of the council. In 1967, 60% of the voters in a special referendum opted to retain the colony's association with France, but the Issas again complained that the franchise lists had been unfairly restricted in a way that favored the Afars. After the referendum, French Somaliland became known as the Territory of the Afars and the Issas.

The country's independence movement had been led throughout the postwar period by the Issas, but their movement had been opposed by Ethiopia, which wanted French control to continue, and by the Afars, who feared Issa domination. Finally, in 1975, the French began to accommodate increasingly strident demands for independence. The territory's citizenship law, which had favored the Afar minority, was revised to admit more Issas. In a referendum in May 1977, the now-enlarged Issa majority voted decisively for independence, which was officially established on 27 June 1977, as the country officially became the Republic of Djibouti. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, the territory's premier, had been elected the nation's first president by the territorial Chamber of Deputies three days earlier. Although Gouled, an Issa, appointed Afar premiers and the cabinet was roughly balanced, the dominance of the Issas in administration led to political conflict, including cabinet crises. Gouled was reelected without opposition by universal suffrage in June 1981 and April 1987. A one-party Chamber of Deputies list, elected without opposition in May 1982, consisted of 26 Issas, 23 Afars, and 16 Arabs. Only 12 seats were won by newcomers in the April 1987 election of a one-party list.

A new constitution was voted on in 1992, although the vote was boycotted by opposition parties. In December, legislative elections were held, which, according to the constitution, were to have been open to all parties. Due to administrative restrictions and opposition resolve not to participate, by election time only two parties had been officially allowed to contest seats: the ruling People's Rally for Progress Party (RPP) and the newly formed Democratic Renewal Party (PRD). Due to the antidemocratic nature of the electoral process, more than half the electorate refused to vote. The RPP was said to have won all 65 seats.

Presidential elections were held in March 1993. Five candidates contested the elections for president. The leader of the PDR, Mohamed Elabe, was Gouled's main opponent. But, again, fewer than half the electorate voted, and Gouled was reelected with officially 60% of the vote.

Dissatisfaction with Gouled grew in the late 1980s and contributed to an uprising by Afar guerrillas of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) in late 1991. FRUD gained control of some areas of the north and west. In February 1992, France deployed forces in Djibouti, and the Afars declared unilaterally a cease-fire. Yet, fighting continued and a government counteroffensive checked the FRUD by July. Rebel bases in the north were occupied, and many opposition leaders were imprisoned, including Ali Aref Bourhan, for an alleged coup attempt. He was released in December 1993. By the end of 1993, about 35% of the central government's budgetary expenditures went toward maintaining "security"; that is, the military occupation of the north by troops of Somali origin.

In 1993, the FRUD suffered severe losses to a government offensive. In 1994, its leadership split over the issue of negotiations with the government. A more moderate wing then entered into negotiations and called a cease-fire. In March 1995, in compliance with the peace accords signed in December 1994, the majority of the FRUD disarmed, and the military integrated a segment of the insurgents into its ranks. Two FRUD leaders accepted ministerial posts. In March 1996 the FRUD was given legal recognition as a political party. A radical wing of the FRUD, (FRUD-Renaissance) led by Ahmed Dini, remains opposed to the cease-fire. Djibouti and Ethiopia jointly attacked the FRUD rebels in October 1997, and skirmishes continued in 1998.

The human rights record of the authoritarian Gouled regime came increasingly under attack in the late-1980s and 1990s, with allegations of beatings, rapes, arbitrary, prolonged, and incommunicado detentions, extra-judicial killings and disappearances of political/ethnic opponents of Gouled, and union leaders. Journalists have also been harassed, intimidated, and detained.

Gouled became ill in December 1995 and spent several months in hospital in France. During this period there appeared a succession struggle between Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ismael Godi Hared, both close advisors of the president. In part to cut down on inter-party fighting, Gouled elected to remain at the helm after his convalescence. In February 1999 he announced his intention to retire and that he would not be a candidate for the scheduled April 1999 elections. At that point the RPP named Guelleh, a key advisor and chief of staff to the former president for over 20 years, as its candidate. The FRUD, in alliance with the RPP, accepted Guelleh as its candidate, as well. An opposition coalition, which included the PRD (Democratic Renewal Party), the PND (National Democratic Party), and (unofficially) the FRUDRenaissance slated Moussa Ahmed Idriss as their candidate. An estimated 60% of the electorate participated, with Guelleh garnering 74% of the votes cast to 26% for Idriss. There was no official boycott of the elections, for the first time since Djibouti's independence from France in 1977.

In January 2003 Djibouti held a new round of parliamentary elections that the opposition claimed was highly fraudulent. By the official tally, the UAD opposition coalition was only 4,939 votes away from beating the presidential movement. Yet because of Djibouti's winner-takes-all system, the RPP won all 65 seats. For the first time in Djibouti's history, seven women won seats in the parliament.

In the presidential elections that followed on 8 April 2005, the opposition alleged irregularities and intimidation in the run-up to the contest, and boycotted the polls on election day. With the absence of any opposition, President Guelleh was elected to another six-year term. In an effort to validate his victory, Guelleh claimed a 79% voter turn-out. However, given a turnout of 48% in the parliamentary election just two years earlier, his claim was not credible. Following the election, Guelleh attempted to mend fences by announcing that he would step down after his second term and that he would not amend the constitution to seek a third term.

The electoral victories cemented a nearly complete domination of government by the President's sub-clan, the Issa Mamassans, and severely restricted political space and economic opportunities for the Afar people. In 2005 reports began to surface of rebel insurrections allegedly led by disaffected elements of the FRUD. Among the leaders of the insurgency was Aramis Mohamed Aramis, an Afar and the son of a former FRUD commander, who was killed in 1991.

Djibouti is situated in one of the least stable regions of the world, and it occupies a highly strategic location facing the Saudi Arabian peninsula, straddling the choke point between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. President Guelleh maintained harmonious relations with neighbors and superpowers. In 2004, the government signed a bi-lateral treaty with Eritrea promising economic, political and social cooperation, and Djibouti continued to benefit from the significant transit of goods to and from land-locked Ethiopia via its well-developed seaport. Although a potential magnet for terrorists, the presence of French and American military bases in the country has served to dampen potential threats from Somalia's clan rivalries, which have destabilized greater Somalia and its self-declared autonomous states of Somaliland and Puntland.

GOVERNMENT

Under the 1981 and 1992 constitutions, Djibouti is a parliamentary republic. The president, who according to the constitution must be an Issa, is elected by universal adult suffrage; the prime minister, who heads the cabinet, must be an Afar. The legislature consists of the unicameral Chamber of Deputies, whose 65 members are elected for five-year terms. Before 1992, candidates came from a single list submitted by the ruling party, the Popular Rally for Progress (RPP).

In January 1992, the Gouled government named a committee to draft a new constitution that would permit multiparty democracy, limit presidential powers, and establish an independent judiciary. On 4 September 1992, 75% of the voters approved the new constitution in a referendum. According to Djibouti's winner-takes-all electoral rules, the party obtaining a majority in a given district is awarded all the seats within that district, which explains how the FRUD won 36.9% of the vote in 2003, but took no seats in the parliament.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Personalities and clan identities trump party labels, but the system is dominated by the ruling party and its coalition, the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP), an alliance that includes the People's Rally for Progress (Rassemblement Populaire pour le ProgrèsRPP), the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), originally formed in 1991, PSD and PND. The opposition coalition, the Union for Democratic Changeover (UAD) is composed of the ARD, MRDD, UDJ, and formerly the PDD (expelled in December 2004).

Ruling party dominance harks back to October 1981 when a law was enacted that restricted political activity to the ruling RPP. That year, the government temporarily detained the leaders of and banned the Djiboutian People's Party (Parti Populaire Djiboutien). Illegal Issa and Afar parties, including an Ethiopianbacked Afar party-in-exile and a Somali-backed Issa party-in-exile, waited in the wings. For the 1987 elections to the Chamber of Deputies, a single list of candidates was drawn up by the RPP, headed by President Gouled; about 90% of the nation's 100,985 voters cast ballots.

Despite the 1992 constitutional changes that legalized opposition parties, Djibouti remained tightly controlled by the RPP (People's Rally for Progress). On 18 December 1992, legislative elections were held, with the RPP gaining 74.6% of the vote and the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD) 25.4%. Other parties boycotted the elections on the grounds that Gouled did not consult the opposition in the "democratization" process. Most Afars did not vote. The RPP, therefore, won all 65 seats. Gouled was reelected, although not convincingly, on 7 May 1993. The four losing parties and FRUD, at the time a paramilitary organization in the north (Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy) accused the government of election fraud, a charge supported by international observers. Only 50% of the eligible voters were reported to have turned out.

In the December 1997 legislative elections, which generally were not considered to be credible, the RPP won 54 seats to the FRUD's 11, though their campaigns were supported by the RPP in alliance. The PRD and PND contested the elections and received 19.2% and 2.3% of the votes, respectively, but won no National Assembly seats. There were no female candidates in the election.

In February 1999 President Gouled designated his successor, longtime advisor Ismael Omar Guelleh, who was then duly elected president on 9 April 1999 and installed on 8 May 1999. His cabinets reflected the proportional ethnic composition required by the constitution, with continued dominance of his sub-clan of the Issas. Barkat Gourad Hammado, the prime minister, was replaced by Mohamed Dileita Dileita on 4 March 2001.

Two groups, the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD) and the Democratic National Party (PND) have contested elections since 1992. FRUD-Renaissance, which separated from the FRUD in 1996, signed a peace accord in Paris on 7 February 2000 with the government, which also included a general release of prisoners held by both sides. The Movement for Unity and Democracy (MUD) allegedly is associated with the Somali National Movement operating out of northern Somalia. It is a coalition of Afaroriented and Issa-oriented dissidents.

In the country's first full multiparty parliamentary elections held 10 January 2003, the UMP led by the RPP garnered 62.2% of the vote to 36.9% for the FRUD, which won no assembly seats. In the capital, Djibouti-Ville, the opposition Union pour une Alternance Démocratique (UAD) took 44.9% of the votes, and the UMP 55%. President Ismail Omar Guelleh ran unopposed in the 8 April 2005 elections, guaranteeing him another six-year term in office. His appointed prime minister was Mohamed Dileita, who held the position as head of government since 4 March 2001. The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for January 2008, and the next presidential elections were due April 2011.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

There are five cercles, or districts, with councils and appointed administrators: Ali Sabîh, Obock, Dikhil, Tadjoura, and Djibouti.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The judicial system consists of courts of first instance, a High Court of Appeal, and a Supreme Court. Each of the five administrative districts also has a customary court. The legal system is a blend of French codified law, Shariah (Islamic law) and customary law of the native nomadic peoples.

The 1992 constitution is modeled on the 1958 French constitution. The judiciary is not completely independent of the executive branch. A state security court handles political trials and cases involving purported threats to national security. Political trials may be applied to the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Council rules on the constitutionality of laws. The constitution states that the accused enjoys a presumption of innocence and has the right to counsel.

ARMED FORCES

In 2005, Djibouti's armed forces of 9,850 active members was divided into an 8,000-man army, an estimated 200-man navy with seven patrol craft, and a 250-man air force with no combat aircraft. Paramilitary forces included 1,400 personnel in the gendarmerie and a national security force of an estimated 2,500. A total of 2,850 French troops were based near the city of Djibouti to deal with threats to French interests in the region. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $25.8 million.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Admitted to the United Nations on 20 September 1977, Djibouti belongs to ECA and all the nonregional specialized agencies except the IAEA. It is also a member of the WTO, the African Development Bank, G-77, the Arab League, the ACP Group, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), COMESA, the Community of Sahel and Saharan States (CENSAD), and the African Union. Djibouti is part of the Nonaligned Movement. In 1981, treaties of friendship and cooperation were signed with Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and the Sudan. In environmental cooperation, Djibouti is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Djibouti has a market-based, free-enterprise economy. Its economy is dependent upon its strategic position at the narrow straits at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The French military base in Djibouti is the country's largest single source of economic and commercial activity. The remainder of the money economy is service oriented and centered upon the free port of Djibouti, the railway terminus there, the airport, and government administration. The free port features a deep-water container terminal; France has committed substantial funds to its continuing modernization. There is also an active construction industry.

There is little arable farm land in Djibouti, and the country is subject to periods of severe drought. As a consequence, Djibouti produces only 3% of its food needs. Over half of the population derives its income from livestock: goats, sheep, and camels. A fishing industry has emerged, and the Islamic Development Bank helped finance a canning factory.

Since 1990, recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate combined to reduce per capita consumption by 35%. The unemployment rate exceeded 50% as of 2004 (some estimates placed it at over 70%). The border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea disturbed the normal commerce in which Djibouti allowed Ethiopia the use of its port and conducted regular trade relations. As a consequence, average annual growth of GDP between 1988 and 1998 was -3.1%, and the economy was at zero growth in 2001. The GDP growth rate reached 3.5% in 2002; the inflation rate that year was 2%.

Due to the fact that Djibouti has few exploitable natural resources and little industry, it is heavily dependent upon foreign aid to finance development projects and support its balance of payments. The country has fallen behind on its debt payments and has had difficulty meeting the reform requirements set by foreign aid donors. Ethiopia has developed other trade routes, limiting Djibouti's port activity.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Djibouti's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $619.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.5%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 2%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 3.5% of GDP, industry 15.8%, and services 80.7%.

It was estimated that in 2001 about 50% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

Labor in the cash economy is concentrated in the city of Djibouti, particularly on the docks and in shipbuilding and building construction. In 2002, (the latest year for which data was available) the labor force numbered 282,000. The railway is a significant employer, as is the national government. However, there is no data available on the occupational breakdown. Unemployment and underemployment are widespread; unemployment was estimated at 50% in 2004.

As of 2005 workers were free to join unions and strik, e provided they complied with prescribed legal requirements. All unions must be legally sanctioned by the government and 48 hours advance notice must be given to the Ministry of the Interior of a planned strike. Independent unions continue to be suppressed. In addition, those who participate in strikes may be arrested. Collective bargaining rarely occurs.

In 2005, the monthly minimum wage for unskilled workers was approximately $125, which had not changed since its inception in 1976. By law, the standard workweek is 40 hours, often spread over six days. A weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours is also mandated by law, as is the provision of overtime pay. However, these regulations affect only the small fraction of the population that is involved in wage employment. The minimum age for child labor is 14 years old, although the lack of labor inspectors means that compliance is left largely to market forces. The government also lacks inspectors to enforce workplace safety standards, therefore many workers face hazardous work conditions.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture in Djibouti is very limited, due to acute water shortages in rural areas. In 2003, agriculture contributed only a little more than 4% to GDP. In 2004, some 25,464 tons of vegetables were produced. Tomatoes are grown for domestic consumption. Date palms are cultivated along the coastal fringe. Famine and malnutrition in Djibouti have created a reliance on the distribution of food aid for millions of its people. In 2004, grain imports totaled 87,115 tons.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Cattle, fat-tailed sheep, goats, and camels are grazed in the interior; hides and skins are exported. In 2004, Djibouti had an estimated 512,000 goats, 466,000 sheep, 297,000 cattle, and 8,800 asses. Meat production in 2004 totaled 11,244 tons, of which beef accounted for 6,050 tons. An estimated 13,950 tons of milk were produced in 2004, along with 1,990 tons of cattle hides, sheepskins, and goatskins.

FISHING

There is no local tradition of commercial fishing or seafaring, although the Gulf of Tadjoura, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea are potentially rich sources of commercial and game fish. The catch was 350 tons in 2003.

FORESTRY

There are protected forests on the slopes of the mountains north of the Gulf of Tadjoura. Less than 1% of the country's total land area is forested.

MINING

Mining and manufacturing accounted for 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004, which stood at around $1.6 billion. Djibouti has been known to produce occasional small quantities of clays, granite, limestone, marble, salt, sand and gravel, and crushed and dimension stone for domestic construction projects. There was no cement production in the country; most imports came from Persian Gulf countries. Other mineral occurrences of potential economic interest included diatomite, geothermal fluids and mineral salts, gold, gypsum, perlite, petroleum, and pumice. Salt was the only mineral produced in 2004. Extracted from evaporated pans by artisanal miners in the marshes of Tadjoura, salt production fell sharply from the 173,099 metric tons produced in 2001 to an estimated 30,000 metric tons in 2004. The government hoped to establish, by the end of 2002, a fiscal, institutional, and legal framework to support the development of domestic natural resources. The government also planned to promote the use of local materials in construction and public works. The outlook for the mineral industry was for little growth in the short run; constraints included small domestic markets, minimal known natural resources, and slow GDP growth.

ENERGY AND POWER

Located in the Horn of Africa region, Djibouti had no proven reserves of oil or natural gas, or refining capacity, as of 1 January 2003. In addition, Djibouti has no known reserves of coal. The country's energy and power sector is dominated by electrical power generation. According to an August 2003 Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysis brief, Djibouti has an installed electrical power generating capacity of 85 MW, which is generated from an oil-fired generating station in the capital. In 2002 electical power output was put at 0.232 billion kWh, with consumption at 0.216 billion kWh. All petroleum products are imported. In 2002, imports of refined petroleum products totaled 11,410 barrels per day, with consumption placed at 11,400 barrels per day. There were no natural gas imports for that year. The port in Djibouti's capital city is an important oil shipment and storage site. The Dubai Ports Authority, which in 2000 was awarded a longterm contract to manage the port, hoped to increase its handling capacity to 300,000 metric tons per year over the next 20 years through modernization and expansion of port facilities.

INDUSTRY

Shipbuilding and urban construction traditionally have been industrial undertakings. The two main factories in 2006 were a mineral-water bottling facility and a dairy, although small plants produce food, beverages, furniture, building materials, and bottled gas.

With the help of France, Italy, the World Bank, OPEC, and the United Nations Development Program, Djibouti was promoting a project to develop geothermal energy resources. Interest was focused on the Goubet-Lac Assal region and, through this project, Djibouti hoped to become self-sufficient in energy. Industry accounted for 15.8% of GDP in 2001.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Because Djibouti is an active volcanic zone, its two principal research organizationsthe Higher Institute for Scientific and Technical Research and the Bureau of Geological and Mineral Researchconcentrate on the earth sciences.

DOMESTIC TRADE

As of 2001, about 80.7% of the GDP was contributed by the service sector, primarily those services related to international import/export trade. The main commercial centers are around the Port of Djibouti, the international airport, and the railroad. Domestic trade is dominated by traffic in live sheep and camels, dates, and melons. The government maintains price controls on a number of essential commodities, including wheat flour, bread, sugar, and petroleum products. French citizens dominate the commerce of the city of Djibouti. Business hours normally are 7:30 am to noon and 3:30 to 6 pm, Sunday through Thursday. Banks are open SundayThursday from 7 am to 12 pm. Banks and offices are closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

FOREIGN TRADE

About 75% of imports are consumed or used in Djibouti, while the remainder is forwarded to Ethiopia or northern Somalia. Exports include hides and skins, and coffee. Imports are vegetable products, foodstuffs, beverages, vinegar, tobacco, machinery and transportation equipment, and mineral products.

In 2004, Djibouti's primary export partners were: Somalia (63.8%), Yemen (22.6%), and Ethiopia (5%). The primary import partners were: Saudi Arabia (19.7%), India (12.4%), Ethiopia (11.8%), China (8.1%), France (5.6%), and the United States (4.8%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Since independence, Djibouti has run large trade deficits, which have been offset by surpluses on services and by transfers attributable to the French base, port receipts, the national airline, the national airport, and grants from donors.

In 2004, Djibouti's exports were valued at $250 million, and imports at $987 million. In 2002, the country had an external debt burden of $366 million. In 2001, Djibouti received $36 million in economic aid.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The Djibouti franc was created in 1949 by the government of France. The Djibouti Treasury was replaced in 1983 as the bank

Current Account -23.0
     Balance on goods -171.5
         Imports -205.0
         Exports 33.5
     Balance on services 64.2
     Balance on income 17.2
     Current transfers 67.0
Capital Account
Financial Account -2.1
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Djibouti 3.2
     Portfolio investment assets
     Portfolio investment liabilities
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets
     Other investment liabilities -5.4
Net Errors and Omissions 0.7
Reserves and Related Items 24.5
() data not available or not significant.

of issue and central bank by the new National Bank of Djibouti. There were five commercial banks in 1993 and a National Development Bank, 51% government owned. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $161.2 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $318.3 million.

There is no securities exchange.

Both the pace and content of economic reforms are inconsistent. Failures to meet the financial criteria established with the IMF led to a postponement of the disbursal of the second installment of a $6.6 million credit agreed in April 1996. Wrangling over conditionality with France also delayed payment of part of the $9.3 million assistance package agreed upon in September 1996. The attitudes of the IMF and France, combined with problems in rescheduling debts to France, provided a rather somber backdrop to the negotiation of the 1997 budget.

INSURANCE

The State Insurance Co. of Somalia and about 10 European insurance companies provide most of the insurance coverage.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Increased military expenditures, declining tax receipts, and political unrest in bordering countries have exacerbated the deterioration of public finance in recent years. France, a major provider of aid to Djibouti, has insisted that future aid packages be conditional on an overhaul of the country's muddled finances.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 1999 Djibouti's central government took in revenues of approximately $135 million and had expenditures of $182 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$47 million. Total external debt was $366 million.

TAXATION

The individual income tax, payable by the employer, is collected by withholding from wages and salaries. In addition, the employee and the employer contribute to a medical and pension fund. There is a separate system for civil servants and soldiers. Private corporations and personal companies, as well as public companies and limited companies, pay a flat tax. Other taxes include property, stamp, and registration taxes. There is also an ad valorem consumption tax of 830% (as of August 2003) with a surtax on luxury items.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Formerly a "Free Zone," although the term only applied to the port, Djibouti now levies customs duties on most commodities, with most import taxes ranging from 540%. Luxury goods, such as cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, are taxed at higher rates, as much as 160%. Additionally, Djibouti requires import licenses for all those wishing to import or sell in the country.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Foreign investment is predominantly French, largely in connection with the military base and the port. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Korea, and Uganda have cooperation agreements. Bilateral investment agreements (BITs) were concluded with Egypt and Malaysia in 1998 and with Switzerland in 200l. Official development assistance (ODA) was $42 million in 2000 and $36 million in 2001. There are no exchange controls and investors are allowed to transfer their profits freely without tax. Tax relief is offered to some investors.

In 1998, annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow rose from $2.4 million in 1997 to $3.5 million and then peaked at a record $4.2 million in 1999. FDI inflow averaged $3.35 million for 2000 and 2001. As of 2003, the total stock of inward FDI was $52 million, and inward FDI flow in 2003 was $11 million.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

In 1990, the Djibouti government significantly expanded its public investment program. Projects in communications, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as in social and environmental areas, were planned. Execution of these plans was put on hold as a result of subsequent domestic disturbances. The Persian Gulf War of 1991 also disrupted investment programs sponsored by Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

French budgetary support of the Djibouti economy is crucial to its stability, providing some 45% of foreign aid. The long-standing French financial commitment has weakened since 1989, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed serious concern over key budget and trade deficits. In 1999, Djibouti negotiated a three-year $26 million Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF, subsequently Poverty Reduction and Growth FacilityPRGF) with the IMF.

Per capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% over the 19982005 period, due to recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and refugees). The government has fallen in arrears on long-term external debt and struggles to meet the demands of foreign aid donors.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Despite full legal protection, women generally play a subordinate role in the workplace and in the household. Customary law favors men in areas of inheritance and property rights. Domestic violence against women is treated as a family problem. As many as 98% of women have undergone female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), a painful and potentially life-threatening procedure. Although the procedure is illegal, no one has been prosecuted under those provisions. The government provides no funds to advance children's welfare.

Discrimination against minority ethnic clans in Djibouti is pervasive. The dominant clan, the Issa, control most government positions and are dominant in the military forces as well. Djibouti's human rights record remains poor, despite the transition to a multiparty system. There are reports of police brutality, deplorable prison conditions, and illegal detentions.

HEALTH

Malnutrition is severe and the incidence of tuberculosis high. Malaria is endemic. There were 3,111 reported cases of tuberculosis in 1994. The city of Djibouti's publicly supplied water is suspect because the system is in disrepair.

In 2004 there were an estimated 13 physicians, 2 dentists, 65 nurses, and 2 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Djibouti's government has developed plans to improve public health and the management of hospitals, train more staff, and rehabilitate existing facilities.

In 2005 life expectancy was estimated at 43.10 years, one of the lowest in the world. That year the infant mortality rate was 104.13 per 1,000 live births. The death rate was 14.4 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. As of 2002, the birth rate was estimated at 40 births per 1,000 people.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 2.90 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 9,100 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 690 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

There were 1,007 cases of malaria in 1994. Between the mid1970s and the mid-1990s, 23% of children under five were underweight. In Djibouti nearly every woman has had female genital mutilation.

HOUSING

Djiboutian nomads generally live in branch-framed, transportable huts (toukouls ), which are covered with woven mats or boiled bark pulled into fine strands and plaited; they are carried from place to place on camels. Good-quality urban housing is in short supply. Construction of 5,000 low-cost dwellings was planned for the 198186 period, but only 729 were built. In the past, housing costs have often been subsidized by the government, particular for government or civil employees. This status has begun to change since the late 1990s as the government has imposed housing taxes as part of a greater economic reform package sponsored in part by the International Monetary Fund. In 2000, nearly 100% of the total population had access to improved water sources; about 99% of urban and 50% of rural dwellers had improved sanitation systems.

EDUCATION

Education is compulsory for six years at the primary level followed by seven years of secondary education. Primary school enrollment in 2001 was estimated at about 32% of age-eligible students; 36% for boys and 28% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 16% of age-eligible students; 20% for boys and 13% for girls. It is estimated that about 35% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 34:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 28:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 15.5% of primary school enrollment and 21% of secondary enrollment.

The University of Djibouti is the primary institute of higher education. In 2003, only about 1% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. In 2003, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 67.9%; 78% for men and 58.4% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.5% of GDP.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

No information is currently available.

MEDIA

From the city of Djibouti, telephone connections are available by satellite to Europe and the West and by land line to the main cities and towns of the interior; there were 9,500 mainline telephones and 23,000 cellular phones in use throughout the country in 2003.

All media are government controlled. In 1983, Djibouti inaugurated a powerful state-owned AM radio transmitting station, built with French and FRG funds. A television service was first introduced in 1967. Both are state run and broadcast in French, Afar, Somali, and Arabic. As of 2001, there were 1 AM and 2 FM radio stations and 1 television station. In 1997, there were 77 radios and 37 television sets per 1,000 population. Internet access was available to about 6,500 subscribers in 2003.

Djibouti has one primary weekly newspaper, the government-owned La Nation de Djibouti, which had a circulation of 4,300 in 2000. Each political party is allowed to publish a public journal. There are several opposition-run weeklies and monthlies that operate freely. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government is said to generally uphold these rights.

ORGANIZATIONS

A chamber of commerce and industry, founded in 1912, has its headquarters in the capital. Youth organizations include the Association of Youth Homes in Djibouti, Djibouti Scout Association, and Red Crescent Youth of Djibouti (JCRD).There are some sports organizations in the country as well. The Eglise Protestante (Protestant Church) offers educational and social welfare programs as well as religious evangelism. Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs International, are also present. There are national chapters of the Red Crescent Society, Caritas, and UNICEF.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

In addition to several seldom-visited sandy beaches along the Gulf of Tadjoura, tourist attractions include swimming and snorkeling off the islands in the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Bab al-Mandab. At Goubbet al-Kharab, at the western end of the Gulf of Tadjoura, there are steep cliffs and a bay turned dark green by black lava. Inland from this point is Lake Assal with a number of active volcanoes nearby. The Forest of the Day is a national park for rare trees on Mt. Goda. In the south, the alkaline Lake Abbé is visited by flocks of flamingos, ibis, and pelicans. Near Ali Sabîh are the famous red mountains and a national park full of various gazelles. Passports and visas are required; visas must be secured in advance. Antimalarial precautions are advisable and yellow fever vaccinations are required if traveling from an infected area.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Djibouti at $278 per day, depending upon the choice of hotel.

FAMOUS DJIBOUTIANS

Hassan Gouled Aptidon (b.1916) was president from independence in 1977 until 1999, when he decided to step down; his nephew and handpicked successor, Ismael Omar Guelleh (b.1947) was elected to the office in April 1999.

DEPENDENCIES

Djibouti has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alwan, Daoud A. Historical Dictionary of Djibouti. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Kalb, Jon (ed.). Bibliography of the Earth Sciences for the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti, 16201993. Alexandria, Va.: American Geological Institute, 2000.

Koburger, Charles W. Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti. New York: Praeger, 1992.

Woodward, Peter. The Horn of Africa: Politics and International Relations. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Djibouti

DJIBOUTI

Republic of Djibouti
République de Djibouti
Jumhouriyya Djibouti

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Djibouti is situated in the Horn of Africa, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, bordering the Gulf of Aden. To the north lies Eritrea with a shared border of 113 kilometers (70 miles); to the north, west, and southwest lies Ethiopia, with a border length of 337 kilometers (209 miles); and to the southeast lies Somalia, with a border length of 58 kilometers (36 miles). Djibouti has a land area of 23,000 square kilometers (8,880 square miles), making it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts. It has 314 kilometers (195 miles) of coastline. The city of Djibouti, located on the coast, is the nation's capital and only major urban center.

POPULATION.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimated the population of Djibouti at 460,000 in July 2001, though the accuracy of this figure is uncertain. The uncertainty arises because there are an unknown number of expatriates and refugees, and sensitivity over the ethnic composition of Djibouti makes the government unwilling to produce definitive figures. The population is comprised of 2 main ethnic groups. The Somali are estimated as 60 percent of the population, and the Afar are estimated at 35 percent. The remaining 5 percent are mostly French, Arabs, Ethiopians, and Italians. Both the Somali and the Afar are Muslim groups and speak related Cushitic languages. French and Arabic are the official languages. There is an Arab minority population that numbers 12,000 and is mostly people of Yemeni descent. The European population in Djibouti (including French troops) was estimated at 8,000 in 1997. The Somalis are divided into clans, of which the Issa, Gadburs, and Issaqs are the largest.

The population was estimated to be growing at a rate of 2.6 percent per year in 2001, with 43 percent of the population less than 15 years of age. In the 1980s a survey showed that 75 percent of the population were urban (with around half living in the capital), and the rest primarily lived nomadic lives. The urban population has increased significantly in recent years as people have fled from the civil war in the north, the Eritrea-Ethiopia border clash, and the conflicts in Somalia.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Djibouti is a small country both in terms of geographical size and population, with an economy that depends on the provision of port services for goods in transit to and from Ethiopia. The only other links between the coast and Ethiopia pass through Eritrea. However, since the start of the border dispute and the subsequent war between Ethiopia and Eritrea that took place from 1988 to 2000, Ethiopia has not been inclined to use the Eritrean routes. Thus Ethiopian use of Djibouti's port facilities has expanded.

The structure of the economy has not changed much since Djibouti achieved independence from France in 1977. The economy is mostly based on services, and this sector accounted for 75 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1998. The significance of the service sector is connected to the country's strategic location and its free trade status in Northeast Africa. The primary components of the sector are the port and railway service, the civil service, and the French garrison stationed in Djibouti. Public administration is the largest sector in the economy. Djibouti has no significant mineral resources, and farming is constrained by the poor quality of the land and limited water availability.

Uncertainty over the size of the population makes estimates for per capita gross national product (GNP) rather tentative, but using the exchange rate conversion the figure is approximated at US$750. The United Nations (UN) provides a figure using purchasing power parity conversion (which makes allowances for the low price of some basic commodities in Djibouti) of $1,300 in per capita GDP in 2000. Both of these estimates place Djibouti in the low-income category of nations.

After modest growth enjoyed during Djibouti's first decade of independence, poor planning and reduced foreign assistance led to GDP growth that averaged only 1 percent per year from 1989 to 1991. Growth became negative following the outbreak of civil war (1991-94), which was instigated by dissidents from the minority Afar group. Informal sector activities, which evade both tax and customs, flourished in the mid-1990s, resulting in the apparent 5.5 percent per year decrease in the GDP from 1991 to 1994 as reported by the UN Development Program . Since 1992 the port has registered a fall in the number of imports for domestic use, leading to the closure of many outlets. The reduced use of the French garrison since 1999 will also decrease growth, though the increased provision of services for the transit trade with Ethiopia due to its war with Eritrea is expected to provide some compensation.

In the 1980s attempts to improve infrastructure and reduce structural problems in the economy had little impact. A program for the decentralization of the economy, the development of free trade zones , and agricultural and livestock programs all depended on foreign aid, which was terminated in 1991 following the outbreak of the civil conflict. In 1992 the depth of the crisis led to the suspension of government investment which resulted in the crumbling of infrastructure, most notably of electric power.

Djibouti has had a stable government since independence under the ruling People's Progress Assembly (RPP), namely the presidencies of Hassan Gouled and his successor Ismael Gouleh. Nonetheless, government policy since 1991 has consisted of a series of short-term responses to both external donor pressure (particularly from France) and internal demands (especially during the civil war). The government controls the major sectors of the economy the port facilities, railway, and utilitiesbut there are currently plans for privatization of these enterprises.

In the period from 1991 to 1994, the civil war upset an already limited tax base, and budget controls disappeared as income dwindled. Expenditures rose, causing major deficitsalthough the extent was hidden by irregular accountingand the government built up debts in salary arrears with private creditors.

In 1996 proposed budget cuts caused a general strike and civil unrest, which led to a policy reversal. A more comprehensive package was then drafted in 1996 with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and French help. This culminated in an IMF US$6.2 million standby credit, which started in April 1996, and the resumption of limited French budget assistance. A donor conference in 1997 secured limited funds for reforms, especially for the demobilization of the army after the civil war, which had been the single biggest cause of the budget deficit in recent years.

In the period from 1999 to 2000, the government launched plans for the privatization of all the major utilities (including water, electricity, post, railway, telecommunications, and port facilities). The government also hopes to attract private capital in free-trade zone projects.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

The French first took control of the small coastal settlement of Obock in 1859. The completion of the Franco-Ethiopian railway in 1917 established the town of Djibouti and began a period of economic growth as the port facilities were developed. Djibouti was known as French Somaliland until 1967 when it was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas; it became Djibouti at independence in 1977.

Ethnic tension between the Afars and Somali has always been high. In 1967 the people of Djibouti voted in a referendum to maintain an association with France, despite claims of expulsions of pro-Somali politicians and vote rigging favoring the Afars in the first election supervised by the French. Growing pressure from the Organization for African Unity (OAU) led to the peaceful progression towards independence in 1977, and Hassan Gouled (an Issa) became the first president. Within one month, Somalia and Ethiopia began the Ogaden war, which had severe economic effects for Djibouti since the fighting, ranging over the rail link between Ethiopia and Djibouti, closed rail links to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a year and cut port traffic.

Despite the resignation of 5 Afar members from the cabinet in 1977, the president managed to contain ethnic strife for most of the 1980s. Political stability was maintained through patronage dispensed through the RPP, the sole political party. Despite winning the elections in 1982 and 1987, the government became extremely unpopular in the late 1980s, and there were calls for a multiparty political system. The government's suppression of Afar civil unrest in Djibouti caused an insurgency in the north.

The Afar rebellion, led by former Prime Minister Ahmed Dini, spread rapidly, and 3 rebel groups came together to form the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). However, the government was able to deflect French pressure for compromise, and with Arab funding regained control of the north, defeating the insurgents. The government signed a cosmetic peace accord with the minority group of the now divided rebels in 1994 and gave 2 of its leaders cabinet posts. The presidential adviser Ismail Omar Guelleh consolidated his position during president Gouled's long illness and became president himself in the 1999 election. The change of president is not expected to lead to a change in policy, as Guelleh headed the cabinet for 20 years and has proved ruthless in dealing with opposition. Guelleh has retained most of the previous cabinet, but power essentially lies with him and his personal advisers.

The constitution is largely French in structure, and provides for universal suffrage. The president is elected for a 6-year term and the members of the 65-member Chamber of Deputies for 5-year terms. At the height of the civil war in 1992, a constitution endorsed by a referendum brought in a multiparty system, though it only recognized 4 political parties. However, formal government institutions have been severely disrupted since 1991. The judicial system has been undermined by political pressure, and most actual power resides in the hands of the security services, which are under the direct control of the president.

The 2 opposition parties are divided anddespite large supportthe Party for Democratic Renewal (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) failed to gain any seats in the 1992 or the 1997 elections, mainly due to infighting. In the 1999 presidential election they presented a united candidate, Moussa Ahmed Idriss, who gained a quarter of the votes in a 15 percent voter turnout.

Internationally, Djibouti has remained politically non-aligned, though it has been watchful of its larger neighbors and has been active in promoting the regional developmental organization, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The border dispute in 1998 between Ethiopia and Eritrea brought economic benefit to Djibouti, since most international trade with Ethiopia then had to come through Djibouti's ports. This situation strengthened Djibouti's trade ties with Ethiopia, which have remained strong after the cessation of the border dispute. Djibouti broke off diplomatic links with Eritrea and forged solid links with the ruling Ethiopian party in 1998.

Unrest in neighboring Somalia, which began in 1991, could have been destabilizing for Djibouti, but the establishment of the stable, but unrecognized, Somaliland Republic adjacent to the border has limited the impact. French military presence in the form of a naval base has protected Djibouti from international threats both before and after independence, although French presence is currently being scaled down. Despite having an Arab minority, Djibouti declares itself an Arab state and plays an active role in the Arab League.

Djibouti succeeded in raising 31 percent of the GDP as government revenue in 1997. About 19 percent of this money was raised by income taxes on individuals and corporations, 20 percent from other direct taxes (mostly property taxes), 46 percent by indirect taxes (mostly customs duties ), and 15 percent came from license fees and property sales. Grants received from abroad (mostly from France) are about 3 percent of GDP. Administration made up 41 percent of government recurrent expenditure, 28 percent was spent on defense, education accounted for 12 percent, transfers were 10 percent, 5 percent was spent on health care, and subsidies to state-owned enterprises was 4 percent. Government capital expenditure was about 5 percent of the GDP. Defense spending in 1997 was about twice its normal level as a result of demobilization payments made to reduce the size of the defense forces at the conclusion of the civil war.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Transport in Djibouti is geared towards international trade, with local transport being only of secondary concern. The port facilities are central to the economy. Djibouti's use as a naval base by French, British, Italian, and U.S. fleets that operate in the Gulf may be lucrative but is not a basis for growth. Improved port efficiency was needed for the 1998 increase in Ethiopian trade, with traffic up 333 percent to 1.2 million metric tons. Only 10 percent of the 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles) of roads in Djibouti are paved, and the railway, jointly owned with Ethiopia, is in desperate need of an overhaul.

The capital of Djibouti houses the nation's only international airport, which is serviced by Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, and Yemenia. Several small companies fly to Somalia. Djibouti Air was relaunched in 1997 with private investment and flies to Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The international telephone exchange has a radio link with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, 2 earth satellite stations, and a submarine fiber optic link to Sri Lanka and Europe. Domestic and international telephone exchanges are being restructured to attract foreign investment. There were 8,000 telephone main lines in use in 1997. The country's international telecommunications company offers a range of Internet services. In 1992 Japan provided a TV studio for Djibouti. The only newspaper printed in Djibouti is state-owned.

Energy resources are very limited. The population has no access to trees for wood fuel and must import charcoal and all petroleum products. The Boualos diesel electricity generator is in urgent need of repair, and power cuts are frequent. In 1999 the country produced a total of just 180 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, 100 percent of which was generated from fossil fuels.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Agriculture, though it engaged 75 percent of the working population in 1991, provides very low incomes and generated only 3 percent of the GDP in 1998. Industry contributed some 22 percent of the GDP in 1998 and engaged 11 percent of the working population in 1991. The largest sector by far in terms of contribution to the GDP is the services sector, which accounted for 75 percent of the GDP in 1998 and engaged 14 percent of population in 1991. The services sector is strongly dependent on the reexporting of goods.

AGRICULTURE

Official figures suggest that 75 percent of employment was in agriculture in 1991 and that the sector produced

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Djibouti N/A N/A N/A N/A 742
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Egypt 516 731 890 971 1,146
Eritrea N/A N/A N/A N/A 175
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Djibouti 8,000 203 AM 2; FM 2; shortwave 0 52,000 1 (1998) 28,000 1 1,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Egypt 3,971,500 (1998) 380,000 (1999) AM 42; FM 14; shortwave 3 (1999) 20.5 M 98 (1995) 7.7 M 50 300,000
Eritrea 23,578 (2000) N/A AM 2; FM 1; shortwave 2 (2000) 345,000 1 (2000) 1,000 4 500
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

3 percent of GDP in 1998. These figures are somewhat deceptive in that almost everyone over the age of 10 in the rural areas is considered to be involved in agricultural production, though many of them are not engaged in such work full time. However, this also indicates that incomes in agriculture are very much lower than in the industrial and the service sectors. Given the aridity of the area, barely 6,000 hectares (14,827 acres) can be farmed even with irrigation, though only 500 hectares (1,236 acres) are under permanent cultivation. Crop production is mostly limited to fruit and vegetables. Several market garden plots have been established and are provided with water by 50 wells (18 of which were provided by Saudi Arabia since independence), though many of these wells have fallen into disrepair.

Livestock has always been more important than farming in Djibouti, but animal husbandry is highly susceptible to droughts. Droughts in the 1970s and 1980s cost some of the nomads their entire herds. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the number of animals in Djibouti at 200,000 cattle, 500,000 sheep, 500,000 goats, and 62,000 camels.

Djibouti has a short coastline, but there is an estimated fish catch of 7,000 to 9,000 metric tons per year. Most of the catch is caught by large-scale industrial trawlers, many of which are foreign owned. Only 500 metric tons per year are caught by traditional methods by approximately 140 small vessels. About two-thirds of the fish catch is exported, with Djiboutian fish consumption at 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) per person per year. The fishing port is being upgraded with African Development Bank money to try to raise the catch.

INDUSTRY

No minerals are mined in Djibouti, despite the fact that perlite (on the Ergelaba plateau), limestone, gypsum (located at Ali Sabieh), and high magnesium content diatomites (present at Lake Assal) have been found by surveys. In 1997, a U.S. company received a license to prospect for gold, although it is unclear if deposits exist.

Manufacturing is small, providing only 5 percent of the GDP, with only 13 companies employing more than 10 people in 1989. The most important producers in the industrial sector are the water bottling plant, the dairy plant, the Coca-Cola plant, the flour mill, and the ice factory. All of them closed during the civil war, however, and many remain idle. Privatization of parastatal enterprises is being discussed as part of economic reforms.

Construction has been depressed by low industrial activity and by the fact that most people in Djiboutian towns live in shanty areas, despite some state housing and donor-funded sanitation schemes. The reconstruction of the port and the airports will be major projects in the near future.

SERVICES

The main high-income activities in Djibouti are located in the services sector, in port and transportation services, government administration, and in providing services for the considerable contingent of French troops and their dependents.

The port and transportation services are, however, particularly vulnerable to political developments in the region. The French were aware of the strategic importance of Djiboutilocated at the mouth of the Red Sea and in a position to control access to the Suez Canal when they took possession of the territory in 1859. The importance of Djibouti to France was enhanced when a French company constructed the railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a large country, both in terms of population and geographical area, and the railway through Djibouti was for many years the only practical link Ethiopia had with the coast. When the Italians occupied Ethiopia in 1935, they constructed a road from Asab in Eritrea (an Italian colony) to Addis Ababa, which ended Ethiopia's near total reliance on the railway. This road proved to be a sound strategic move on the part of the Italians since Italy and France found themselves on opposite sides during World War II. The existence of the road led to neglect of the railway, and, in turn, a stagnation of the services provided by the port and the railway. This slow down was exacerbated by the paralysis of the Ethiopian economy under the Marxist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. The demand for Djibouti's port services began to recover with the fall of the Ethiopian Marxist regime in 1991 and the resulting restoration of economic growth and external trading links. When Eritrea became independent in 1993, Ethiopia became landlocked and entirely dependent on surface transport links through either Djibouti or Eritrea. The outbreak of the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1998 led to a complete reliance of Ethiopia on Djibouti, and this business has been a big boost for the Djibouti port and railway sectors. There will undoubtedly be some reconciliation between Eritrea and Ethiopia at some stage in the future, so the task for Djibouti is to establish a level of efficiency in their port and railway services so that they can be competitive with the road link through Asab when Ethiopia eventually resumes use of this route.

Likewise, the income generated by the French troops and their families is dependent on how the French see their role as a world power and, particularly, the nature of their involvement in Africa. The reduction in French forces stationed in Djibouti is a reflection of the reduced emphasis that France is currently placing on its role in Africa.

Djibouti is effectively a city-state; there is little banking outside of the capital. A number of banks have been established in Djibouti, most of which are French-owned or backed. The central bank is the Banque National de Djibouti. The formal retail and wholesale sectors are in private hands, and the role of French companies in the economy is in decline. Since 1997 there has been an increase in Ethiopian business near the port. The potential for tourism in Djibouti has not been exploited.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Merchandise exports, including reexports, were valued at $260 million in 1999, and merchandise imports, including goods for reexport, at $440 million. Excluding the reexport trade, Djibouti exported $16 million of domestically produced goods and imported $24 million of goods for domestic use in 1998. The trade gap is met by the receipts from the port and transport services supplied by Djibouti and the earnings from the presence of French troops.

Locally produced merchandise exports are limited to livestock and hides (21 percent), miscellaneous manufactures (20 percent), and coffee products (11 percent), with all the other exports (48 percent) not classified according to category. The reexports are predominantly coffee from Ethiopia, fish caught by foreign fishing fleets, livestock, meat products and hides from Somalia, and manufactured goods reexported to Ethiopia. The main destinations of domestically produced exports are Somalia (53 percent), Yemen (23 percent), and Ethiopia (5 percent).

Imports for domestic use consist mainly of foods and beverages (39 percent); machinery, metals, and vehicles (20 percent); fuels (13 percent); and qat (13 percent). Qat is a mild but legal stimulant that is chewed. Official trade statistics do not reflect the level of the informal trade with Ethiopia and Somalia, much of which involves the smuggling of qat. In 1998, the main sources of imports for domestic use were France (13 percent), Ethiopia (12 percent), Italy (9 percent), Saudi Arabia (6 percent), the United Kingdom (6 percent), and Japan (4 percent).

MONEY

The Djiboutian franc has been tied to the U.S. dollar since 1973 at Dfr 177.72:US$1, which allows for considerable stability, although the Djiboutian franc has experienced a steady climb against the French franc. Foreign reserves have been steady during the 1990s and stood at $66 million in 1998. Devaluation of the Djiboutian franc seems unlikely in the foreseeable future. The Banque Nationale de Djibouti, the central bank, controls the money supply through the issue of currency and regulates the commercial banks.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Djibouti
Exports Imports
1975 .015 .140
1980 .012 .213
1985 .014 .201
1990 .025 .215
1995 N/A N/A
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Djibouti
Djiboutian francs per US$1
Jan 2001 177.721
2000 177.721
1999 177.721
1998 177.721
1997 177.721
1996 177.721
Note: Djibouti currency has been at a fixed rate since 1973.
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Djibouti N/A N/A N/A N/A 742
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Egypt 516 731 890 971 1,146
Eritrea N/A N/A N/A N/A 175
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Per capita GDP, using the purchasing power parity conversion, was estimated at $1,300 in 2000. There are wide disparities between those who are engaged in modern sector activities in the town of Djibouti and the rest of the population, which mainly consists of shanty-dwellers relying on the informal sector, rural farmers, and nomadic shepherds. Perhaps 80 percent of the people who rely on agriculture for their livelihood are below the US$1 per day poverty line, meaning that approximately 60 percent of the total population live in poverty. Of an estimated labor force of 282,000 in 2000, formal unemployment stands at 50 percent, although many of the unemployed are engaged in informal sector activities

In 1987, government statistics indicated that 66 percent of the population were able to read, but in 1995 a new estimation measured the literacy rate of the population over 15 years of age as 46 percent (males 60 percent; females 33 percent). In the period from 1991 to 1992 there were 33,500 pupils, 66 schools, and 707 teachers in primary education. In 1996, the total enrollment at primary and secondary schools was equivalent to 26 percent of the school-age population. Education is limited primarily to urban areas, where teacher strikes are frequent. There is no university in Djibouti, and technical skills are often found lacking.

Life-expectancy estimates are 49 years for males and 53 years for females in 2001. Infant mortality stands at 102 per 1,000, which marks an improvement from the past but is still a long way from what can be achieved (the U.S. rate is 7 per 1,000). There is a 600-bed hospital in the capital and a 60-bed maternity and pediatric hospital in Balbala. There are 6 medical centers and 21 dispensaries cover the interior of the country. Virtually all medicines can be obtained, but since they must be imported they are expensive. The large prostitute population, attracted by the French troops stationed in Djibouti, leads to a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

WORKING CONDITIONS

The labor force in 1991 was estimated at 282,000. However, 50 percent of the labor force was thought to be unemployed in 2000. Of those who had employment, around 75 percent were engaged in agriculture, almost entirely on small family farms or in family-based cattle herding. The largest single employer in the formal sector is the civil service, with an estimated 10,000 employees. The rest of the state-owned sector (which includes the port, railway, posts, telecommunications, and utilities) employs an estimated 16,000 people. Many people seek work in the government sector since it entails considerable job security, family medical benefits, and a pension. Forced labor is illegal in Djibouti.

There is a social insurance scheme in Djibouti with benefits, which depend on whether the worker is employed in the private sector , the civil service, or the army. Employees receive benefits in case of accidents at work and are allocated retirement pensions after the age of 55 years.

Trade unions and workers can be militant, as was shown in 1996 when proposed budget cuts caused a general strike and civil unrest. The government also has often built up salary arrears that have led to discontent among the workforce.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1859. The French first take possession of the coastal settlement of Obock.

1917. The Franco-Ethiopian railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa is completed.

1977. Djibouti becomes independent. Hassan Ghouled becomes the first president.

1977-1988. The Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia adversely affects Djibouti's economy.

1981. Ghouled is returned as president in an uncontested election.

1987. Ghouled is returned as president in an uncontested election.

1991. Civil war with the Afars commences in the North. The rebel group FRUD is formed.

1992. Multiparty elections under a new constitution return Ghouled and his RPP party.

1994. A peace accord is signed, ending the 3-year uprising by Afar rebels.

1996. Proposed budget cuts cause a general strike and civil unrest.

1997. Multiparty elections return the FRUD-RPP alliance with Ghouled as president.

1998. A border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea leads to an increase in trade through Djibouti.

1999. The successor to Ghouled, Ismael Guelleh, wins the presidential election.

FUTURE TRENDS

The key factors for the Ethiopian economy are the amount of Ethiopian trade passing through the port and the size of the French garrison. Despite the interim settlement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, almost all of Ethiopia's trade still flows through Djibouti, and this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Domestic political pressure to maintain employment levels in the public sector is likely to limit the pace of economic reform through privatization, despite IMF pressure. Delegation visits by the IMF have not resolved concerns over the lack of financial transparency and the poor availability of data, and this will impair the prospects for financial assistance from the donor community. The economy is not expected to show much significant growth in the near future, with the expansion of the use of port facilities by Ethiopia being offset by the scaling-down of the presence of French troops.

In politics, Guelleh received praise for having convened the Somali peace conference. Full relations have been restored with Eritrea, and there is now the prospect of more stable relations in the area. If peace comes to Somalia, it will reduce tensions caused by the influx of Somali refugees as the refugees begin to return home.

DEPENDENCIES

Djibouti has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Djibouti and the IMF." International Monetary Fund. <http://www.imf.org/external/country/DJI/index.htm>. Accessed October 2001.

"Djibouti: Economy." NewAfrica.com. <http://www.newafrica.com/profiles/economy.asp?countryid=18>. Accessed September 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Djibouti. London, England, 2001.

Hodd, M. "Djibouti." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot, England: Dartmouth Publications, 1991.

Ministére de l'Economie, des Finances et de la Planification Chargé de la Privatisation. <http://www.mefpp.org>. Accessed October 2001.

République de Djibouti. <http://www.republique-djibouti.com>.Accessed October 2001.

Tholomier, Robert. Djibouti, Pawn of the Horn of Africa. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Djibouti, March 1996. <http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/bgnotes/ef/djibouti9603.html>. Accessed October 2001.

Michael Hodd

CAPITAL:

Djibouti.

MONETARY UNIT:

Djiboutian franc (Dfr). One Djiboutian franc equals 100 centimes. There are notes of 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 francs and coins of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 francs. Since 1973 the Djiboutian franc has been tied to the U.S. dollar at a rate of Dfr177.72:US$1.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Reexports, hides and skins, and coffee (in transit).

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Foods, beverages, transport equipment, chemicals, and petroleum products.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$574 million (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$260 million (1999 est.). Imports: US$440 million (1999 est.).

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Djibouti

DJIBOUTI

Republic of Djibouti

Major City:
Djibouti

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated December 1996. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

DJIBOUTI , a tiny city-state tucked between Ethiopia and Somalia, has been one of Africa's most stable and secure nations since gaining its independence from France in 1977. It was known for nearly a century as French Somaliland, and briefly as the French Territory of the Afars and Issas. A large percentage of its population of 560,000 is nomadic, herding in the country's harsh, stony desert and low, barren hills.

Djibouti is a nation with an open societya crossroads where Africa, the Middle East and, in many ways, Europe meet. Its Afro-Arab culture is spiced with post-colonial French influence. It has been said that Djibouti is "the set from Casablanca, the geography of Death Valley, the cast of Beau Geste, and the spirit of a Graham Greene or Joseph Conrad novel."

MAJOR CITY

Djibouti

The city of Djibouti, capital of the republic and largest city in the country, is built on three coral islands, joined by filled-in causeways, on the Gulf of Aden. The influence is more Arab and Muslim than African, but the people are a mixture of races from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Djibouti's town population is about 493,000. A large French colony exists here, and many stores are owned and operated by European merchants. Sizable numbers of Arabs and Yemenis, and some Indians, also have similar businesses in the capital.

The local markets are colorful, but neither large nor clean. Since Djibouti is a port city, almost anything can be found in the stores or markets. Items are imported from India, Thailand, Burma, Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, Eastern and Western Europe, and the United States.

The architecture is old-style French colonial/tropical, and the spacious, older houses are built for hot weather, with excellent cross ventilation. The newer homes are smaller and many have air conditioning.

Westerners find that living in Djibouti can be comfortable, however quiet the pace. In addition to the United States, other countries are represented in the capital, including the People's Republic of China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Education

French-speaking education is available in French-or Djiboutian-run schools from kindergarten through high school. All curricula follow the French system, and no English-language schools exist. No special educational opportunities, such as universities and museums, are available.

A knowledge of French is essential in Djibouti. Those who speak Arabic or Amharic are able to use those languages in most non-European situations.

Recreation

The life-style in Djibouti is gentle and informal, although social life can be busy. Activities tend to revolve around home and family, plus boating, beach outings, or safaris to the interior. Some culture shock may be experienced upon arrival, but usually this is temporary. The torrid climate also necessitates a period of adjustment.

The majority of Americans live an outdoor life of tennis, swimming, and snorkeling; some are members of the Cercle Hippique (riding club).

Djibouti has only a few pools, but beaches are plentiful, fairly clean (outside the city proper), and enjoyable. Diving and snorkeling are popular sports; the coral and fish are spectacular. It is important to provide one's own equipment for these activities; a small air compressor for divers is useful, as local ones do not always function properly.

Deep-sea and surf fishing, water-skiing, and wind surfing also are possible. The use of small sailboats is limited to the October-through-May season.

The Club des Cheminots provides judo, karate, and gymnastic classes. The Club Hippique in Ambouli offers horseback riding, but all equipment should be brought from home as it is expensive locally. Jodhpurs should be washable and lightweight.

Djibouti's landscape offers excellent photography subjects. Permission to photograph people must be obtained beforehand, and this usually requires a monetary payment. Cameras and film are available, but processing must be done in Europe or the U.S.

Bird-watchers find the limited species interesting. From August through May, water birds can be seen on their southward and northward migrations.

Weekend trips can be arranged to the Forest of Day, Lake Assal, Lake Abbe, and Ardoukoba (the volcano which erupted in 1978).

Entertainment

The French Cultural Center sponsors monthly concerts, legitimate theater, dance (ballet and modern), and has an extensive French book and film library. Several open-air cinemas show French-language films.

Almost all entertaining is done at home. Several good restaurants in the city serve French and Chinese food.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Republic of Djibouti is situated in the Horn of Africa on the continent's east coast. It encompasses 8,400 square miles (21,883 square kilometers), and is about the size of Massachusetts. It is bordered on the north and west by Ethiopia, on the south by Somalia, and on the east by the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti shares with Ethiopia and the Republic of Yemen direct access to the strategic strait of Bab el Mandab ("Gate of Tears"), which controls the southern approach to the Red Sea.

The capital city of Djibouti is a verdant oasis in an area of dry water-sheds composed of low hills and rough, torrid desert. To the north of the Gulf of Tadjoura, the terrain is more varied, with a large desert region rising to Mount Mousa Ali, at 3,600 feet the highest point in the country. Also to the north is the Forest of Day, a national park on Mount Goda. In the last vestige of the forest which once covered the area, several rare species of plants, trees, and birds may be found. About 80 miles west of the capital is Lake Assal, a unique natural phenomenon over 500 feet below sea level. This salt lake is the lowest point on the African continent, and the second lowest point on earth (after the Dead Sea, which is 1,296 feet below sea level).

In addition to the city of Djibouti, the country has four provincial capitals: OBOCK, TADJOURA, DIKHIL , and ALI SABIEH. These centers provide the focal points for the nomads who herd in the country's barren interior.

Because of its peculiar geographical location between the Ethiopian and Yemeni escarpments, Djibouti gets little precipitation. Occasional rains occur mostly in the hills of the interior, but the average rainfall is only five to 10 inches; some years are rainless.

Djibouti sits astride the East Africa, Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden rift systems, providing a singular environment for studying movements of these three tectonic plates. The location also provides an abundance of earthquake, volcanic, and geo-thermal activity. More than 600 tremors are recorded every year, but few are strong enough to be felt.

Djibouti's hot season is from May through September, when temperatures range from 100°F to over 120°F. During this period come the hot, sandy winds of the northeastern Kahm Sin. The cooler season lasts from October through April, providing refreshing breezes and temperatures that dip into the 80's. Humidity is high throughout the year.

Population

Djibouti has an estimated population of 455,000. Of these, two-thirds live in or around the capital. Unlike most other African countries, the nation is inhabited by only two major cultural groups, the Somali Issas and the Afars. Arabs comprise less than five percent of the population.

Little is known about the area's original inhabitants. Archaeological investigations in the west and north confirm settlement of this zone by Oromo and other Cushitic peoples now dwelling in Ethiopia. The Oromo are thought to have been known to early Greek and Egyptian voyagers in the Red Sea area about the time of Christ. The development of Islamic communities in the lowlands of Cape Horn is well documented, and this area probably provided troops to the many conflicts between the Islamic lowlands and the Christian highlands of Ethiopia.

Nearly all of the geographical names in Djibouti are of Afar origin, suggesting their longtime presence in the region. Somali ethnic expansion into the Horn has been the subject of many studies, but there is scanty information about the confrontation between the Afars and the Somali groups spreading north into the territory around Djibouti. Historians are certain that the arrival of foreigners (Turks, Egyptians, British, French, and Italians) caused greater population movements in the interior.

Djiboutians are heir to a strong tradition of individuality, independence, and hospitality. They are known for their friendliness to Westerners in their midst. Djibouti City is one of the less crime-prone capitals of Africa.

Government

On May 8, 1977, the people of the French Territory of the Afars and Issas voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence; seven weeks later, on June 27, the Republic of Djibouti was born.

The National Assembly has 65 elected members and, with few exceptions, ministers are chosen from these elected representatives.

A new 1992 constitution provided for multiparty politics. In 1999, Ismail Omar Guellah was elected to a 6 year term as president.

As a result of a defense agreement made with France during the transition from territory to republic, Djibouti hosts some 3,200 French military personnel, including the Foreign Legion. The French also have assumed responsibility for creating a national army. Djibouti's navy and air force are small, but efficient.

The flag of Djibouti consists of blue and green horizontal bands with a white triangle enclosing a red star at the upper left.

Commerce and Industry

Most of the country's commerce centers around the maritime and commercial activities of the Port of Djibouti; the international airport, Djibouti-d'Amboulie; and the railroad, Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Djibouti-Ethiopien, which is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The railroad did not function during the Ethiopia-Somalia War of 1977-78, but has since reopened. This line handles a significant portion of Ethiopia's import and export trade.

Services and commerce, mainly because of the substantial French military presence in Djibouti, account for most of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The greatest part of the country is desert, with virtually no arable land. Only about 200 acres are under cultivation. Agriculture accounts for only three percent of GDP. Crop production is limited to mostly fruits and vegetables. Djibouti's industrial capacity is limited to a few small-scale enterprises, such as dairy products and mineral-water bottling. Mineral deposits are extremely limited. However, considerable potential exists for using geo-thermal energy. The country is heavily dependent on foreign aid to finance projects.

The Chambre Internationale de Commerce et d'Industrie is located at place Lagarde, B.P. 84, Djibouti; telephone: 351070.

Transportation

Djibouti is linked to Europe by several Air France flights per week to Paris. Flights are also available to Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa (Ethiopia), Jeddah, Sanaa, Taiz (Yemen), Reunion, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Dubai, and Cairo.

Slow but inexpensive rail travel is available between Djibouti and Addis Ababa. Rail travel suffers from overcrowding, lack of travel support infrastructure en route, and the potential for banditry.

Most Americans in the area have private vehicles, which can be imported duty free. Registration is standard, and a driving permit easy to arrange. Traffic moves on the right. The best service facilities are for Toyota, Daihatsu, Isuzu, Peugeot, Renault, and Suzuki. It is advisable to choose a light-colored car (to reflect sunlight) with air-conditioning and complete rustproofing. Local laws require yellow headlights. Standard-drive autos are adequate for city driving; four-wheel-drive vehicles are used only for cross-country trekking. It is an advantage to use diesel fuel because of the high price of gasoline in the country.

In the capital, inexpensive bus and taxi services are available, but are often in poor condition and driven erratically. Taxi fares are controlled, and rates are posted in the vehicles.

Communications

The telephone system in Djibouti City functions reasonably well and is reliable. Long-distance calls are via a satellite system to France. Direct-dial service to the U.S. has recently been made available, although rates are about three times as high as for calls initiated in the U.S. Outside of Djibouti City, there are few telephones. An international radio telephone service connects Djibouti with Europe.

Domestic and international telegraph service usually is dependable. All airmail letters should be sent through U.S. Department of State facilities. Letters from the U.S. can take up to two weeks or longer to reach Djibouti; mail from Djibouti to the U.S. requires about six days for delivery.

Television and radio programs are broadcast by the government station, Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD). There are 24 hours of radio and seven hours of television daily; TV news is given in French, Afar, Somali, and Arabic, and usually is followed by a feature film, nature program, documentary, or sports program. Many expatriates have VCR's. The U.S. Embassy has a video club which purchases current films and keeps a well-stocked library in both VHS and Beta format.

Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) can be received on shortwave radio. A set that operates on both AC and batteries is useful.

Time, Newsweek, and the International Herald Tribune arrive from Europe. French newspapers, magazines, and books are readily available.

Health

Djibouti has no major infectious diseases. Routine immunizations currently are required for cholera and yellow fever for persons arriving from affected areas. Endemic diseases in the country include extensive polio, tuberculosis, and hepatitis A, but these maladies are due to diet and social circumstances and present little danger to Americans.

Because the tap water is brackish in Djibouti, Americans and Europeans use bottled mineral water for drinking, ice cubes, coffee, and tea. Unpeelable fruits and vegetables should be soaked in a chlorine solution.

Persons arriving here from a temperate climate require adjustment to the intense heat. More rest, fluids, and salt intake are needed; copious amounts of water prevent kidney stones and other medical problems.

Once infected, any wound heals slowly. Bites, scratches, or other skin penetrations require prompt treatment to prevent infection.

Prescription drugs and personal medical supplies for which there is no substitution should be brought to Djibouti; French pharmacies are adequate, but their supplies differ from those in the U.S. Prescription glasses should be brought in pairs. Strong sunglasses are essential for everyone.

Clothing and Services

Washable, lightweight clothing is the only practical attire for Djibouti. Adequate dry cleaning is available, but expensive. Clothing wears out quickly from frequent washing; shoes also have a short life in the hot climate. A few articles of warmer clothing (sweaters or shawls, a cotton jacket, a tropical suit) are useful for the cooler season or for travel; neighboring Arta, for instance, is cool at an altitude of 1,200 feet. French-made clothing can be bought in the city at high prices.

Informality is the rule in Djibouti. Suits are seldom worn, even for formal evening functions; slacks and sport shirts are standard for men, and cotton dresses and sandals for women. Women find that both long and short style dresses are popular for special functions. Nylon hosiery is never worn. Every family member needs sports clothes and bathing attire, and a hat (either straw or cloth) for protection from the sun.

Djibouti Muslims do not practice widely the custom of purdah. The severe restrictions on women's dress and employment opportunities, evident elsewhere in the Arab world, are not observed here. Common sense and good taste are, however, in order.

Children's clothing should be lightweight. Bring a generous supply of underclothes, jeans, long-and short-sleeved polo shirts, and a few sweaters. Small children wear a minimum of clothing during the hottest months, often only shorts. Several pairs of sandals are needed; sneakers or jellies (rubber sandals) are used for swimming and for walking across hot sand. Shoes can be found locally, but are expensive.

Despite all these admonitions, the climate in Djibouti is reasonably comfortable for most of the year (October through May).

Most services are available, although they can be either expensive or rudimentary. In Djibouti City, there are several beauty and barber shops. The best European salon provides good service, but prices are high. Appointments are required.

Tailoring and dressmaking is fair. Dry cleaning is available, but expensive.

Domestic Help

Domestics are not highly trained and their salaries are high by African standards. Night guards will also water gardens while they are on duty.

It is advisable, if possible, to hire a domestic who has worked for other Americans. Frequent supervision in the kitchen and throughout the house is necessary, and personal cleanliness should be stressed. Some families provide towels and soap for their domestics for use before starting the day's work and before serving food.

In addition to salaries, the employer provides the necessary uniforms (white) and pays into the local social security system which includes medical care. All employees are entitled to one month's paid vacation each year. Depending on length of service, either notice or severance pay is required before termination of employment. A fifteen-day trial period is imposed, during which time there is no obligation on the part of the employer or employee.

Domestics should sign for all money received and employers should keep receipts in order to avoid disputes.

All domestics should have medical examinations prior to employment to screen out the possibility of tuberculosis.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

European air connections for Djibouti can be made in Paris, Marseilles, and Nice.

Visas are required. Proof of yellow fever and cholera immunization must be submitted by persons arriving from infected areas.

Pets are not quarantined, but must have valid health certificates and documentation of rabies inoculation. Veterinarian care in Djibouti is intermittent and of varying quality. Dogs are considered filthy by Muslims. It should be well noted that Djiboutians will not touch dogs; few dogs are seen, and no rabies exists in the country.

In the capital, masses in French are conducted at the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Saturday and Sunday evenings (Sunday is a regular work-day). English-language Catholic mass is celebrated on alternate Fridays. A French-language Protestant church has Sunday evening services. The Red Sea Mission conducts ecumenical services in English on Sunday mornings. There is no provision for Jewish worship.

The time in Djibouti is Greenwich Mean Time plus three.

The official currency is the Djibouti franc (DF). Among the capital's several banks, all providing good facilities, are: Banque de l'Indochine et de Suez, Mer Rouge; Banque pour le Commerce et l'Industrie, Mer Rouge; the British Bank of the Middle East; Commercial and Savings Bank of Somalia; Bank of Credit and Commerce International; and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

May 1Labor Day

June 27 & 28 Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

Id al-Adha*

Hijra New Year*

Mawlid an Nabi*

Lailat al-Miraj (Ascension of the Prophet Mohamed)*

Ramadan*

Id al-Fitr*

*variable, based on the Islamic calendar

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Countries of the World 1993. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.

Africa South of the Sahara 1992. London: Europa Publications, 1991.

Tholomier, Robert. "Djibouti, New Nation on Africa's Horn." National Geographic, October 1978.

Thompson, Virginia and Richard Adloff. Djibouti: Pawn of the Horn of Africa. (trans.) Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Djibouti
Region: Africa
Population: 451,442
Language(s): French, Arabic, Somali, Afar
Literacy Rate: 46.2%
Academic Year: September-June
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 8.1%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 8,982
Libraries: 892
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 328,875
  Secondary: 444,682
  Higher: 174,975
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 101%
  Secondary: 121%
  Higher: 48%
Teachers: Primary: 33,100
  Secondary: 50,100
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 10:1
  Secondary: 9:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 101%
  Secondary: 122%
  Higher: 53%


The Republic of Djibouti, a country of about 500,000 people, is situated on the northeastern coast of Africa, bordered by Somalia in the south, Ethiopia in the west, and Eritrea in the north. Until 1967 it was called French Somaliland by France, the colonial power that owned this small piece of land since the late 1800s when the European nations divided up the map of Africa between them. An extremely poor, hot, desert territory, its main significance lies in its strategic location on the western shore of the Gulf of Aden at the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, linking the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. After 1967 the territory was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and Issas, after the Ethiopian Afars and the Somali Issas, the two largely nomadic ethnic groups that make up the majority of the population. On June 27, 1977, the country gained independence from France and became the nation of Djibouti. The capital is also called Djibouti.

In 2001, the country's economy was based almost entirely on the port and on the railroad that links it with Addis Ababa in neighboring Ethiopia, making it a major source of Ethiopian trade. The official languages of Djibouti are Arabic and French; most of the people speak Afar or Somali though. Radio and television stations broadcast in French, Arabic, Somali, and Afar. Because of a defense agreement with the former colonial power, Djibouti hosts more than 3,000 French military personnel, including the Foreign Legion.

Traditionally, education in Djibouti, a largely Islamic country and the first in Africa to adopt this religion, is the domain of the Koranic schools where tuition is in Arabic. Koranic, community-based preschools are especially abundant; here children learn the Holy Koran, reading, writing, religious instruction, Islam, and how to perform prayers. These preschools, usually run by a sheikh and staffed by preschool teachers characterized by good memory, honesty, modesty and total dedication to their mission, do not necessarily emphasize skill-oriented activities. Private preschools serve less than 500 children, or 0.3 percent of the population (0 to 6 years of age). Tuition fees of about $1,000 a year are out of the reach of any but the most affluent parents.

Western education first arrived in Djibouti when Roman Catholic missionaries opened a school in 1884.

After World War II, state schools became increasingly popular. In 1964 Koranic instruction became part of the curriculum even in state schools and, by the end of the 1970s, enrollment in primary schools rose from approximately 1,100 pupils shortly after World War II to 13,740. Primary school attendance is compulsory and free; however, Djibouti struggles, as do many other African countries, with impossible demands made by the international banking community that the foreign debt be serviced even if this means the disintegration of health and education services and the consequent destruction of the futures of millions of children. Thus, the government does not monitor compliance with compulsory school attendance policy, and many of the schools are in poor condition and need upgrading. Most secondary schools are in the larger centers and the number of classrooms for secondary students is inadequate. Approximately 20 percent of children who start secondary school complete their education. Less than 50 percent of the population can read and write. Approximately 32 percent of girls are literate, as compared with 60 percent of boys; 62 percent of girls attend primary school compared with 73 percent of boys; and 23 percent of girls attend secondary school compared with 33 percent of boys. Overall, girls make up 36 percent of all secondary students. In 1998 the government committed itself to increasing the number of female students in the educational system to 50 percent. Significant progress has been made toward this goal in the primary grades.

At the end of 1999, the Ministry of Education held a national week-long symposium on education policy. Representatives of the education profession, parents, students, and other parties interested in revitalizing education attended this meeting. The people's and the government's obvious will and commitment to education will only be successful if the international community accepts co-responsibility.

The proud and free nomadic people who live in the interior of Djibouti are not yet fully integrated into the country's educational system. Ways are being sought to provide a basic education to these people, who are totally unimpressed with modern ways. Some, in fact, regard someone who "goes to town" as a person who doesn't want to take responsibility for his/her community. One of the possibilities suggested is that teachers would be found, perhaps from their midst, who would travel with the community and so provide an education that would give the children a wider choice in the future.

The school year runs from September to June and the language of instruction is French in public and Catholic schools and Arabic in Koranic schools. A Teachers' Training College offers two-year training programs. Since 1990 the British Council English Language Project for Teachers has conducted a program to help indigenous teachers of English in secondary schools become more competent in the teaching of English. Through independent study units, set texts, and face-to-face workshops, courses in teaching English language methods are conducted.

On October 14, 2000, in time for the beginning of the 2000-2001 academic year, Pôle Universitaire de Djibouti, Djibouti's new university, opened its doors to its first students. Initially, courses in the arts will be offered, but there were plans to expand the academic curriculum in the near future. The language of instruction is French.

Djibouti's education expenditure is 2.5 percent of the Gross National Product. Newspapers, books, and magazines, mainly in French, are expensive and not readily available except to those affiliated with the international embassies.

Djibouti hosts approximately 100,000 refugees, illegal immigrants, and displaced persons, about one-fifth of the population, from Ethiopia and Somalia, the two countries on its borders wracked by civil war, drought, and famine. As members of the larger community, they share in the health and education services of the country. However, the sheer number of people moving into Djibouti places a heavy burden on the already fragile economy. Several agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the International Labor Office based in Geneva, Switzerland, have started educational programs to help especially refugee women who, often without their men to help them take care of their children, need to see to the daily needs of their families. Vocational training centers that provide auto-mechanics and electrical installation for males and handicraft and tailoring for females attempt to ease dependence on outside aid and offer limited opportunities for gainful employment.


Karin I. Paasche

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Djibouti

Djibouti

Official name: Republic of Djibouti

Area: 22,000 square kilometers (8,494 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Moussa Ali (2,028 meters/6,654 feet)

Lowest point on land: Lac Assal (155 meters/509 feet below sea level)

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 3 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 213 kilometers (132 miles) from northeast to southwest; 155 kilometers (96 miles) from southeast to northwest

Land boundaries: 508 kilometers (316 miles) total boundary length; Eritrea 113 kilometers (70 miles); Somalia 58 kilometers (36 miles); Ethiopia 337 kilometers (209 miles)

Coastline: 314 kilometers (195 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Located on the coast of the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is one of the continent's smallest countries. With an area of 22,000 square kilometers (8,494 square miles), it is about the same size as El Salvador, and only about one-sixth as large as England. Because of its location at the southern entryway to the Red Sea, however, the country has a strategic importance that is out of proportion to its small size.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Djibouti claims no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The climate is dry and torrid (very hot). The hot, dry hamsin wind increases the already-blistering summer temperatures, which can rise as high as 45°C (113°F). Rainfall is infrequent, averaging less than 13 centimeters (5 inches) annually.

Season Months Average high temperature: °Celsius (°Fahrenheit
Summer May to September 37°C (99°F)
Winter October to April 31°C (87°F)

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Djibouti can be divided into three major geographic regions: a coastal plain, mountains behind the plain, and a plateau behind the mountains.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Djibouti lies just south of the entryway to the Red Sea.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

Djibouti's coast is fringed by picturesque coral reefs.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Djibouti's eastern shore forms most of the west bank of the Strait of Mandab (Bab al Mandab), which connects the Gulf of Aden to the south and the Red Sea to the north. The coastline is deeply indented south of Cape Bir to form the Gulf of Tadjoura, which is 45 kilometers (28 miles) wide at its entrance and penetrates 58 kilometers (36 miles) inland, bisecting the eastern part of the country.

Islands and Archipelagos

There are no islands associated with Djibouti.

Coastal Features

An important deepwater port at the capital city of Djibouti receives ships sailing from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Much of the coastline consists of white, sandy beaches.

6 INLAND LAKES

The desert terrain of Djibouti is broken in places by salt lakes. The largest of these is Lac Assal; at 155 meters (509 feet) below sea level, it is the lowest point in Africa and the second-lowest elevation in the world. It is also the world's saltiest body of water, with a concentration surpassing even that of the Dead Sea. Its water reaches temperatures of up to 57°C (135°F) in the summer.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

There are no permanent inland watercourses and very little groundwater of any kind.

8 DESERTS

About 90 percent of Djibouti's terrain is flat, barren desert land made up of volcanic rock. Vegetation, which is minimal, includes scrub and palm trees.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Most of Djibouti's fertile, irrigated coastal plain lies at elevations below 200 meters (650 feet).

DID YOU KNOW?

The intense summertime heat in Djibouti once led travelers to call it "the Hell of Africa" and inspired the Somali proverb: "Before crossing this country, even the jackal writes his will."

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Rugged mountain peaks of volcanic origin in the northern part of the country reach average heights of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). These include Moussa Ali, the country's highest summit, in the northeastern corner of the country, and the Mabla Mountains north of the Gulf of Tadjoura.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are no significant caves or canyons in Djibouti.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Djibouti's plateau regions rise from 300 to 1,500 meters (1,000 to 5,000 feet).

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

There are no man-made features affecting the geography of Djibouti.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Gordon, Frances Linzee. Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 2000.

Saint Viran, Robert. Djibouti, Pawn of the Horn of Africa. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

Periodicals

"Tiny Djibouti's Port Is Thriving as Neighbors' Problems Continue." The Wall Street Journal, Oct 16, 2000.

Web Sites

Mbendi profile. http://www.mbendi.co.za/land/af/dj/p0005.htm (accessed June 27, 2003).

University of Pennsylvania African Studies Web site. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Country_Specific/Djibouti.html (accessed March 12, 2003).

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Djibouti

Djibouti

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Djibouti
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 460,700
Language(s): French, Arabic, Somali, Afar
Literacy rate: 46.2%

Despite an urbanized context that might be expected to foster a thriving press, media activity is in fact not extensive in the tiny Republic of DjiboutiRépublic de Djibouti (French), Jumhuriyah Djibouti (Arabic) formerly French Somaliland. Constraining influences are a low literacy rate, little available advanced education, high unemployment, and the ongoing historical patterns of a socially and politically closed society.

The country has a strategic location near oil reserves on the shipping lane linking the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. Independence came in 1977, and a 1992 constitution provided for limited multiparty elections. A late-1994 peace accord ended a three-year uprising by Afar rebels.

The country, with barren terrain covering about 9,000 square miles, is over eighty percent urban, with most people living in the capital, Djibouti, a commercially active center serviced by several international airlines. French aid bolsters the economy, and unemployment is high.

The estimated population in the year 2000 was 460,700. Adult literacy in 1995 was 46.2 percent, with the literacy rate for men about twice as high as that for women. Students at institutions of higher education numbered 130.

French and Arabic are the official languages. The use of Somali and Afar as native tongues reflects the ethnic backgrounds of the populace, which is ninety-four percent Muslim.

Newspapers include La Nation de Djibouti, a pro-government weekly, and Carrefour Africain, a Roman Catholic publication issued twice a month. Circulation numbers are low.

The local news agency is Agence Djiboutienne de Press (ADP). Agence France-Presse also has an office in Djibouti.

The state-run Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti broadcasts in French, Somali, Afar, and Arabic. In 1998, citizens owned about 53,000 radios and 29,000 television sets; the one television transmitter in Djibouti was at that time on the air for thirty-five hours a week.

By 1995, about 1000 personal computers were in use, and figures for the year 2000 showed about 1000 Internet users.

Bibliography

Banks, Arthur S., and Thomas C. Muller, ed. Political Handbook of the World, 1999. Binghamton, NY: CSA Publications, 1999.

Turner, Barry, ed. The Statesman's Yearbook: The Politics, Cultures, and Economies of the World, 2000. 136th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2002.

New York: World Almanac Books, 2002.

Roy Neil Graves

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Djibouti (city, Republic of Djibouti)

Djibouti (jēbōōtē´), town (1995 est. pop. 383,000), capital of the Republic of Djibouti, a port on the Gulf of Tadjoura (an inlet of the Gulf of Aden). It is the nation's only sizable town and its administrative center. Its importance results from the large transit trade it enjoys as a terminus of the railroad from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to the sea and from its strategic position near the shipping lanes that carry the Suez Canal traffic. Activity at its port declined when the Suez Canal was closed (1967–75) after the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. Its rail lines were severely damaged by bombing during the Ethiopian civil war in 1977. The only important industry is the production of salt from the sea. There is a camel market in the town. Djibouti was founded by the French c.1888 and became the capital of French Somaliland in 1892. There was severe rioting in Djibouti in 1967 after the territory voted to retain its ties with France.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

Culture Name

Djiboutian

Orientation

Identification. Djibouti is in northeast Africa, on the Red Sea coast, bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The country was created by France in the late nineteenth century during the colonial scramble for Africa. In 1977, it became independent after having been a protectorate and colony for more than a century. Djibouti had no identity as a state or national unit before 1859, when the French concluded a treaty with the local Afar sultan of Obock.

The two dominant ethnic groupsthe Issa-Somali and the Afarhave opposed each other on critical occasions, but a minimal shared identity and national consciousness have emerged, buttressed by social and cultural similarities between originally nomadic-pastoral populations that speak related languages, adhere to Islam, and share a way of life. The wealth brought by Djibouti's seaports unite the inhabitants, who share the idea of being an island of relative stability in a volatile region. While the nation has experienced political turbulence and active armed rebellion, there has never been a prolonged civil war. Compromise has shaped its political life. In international and regional affairs, Djibouti tries to avoid being a pawn of the neighboring countries and maintains an independent position.

Location and Geography. Djibouti lies in a hot, arid area of the Horn of Africa. Its area is 8,960 square miles (23,200 square kilometers). The soil is rocky and sandy and lies on volcanic layers. In the hot and humid climate, rainfall is very low. Most of the soil is not suitable for agriculture, and only about 10 percent is used as pasture. The vegetation consists mainly of desert shrubs and acacia trees. There are only a few patches of perennial forest. The traditional mode of life was nomadic pastoralism, in which state borders were not recognized. Fishing in the Red Sea provides a limited source of income; horticulture is possible only on a small scale.

The Bay of Tadjoura cuts into the country from the Gulf of Aden. The terrain is mainly a desertlike plain with some intermediate mountain ranges near Arta and the eastern border. There is one active volcano. There are seasonal streams that flow toward the sea or into the two salt lakes. Apart from Djibouti City, the capital and large urban center, there are a few small towns: Tadjoura, Obock, Dikhil, Ali Sabieh, and Yoboki.

Demography. The population in 1999 was estimated at about 640,000. It is ethnically diverse, and there are significant numbers of expatriates, including Europeans (mainly French) and Arabs (mainly Yemenis). There is a sizable community of Ethiopians and refugees from Eritrea and Somalia. More than half the population lives in Djibouti City.

Linguistic Affiliation. The main indigenous languages are Afar and Issa-Somali, both of which belong to the Cushitic language group. The official national languages are French, which is used in education and administration, and Arabic, which is spoken by Yemeni and other Arab immigrants.

Symbolism. The coat of arms shows two bent olive branches within which a traditional round shield is pictured over a vertical Somali spear topped with a red star and flanked by two Afar daggers to the left and right. It symbolizes the ideal of coexistence of the two dominant communities. The flag is a tricolor with blue, white, and green fields and a red star on the triangular white field on the left.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Politics has been dominated by the complex relations between the Issa-Somali and the Afar. Before the colonial era, they were nomadic pastoralists and traders and were politically highly organized but had no state-forming tradition. The Afar had chiefdoms and four sultanates. When the French arrived, about 75 percent of the territory was inhabited by Afar nomads. The Issa had a decentralized political organization based on clan loyalty, although the ruler of Zeila, a trading center on the Somali coast, had great influence over them. The number of Issa and Gadabursi (the third largest group, also Somali) grew steadily in the twentieth century because of immigration from Somalia. The Isaak Somali (about 13 percent of the population) also originated in Somalia.

Before independence, the French alternatively promoted the Issa and the Afar; that divisive policy contributed to postcolonial conflicts.

France created Djibouti as a colony and super-imposed a centralist state structure on local pastoral societies. More than two-thirds of the territory traditionally belonged to Afar sultanates, and the remaining southern slice was controlled by Issa nomadic herders. Djibouti as a nation derives its identity from its strategic location and the economic importance of the port. A political crisis occurred with the 1991 armed rebellion of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), a largely Afar movement that conquered a major part of the country. This crisis pressured the government into opening the political system and holding multiparty elections in 1992. After the elections, a military crackdown was followed by an accommodative policy in which the FRUD was persuaded to join mainstream politics and abandon violence.

National Identity. Djibouti's identity as a nation is a compromise between the political and social aspirations of two communities that have created a social contract within the context of the state that allows them to maintain their independence.

The new President, Ismail Omar Guelleh, who has been in office since 1999, supports economic integration with Ethiopia and has hinted at favoring economic federation with that country.

Ethnic Relations. Though closely related culturally and linguistically, the Afar and the Somali-speaking groups (especially the Issa) have been rivals for power and access to resources. This tension exploded into open armed conflict in the 1990s. After a military campaign to quell the Afar revolt, the government opted for a policy of compromise without endangering Issa dominance, and a full-scale "ethnicization" of politics was averted. There is also tension between the settled population and newcomers (Gadabursi, Isaak, and refugees), which occasionally turns into open conflict.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Djibouti has no tradition of urban architecture. The indigenous architecture of earlier centuries is found in the capitals of the sultanates of Raheita and Tadjoura, with their old mosques and town centers. Djibouti City was designed by French town planners with a grid street plan and government institutions placed close to each other in the center. The town grew fast, with new neighborhoods added in a less planned fashion. There is a camel market on the outskirts.

In the urban culture, traditional social and cultural features of the indigenous populations tend to fuse and create new forms. In the countryside, the herders' seasonal migrations and transborder crossings of Afar, Issa, and Gadabursi pastoralists show the mobility and free use of space necessary for the survival of humans and herds. These people have huts and furniture that can be easily packed and moved.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Dairy products and meat from the herds are the traditional foods, along with grain dishes. In the cities, the diet is influenced by Italian and other European foods. A notable feature of the diet is the consumption of the light narcotic leaf qat, which is imported from Ethiopia. Qat is consumed recreationally by virtually all men, preferably after lunch, when government offices and work come to a standstill in the midday heat.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Qat is used in religious services, allegedly because it enhances concentration, delays sleep, and mutes the appetite.

Basic Economy. Djibouti is a poor but developing country that is dependent on the expanding port and services sector. The economy is unbalanced, with only rudimentary agriculture and a declining livestock economy, but most people still maintain herds and work in agriculture. Infrastructure and communications, except around the port and in the capital, are underdeveloped. Unemployment, poverty, and social insecurity are rampant, especially in the countryside and the working-class neighborhoods in Djibouti City. The government receives subsidies from Arab oil countries and France for balance of payments support and development projects. There is a growing banking and insurance sector, and the telecommunications sector is the best in the region. The currency used is the Djibouti franc.

Land Tenure and Property. Although the government holds most of the land, urban land can be owned privately. Nomadic pastoralists control their traditional pasture areas through customary rights.

Commercial Activities. Djibouti is a free-trade zone. Port activity and related services dwarf other commercial activities, but there is also a small tourist industry. The expenditures of the French army are substantial. Prostitution in Djibouti City is a big business.

Major Industries. The industrial sector employs thirty-five thousand people in a large mineral water bottling plant, leather tanning, construction, a pharmaceuticals factory, abattoirs, salt mining, and a petroleum refinery.

Trade. The transshipment trade through the port is the mainstay of the economy and creates at least 75 percent of the gross domestic product. It has greatly expanded since 1998, when Ethiopia decided to shift all of its import-export activities to Djibouti. Djibouti produces only 5 percent of its own food needs, making it a huge food importer from Ethiopia (grain and other staples) and Somalia (meat and dairy products). The costs of imports are covered by the profitable service sector (the port) and proceeds from contraband trade.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Issa and Gadabursi social organization was fairly egalitarian, although it has a patriarchal bias. There are positions of wider authority, such as that of the ugaz, a ritual-political clan leader. In the countryside, egalitarianism is still the norm, but there are many impoverished pastoralists as a result of drought, cattle disease, and conflict.

Among the Afar, traditional social stratification was much more hierarchical. The Afar were organized in sultanates and had "tribal" and clan rankings. The Afar distinguish between the more prestigious "red" clans (the Asahimara) and the "white" clans (the Asdohimara), although this division did not coincide with political authority in all regions. In the country as a whole, urbanization, modern state formation and political institutions, and trade have created an urban social stratification based on political power and wealth.

Among the Afar and Somali groups there traditionally are castelike artisan groups that traditionally were held in low esteem. The modern economy gave rise to an incipient class society, including in it the working class. Most workers are state civil servants and port laborers. A relatively large stratum of the population engages in prostitution, works in bars, and trades in contraband. Yemenis traditionally form the trader class.

Symbols of Social Stratification. In line with the socio-economic differentiation into a developing urban society and a largely stagnant agro-pastoral rural society, differences in appearance and life style between social groups are increasingly visible. The urban elites speak French, are well-dressed, have good housing, drive their own cars, and travel abroad frequently for business, education, or leisure. The rural and urban poor have substandard housing, no means of transport, and live under precarious conditions. Most of the rural populations speak Afar or Issa-Somali, not the more prestigious French.

Political Life

Government. Since independence in 1977, there has been a presidential-republican system of government. There is a Chamber of Deputies with sixty-five members that is elected by universal suffrage. Real power lies with the president and his inner circle. The president is also commander in chief of the armed forces. The prime minister, who is always an Afar, is relatively powerless. The country effectively remained an authoritarian one-party state until 1992, when the Afar struggle for more power became a quest for inclusive democracy.

Leadership and Political Officials. Political life since independence has been dominated by a restricted elite of Issa and Afar politicians. In recent years younger politicians have emerged, but they are linked to the same elite. The 1992 constitution limits the number of political parties to four.

There are complex formal and informal rules for the division of power across the various ethnic communities: The president is an Issa; the prime minister is an Afar; and in the Cabinet of Ministers, one seat each is reserved for the Arabs, Isaak, and Gadabursi, while the Afar have one seat more than the Issa. The head of the supreme court is always an Issa.

Social Problems and Control. Unemployment, the decline of pastoral society, a lack of education, and poverty are the major social problems. Prostitution has caused major health problems, including the spread of AIDS. The refugee population strains the national budget and service facilities. In rural areas, communities deal with local political issues and disputes through the use of customary law.

Military Activity. Djibouti has an army of ninety-four hundred men, along with a small navy and air force. Men serve on the basis of conscription. There is a police force of twelve hundred and a national security force of three thousand. In the mid-1990s, the national army grew to a force of twenty thousand to contain the armed revolt led by FRUD. The national security force keeps a tight grip on domestic security. One faction of the FRUD is still active in the Afar part of the country. Djibouti is the base of a large French overseas military force consisting of three thousand men, with one Foreign Legion battalion that helps control the strategic Red Sea entrance and the port, mediates in domestic conflicts, and protects the republic against its neighbors.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The Djibouti government is not in a financial position to support extended social and welfare programs. There are state pensions for retired civil servants, but no unemployment benefits or social security provisions, except on a private basis via insurance. There are some vocational training institutes, orphanages and food aid institutions run by Islamic and Christian charities, but they do not cover the needs of the population. Several local nongovernmental organizations are active in addressing problems of urban and rural development. Refugees from Ethiopia and Somalia are cared for partly by the government and by United Nations programs.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

With the economy being dominated by the state, the role of nongovernmental organizations and associations is limited. The most important organizations are the trade unions, which have some autonomy.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. If they are not livestock herders or fishermen, men work largely in the civil service, horticulture, corporate business, the military, and the port services. Women are active as lower civil servants and petty traders, mostly in the informal sector.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. By custom and law men have more rights and higher status than women. Traditional Afar and Issa culture as well as Islam tend to support a pattern of gender roles that give men predominance in public life, business, and politics. Economic necessity, conflict, and migration have made many women the sole household head.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Descent and family and ethnic group membership remain important in the conclusion of marriages and in family life, especially in the countryside, where rituals around marriage and kinship are still widely observed. Afar have a traditional preference for patrilateral cross-cousin marriage; the Issa and other Somalis are less strict. There is some Afar-Issa intermarriage.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit in the city is the nuclear family, although members of extended families often live together and provide mutual support. Pastoralists among the Issa, Afar, and Gadabursi live and move together in extended kin groups, accompanied by allies and adopted members. Men make decisions involving the movement of herds and families.

Inheritance. Inheritance follows the tenets of Islamic law, modified by state law inspired by French civil codes.

Kin Groups. In the indigenous Issa and Afar communities, and among the Gadabursi and Isaak Somali, the clan and the lower-level lineage remain important. Membership in these units is identified for marriage purposes, economic networking and mutual assistance, and recourse to customary law for dispute settlement and decisions about inheritance.

Socialization

Child Rearing and Education. The family and local community play a crucial role in education and the transmission of culture and morals. Only a minority of children in the countryside, especially in the Afar area, attend schools; often these are Koranic schools with low academic standards. Most children remain in the extended family to assist in economic activities (herding). More than half the population is illiterate. The rural and poor urban populations speak only their indigenous languages. Children are socialized within the family and lineage group and are reared to feel an attachment to kin and community. Among the Somali, children are given more freedom than they are among the Afar, among whom the fima, a disciplinary institution, is strong. Exposure to formal schooling is limited to roughly one-third of school-age children, chiefly in Djibouti City.

Higher Education. There are no universities. Many high school graduates go to France to pursue higher education.

Etiquette

The Issa and Afar value the expression of personal independence and courage, but not recklessness. They feel attached to their cultural tradition, or at least to their idea of it. Older people are treated respectfully.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The dominant religion of Djiboutians and Arabs is Islam (95 percent of the population). The ten thousand Europeans are nominally Christians (Catholic). Ethiopians are mostly Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, and Greeks and Armenians are Eastern Orthodox Christian. Islamic beliefs are deeply rooted in Afar and Somali society. Indigenous Issa, Gadabursi, and Afar beliefs combine folk religion and custom with normative Islamic practices. Sufi orders are also prominent. Islam is not used for political purposes by any major party.

Religious Practitioners. Among the Islamic Issa, Gadabursi, and Afar, sheikhs and marabouts occupy a prominent position and play a role in many lifecycle events. There is one diocese for the nine thousand Catholics.

Rituals and Holy Places. There are no Islamic holy places except the tombs of saints and marabouts. Daily life is oriented to the Islamic cycle of religious rituals and holidays.

Death and the Afterlife. Islamic and Christian religious precepts include the belief in the immortality of the soul, ascending to heaven, or descending to hell, according to the merits of an individual's life. All deceased are buriedthere is no cremation. In traditional Afar and Issa beliefs, shaped by the continuity of patrilineal ideology, the soul of a deceased rejoins the ancestors, who are occasionally appealed to by the living descendants.

Medicine and Health Care

Health care is precarious. In Djibouti City, it is available, although not easily accessible to the poor. In rural areas, there are clinics in the major villages, but the nomadic peoples are dependent on traditional remedies.

Secular Celebrations

Independence Day on 27 June is the most important national holiday and unites all Djiboutians in celebration of their national identity. New Year's Day is celebrated on 1 January and Labor Day on 1 May; 11 November, 25 December (Christmas Day), and 31 December (New Year's Eve) are other public holidays.

The Arts and Humanities

Academic life is lacking, because there are not any universities or a significant intellectual scene. Artists (painters, sculptors, designers) cater to foreign demand. The few literary authors publish in French.

Support for the Arts. The government has few financial or institutional resources to support the arts, but in the capital there is a "people's palace," a national museum, and a national center for the promotion of culture and the arts, where performances and festivals are held. The National Tourism Office has a section to promote interest in the traditional crafts of the country. Connaissance de Djibouti is a study association whose members are interested in retrieving knowledge of the cultures and customs of Djibouti's peoples. Djibouti maintains a cultural exchange and education agreement with France.

Literature. While there is little creative written literature (poetry, novels, drama) to speak of, oral poetry and rhetoric are well developed in Afar and Somali pastoral societies. The Afar are familiar with the ginnili, a kind of warrior-poet and diviner, and have a rich oral tradition of folk stories. Among the Somali, poetic talent and verbal skills expressed in songs and epic stories are also highly developed. In recent years there has been a growing number of politicians and intellectuals who write memoirs or reflections on Djibouti society and its problems, but virtually all of them publish in France.

Graphic Arts. Some painters and sculptors in Djibouti town galleries cater largely to French and other foreign visitors.

Performance Arts. There are no major theaters or playwrights in Djibouti, although there are drama performances in the capital's center for culture and art.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Research is done by foreign institutions and individuals, often in partnership with Djibouti scientists educated abroad. There is a French-supported research institute, the Institut Supérieur des Etudes et des Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques. Research on Djibouti society is not well developed.

Bibliography

Ali Coubba. Le Mal Djiboutien. Rivalités Ethniques et Enjeux Politiques, 1996.

Ali Moussa Iye. Le Verdict de l'Arbre, 1994.

Chire, Anne S. "Djibouti: Migrations de Populations et Insertion Urbaine des Femmes." L'Afrique Politique, 120146. 1998.

Laudouze, André. Djibouti: Nation Carrefour, 2nd ed., 1989.

Leclercq, Claude. "La Constitution de la Republique de Djibouti du 15 Septembre 1992." Revue Juridique et Politique, 47 (1):7177, 1993.

Oberlé, Philippe, and Pierre Hugot. Histoire de Djibouti, des Origines à la République, 1985.

Rouaud, Alain. "Pour une Histoire des Arabes de Djibouti, 18961977." Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines, 37(146):319348, 1997.

Schraeder, Peter J. "Crystal Anniversary Reflections on the Nascent field of Djiboutian Studies." A Current Bibliography on African Affairs, 23 (3):227247, 19911992.

. "Ethnic Politics in Djibouti: From Eye of the Hurricane to Boiling Cauldron." African Affairs, 92(367):203221, 1993.

Weber, Olivier, ed. Corne de l'Afrique. Royaumes Disparus: Ethiopie, Somalie, Djibouti, Yemen, (special issue of Autrement, no. 21), 1987.

Jon G. Abbink

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Djibouti

Djibouti (Jibuti) Capital of Djibouti, on the s shore of the Gulf of Tadjoura, ne Africa. Founded in 1888, it became capital in 1892, and a free port in 1949. Ethiopian emperor Menelik II built a railway from Addis Ababa, and Djibouti became the chief port for handling Ethiopian trade. While Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia (1952–93), it lost this status to the Red Sea port of Assab. Pop. (2002 est.) 524,700.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

DJIBOUTIANS 51

The people of Djibouti are called Djiboutians. There are several ethnic groups in Djibouti. People who trace their origins to the Issa group from Somalia are about 50 percent of all Djiboutians. The Afars, a related people, account for about 25 percent. The remainder are people from Yemen, France, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Italy.

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Djibouti

Djiboutialmighty, Aphrodite, Blighty, flighty, mighty, nightie, whitey •ninety • feisty •dotty, grotty, hottie, knotty, Lanzarote, Lottie, Pavarotti, potty, Scottie, snotty, spotty, totty, yachtie, zloty •lofty, softie •Solti • novelty •Brontë, démenti, Monte, Monty, Visconti •frosty •forty, haughty, naughty, pianoforte, rorty, shorty, sortie, sporty, UB40, warty •balti, faulty, salty •flaunty, jaunty •doughty, outie, pouty, snouty •bounty, county, Mountie •frowsty • viscounty •Capote, coatee, coyote, dhoti, floaty, goaty, oaty, peyote, roti, throaty •jolty •postie, toastie, toasty •hoity-toity • pointy •agouti, beauty, booty, cootie, cutie, Djibouti, duty, fluty, fruity, rooty, snooty, tutti-frutti

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Djibouti

Djibouti (Jibouti)

Country statistics

area:

23,200sq km (8958sq mi) 787,000

capital (population):

Djibouti (524,700)

government:

Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Issa 47%, Afar 37%, Arab 6%

languages:

Arabic and French (both official)

religions:

Sunni Muslim 93%, Roman Catholic 4%

currency:

Djibouti franc =100 centimes

Republic on the ne coast of Africa; the capital is Djibouti. Land and Climate Djibouti occupies a strategic position around the Gulf of Tadjoura, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden. Behind the coastal plain lie the Mabla Mountains, rising to Moussa Ali at 2028m (6654ft). Djibouti contains the lowest point on the African continent, Lake Assal, at 155m (509ft) below sea level. Djibouti has one of the world's hottest and driest climates; summer temperatures regularly exceed 42°C (100°F) and average annual rainfall is only 130mm (5in). In the wooded Mabla Mountains, the average annual rainfall reaches c.500mm (20in). Nearly 90% of the land is semi-desert, and shortage of pasture and water make farming difficult. Economy Djibouti is a poor nation (2000 GDP per capita, US$1300), heavily reliant on food imports and revenue from the capital city. A free-trade zone, it has no major resources and manufacturing is on a very small scale. The only important activity is livestock raising, and 50% of the population are pastoral nomads. History and Politics Islam arrived in the 9th century. The subsequent conversion of the Afars led to conflict with Christian Ethiopians who lived in the interior. By the 19th century, Somalian Issas moved n and occupied much of the Afars' traditional grazing land. France gained influence in the late 19th century, and set up French Somaliland (1888). In a referendum in 1967, 60% of the electorate voted to retain links with France, though most Issas favoured independence. The country was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and Issas. In 1977 the Republic of Djibouti gained full independence, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon of the Popular Rally for Progress (RPP) was elected president. He declared a one-party state in 1981. Protests against the Issas-dominated regime forced the adoption of a multi-party constitution in 1992. The Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), supported primarily by Afars, boycotted 1993 elections, and Aptidon was re-elected for a fourth six-year term. FRUD rebels continued an armed campaign for political representation. In 1996, government and FRUD forces signed a peace agreement, recognizing FRUD as a political party. In 1999, Ismael Omar Gelleh succeeded Aptidon as president.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.sesrtcic.org/members/dji/djihome.shtml

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Djibouti

Djibouti

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the January 2008 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Djibouti

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 21,883 sq. km. (8,450 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.

Cities: Capital—Djibouti. Other cities—Dikhil, Arta, Ali-Sabieh, Obock, Tadjoura.

Terrain: Coastal desert.

Climate: Torrid and dry.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Djiboutian(s).

Population: (est.) Between 466,900 and 650,000.

Annual growth rate: (2005 est.) 2.6%.

Ethnic groups: Somali, Afar, Ethiopian, Arab, French, and Italian.

Religions: Muslim 94%, Christian 6%.

Languages: French and Arabic (official); Somali and Afar widely used.

Education: Literacy—46.2%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—100 to 150/1,000. Life expectancy (2005 est.)—43.1 years.

Work force: Low employment rate; estimates run well under 50% of the work force. The largest employers are the Government of Djibouti, including telecommunications and electricity; Port of Djibouti; and airport. The U.S. Government, including the military camp and the embassy, is the second largest employer. Able-bodied unemployed population (est. 2006)—60%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Ratified September 1992 by referendum.

Independence: June 27, 1977.

Government branches: Executive—president. Legislative—65-member parliament, cabinet, prime minister. Judicial—based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law.

Political subdivisions: 6 cercles (districts)—Ali-Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, and Tadjoura.

Political parties: People's Rally for Progress (RPP) established in 1981; New Democratic Party (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) were both established in 1992; and the Front For The Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) was legally recognized in 1994. Five additional parties were established in 2002: Djibouti Development Party (PDD); Peoples Social Democratic Party (PPSD); Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ); Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

National holidays: Independence Day, June 27 (1977).

Economy

GDP: (2006 est.) $768 million.

Adjusted per capita income: $850 per capita for expatriates, $450 for Djiboutians.

Natural resources: Minerals (salt, perlite, gypsum, limestone) and energy resources (geothermal and solar).

Agriculture: (less than 3% of GDP) Products—livestock, fishing, and limited commercial crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Industry: Types—banking and insurance (12.5% of GDP), public administration (22% of GDP), construction and public works, manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture.

Trade: (2004 est.) Imports—$987 million: consists of basic commodities, including food and beverages, pharmaceutical drugs, transport equipment, chemicals, and petroleum products. Exports—$250 million: re-exports, hides and skins, and coffee (in-transit). Major markets (2004)—France, Ethiopia, Somalia, India, China, and Saudi Arabia and other Arabian peninsula countries.

PEOPLE

About two-thirds of the Republic of Djibouti's 650,000 inhabitants live in the capital city. The indigenous population is divided between the majority Somalis (predominantly of the Issa tribe, with minority Issaq and Gada-bursi representation) and the Afars (Danakils). All are Cushitic-speaking peoples, and nearly all are Muslim. Among the 15,000 foreigners residing in Djibouti, the French are the most numerous. Among the French are 3,000 troops.

HISTORY

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.

It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839–42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).

Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1884–85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were affirmed further by agreements with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1945 and 1954. The administrative capital was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1892. In 1896, Djibouti was named French Somaliland. Djibouti, which has a good natural harbor and ready access to the Ethiopian highlands, attracted trade caravans crossing East Africa as well as Somali settlers from the south. The Franco-Ethiopian railway, linking Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia, was begun in 1897 and reached Addis Ababa in June 1917, further facilitating the increase of trade.

During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during World War II, constant border skirmishes occurred between French and Italian forces. The area was ruled by the Vichy (French) government from the fall of France until December 1942, and fell under British blockade during that period. Free French and the Allied forces recaptured Djibouti at the end of 1942. A local battalion from Djibouti participated in the liberation of France in 1944.

On July 22, 1957, the colony was reorganized to give the people considerable self-government. On the same day, a decree applying the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of June 23, 1956, established a territorial assembly that elected eight of its members to an executive council. Members of the executive council were responsible for one or more of the territorial services and carried the title of minister. The council advised the French-appointed governor general.

In a September 1958 constitutional referendum, French Somaliland opted to join the French community as an overseas territory. This act entitled the region to representation by one deputy and one senator in the French Parliament, and one counselor in the French Union Assembly.

The first elections to the territorial assembly were held on November 23, 1958, under a system of proportional representation. In the next assembly elections (1963), a new electoral law was enacted. Representation was abolished in exchange for a system of straight plurality vote based on lists submitted by political parties in seven designated districts. Ali Aref Bourhan, allegedly of Turkish origin, was selected to be the president of the executive council. French President Charles de Gaulle's August 1966 visit to Djibouti was marked by 2 days of public demonstrations by Somalis demanding independence. On September 21, 1966, Louis Saget, appointed governor general of the territory after the demonstrations, announced the French Government's decision to hold a referendum to determine whether the people would remain within the French Republic or become independent. In March 1967, 60% chose to continue the territory's association with France.

In July of that year, a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.

In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory's citizenship law, which favored the Afar minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum. The Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country's first president. In 1981, he was again elected president of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections.

In early 1992, the constitution permitted the legalization of four political parties for a period of 10 years, after which a complete multiparty system would be installed. By the time of the December 1992 national assembly elections, only three had qualified. They were the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (Peo-ple's Rally for Progress—RPP), which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal—PRD); and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party—PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.

In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP.

In 1999, Ismail Omar Guelleh—President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years—was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, with the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boy-cotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election “irregularities” and the assertion that “foreigners” had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.

In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government. On May 12, 2001, Presi-

dent Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what was termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Djibouti is a republic whose electorate approved the current constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.

In the presidential election held April 8, 2005 Ismail Omar Guelleh was re-elected to a second 6-year term at the head of a multi-party coalition that included the FRUD and other major parties. A loose coalition of opposition parties again boycotted the election. Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with an Afar career diplomat as Foreign Minister and other cabinet posts roughly divided. However, Issas are predominate in the government, civil service, and the ruling party. That, together with a shortage of non-government employment, has bred resentment and continued political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars. In March 2006, Djibouti held its first regional elections and began implementing a decentralization plan. The broad pro-government coalition, including FRUD candidates, again ran unopposed when the government refused to meet opposition preconditions for participation. A nationwide voter registration campaign is now underway in advance of the scheduled 2008 parliamentary elections.

Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which grew significantly with the start of the civil war in 1991. With the 2001 final peace accord between the government and the Afar-dominated FRUD, the armed forces have been down-sized. The country's security is supplemented by a formal security accord with the Government of France, which guarantees Djibouti's territorial integrity against foreign incursions. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 3,000 French troops stationed in Djibouti, including units of the famed French Foreign Legion.

The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders in the past, some labor leaders allege interference in their internal elections. Others voice opposition to newly-implemented labor laws that apply to new jobs created in free zones and that are less favorable to labor.

In 2002, following a broad national debate, Djibouti enacted a new “Family Law” enhancing the protection of women and children, unifying legal treatment of all women, and replacing Sharia. The government established a minister-designate for women's affairs and is engaged in an ongoing effort to increase public recognition of women's rights and to ensure enforcement. In 2007, it began establishing a network of new counseling offices to assist women seeking to understand and protect their rights. Women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries. The government is leading efforts to stop illegal and abusive traditional practices, including female genital mutilation. As the result of a three-year effort, the percentage of girls attending primary school increased significantly and is now more than 50%. However, women's rights and family planning continue to face difficult challenges, many stemming from acute poverty in both rural and urban areas. With female ministers and members of parliament, the presence of women in government has increased. Despite the gains, education of girls still lags behind boys, and employment opportunities are better for male applicants.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Ismail Omar GUELLEH

Prime Min.: Mohamed Dileita DILEITA

Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, & the Sea: Dini Abdallah BILILIS

Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Artisans:Rifki Abdoulkader BAMAKHRAMA

Min. of Communication & Culture: Rifki Abdoulkader BAMAKHRAMA

Min. of Defense: OUGOUREH KIFLEH Ahmed

Min. of Economy, Finance, & Privatization: Yacin Elmi BOUH

Min. of Education: Abdi Ibrahim ABSIEH

Min. of Employment & National Solidarity: Mohamed Barkat ABDILLAHI

Min. of Energy & Natural Resources: Mohamed Ali MOHAMED

Min. of Equipment & Transport: Elmi Obsieh WAISS

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Intl. Cooperation, & Parliamentary Relations: Mahamoud Ali YOUSSOUF

Min. of Health: Banoita Tourab SALEH, Dr.

Min. of Housing, Town Planning, Environment, & National & Regional Development: Abdallah Adillahi MIGUIL

Min. of Interior & Decentralization: Aboulkader Du'ale WAISS

Min. of Justice & Penal & Muslim Affairs: Ismael Ibrahim HEMED

Min. of Presidential Affairs & Investment Promotion: Osman Ahmed MOUSSA

Min. of Trade & Industry: Saleban Omar OUDIN

Min. of Urban Planning, Housing, Environment, National, & Regional Development: Souleiman Omar OUDINE

Min. of Youth, Sports, Leisure, & Tourism: Akban Goita MOUSSA

Min.-Del. to the Prime Min. for Mosque Properties & Muslim Affairs: Cheik Mogueh DIRIR

Min.-Del. to the Prime Min. for the Promotion of Women, Family Well-Being, & Social Affairs: Hawa Ahmed YOUSSOUF

Governor, Central Bank: Mahamoud Haid DJAMA

Ambassador to the US: Roble OLHAYE Oudine

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Roble OLHAYE Oudine

Djibouti's mission to the UN is located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-753-3163). Djibouti's embassy in Washington is located at Suite 515, 1156 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202-331-0270; fax 202-331-0302).

ECONOMY

Djibouti's economy depends largely on its proximity to the large Ethiopian market and a large foreign expatriate community. Its main economic activities are the Port of Djibouti, the banking sector, the airport, and the operation of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. During the “lost decade” following the brunt of its civil war (1991–94), there was a significant diversion of government budgetary resources from developmental and social services to military needs. However, from 2001 on, Djibouti has become a magnet for private sector capital investment, attracting inflows that now average more than $200 million. It has also significantly improved its finances, paying current salaries, maintaining reserves, and generating a growth rate in 2006 of approximately 4.5%. Djibouti has become a significant regional banking hub, with approximately $600 million in dollar deposits. Its currency, the Djiboutian Franc, was linked to the dollar (and to gold) in 1949 and appreciated twice over the interim when the dollar was devalued and then freed to float. Agriculture and industry are little developed, in part due to the harsh climate, high production costs, unskilled labor, and limited natural resources. Mineral deposits exist in the country, but with the exception of an extraordinary salt deposit at Lac Asal, the lowest point in Africa, they have not been exploited. The arid soil is unproductive—89% is desert wasteland, 10% is pasture, and 1% is forested. Deforestation for charcoal is a significant problem, as it now replaces expensive imported cooking gas in many urban homes. Services and commerce provide most of the gross domestic product.

Djibouti's most important economic asset is its strategic location on the busy shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Roughly 60% of all commercial ships in the world use its waters from the Red Sea through the Babel-Mandeb strait and into the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Its old port is an increasingly important transshipment point for containers as well as a destination port for Ethiopian trade. Last year alone, private investment in the old port totaled approximately $50 million. Djibouti is now in the second of three phases of a multi-year, $800 million, privately-financed project to build a new port with fueling, container, and free zone components. The old port will continue serving as a general shipping, bulk cargo, and break-bulk facility and also as the host of a small French naval facility.

Business soared at the Port of Djibouti when hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Ethiopia access to the Eritrean Port of Assab. Djibouti became the only significant port for landlocked Ethiopia, handling all its imports and exports, including huge shipments of U.S. food aid in 2000 during the drought and famine. In 2000, Dubai Ports World took over management of Djibouti's port and later its customs and airport operations. The result has been a significant increase in investment, efficiency, activity, and port revenues. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The single-track railway—a prime source of employment—occupies a prominent place in Ethiopia's internal distribution system for domestic commodities such as cement, cotton textiles, sugar, cereals, and charcoal. A weekly train from Ethiopia brings in most of Djibouti's fresh fruits and vegetables. In March 2006, the Governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti (which co-own the railway) selected the South African firm COMAZAR to manage the line. They are still in negotiations over the management agreement. In addition, the European Union is considering a $100 million project to upgrade a portion of the rail line.

Principal exports from the region transiting Djibouti are coffee, salt, live animals, hides, dried beans, cereals other agricultural products, and wax. Djibouti itself has few exports, and the majority of its imports come from France. Most imports are consumed in Djibouti, and the remainder go to Ethiopia and northwestern Somalia. Djibouti's unfavorable balance of trade is offset partially by invisible earnings such as transit taxes and harbor dues. In 2001, U.S. exports to Djibouti totaled $18.7 million, while U.S. imports from Djibouti were about $1 million.

The city of Djibouti has the only paved airport in the republic. Djibouti has one of the most liberal economic regimes in Africa, with almost unrestricted banking and commerce sectors.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Military and economic agreements with France provide continued security and economic assistance. Links with Arab states and East Asian states, Japan and China in particular, also are welcome. Djibouti is a member of the Arab League, as well as the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Djibouti is greatly affected by events in Somalia and Ethiopia, so relations are important and, at times, delicate. The 1991 falls of the Siad Barre and Mengistu governments in Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively, caused Djibouti to face national security threats due to instability in the neighboring states and a massive influx of refugees estimated at 100,000 from Somalia and Ethiopia. In 2000, after 3 years of insufficient rain, 50,000 drought victims entered Djibouti. In 1996, a revitalized organization of seven East African states, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), established its secretariat in Djibouti. IGAD's mandate is for regional cooperation and economic integration, and it has also sought to play a positive role promoting regional stability, including its efforts in support of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. Djibouti seeks to play the role of neutral in the frequently tense regional politics of the Horn of Africa. It became Ethiopia's sole link to the sea when fighting broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998. Aside from a two-year break in relations from 1998–2000, Djibouti has maintained a cordial relationship with Eritrea. Eritrea's President Isaias and Djibouti's President Guelleh exchanged visits in 2001, and Isaias returned to Djibouti in 2006 for the regional summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), hosted by President Guelleh in his capacity as incoming COMESA President. Djibouti continues to cultivate cordial relations with Ethiopia, reflecting the fundamental economic ties between the two countries and a long tradition of interchanges. However, rising tensions in Somalia and Ethiopian military involvement in Somalia in 2007 fueled widespread criticism of Ethiopia among Djibouti's majority Somali-speaking population. President Guelleh attended the 2007 Africa Union summit in Ethiopia and supports the African Union peacekeeping operation for Somalia (AMISOM).

U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS

In April 1977, the United States established a Consulate General in Djibouti and upon independence in June 1977 raised the status of its mission to an embassy. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti arrived in October 1980. Over the past decade, the United States has been a principal provider of humanitarian assistance for famine relief, and has sponsored health care, education, good governance, and security assistance programs.

Djibouti has allowed the U.S. military, as well as other nations, access to its port and airport facilities. The Djiboutian Government has been very supportive of U.S. and Western interests, particularly during the Gulf crisis of 1990–91 and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2002, Djibouti agreed to host a U.S. military presence at Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion base outside the capital that now houses approximately 1,800 American personnel. U.S. service members provide humanitarian support and development and security assistance to people and governments of the Horn of Africa and Yemen. They support freedom and oppose terrorism. As a victim of past international terrorist attacks, President Guelleh continues to take a very proactive position against terrorism.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

DJIBOUTI (E) Plateau du Serpent, Blvd Marechal Joffre, P.O. Box 185, (253) 35-39-95, Fax (253) 35-39-40, INMARSAT Tel 68-313-4545/68-313-4546, Workweek: Sunday-Thursday, 08:00-16:30, Website: http://djibouti.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Diana Fritz
AMB OMS:Melissa PO:usette
ECO/COM:Christopher B. Patch
MGT:Richard Denniston
POL ECO:Christopher B. Patch
AMB:W. Stuart Symington
CON:Solange Garvey
DCM:Vacant
PAO:Christy M. Stoner
GSO:Wendy L. Nassmacher
RSO:Ellen Tannor
AID:Janet Schulman
CLO:Jessica Eicher
EEO:Christy M. Stoner
IMO:Michael Georty (Tdy)
IPO:Nicholas Eicher
IRS:Kathy Beck (Resident In Paris)

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

February 9, 2007

Country Description: Djibouti is a developing African country located at the juncture of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is a multi-party democracy with a legal system based on French civil law (Djibouti was a French colony until 1977), though modified by traditional practices and Islamic (Sharia) law.

Although exact statistics are unavailable, unemployment is estimated at greater than 50% of the working-age population. Over two-thirds of the country's 650,000 residents live in the capital, also called Djibouti. Modern tourist facilities and communications links are found in the city of Djibouti, but limited outside the capital.

Entry Requirements: A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vacccination are required. Travelers may obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 331-0270, or at the Djibouti Mission to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 753-3163. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Djiboutian embassy or consulate. In countries where there is no Djiboutian diplomatic representation, travelers may sometimes obtain visas at the French Embassy. Visit the Embassy of Djibouti web site at www.embassy.org/embassies/dj.html for the most current visa information.

American journalists or any American connected with the media must contact the U.S. Embassy's Public Affairs section prior to travel to facilitate entry into Djibouti. If you are unclear whether this applies to you, please contact the U.S. Embassy for more information.

Safety and Security: Djibouti enjoys a stable political climate. However, its international borders are porous and lightly patrolled. In particular, Somalia, Djibouti's neighbor to the south, is a haven for terrorists and insurgent elements. Tensions exist between neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea due to their long-running border dispute. Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighboring countries could disrupt air travel to and from Djibouti or otherwise negatively affect its security.

Terrorism continues to pose a threat in East Africa. U.S. citizens traveling in East Africa should be aware of the potential for indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and other sites where Westerners are known to congregate.

Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Djiboutian security forces do not have a widespread presence in those regions. Demonstrations have become more frequent due to the recent increase in energy prices. Americans are advised to avoid all demonstrations as they may become violent.

Americans considering seaborne travel in Djibouti's coastal waters and Northern Somalia should exercise extreme caution, as there have been several recent incidents of armed attacks and robberies at sea by unknown groups. When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/ or the Red Sea near Yemen, it is strongly recommended that vessels convoy in groups and maintain good communications contact at all times. Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels and are commonly monitored by ships at sea. 2182 Mhz is the HF international call-up and emergency channel.

In the Gulf of Aden, transit routes farther offshore reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of contact with assailants. Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes. Avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas. In the event of an attack, consider activating the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Due to distances involved, there may be a considerable delay before assistance arrives. Vessels may also contact the Yemeni Coast Guard 24-hour Operations Center at 967 1 562-402. Operations Center staff members speak English.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times for ready proof of identity and U.S. citizenship if questioned by local officials. Police occasionally stop travelers on the main roads leading out of the capital to check identity documents.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Accurate crime statistics are not available, but crime appears to be on the rise. Most crimes are petty thefts, but there have also been home invasions and more serious crimes. Major crimes involving third country nationals (TCNs) are rare, but increasing in frequency. The number of murders has increased, involving Djiboutians and third country nationals (TCNS).

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate medical facilities in the capital of Djibouti are limited and medicines are often unavailable. Medicines that are available are extremely expensive. Medical services in some outlying areas may be completely nonexistent. Motorists especially should be aware that in case of an accident outside the capital, emergency medical treatment would depend almost exclusively on passersby. In addition, cell phone coverage in outlying areas is often unavailable, making it impossible to summon help.

Malaria and dengue fever are prevalent in Djibouti. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial drugs they have been taking.

In 2005, polio was found in all of Djibouti's neighbors (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen) and health pro-fessionals strongly suspect it is present in Djibouti. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all infants and children in the United States should receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) at 2, 4, and 6–18 months and 4–6 years of age. Adults who are traveling to polio-endemic and epidemic areas and who have received a primary series with either IPV or oral polio vaccine should receive another dose of IPV. For adults, available data does not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

In May 2006, avian influenza was confirmed in three chickens and one human in Djibouti.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Djibouti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Djiboutian Gendarmerie and the national police force share responsibility for road safety in Djibouti. While Djibouti has been declared a “mine-safe” country, this indicates landmines have been identified and marked, not that they have been removed. Landmines are known to be present in northern Tadjourah and Obock districts. In addition, there may be mines in the Ali Sabieh area of the south. Travelers should stay on paved roads and should check with local authorities before using unpaved roads. Driving on Djibouti roads can be hazardous. Since most roads do not have shoulders or sidewalks, pedestrians and livestock use the roadways both day and night. Driving at night is extremely dangerous and strongly discouraged on all roads outside of Djibouti City. While some main roads in Djibouti are well maintained, roads are often narrow, poorly lit, or washed-out. Many secondary roads are in poor repair or completely washed-out. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Minibuses and cars often break down; when breakdowns occur, local drivers usually place branches or rocks behind the vehicle to indicate trouble, but these warning signals are barely visible. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the road-way, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards. Speed limits are posted occasionally but are not enforced. The leafy narcotic khat is widely used, particularly in the afternoons, creating other traffic hazards. Travelers should be aware that police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night.

Drivers who do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle will encounter problems driving on rural roads. There are no emergency services for stranded drivers, and it is always advisable to carry a cell phone or satellite phone when undertaking a trip outside of town; however, many parts of the country do not have cell phone coverage.

The two main international routes to the capital city, via Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and Yoboki, Djibouti, both demand that drivers remain vigilant. The route towards Dire Dawa is in very poor condition. Both have a high volume of Ethiopian trucks transporting large cargo. Railroad crossings are often not clearly marked.

The only means of public inter-city travel is by bus. Buses are poorly maintained and their operators often drive erratically with little regard for passenger safety. Visit the web site of Djibouti's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.office-tourisme.dj.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Djibouti, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Djibouti's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Although the narcotic khat is legal and widely chewed in Djibouti, it is considered an illegal substance in many countries, including the United States. Djiboutians are generally conservative in dress and manner, especially in rural areas. Photography of public infrastructure (including, but not limited to, public buildings, seaports, the airport, bridges, military facilities or personnel) is not allowed in Djibouti. Use extreme caution when photographing anyone or anything near prohibited areas. Photographic equipment will be confiscated, and the photographer may be arrested. Djibouti is a cash-based economy and credit cards are not widely accepted. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are not available. Changing money on the street is legal, but be aware of possible scams as well as personal safety considerations if people observe you carrying large amounts of cash. The exchange rate on the street will be similar to that at a bank or hotel. It is important that the U.S. banknotes that you carry have a date of 2003 or newer because many currency exchanges will not accept U.S. paper money older than 2003. Djiboutian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Djibouti of firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Washington, D.C., for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Djiboutian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Djibouti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Djibouti are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City. The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti. The telephone number is (253) 35-39-95. The fax number is (253) 35-39-40. Normal working hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

International Adoption

July 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Adoption in Djibouti is a very complicated process, time consuming, and with many legal hurdles. Children with Djiboutian citizenship are not eligible for adoption. Only children born and abandoned in Djibouti of foreign parentage are available for foreign adoption.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: Tribunal de Première Instance de Djibouti, Office of the Secretary (253) 35-333-89.

Tribunal de Première Instance
Ministére de la Justice
B.P. 12
Djibouti
République de Djibouti

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptive parents must be 25 years of age or older and must be at least 15 years older than the child. If the prospective adoptive parent is a relative, he/she need only be 21 years old. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must also be morally and physically sound to be able to care for the child.

Residency Requirements: The adopters must be physically present in Djibouti at the time of the proposed adoption, but need not be residents. The child must be both physically present in and a resident of Djibouti.

Time Frame: It may take a year or more from the time the adoption application is submitted to the Tribunal de Première Instance until the adoptive parents receive the final documents. Factors bearing on this time frame may include court-ordered investigations, parents' citizenship, court calendar, appeals, and individual case anomalies.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no Djiboutian adoption agencies. According to court officials, adoptions do not require the participation of a lawyer, but it is practical to engage someone familiar with the process.

Adoption Fees: The Government of Djibouti processes all adoptions. All procedures undertaken by the court (Adoption Authority) are free of charge. Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay for any/all required medical examinations for the child, as well as for their own travel expenses.

Adoption Procedures: Once a child has been identified, adoption procedures must be initiated with a written request from the prospective adoptive parent(s) to the President of Tribunal de Première Instance, requesting the court to open an adoption case on their behalf. The court has two responsibilities: first, that of verifying whether the legal conditions necessary for the requested adoption are met; and second, that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. To that effect, it is mandatory that adoptive parent(s) attach the U.S. documents listed in the section below with their application.

The court can order an additional social investigation report to complement the one already attached to the initial request, and one or more types of specific medical examinations. The Clerk of the District Court will then forward the request to the police for a background check to be performed (if the prospective adoptive parents are resident in Djibouti).

Procedures for a child with identified biological parent(s): Prior to completing the Djiboutian adoption process, U.S. prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt a child with identified birth parents should consult with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti to verify whether the child will be meet the definition of “orphan” as defined by U.S. immigration law.

The birth parents must appear before the court with their I.D. and the child's birth certificate, and sign a consent document. A three-month appeal period is then allowed, during which time the birth parents may reclaim their parental rights or the adoptive parents can decide not to go through with the adoption. At the end of that period, if no appeal is made, the adoptive parents must submit a request to the court to continue the process, after which the court will fix a hearing date. At the hearing, the judge will rule whether to grant a delegation of parental authority, which technically shifts parental authority from birth to adoptive parents. If the adoptive parents are residents of Djibouti, or if they plan to stay for some time, they may be granted temporary custody over the child, to allow the child to physically live with them. The birth parents then have an additional two-month window within which they may reclaim the child. If they do not, the adoptive parents have to submit to the court a request for finalizing the adoption. At the hearing, the court will make a final ruling to grant the adoption. However, for an additional two months the opportunity is given to the Public Ministry (Office of District Attorney) or any other concerned individual (family member), excluding the natural parents, to appeal for reversal on serious grounds of evidence, if such can show that the adoption will adversely affect the child.

The court can refuse to grant an adoption, and may order the adoptive parents not to break the child's bonds with its biological family. The judgment is always given in a public hearing. Whether the adoption is approved or rejected, the decision can be appealed, and the ensuing appeal may also be subject to a final appeal at the Supreme Court.

Abandoned child with unknown parents: The process is similar to that of a child with identified birth parents, except that the steps pertaining to the birth parents will not be applicable here. Instead, after the adoptive parents have made a written request to the court, the latter will order a police investigation to try to find the birth parents and establish their identity (this may take up to a month). If birth parents cannot be found, or no one claims the child, the police will deliver to the court a certificate of abandonment, after which the court will proceed to consider the case.

Required Documents:

  • A police clearance (indicating no arrest record);
  • A home study report;
  • Proof of adequate financial means and stability (last 3 pay slips, tax return, etc.).

Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti
1156 15th St., NW, Suite 515
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202/331-0270

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy:
Plateau du Serpent
Boulevard Marechal Joffre
Djibouti City
Tel: (253) 35-39-95
Fax: (253) 35-39-40
E-mail: [email protected]
http://djibouti.usembassy.gov

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Djibouti may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Djibouti

DJIBOUTI

Compiled from the October 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Djibouti


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

21,883 sq. km. (8,450 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.

Cities:

Capital—Djibouti. Other cities—Dikhil, Arta, Ali-Sabieh, Obock, Tadjoura.

Terrain:

Coastal desert.

Climate:

Torrid and dry.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Djiboutian(s).

Population (est.):

Between 466,900 and 650,000.

Annual growth rate (2005 est.):

2.6%.

Ethnic groups:

Somalis (Issaks, Issas, and Gadaboursis), Afars, Ethiopians, Arab, French, and Italian.

Religion:

Muslim 94%, Christian 6%.

Language:

French and Arabic (official); Somali and Afar widely used.

Education:

Literacy—46.2%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—100 to 150/1,000. Life expectancy (2005 est.)—43.1 years.

Work force:

Low employment rate; estimates run well under 50% of the work force. The largest employers are the Government of Djibouti, including telecommunications and electricity; Port of Djibouti; and Airport. The U.S. Government, including the military camp and the embassy, is the second largest employer. Ablebodied unemployed population (est. 1999)—50%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Constitution:

Ratified September 1992 by referendum.

Independence:

June 27, 1977.

Branches:

Executive—president. Legislative—65-member parliament, cabinet, prime minister. Judicial—based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law.

Administrative subdivisions:

6 cercles (districts)—Ali-Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, and Tadjoura.

Political parties:

People's Rally for Progress (RPP) established in 1981; New Democratic Party (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) were both established in 1992; and the Front For The Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) was legally recognized in 1994. Five additional parties were established in 2002: Djibouti Development Party (PDD); Peoples Social Democratic Party (PPSD); Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ); Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD).

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

National holiday:

Independence Day, June 27 (1977).

Economy

GNP (2002 est.):

$600 million.

Adjusted per capita income:

$850 per capita for expatriates, $450 for Djiboutians.

Natural resources:

Minerals (salt, perlite, gypsum, limestone) and energy resources (geothermal and solar).

Agriculture (less than 3% of GDP):

Products—livestock, fishing, and limited commercial crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Industry:

Types—banking and insurance (12.5% of GDP), public administration (22% of GDP), construction and public works, manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture.

Trade (2002 est.):

Imports—$665 million, consists of basic commodities, pharmaceutical drugs, durable and nondurable goods. Exports—$155 million, consists of everyday personal effects, household effects, hides and skins, and coffee. Major markets (2004)—France, Ethiopia, Somalia, India, China, and Saudi Arabia and other Arabian peninsula countries.


PEOPLE

About two-thirds of the Republic of Djibouti's 650,000 inhabitants live in

the capital city. The indigenous population is divided between the majority Somalis (predominantly of the Issa tribe, with minority Issaq and Gadabursi representation) and the Afars (Danakils). All are Cushitic-speaking peoples, and nearly all are Muslim. Among the 15,000 foreigners residing in Djibouti, the French are the most numerous. Among the French are 3,000 troops.


HISTORY

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China.

Through close contacts with the Arabian peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.

It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839-42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).

Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1884-85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were affirmed further by agreements with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1945 and 1954.

The administrative capital was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1892. In 1896, Djibouti was named French Somaliland. Djibouti, which has a good natural harbor and ready access to the Ethiopian highlands, attracted trade caravans crossing East Africa as well as Somali settlers from the south. The Franco-Ethiopian railway, linking Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia, was begun in 1897 and reached Addis Ababa in June 1917, further facilitating the increase of trade.

During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during World War II, constant border skirmishes occurred between French and Italian forces. The area was ruled by the Vichy (French) government from the fall of France until December 1942, and fell under British blockade during that period. Free French and the Allied forces recaptured Djibouti at the end of 1942. A local battalion from Djibouti participated in the liberation of France in 1944.

On July 22, 1957, the colony was reorganized to give the people considerable self-government. On the same day, a decree applying the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of June 23, 1956, established a territorial assembly that elected eight of its members to an executive council. Members of the executive council were responsible for one or more of the territorial services and carried the title of minister. The council advised the French-appointed governor general.

In a September 1958 constitutional referendum, French Somaliland opted to join the French community as an overseas territory. This act entitled the region to representation by one deputy and one senator in the French Parliament, and one counselor in the French Union Assembly.

The first elections to the territorial assembly were held on November 23, 1958, under a system of proportional representation. In the next assembly elections (1963), a new electoral law was enacted. Representation was abolished in exchange for a system of straight plurality vote based on lists submitted by political parties in seven designated districts. Ali Aref Bourhan, allegedly of Turkish origin, was selected to be the president of the executive council. French President Charles de Gaulle's August 1966 visit to Djibouti was marked by 2 days of public demonstrations by Somalis demanding independence. On September 21, 1966, Louis Saget, appointed governor general of the territory after the demonstrations, announced the French Government's decision to hold a referendum to determine whether the people would remain within the French Republic or become independent. In March 1967, 60% chose to continue the territory's association with France.

In July of that year, a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.

In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory's citizenship law, which favored the Afar minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum. The Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country's first president. In 1981, he was again elected president of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections.

In early 1992, the constitution permitted the legalization of four political parties for a period of 10 years, after which a complete multiparty system would be installed. By the time of the December 1992 national assembly elections, only three had qualified. They were the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (People's Rally for Progress—RPP) which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal—PRD), and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party—PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.

In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP.

In 1999, Ismail Omar Guelleh—President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years—was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, with the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election "irregularities" and the assertion that "foreigners" had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.

In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government. On May 12, 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what is termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Djibouti is a republic whose electorate approved the current constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.

In the presidential election held April 8, 2005 Ismail Omar Guelleh was reelected to another 6-year term. Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with cabinet posts roughly divided. However, the Issas presently dominate the government, civil service, and the ruling party, a situation that has bred resentment and political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars.

Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which grew significantly with the start of the civil war in 1991. In recent years the armed forces have downsized, and with the peace accord with the FRUD in 2001, the armed forces are expected to continue downsizing. The country's security also is supplemented by a special security arrangement with the Government of France. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 2,600 French troops, which includes a unit of the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Djibouti.

The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders, the Government of Djibouti is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to hold new elections.

Although women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries, women's rights and family planning face difficult challenges, many stemming from poverty. Few women hold senior positions. Education of girls still lags behind boys and, because of the high unemployment rate, employment opportunities are better for male applicants.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 7/15/2005

President: Ismail Omar GUELLEH
Prime Minister: Mohamed DileitaDILEITA
Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, & the Sea: Dini Abdallah BILILIS
Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Artisans: Rifki Abdoulkader BAMAKHRAMA
Min. of Communication & Culture: Rifki Abdoulkader BAMAKHRAMA
Min. of Defense: Ougoureh Kifleh AHMED
Min. of Economy, Finance, &Privatization: Yacin Elmi BOUH
Min. of Education: Abdi Ibrahim ABSIEH
Min. of Employment & National Solidarity: Mohamed Barkat ABDILLAHI
Min. of Energy & Natural Resources: Mohamed Ali MOHAMED
Min. of Equipment & Transport: Elmi Obsieh WAISS
Min. of Foreign Affairs, Intl. Cooperation,& Parliamentary Relations: Hawa Ahmed YOUSSOUF
Min. of Health: Banoita Tourab SALEH, Dr.
Min. of Housing, Town Planning, Environment, & National & Regional Development: Abdallah Adillahi MIGUIL
Min. of Interior & Decentralization: Aboulkader Du'ale WAISS
Min. of Justice & Penal & Muslim Affairs: Ismael Ibrahim HEMED
Min. of Presidential Affairs & Investment Promotion: Osman Ahmed MOUSSA
Min. of Trade & Industry: Saleban Omar OUDIN
Min. of Urban Planning, Housing, Environment, National, & Regional Development: Souleiman Omar OUDINE
Min. of Youth, Sports, Leisure, & Tourism: Akban Goita MOUSSA
Min. Del. to the Prime Min. for Mosque Properties & Muslim Affairs: Cheik Mogueh DIRIR
Min. Del. to the Prime Min. for the Promotion of Women, Family Well-Being, & Social Affairs: Hawa Ahmed YOUSSOUF
Governor, Central Bank: Mahamoud Haid DJAMA
Ambassador to the US: OLHAYE Oudine Roble
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: OLHAYE Oudine Roble

Djibouti's mission to the UN is located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-753-3163). Djibouti's embassy in Washington is located at Suite 515, 1156 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202-331-0270; fax 202-331-0302).


ECONOMY

Djibouti's fledgling economy depends on a large foreign expatriate community, the maritime and commercial activities of the Port of Djibouti, its airport, and the operation of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. During the civil war (1991-94), there was a significant diversion of government budgetary resources from developmental and social services to military needs. France is insisting that future aid be conditional on an overhaul of Djibouti's dilapidated state finances in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund. Agriculture and industry are little developed, in part due to the harsh climate, high production costs, unskilled labor, and limited natural resources. Only a few mineral deposits exist in the country, and the arid soil is unproductive—89% is desert wasteland, 10% is pasture, and 1% is forested. Services and commerce provide most of the gross domestic product.

Djibouti's most important economic asset is its strategic location on the shipping routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean—the republic lies on the west side of the Bab-el-Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its port is an important transshipment point for containers. It also functions as a bunkering port and a small French naval facility. Business increased at the Port of Djibouti when hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Ethiopia access to the Eritrean Port of Assab. Djibouti became the only significant port for landlocked Ethiopia, handling all its imports and exports, including huge shipments of U.S. food aid in 2000 during the drought and famine. In 2000, Jebel Ali Port Managers, which manages the Port of Dubai, took over management of Djibouti's port. This was part of a regional management scheme that also included the Port of Beruit and the Port of Djeddah. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The single-track railway—a prime source of employment—occupies a prominent place in Ethiopia's internal distribution system for domestic commodities such as cement, cotton textiles, sugar, cereals, and charcoal. The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti are jointly pursuing privatization of the railroad. In July 2004, four international companies applied for the concession of the railway. The railroad will undergo a two-year transitional period before concession is handed over.

Principal exports from the region transiting Djibouti are coffee, salt, hides, dried beans, cereals, other agricultural products, wax, and salt. Djibouti itself has few exports, and the majority of its imports come from France. Most imports are consumed in Djibouti, and the remainder goes to Ethiopia and northwestern Somalia. Djibouti's unfavorable balance of trade is offset partially by invisible earnings such as transit taxes and harbor dues. In 2001, U.S. exports to Djibouti totaled $18.7 million while U.S. imports from Djibouti were about $1 million.

The city of Djibouti has the only paved airport in the republic. Djibouti has one of the most liberal economic regimes in Africa, with almost unrestricted banking and commerce sectors.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Military and economic agreements with France provide continued security and economic assistance. Links with Arab states and East Asian states, Japan and China in particular, also are welcome. Djibouti is a member of the Arab League, as well as the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Djibouti is greatly affected by events in Somalia and Ethiopia, and, therefore, relations are important and, at times, very delicate. The fall of the Siad Barre and Mengistu governments in Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively, in 1991, caused Djibouti to face national security threats due to the instability in the neighboring states and a massive influx of refugees estimated at 100,000 from Somalia and Ethiopia. In 2000, after 3 years of insufficient rain, 50,000 drought victims entered Djibouti. In 1996 a revitalized organization of seven East African states, the IGAD, established its secretariat in Djibouti. IGAD's mandate is for regional cooperation and economic integration.

With the Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 2000, Ethiopia channeled most of its trade through Djibouti. Though Djibouti is nominally neutral, it broke off relations with Eritrea in November 1998, renewing relations in 2000. Eritrea's President Isaias visited Djibouti in early 2001 and President Ismail Omar Guelleh made a reciprocal visit to Asmara in the early summer of 2001. While Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh has close ties with Ethiopia's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, he has tried to maintain an even hand, developing relations with Eritrea.


U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS

In April 1977, the United States established a Consulate General in Djibouti and at independence several months later raised its status to an embassy. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti arrived in October 1980. The United States provides nearly $75 million in bilateral assistance for humanitarian programs, military training and border security.

Djibouti has allowed the U.S. military, as well as other nations, access to its port and airport facilities. The Djiboutian Government has generally been supportive of U.S. and Western interests, as was demonstrated during the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Djibouti quickly supported international efforts to fight terrorism. As a victim of past international terrorist attacks, President Ismail Omar Guelleh took a very proactive position among Arab League members to support coalition efforts.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

DJIBOUTI (E) Address: Plateau du Serpent, Blvd Marechal Joffre, P.O. Box 185; Phone: (253) 35-39-95; Fax: (253) 35-39-40; INMARSAT Tel: 68-313-4545/68-313-4546; Workweek: Sunday-Thursday, 08:00-16:30; Website: djibouti.usembassy.gov

AMB:Marguerita D. Ragsdale
AMB OMS:Diane Manago
DCM:David Ball
DCM OMS:Leilani Dimatulac
POL/ECO:Christopher Patch
CON:Andrea K. Lewis
MGT:Richard Denniston
AFSA:Charles Fleenor
AID:Janet Schulman
CLO:Vacant
EEO:Sweetie P. Lee Jones
GSO:Marissa D. Scott
ICASS Chair:Bryan Boyd
IMO:Charles Fleenor
IPO:Sweetie P. Lee Jones
MLO:Brian Jenkins
PAO:Christy Stoner
RSO:Gary Stoner
State ICASS:Andrea K. Lewis
Last Updated: 12/29/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 14, 2005

Country Description:

Djibouti is a developing African country located on the Gulf of Aden. It is a multi-party democracy with a legal system based on French civil law (Djibouti was a French colony until 1977), though modified by traditional practices and Islamic law (Sharia). Although exact statistics are unavailable, unemployment is estimated to exceed 50% of the working-age population. Approximately two-thirds of the country's 650,000 residents live in the capital, also called Djibouti. Modern tourist facilities and communications links are limited in the city of Djibouti and are virtually non-existent outside the capital.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers may obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 331-0270, or at the Djibouti Mission to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 753-3163. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Djiboutian embassy or consulate. In countries where there is no Djiboutian diplomatic representation, travelers may sometimes obtain visas at the French Embassy. American journalists or any American connected with the media must contact the U.S. Embassy's Public Affairs section prior to travel to facilitate entry into the country. If you are unclear whether this applies to you, please contact the U.S. Embassy for more information.

Safety and Security:

Djibouti enjoys a stable political climate. However, its international borders are porous and lightly patrolled. In particular, Somalia, Djibouti's neighbor to the south, is considered by many to be a haven for terrorists and other insurgent elements. In addition, tensions exist between neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea due to the unsettled nature of their long-running border dispute. Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighboring countries could disrupt air travel to and from Djibouti or otherwise negatively affect its security situation.

Terrorism continues to pose a threat in East Africa. U.S. citizens should be aware of the potential for indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and other sites where Westerners are known to congregate.

Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Djiboutian security forces do not have a widespread presence in those regions. In recent years, acts of sabotage have occurred along the Djibouti-Ethiopia railway. Although Americans were not specifically targeted in any of these attacks, U.S. citizens should exercise caution nonetheless.

Demonstrations are becoming more frequent due to the recent increase in energy prices. Americans are advised to avoid these demonstrations as they may become violent.

Americans considering seaborne travel around Djibouti's coastal waters should exercise caution, as there have been several incidents of armed attacks and robberies at sea by unknown groups in the last year. Extreme caution should be exercised, as these groups are considered armed and dangerous. When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/or in the Red Sea near Yemen, it is strongly recommended that vessels convoy in groups and maintain good communications contact at all times. Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels and are commonly monitored by ships at sea. 2182 Mhz is the HF international call-up and emergency channel. In the Gulf of Aden, transit routes farther offshore reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of contact with suspected assailants. Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes. Avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas. In the event of an attack, consider activating the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons. Due to distances involved, there may be a considerable delay before assistance arrives. Vessels may also contact the Yemeni Coast Guard 24-hour Operations Center at 967 1 562-402. Operations Center staff members are English-speaking.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available if questioned by local officials. Police occasionally stop travelers on the main roads leading out of the capital to check identity documents.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Accurate crime statistics are not available, but crime appears to be on the rise. Petty thefts and pickpockets are routine, and a few home invasions have been reported, but major crimes involving foreigners, while rare, are increasing in frequency.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Adequate medical facilities in the capital of Djibouti are limited and medicines are often unavailable. Medicines that are available are extremely expensive. Medical services in some outlying areas may be completely nonexistent. Motorists especially should be aware that in case of an accident outside the capital, emergency medical treatment will depend almost exclusively on passersby. In addition, cell phone coverage in outlying areas is often unavailable, making it impossible to summon help.

Malaria and Dengue fever are prevalent in Djibouti. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial drugs they have been taking.

In 2005, polio was found in all of Djibouti's neighboring countries (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen). While no cases have been confirmed in Djibouti, health professionals strongly suspect it is present here. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all infants and children in the United States should receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) at 2, 4, and 6–18 months and 4–6 years of age. Adults who are traveling to polio-endemic and epidemic areas and who have received a primary series with either IPV or oral polio vaccine should receive another dose of IPV. For adults, available data does not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-YI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Djibouti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Djiboutian Ministry of Defense and the national police force share responsibility for road safety in Djibouti. While Djibouti has been declared a "mine-safe" country, this indicates landmines have been identified and marked, not that they have been removed. Landmines are known to be present in the northern districts of Tadjoureh and Obock. In addition, there are reports that there may be mines in the Ali Sabieh district in the south. Travelers should stay on paved roads and should check with local authorities before using unpaved roads.

The two main international routes to the capital city via Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and Yoboki, Djibouti, are in poor condition due to heavy truck traffic on both roads. The presence of many heavy trucks on those routes demands that drivers remain vigilant. Major roads outside the capital are paved but lack guardrails. Railroad crossings are frequently not clearly marked.

Roads are often narrow, poorly maintained, and poorly lit. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards. Speed limits are posted occasionally but are not enforced. The leafy narcotic khat is widely used, particularly in the afternoons, creating another traffic hazard. Travelers should be aware that police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night.

The only means of public inter-city travel is by bus. Buses are poorly maintained and their operators often drive erratically with little regard for passenger safety.

Visit the website of Djibouti's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.office-tourisme.dj/.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Djibouti, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Djibouti's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances:

Although the narcotic khat is legal and widely chewed in Djibouti, it is considered an illegal substance in many countries, including the United States.

Djiboutians are generally conservative in dress and manner, especially in rural areas.

Djiboutian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Djibouti of firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Washington, D.C., for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Djibouti is a cash-based economy and credit cards are not widely accepted. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are rare and frequently out of service. Travelers should not depend on ATMs as the sole means for obtaining currency. Changing money on the street is legal, but be aware of possible scams as well as personal safety considerations as people observe you carrying large amounts of cash.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Djibouti's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Djibouti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Djibouti are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City. The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti. The telephone number is (253) 35-39-95. Normal working hours are Sunday through Thursday, 7:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The fax number is (253) 35-39-40.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Djiboutians

35 Bibliography

Republic of Djibouti

République de Djibouti Jumhouriyya Djibouti

CAPITAL: Djibouti

FLAG: A white triangle, with a five-pointed red star within, extends from the hoist; the remaining area has a broad light blue band over a broad green band.

ANTHEM: No information available.

MONETARY UNIT: The Djibouti franc (dFr) of 100 centimes is the national currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 Djibouti francs, and notes of 500, 1000, 5000, and 10,000 Djibouti francs. dFr1 = $0.00563 (or $1 = dFr177.72) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 27 June; Christmas Day, 25 December. Movable religious holidays are Milad an-Nabi, Laylat al-Miraj, ‘Id al-Fitr, ‘Id al-’Adha’, and Muslim New Year (1st of Muharram).

TIME: 3 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Djibouti is situated on the east coast of Africa along the Bab al-Mandab, the strait that links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. It is bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Djibouti encompasses approximately 23,000 square kilometers (8,880 square miles). It has a total land boundary length of 516 kilometers (320 miles), which includes a coastline of 314 kilometers (196 miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Djibouti is slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts.

Djibouti’s capital city, Djibouti, is located in the eastern part of the country on the Gulf of Aden.

2 Topography

Djibouti consists of a series of high, arid tablelands surrounding faults, within which are low plains. Many areas have thick layers of lava flow still visible. There are three principal regions: the coastal plain, the mountains, and the plateau behind the mountains. The highest point, Mount Moussa Ali, rises to 2,028 meters (6,653 feet) on the northern frontier. The saline Lac Assal, at 155 meters (508 feet) below sea level,

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 23,000 sq km (8,880 sq mi)

Size ranking: 146 of 194

Highest elevation: 2,028 meters (6,653 feet) at Mount Moussa (Moussa Alli)

Lowest elevation: -155 meters (-508 feet) at Lac Assal

Land Use*

Arable land: 1%

Permanent crops: 0%

Other: 99%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 17.7 centimeters (7.0 inches)

Average temperature in January: 25°c (77.0°f)

Average temperature in July: 36.7°c (98.1°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

is the lowest point in Africa and the second lowest in the world. In general, the terrain is bare, dry, desolate, and marked by sharp cliffs, deep ravines, burning sands, and thorny shrubs.

There is very little groundwater except in an area along the southern border with Somalia. Earthquakes and droughts are common.

3 Climate

The climate is torrid, and rainfall is sparse and erratic. During the hot season from May to October, daytime temperatures average 35°c (95°f). The northeastern monsoon (torrential rain with wind) blows during these months. From October to April, average daytime temperatures cool down to 25°c (77°f). Humidity is high all year, but annual rainfall averages only 17.7 centimeters (7 inches).

4 Plants and Animals

Over 90% of the land in Djibouti is desert. On Mount Goda, near Tadjoura, there are rare giant juniper trees, acacias, and wild olive trees. However, most of the vegetation is typical of the desert and semidesert, consisting of thorn scrubs and palm trees. In its few animal reserves, Djibouti is home to antelopes, gazelles, hyenas, and jackals.

5 Environment

Djibouti’s most significant environmental problems are deforestation, desertification, water pollution, and the protection of its wildlife. The scarce forests are threatened by agricultural growth and the need to use wood for fuel. The rare trees on Mount Goda are protected within a national park. The water supply is threatened by increasing salinity.

Underwater reserves have been established in the Golfe of Tadjoura to prevent overfishing of tuna, barracuda, grouper, and other species.

According to a 2006 report, threatened species included four mammal species, six species of birds, nine species of fish, and two species of plants. Although there is a ban on the hunting of wild animals, abuses continue.

6 Population

In 2005, the population was estimated at 793,000. The capital city of Djibouti had an estimated population of 502,000 in 2005. The population is projected to reach 1.1 million in 2025.

7 Migration

The people of Djibouti are historically nomadic, migrating across borders that now separate nations. At the end of 1999, about 21,000 Somali refugees from southeast Ethiopia were living in Djibouti camps. As of end 2004, there were 18,035 refugees in Djibouti and no asylum seekers. In 2005 the estimated net migration rate was zero. The dominant migratory pattern in recent years has been from the rural areas of the republic to the capital.

8 Ethnic Groups

The Issa branch of the Somali people and its related clans constitutes 60% of all Djiboutians. The Afars, a related people of the north and west, account for about 35%. The remaining 5% consists of French (about 3%), Arabs of Yemeni background, Ethiopians, and Italians.

9 Languages

French and Arabic are the official languages of Djibouti. The home languages of the vast majority of Djiboutians are Somali and Afar, both of Cushitic origin.

10 Religions

Over 99% of the population practices Islam, which is the state religion. The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and discrimination against other faiths is not widespread. About 1% of all Djiboutians are Roman Catholic, Protestant, or affiliated with the Baha’i faith. A large foreign community also supports Greek and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. Christmas is the only non-Muslim holiday that is officially recognized.

11 Transportation

In 2004, about 97 kilometers (60 miles) of single-track, meter-gauge railway linked the capital with Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2002 Djibouti had 2,890 kilometers (1,796 miles) of roads, 364 kilometers (226 miles) of which were paved. There are an estimated 13,000 passenger cars and 2,500 commercial trucks, taxis, and buses in Djibouti. A quarter of Ethiopia’s imports and half of its exports move through its improved natural harbor. Ambouli Airport, about 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the city of Djibouti, is the country’s international air terminal.

12 History

Somali and Afar herders lived in and around Djibouti for hundreds of years before European explorers came to the area in the nineteenth century. Obock and, later, Djibouti city were recognized as ports of great usefulness on the sea routes to India, Mauritius, and Madagascar. The Italians and British were active colonizers farther south along the Somali coast, and Britain gained control in areas that are now Yemen, the Sudan, and Egypt.

France decided to establish its colonial foothold in 1862 along what is now the northeastern coast of Djibouti. In 1884 France formed the protectorates of Obock and Tadjoura. In 1885 these were merged to form French Somaliland. In 1896 the boundaries of the colony were officially drawn between France and Ethiopia.

In 1898 a group of French companies began building a narrow-gauge railway that finally reached Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1917. The Italians invaded and occupied Ethiopia in the 1930s and into the early part of World War II (1939–45). During this time there were constant border skirmishes between French and Italian forces. In December 1942 French Somaliland forces joined the Free French under General Charles de Gaulle.

After World War II, French Somaliland gradually gained a measure of local autonomy. In 1957 it was granted a territorial assembly and a local executive council. These bodies were able to advise the French-appointed governor-general. In 1967, French Somaliland joined the French Community as an overseas territory. The territory elected one deputy and one senator to the French national assembly.

During this period there were ongoing disagreements between the two ethnic groups in the country, the Afars and the Issas. Although the Afars were in the minority, they dominated the government. The Issas complained that the laws unfairly favored the Afars. Consequently, the Issas continued to press the French for full independence. Their movement was opposed by the Afars, who feared Issa domination.

Finally in 1975 the French began to accommodate demands for independence. In a May 1977 referendum, the Issa majority voted decisively for independence, which was officially established on 27 June 1977. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, the territory’s premier, was elected the nation’s first president and reelected without

opposition by universal suffrage, or the right to vote, in June 1981 and again in April 1987.

Dissatisfaction with Gouled grew in the late 1980s. The human-rights record of his regime came increasingly under attack in the late 1980s and 1990s. This led to uprisings by Afar guerrillas that began in late 1991. Their group was called the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). FRUD gained control of some areas of the north and west. In early 1992 French troops came to the aid of the Djibouti government, and the Afars declared a cease-fire. However, fighting continued until mid-1992 when the rebel bases were occupied, and their leaders imprisoned.

The military occupation of the north has been expensive for the government. By the end of 1993, about 35% of the government’s budget went toward maintaining security in the north. In March 1995, a cease-fire was negotiated between the rebels and the government. Most of the FRUD guerrillas were then disarmed. Skirmishes continued into 1998 however.

Gouled became ill in December 1995 and spent several months in a French hospital. During this period a power struggle for the presidency surfaced between Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ismael Godi Hared, both close advisors to the president. In part to cut down on such inter-party fighting, Gouled decided to remain president

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Ismail Omar Guelleh

Position: President of a republic

Took Office: 7 May 1999, reelected April 2005 without opposition

Birthplace: Ethiopia

Birthdate: 27 November 1947

Of interest: Guelleh was once a police inspector.

after his recovery. Finally, in February 1999 he announced his intention to retire. Guelleh was elected president in the April 1999 elections.

In January 2003 parliamentary elections were held. However, an opposition coalition called the Union for Democratic Changeover (UAD) alleged that the election was highly fraudulent. In addition, the country’s winner-takes-all system gave the ruling People’s Rally for Progress (RPP) party all 65 seats in contention, even though the UAD was only 4,939 votes behind the RPP. This election however, was notable for one other event. Seven women won seats in the parliament, the first time in the country’s history that women held public office.

On 8 April 2005, presidential elections were held. However, the opposition boycotted the polls, alleging intimidation and irregularities during the campaign. As a result President Guelleh won another six-year term in office. These victories gave the president’s sub-clan, the Issa Mamassans, near complete domination of the government.

Guelleh attempted to mend political relations by announcing that he would not run for a third term, reports in 2005 began to surface of rebel activity by disaffected elements of FRUD.

A U.S. State Department report in early 2003 cited evidence of ongoing human rights abuses by the government. Given U.S. interest in Djibouti as an ally in the Middle East and for the war on terrorism, strong pressure for reforms was unlikely.

13 Government

Djibouti is a parliamentary republic. The president must be an Issa, according to the constitution. The president is elected by universal adult suffrage. The prime minister, who heads the cabinet, must be an Afar.

The legislature consists of the single chamber of deputies, whose 65 members are elected for five-year terms. Before 1992 candidates came from a single list submitted by the ruling party, the People’s Rally for Progress (RPP). In that year, voters approved a new constitution permitting a multiparty democracy.

Ismael Omar Guelleh, who was a key advisor to the country’s first president, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, for more than 23, was elected in 1999 and reelected in 2005. As of 2003, Dileita Mohamed Dileita was the prime minister.

Djibouti is divided into five cercles, or districts, with councils and appointed administrators.

14 Political Parties

Despite the 1992 constitutional changes that legalized opposition party political activity, Djibouti is actually a one-party system. However, illegal Issa and Afar parties continue to operate.

After the 2003 election, the RPP (People’s Rally for Progress) held all seats in the legislature and the presidency. However, two opposition groups, the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD) and the Democratic National Party (PND), function openly. The Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) formed in 1991 and was engaged in armed rebellion. FRUD-Renaissance, which separated from the FRUD in 1996, signed a peace accord with the Djibouti government in Paris on 7 February 2000.

15 Judicial System

The judicial system consists of courts of first instance, a high court of appeal, and a supreme court. Each of the five administrative districts also has a customary court. The constitutional council rules on the constitutionality of laws. The judiciary is not completely independent of the executive branch.

16 Armed Forces

In 2005, Djibouti’s armed forces totaled 9,850 active personnel, of which the army had 8,000 members, the navy an estimated 200 active members, and the air force 250 active personnel. There was also a 1,400 person gendarmerie and a 2,500-man national security force. A total of 2,850 French troops are also near the city of Djibouti to deal with threats to French interests in the region. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $25.8 million.

17 Economy

Djibouti is a free-enterprise economy. The country’s main economic advantage is its strategic position at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

The French military base in Djibouti is the country’s largest single source of economic activity. The remainder of the economy is centered around the free port of Djibouti, the end of the railway there, the airport, and government administration.

18 Income

In 2005 Djibouti’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $619 million, or $1,300

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.5%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 2%. It was estimated that services accounted for 59% of GDP, followed by industry at 23% and agriculture at 18%.

19 Industry

Shipbuilding and urban construction are the only major industrial undertakings. Local manufacturing is limited to a mineral-water bottling facility and small plants that produce food, dairy products, beverages, furniture, building materials, and bottled gas.

20 Labor

In 2002 (the latest year for which data was available), the labor force numbered 282,000. Labor in the cash economy is concentrated in the city of Djibouti, particularly on the docks and in shipbuilding and the construction industries. The railway is a significant employer, as is the national government. Unemployment was estimated at 50% in 2004, and underemployment is widespread.

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

In 2005 the monthly minimum wage for an unskilled worker was approximately $125. The minimum age for child labor is 14 years. However, a lack of labor inspectors means that compliance is uneven.

21 Agriculture

Agriculture in Djibouti is very limited, due to acute water shortages in rural areas. In 2004 agriculture contributed only 18% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2004, about 25,464 tons of vegetables were produced. Tomatoes are grown for domestic consumption. Date palms are cultivated along the coastal fringe. Famine and malnutrition in Djibouti have created a regular reliance on the distribution of food aid for millions of its people. In 2004 grain imports totaled 87,115 tons.

22 Domesticated Animals

Cattle, fat-tailed sheep, goats, and camels are grazed in the interior. In 2004 Djibouti had an estimated 512,000 goats, 466,000 sheep, 297,000 cattle, and 8,800 asses. Meat production for that same year totaled 11,244 tons, of which beef accounted for 6,050 tons. An estimated 13,950 tons of milk were produced in 2004, along with 1,990 tons of cattle hides, sheepskins, and goatskins.

23 Fishing

There is no local tradition of commercial fishing, although the Golfe of Tadjoura, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea are potentially rich sources of commercial and game fish. In 2003 the catch was a mere 350 tons.

24 Forestry

There are protected forests on the slopes of the mountains north of the Golfe of Tadjoura. Less than 1% of the country’s total land area is forested.

25 Mining

Djibouti has been known to produce occasional small quantities of clays, granite, limestone, marble, salt, sand and gravel, and crushed and dimension stone for domestic construction projects. Other mineral occurrences of potential economic interest included diatomite, geothermal fluids and mineral salts, gold, gypsum, perlite, petroleum, and pumice. Salt is extracted from evaporated pans by miners in the marshes of Tadjoura. Production of salt, which is exported to Ethiopia, totaled an estimated 30,000 metric tons in 2004. It was the only mineral produced that year.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

26 Foreign Trade

About 75% of imports are consumed or used in Djibouti, while the remainder is forwarded to Ethiopia or northern Somalia. Exports include hides and skins, and coffee. Imports include industrial supplies, consumer goods, food, fuels, machinery, and transportation equipment.

In 2004, Djibouti’s principal export partners were Somalia, Yemen, and Ethiopia. Primary import partners that year were Saudi Arabia,

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorDjibouti Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$2,150 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate2.0% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land34 803032
Life expectancy in years: male42 587675
female45 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.2 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)n.a. 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)67.9% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people78 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people13 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)0.48 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

India, Ethiopia, China, France, and the United States.

27 Energy and Power

All of Djibouti’s electricity is generated from an oil-fired generating station in the capital. Production totaled 232 million kilowatt hours in 2002. A $115 million geothermal plant is planned for the Lake Assal region west of the capital, but as of 2004, construction had not yet begun. All petroleum products are imported.

28 Social Development

Although women can vote, and have full legal protection, they do not play a leadership role, although in the January 2003 parliamentary elections, seven women did win seats in the parliament, the first time in the nation’s history. As many as 98% of women have undergone female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, a painful and potentially life-threatening procedure. Discrimination against minority ethnic clans in Djibouti is widespread.

29 Health

There are 18 hospitals, medical centers, and dispensaries, with a total of 1,283 beds. In 2006, there were an estimated 20 physicians, 65 nurses, 2 dentists, and 2 pharmacists for every 100,000 people.

In 2006 life expectancy was estimated at 43.10 years, and the infant mortality rate that same year was 104.13 per 1,000 live births.

Malnutrition is severe, and the incidence of tuberculosis high. About 23% of children under five were underweight. As of 2004 the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 9,100 people. Deaths from AIDS in 2003 were estimated at 690.

Djiboutian nomads generally live in transportable huts (toukouls), which are covered with woven mats or boiled bark that is pulled into fine strands and braided. Good quality urban housing is in short supply.

In 2000 nearly 100% of the total population had access to improved water sources. About 99% of urban and 50% of rural dwellers had improved sanitation systems.

31 Education

Education is compulsory for six years at the primary level followed by seven years of secondary school. However, as late as 2001, only 32% of school-age children were enrolled in primary school. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level averaged 34 to 1 in 2003. In 2003, only about 1% of age-eligible students were engaged in post-secondary education.

As of 2006, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 67.9% (males, 78%; females, 58.4%).

32 Media

From the city of Djibouti, telephone connections are available by satellite to Europe and the West and by land line to the main cities and towns of the interior. In 2003, there were 9,500 mainline telephones and 23,000 cellular phones in use throughout the country.

All media are government controlled. As of 2001, there were 1 AM and 2 FM radio stations, and a single television station. Broadcast programs are in French, Afar, Somali, and Arabic. There were about 78 television sets per 1,000 population in 2006. As of the most recent estimates in 2006, there were about 13 Internet users for every 1,000 people.

Djibouti has one weekly newspaper, the government-owned La Nation de Djibouti, which had a circulation of 4,300 in 2000.

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government is said to generally uphold these rights. Although the government owns the electronic media and the principal newspaper, there are several opposition-run weeklies and monthlies that operate freely.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Tourist attractions include islands in the Golfe de Tadjoura and the Bab al-Mandab. The natural beauty of Goubbet al-Kharab, at the western end of the Golfe of Tadjoura, features steep cliffs and a bay turned dark green by black lava. There are a number of active volcanoes near the inland lake, Assal. The Forest of the Day is a national park for rare trees in the north. In the south, the alkaline Lake Abbé is visited by flocks of flamingos, ibis, and pelicans. The famous red mountains and a national park full of various gazelles can be found near Ali Sabieh. An estimated 21,000 tourists visited Djibouti yearly.

34 Famous Djiboutians

Hassan Gouled Aptidon (b.1916) was president from 1977, when independence was established, until 1999. His nephew, Ismael Omar Guelleh (b.1947) was elected to the office in April 1999.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Aboubaker Alwan, Daoud. Historical Dictionary of Djibouti. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Morrow, James. Djibouti. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.

Schraeder, Peter J. Djibouti. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1991.

WEB SITES

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/af/ci/dj/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Djibouti

Djibouti

Compiled from the September 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Djibouti

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 21,883 sq. km. (8,450 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.

Cities: Capital—Djibouti. Other cities—Dikhil, Arta, Ali-Sabieh, Obock, Tadjoura.

Terrain: Coastal desert.

Climate: Torrid and dry.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Djiboutian(s).

Population: (est.) Between 466,900 and 650,000.

Annual growth rate: (2005 est.) 2.6%.

Ethnic groups: Somali, Afar, Ethiopian, Arab, French, and Italian.

Religions: Muslim 94%, Christian 6%.

Languages: French and Arabic (official); Somali and Afar widely used.

Education: Literacy—46.2%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—100 to 150/1,000. Life expectancy (2005 est.)—43.1 years.

Work force: Low employment rate; estimates run well under 50% of the work force. The largest employers are the Government of Djibouti, including telecommunications and electricity; Port of Djibouti; and Airport. The U.S. Government, including the military camp and the embassy, is the second largest employer. Able-bodied unemployed population (est. 1999)—50%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Ratified September 1992 by referendum.

Independence: June 27, 1977.

Government branches: Executive—president. Legislative—65-member parliament, cabinet, prime minister. Judicial—based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law.

Political subdivisions: 6 cercles (districts)—Ali-Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, and Tadjoura.

Political parties: People’s Rally for Progress (RPP) established in 1981; New Democratic Party (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) were both established in 1992; and the Front For The Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) was legally recognized in 1994. Five additional parties were established in 2002: Djibouti Development Party (PDD); Peoples Social Democratic Party (PPSD); Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ); Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

National holiday: Independence Day, June 27 (1977).

Economy

GDP: (2002 est.) $619 million. Adjusted per capita income: $850 per capita for expatriates, $450 for Djiboutians.

Natural resources: Minerals (salt, perlite, gypsum, limestone) and energy resources (geothermal and solar).

Agriculture: (less than 3% of GDP) Products—livestock, fishing, and limited commercial crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Industry: Types—banking and insurance (12.5% of GDP), public administration (22% of GDP), construction and public works, manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture.

Trade: (2004 est.) Imports—$987 million, consists of basic commodities, including food and beverages, pharmaceutical drugs, transport equipment, chemicals, and petroleum products. Exports—$250 million, re-exports, hides and skins, and coffee (in-transit). Major markets (2004)—France, Ethiopia, Somalia, India, China, and Saudi Arabia and other Arabian peninsula countries.

PEOPLE

About two-thirds of the Republic of Djibouti’s 650,000 inhabitants live in the capital city. The indigenous population is divided between the majority Somalis (predominantly of the Issa tribe, with minority Issaq and Gadabursi representation) and the Afars (Danakils). All are Cushitic-speaking peoples, and nearly all are Muslim. Among the 15,000 foreigners residing in Djibouti, the French are the most numerous. Among the French are 3,000 troops.

HISTORY

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.

It was Rochet d’Hericourt’s exploration into Shoa (1839-42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).

Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1884-85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were affirmed further by agreements with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1945 and 1954.

The administrative capital was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1892. In 1896, Djibouti was named French Somaliland. Djibouti, which has a good natural harbor and ready access to the Ethiopian highlands, attracted trade caravans crossing East Africa as well as Somali settlers from the south. The Franco-Ethiopian railway, linking Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia, was begun in 1897 and reached Addis Ababa in June 1917, further facilitating the increase of trade.

During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during World War II, constant border skirmishes occurred between French and Italian forces. The area was ruled by the Vichy (French) government from the fall of France until December 1942, and fell under British blockade during that period. Free French and the Allied forces recaptured Djibouti at the end of 1942. A local battalion from Djibouti participated in the liberation of France in 1944.

On July 22, 1957, the colony was reorganized to give the people considerable self-government. On the same day, a decree applying the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of June 23, 1956, established a territorial assembly that elected eight of its members to an executive council. Members of the executive council were responsible for one or more of the territorial services and carried the title of minister. The council advised the French-appointed governor general.

In a September 1958 constitutional referendum, French Somaliland opted to join the French community as an overseas territory. This act entitled the region to representation by one deputy and one senator in the French Parliament, and one counselor in the French Union Assembly.

The first elections to the territorial assembly were held on November 23, 1958, under a system of proportional representation. In the next assembly elections (1963), a new electoral law was enacted. Representation was abolished in exchange for a system of straight plurality vote based on lists submitted by political parties in seven designated districts. Ali Aref Bourhan, allegedly of Turkish origin, was selected to be the president of the executive council. French President Charles de Gaulle’s August 1966 visit to Djibouti was marked by 2 days of public demonstrations by Somalis demanding independence. On September 21, 1966, Louis Saget, appointed governor general of the territory after the demonstrations, announced the French Government’s decision to hold a referendum to determine whether the people would remain within the French Republic or become independent. In March 1967, 60% chose to continue the territory’s association with France.

In July of that year, a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.

In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory’s citizenship law, which favored the Afar minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum. The Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country’s first president. In 1981, he was again elected president of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections.

In early 1992, the constitution permitted the legalization of four political parties for a period of 10 years, after which a complete multiparty system would be installed. By the time of the December 1992 national assembly elections, only three had qualified. They were the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (People’s

Rally for Progress—RPP), which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal—PRD); and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party—PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.

In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP.

In 1999, Ismail Omar Guelleh—President Hassan Gouled Aptidon’s chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years—was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, with the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election “irregularities” and the assertion that “foreigners” had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.

In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government. On May 12, 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what is termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Djibouti is a republic whose electorate approved the current constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.

In the presidential election held April 8, 2005 Ismail Omar Guelleh was reelected to second 6-year term. Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with cabinet posts roughly divided. However, the Issas presently dominate the government, civil service, and the ruling party, a situation that has bred resentment and political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars.

Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which grew significantly with the start of the civil war in 1991. In recent years the armed forces have downsized, and with the peace accord with the FRUD in 2001, the armed forces are expected to continue downsizing. The country’s security also is supplemented by a special security arrangement with the Government of France. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 2,600 French troops, which includes a unit of the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Djibouti.

The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders, the Government of Djibouti is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to hold new elections.

Although women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries, women’s rights and family planning face difficult challenges, many stemming from poverty. Few women hold senior positions. Education of girls still lags behind boys and, because of the high unemployment rate, employment opportunities are better for male applicants.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/24/2007

Pres.: Ismail Omar GUELLEH

Prime Min.: Mohamed Dileita DILEITA

Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, & the Sea: Dini Abdallah BILILIS

Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Artisans: Rifki Abdoulkader BAMAKHRAMA

Min. of Communication & Culture: Rifki Abdoulkader BAMAKHRAMA

Min. of Defense: Ougoureh Kifleh AHMED

Min. of Economy, Finance, & Privatization: Yacin Elmi BOUH

Min. of Education: Abdi Ibrahim ABSIEH

Min. of Employment & National Solidarity: Mohamed Barkat ABDILLAHI

Min. of Energy & Natural Resources: Mohamed Ali MOHAMED

Min. of Equipment & Transport: Elmi Obsieh WAISS

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Intl. Cooperation, & Parliamentary Relations: Mahamoud Ali YOUSSOUF

Min. of Health: Banoita Tourab SALEH , Dr.

Min. of Housing, Town Planning, Environment, & National & Regional Development: Abdallah Adillahi MIGUIL

Min. of Interior & Decentralization: Aboulkader Du’ale WAISS

Min. of Justice & Penal & Muslim Affairs: Ismael Ibrahim HEMED

Min. of Presidential Affairs & Investment Promotion: Osman Ahmed MOUSSA

Min. of Trade & Industry: Saleban Omar OUDIN

Min. of Urban Planning, Housing, Environment, National, & Regional Development: Souleiman Omar OUDINE

Min. of Youth, Sports, Leisure, & Tourism: Akban Goita MOUSSA

Min.-Del. to the Prime Min. for Mosque Properties & Muslim Affairs: Cheik Mogueh DIRIR

Min.-Del. to the Prime Min. for the Promotion of Women, Family Well-Being, & Social Affairs: Hawa Ahmed YOUSSOUF

Governor, Central Bank: Mahamoud Haid DJAMA

Ambassador to the US: Roble OLHAYE Oudine

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Roble OLHAYE Oudine

Djibouti’s mission to the UN is located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-753-3163). Djibouti’s embassy in Washington is located at Suite 515, 1156 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202- 331-0270; fax 202-331-0302).

ECONOMY

Djibouti’s fledgling economy depends on a large foreign expatriate community, the maritime and commercial activities of the Port of Djibouti, its airport, and the operation of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. During the civil war (1991-94), there was a significant diversion of government budgetary resources from developmental and social services to military needs. France is insisting that future aid be conditional on an overhaul of Djibouti’s dilapidated state finances in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund. Agriculture and industry are little developed, in part due to the harsh climate, high production costs, unskilled labor, and limited natural resources. Only a few mineral deposits exist in the country, and the arid soil is unproductive—89% is desert wasteland, 10% is pasture, and 1% is forested. Services and commerce provide most of the gross domestic product.

Djibouti’s most important economic asset is its strategic location on the shipping routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean—the republic lies on the west side of the Bab-el-Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its port is an important transshipment point for containers. It also functions as a bunkering port and a small French naval facility. Business increased at the Port of Djibouti when hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Ethiopia access to the Eritrean Port of Assab. Djibouti became the only significant port for landlocked Ethiopia, handling all its imports and exports, including huge shipments of U.S. food aid in 2000 during the drought and famine. In 2000, Jebel Ali Port Managers, which manages the Port of Dubai, took over management of Djibouti’s port. This was part of a regional management scheme that also included the Port of Beruit and the Port of Djeddah. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The single-track railway—a prime source of employment—occupies a prominent place in Ethiopia’s internal distribution system for domestic commodities such as cement, cotton textiles, sugar, cereals, and charcoal. The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti are jointly pursuing privatization of the railroad. In July 2004, four international companies applied for the concession of the railway. The railroad will undergo a two-year transitional period before concession is handed over.

Principal exports from the region transiting Djibouti are coffee, salt, hides, dried beans, cereals, other agricultural products, wax, and salt. Djibouti itself has few exports, and the majority of its imports come from France. Most imports are consumed in Djibouti, and the remainder goes to Ethiopia and northwestern Somalia. Djibouti’s unfavorable balance of trade is offset partially by invisible earnings such as transit taxes and harbor dues. In 2001, U.S. exports to Djibouti totaled $18.7 million while U.S. imports from Djibouti were about $1 million.

The city of Djibouti has the only paved airport in the republic. Djibouti has one of the most liberal economic regimes in Africa, with almost unrestricted banking and commerce sectors.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Military and economic agreements with France provide continued security and economic assistance. Links with Arab states and East Asian states, Japan and China in particular, also are welcome. Djibouti is a member of the Arab League, as well as the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Djibouti is greatly affected by events in Somalia and Ethiopia, and, therefore, relations are important and, at times, very delicate. The fall of the Siad Barre and Mengistu governments in Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively, in 1991, caused Djibouti to face national security threats due to the instability in the neighboring states and a massive influx of refugees estimated at 100,000 from Somalia and Ethiopia. In 2000, after 3 years of insufficient rain, 50,000 drought victims entered Djibouti. In 1996 a revitalized organization of seven East African states, the IGAD, established its secretariat in Djibouti. IGAD’s mandate is for regional cooperation and economic integration.

With the Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 2000, Ethiopia channeled most of its trade through Djibouti. Though Djibouti is nominally neutral, it broke off relations with Eritrea in November 1998, renewing relations in 2000. Eritrea’s President Isaias visited Djibouti in early 2001 and President Ismail Omar Guelleh made a reciprocal visit to Asmara in the early summer of 2001. While Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh has close ties with Ethiopia’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, he has tried to maintain an even hand, developing relations with Eritrea.

U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS

In April 1977, the United States established a Consulate General in Djibouti and at independence several months later raised its status to an embassy. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti arrived in October 1980. The United States provides nearly $75 million in bilateral assistance for humanitarian programs, military training and border security.

Djibouti has allowed the U.S. military, as well as other nations, access to its port and airport facilities. The Djiboutian Government has generally been supportive of U.S. and Western interests, as was demonstrated during the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Djibouti quickly supported international efforts to fight terrorism. As a victim of past international terrorist attacks, President Ismail Omar Guelleh took a very proactive position among Arab League members to support coalition efforts.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

DJIBOUTI (E) Address: Plateau du Serpent, Blvd Marechal Joffre, P.O. Box 185; Phone: (253) 35-39-95; Fax: (253) 35-39-40; INMARSAT Tel: 68-313-4545/68-313-4546; Workweek: Sunday-Thursday, 08:00-16:30; Website: djibouti.usembassy.gov.

AMB:W. Stuart Symington
AMB OMS:Melissa Pousette
DCM:David W Ball
DCM OMS:Leilani Dimatulac
POL/ECO:Christopher B. Patch
CON:Solange Garvey
MGT:Richard Denniston
AID:Janet Schulman
CLO:Gretel Patch
ECO/COM:Christopher B. Patch
EEO:Christy M. Stoner
GSO:Wendy L. Nassmacher
IMO:Vacant
IPO:Nicholas Eicher
IRS:Kathy Beck (Resident in Paris)
PAO:Christy M. Stoner
RSO:Gary M. Stoner

Last Updated: 1/29/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : February 9, 2007

Country Description: Djibouti is a developing African country located at the juncture of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is a multi-party democracy with a legal system based on French civil law (Djibouti was a French colony until 1977), though modified by traditional practices and Islamic (Sharia) law. Although exact statistics are unavailable, unemployment is estimated at greater than 50% of the working-age population. Over two-thirds of the country’s 650,000 residents live in the capital, also called Djibouti. Modern tourist facilities and communications links are found in the city of Djibouti, but limited outside the capital.

Exit/Entry Requirements: A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers may obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 331-0270, or at the Djibouti Mission to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 753-3163. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Djiboutian embassy or consulate. In countries where there is no Djiboutian diplomatic representation, travelers may sometimes obtain visas at the French Embassy. Visit the Embassy of Djibouti web site at www.embassy.org/embassies/dj.html for the most current visa information.

American journalists or any American connected with the media must contact the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs section prior to travel to facilitate entry into Djibouti. If you are unclear whether this applies to you, please contact the U.S. Embassy for more information.

Safety and Security: Djibouti enjoys a stable political climate. However, its international borders are porous and lightly patrolled. In particular, Somalia, Djibouti’s neighbor to the south, is a haven for terrorists and insurgent elements. Tensions exist between neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea due to their long-running border dispute. Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighboring countries could disrupt air travel to and from Djibouti or otherwise negatively affect its security.

Terrorism continues to pose a threat in East Africa. U.S. citizens traveling in East Africa should be aware of the potential for indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and other sites where Westerners are known to congregate. Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Djiboutian security forces do not have a widespread presence in those regions.

Demonstrations have become more frequent due to the recent increase in energy prices. Americans are advised to avoid all demonstrations as they may become violent. Americans considering seaborne travel in Djibouti’s coastal waters and Northern Somalia should exercise extreme caution, as there have been several recent incidents of armed attacks and robberies at sea by unknown groups. When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/or the Red Sea near Yemen, it is strongly recommended that vessels convoy in groups and maintain good communications contact at all times. Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels and are commonly monitored by ships at sea. 2182 Mhz is the HF international call-up and emergency channel. In the Gulf of Aden, transit routes farther offshore reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of contact with assailants. Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes. Avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas. In the event of an attack, consider activating the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Due to distances involved, there may be a considerable delay before assistance arrives. Vessels may also contact the Yemeni Coast Guard 24-hour Operations Center at 967 1 562-402. Operations Center staff members speak English.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times for ready proof of identity and U.S. citizenship if questioned by local officials. Police occasionally stop travelers on the main roads leading out of the capital to check identity documents.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Accurate crime statistics are not available, but crime appears to be on the rise. Most crimes are petty thefts, but there have also been home invasions and more serious crimes. Major crimes involving third country nationals (TCNs) are rare, but increasing in frequency. The number of murders has increased, involving Djiboutians and third country nationals (TCNS).

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate medical facilities in the capital of Djibouti are limited and medicines are often unavailable. Medicines that are available are extremely expensive. Medical services in some outlying areas may be completely nonexistent. Motorists especially should be aware that in case of an accident outside the capital, emergency medical treatment would depend almost exclusively on passersby. In addition, cell phone coverage in outlying areas is often unavailable, making it impossible to summon help.

Malaria and dengue fever are prevalent in Djibouti. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial drugs they have been taking.

In 2005, polio was found in all of Djibouti’s neighbors (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen) and health professionals strongly suspect it is present in Djibouti. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all infants and children in the United States should receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) at 2, 4, and 6–18 months and 4–6 years of age. Adults who are traveling to polio-endemic and epidemic areas and who have received a primary series with either IPV or oral polio vaccine should receive another dose of IPV. For adults, available data does not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.

In May 2006, avian influenza was confirmed in three chickens and one human in Djibouti. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Djibouti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Djiboutian Gendarmerie and the national police force share responsibility for road safety in Djibouti. While Djibouti has been declared a “mine-safe” country, this indicates landmines have been identified and marked, not that they have been removed. Landmines are known to be present in northern Tadjourah and Obock districts. In addition, there may be mines in the Ali Sabieh area of the south. Travelers should stay on paved roads and should check with local authorities before using unpaved roads.

Driving on Djibouti roads can be hazardous. Since most roads do not have shoulders or sidewalks, pedestrians and livestock use the roadways both day and night. Driving at night is extremely dangerous and strongly discouraged on all roads outside of Djibouti City. While some main roads in Djibouti are well maintained, roads are often narrow, poorly lit, or washed-out. Many secondary roads are in poor repair or completely washed-out. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Minibuses and cars often break down; when breakdowns occur, local drivers usually place branches or rocks behind the vehicle to indicate trouble, but these warning signals are barely visible. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards. Speed limits are posted occasionally but are not enforced. The leafy narcotic khat is widely used, particularly in the afternoons, creating other traffic hazards. Travelers should be aware that police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night.

Drivers who do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle will encounter problems driving on rural roads. There are no emergency services for stranded drivers, and it is always advisable to carry a cell phone or satellite phone when undertaking a trip outside of town; however, many parts of the country do not have cell phone coverage.

The two main international routes to the capital city, via Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and Yoboki, Djibouti, both demand that drivers remain vigilant. The route towards Dire Dawa is in very poor condition. Both have a high volume of Ethiopian trucks transporting large cargo. Railroad crossings are often not clearly marked.

The only means of public inter-city travel is by bus. Buses are poorly maintained and their operators often drive erratically with little regard for passenger safety.

Visit the web site of Djibouti’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.office-tourisme.dj/.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Djibouti, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Djibouti’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, visit the website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances: Although the narcotic khat is legal and widely chewed in Djibouti, it is considered an illegal substance in many countries, including the United States. Djiboutians are generally conservative in dress and manner, especially in rural areas.

Photography of public infrastructure (including, but not limited to, public buildings, seaports, the airport, bridges, military facilities or personnel) is not allowed in Djibouti. Use extreme caution when photographing anyone or anything near prohibited areas. Photographic equipment will be confiscated, and the photographer may be arrested.

Djibouti is a cash-based economy and credit cards are not widely accepted. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are not available. Changing money on the street is legal, but be aware of possible scams as well as personal safety considerations if people observe you carrying large amounts of cash. The exchange rate on the street will be similar to that at a bank or hotel. It is important that the U.S. banknotes that you carry have a date of 2003 or newer because many currency exchanges will not accept U.S. paper money older than 2003. Djiboutian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Djibouti of firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Washington, D.C., for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Djiboutian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Djibouti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration/Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Djibouti are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City. The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti. The telephone number is (253) 35-39-95. The fax number is (253) 35-39-40. Normal working hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

International Adoption : July 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Adoption in Djibouti is a very complicated process, time consuming, and with many legal hurdles. Children with Djiboutian citizenship are not eligible for adoption. Only children born and abandoned in Djibouti of foreign parentage are available for foreign adoption.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: Tribunal de Première Instance de Djibouti.

Office of the Secretary
(253) 35-333-89
Tribunal de Première Instance
Ministère de la Justice
B.P. 12
Djibouti
République de Djibouti

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptive parents must be 25 years of age or older and must be at least 15 years older than the child. If the prospective adoptive parent is a relative, he/she need only be 21 years old. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must also be morally and physically sound to be able to care for the child.

Residency Requirements: The adopters must be physically present in Djibouti at the time of the proposed adoption, but need not be residents. The child must be both physically present in and a resident of Djibouti.

Time Frame: It may take a year or more from the time the adoption application is submitted to the Tribunal de Première Instance until the adoptive parents receive the final documents. Factors bearing on this time frame may include court-ordered investigations, parents’ citizenship, court calendar, appeals, and individual case anomalies.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no Djiboutian adoption agencies. According to court officials, adoptions do not require the participation of a lawyer, but it is practical to engage someone familiar with the process.

Adoption Fees: The Government of Djibouti processes all adoptions. All procedures undertaken by the court (Adoption Authority) are free of charge. Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay for any/all required medical examinations for the child, as well as for their own travel expenses.

Adoption Procedures: Once a child has been identified, adoption procedures must be initiated with a written request from the prospective adoptive parent(s) to the President of Tribunal de Première Instance, requesting the court to open an adoption case on their behalf. The court has two responsibilities: first, that of verifying whether the legal conditions necessary for the requested adoption are met; and second, that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. To that effect, it is mandatory that adoptive parent(s) attach the U.S. documents listed in the section below with their application. The court can order an additional social investigation report to complement the one already attached to the initial request, and one or more types of specific medical examinations. The Clerk of the District Court will then forward the request to the police for a background check to be performed (if the prospective adoptive parents are resident in Djibouti).

Procedures for A Child With Identified Biological Parent(s): Prior to completing the Djiboutian adoption process, U.S. prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt a child with identified birth parents should consult with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti to verify whether the child will be meet the definition of “orphan” as defined by U.S. immigration law.

The birth parents must appear before the court with their I.D. and the child’s birth certificate, and sign a consent document. A three-month appeal period is then allowed, during which time the birth parents may reclaim their parental rights or the adoptive parents can decide not to go through with the adoption.

At the end of that period, if no appeal is made, the adoptive parents must submit a request to the court to continue the process, after which the court will fix a hearing date. At the hearing, the judge will rule whether to grant a delegation of parental authority, which technically shifts parental authority from birth to adoptive parents. If the adoptive parents are residents of Djibouti, or if they plan to stay for some time, they may be granted temporary custody over the child, to allow the child to physically live with them.

The birth parents then have an additional two-month window within which they may reclaim the child. If they do not, the adoptive parents have to submit to the court a request for finalizing the adoption. At the hearing, the court will make a final ruling to grant the adoption.

However, for an additional two months the opportunity is given to the Public Ministry (Office of District Attorney) or any other concerned individual (family member), excluding the natural parents, to appeal for reversal on serious grounds of evidence, if such can show that the adoption will adversely affect the child.

Note: The court can refuse to grant an adoption, and may order the adoptive parents not to break the child’s bonds with its biological family. The judgment is always given in a public hearing. Whether the adoption is approved or rejected, the decision can be appealed, and the ensuing appeal may also be subject to a final appeal at the Supreme Court.

Abandoned Child With Unknown Parents: The process is similar to that of a child with identified birth parents, except that the steps pertaining to the birth parents will not be applicable here. Instead, after the adoptive parents have made a written request to the court, the latter will order a police investigation to try to find the birth parents and establish their identity (this may take up to a month). If birth parents cannot be found the police will deliver to the court a certificate of abandonment.

Documentary Requirements:

  • A police clearance (indicating no arrest record);
  • A home study report;
  • Proof of adequate financial means and stability (last 3 pay slips, tax return, etc.).

Embassy in the United States:

Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti
1156 15th St., NW, Suite 515
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202/331-0270

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Djibouti:

Plateau du Serpent
Boulevard Marechal Joffre
Djibouti City
Tel: (253) 35-39-95
Fax: (253) 35-39-40
E-mail: [email protected]
http://djibouti.usembassy.gov/

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Djibouti may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

Type of Government

Djibouti is a small but strategically important republic on the coast of northeastern Africa. A constitution passed in 1992 mandates a multiparty system with an elected president, an appointed prime minister, and a unicameral assembly.

Background

Djibouti’s location overlooking one of the narrowest portions of the crucial Red Sea shipping lanes gives it far greater economic and military significance than its small size, inhospitable climate, and barren landscape would otherwise suggest. A major trade depot for centuries, Djibouti remains a primary conduit for goods entering and leaving East Africa. But persistent drought and instability in all three of its immediate neighbors (Eritrea, to the north; Ethiopia, to the west and south; and Somalia, to the southeast) have hindered efforts to reduce widespread poverty and an unemployment rate of fifty percent.

Djibouti’s population is difficult to estimate for a variety of reasons, including a high but inconstant growth rate, underreported infant mortality, and significant numbers of nomads, illegal aliens, and refugees. Most 2007 estimates range between seven hundred and eight hundred thousand. The great majority of these are members of the Issa or Afar tribal groups. The Issas, who constitute sixty percent of the population, are a Somali people; the Afars, who constitute thirty-five percent, are not. Though relations between the two groups have never been warm, the establishment of the French colony of Somaliland in the nineteenth century thrust them into closer contact, deepening longstanding rivalries and fueling mutual resentments. In 1967 administrators changed the colony’s name from French Somaliland to the French Territory of the Afars and Issas in a belated attempt to reduce tribal tensions. Despite significant autonomy under French rule, demands for full independence grew, in part because each tribe felt the French favored the other. On June 27, 1977, the French formally withdrew, and the new nation of Djibouti was born. A one-party system under President Hassan Gouled Aptidon (1916–2006) was established, and authoritarianism remained the rule until domestic and international pressures forced Aptidon to allow opposition parties and a new constitution. This document, accepted in a national referendum in September 1992, remains the basis of government.

Government Structure

Executive powers are split between the president, elected by direct, popular vote for a maximum of two six-year terms, and the prime minister he or she appoints. Assisting the prime minister in setting policy and overseeing government operations are the members of the cabinet, known as the Council of Ministers; these are also presidential appointees.

Legislative powers are vested in a unicameral, sixty-five seat assembly called the Chamber of Deputies. Members are elected by direct, popular vote for five-year terms. The party with the most votes in a particular constituency wins all the seats allocated to that constituency. It is possible, therefore, for a party to win as much as forty-nine percent of the popular vote without gaining a seat.

The legal system is a mixture of French law, local custom, and traditional Islamic law (known as sharia), though the last of these is limited to family and civil matters. The legal structure consists of lower courts, appeals courts, and a Supreme Court, which serves as the court of final appeal. Magistrates at all levels are appointed for life. Despite the separation of government powers mandated in the constitution, the executive branch has repeatedly intervened in judicial matters. Defendants sometimes lack legal representation, and there have been frequent reports of abuse by guards in the nation’s jails and prisons. The death penalty was officially abolished for all crimes in 1995.

For administrative purposes, the nation is divided into six regions. At least two-thirds of the population lives in the capital (also called Djibouti).

Political Parties and Factions

Between 1981 and 1992, the sole legal party was President Aptidon’s organization, known as the People’s Rally for Progress (RPP). With the shift to a multiparty system in 1992, two major opposition groups, the Party for Democratic Renewal (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND), emerged to oppose the RPP in the approaching elections. The PND soon withdrew, however, leaving the PRD as the sole alternative to the ruling party. Voter turnout in the nation’s first multiparty elections was unusually low, and the RPP took all sixty-five seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

Though it did not participate in the elections, a group calling itself the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy, or FRUD, was growing increasingly prominent throughout the country. Dominated by Afars, FRUD began an armed struggle against the government in 1991 in response to what it characterized as systematic discrimination by the Issa majority. After a peace treaty in 1994, the FRUD rebels were integrated into the armed forces, and the group agreed to restrict itself to nonviolent activities. In a remarkable turnaround, FRUD soon became an ally of the RPP, its sworn enemy only a few years before. The latter’s dominance has continued, though President Aptidon, the party’s founder, retired from office in 1999. He was succeeded by his nephew, Ismail Guelleh (1947–), who won a second term in 2005 when he ran unopposed. In terms of popularity, FRUD represents the most viable alternative to the status quo. Its ties to the RPP, however, have compromised its ability to lead the opposition or even to field its own candidates.

The FRUD-RPP alliance is known as the Union for the Presidential Majority, or UMP, and also includes the PND and the smaller People’s Social Democratic Party (PPSD). Opposing it is the Union for Democratic Changeover (UAD), a coalition that includes the Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), the Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD), the Djibouti Development Party (PDD), and the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRDD). Given the nation’s electoral rules, it is unlikely that any of these smaller parties will gain assembly seats in the foreseeable future.

Finally, there exist a number of very small extremist groups. The most prominent of these are probably the FRUD and RPP factions that refused to accept the peace treaty of 1994. In addition, the existence of at least a few Islamic extremists is likely given the nation’s proximity to Somalia and Yemen, both of which have seen several attacks by al Qaeda. As the site of the only U.S. military base in Africa, Djibouti is an attractive but relatively difficult target. While the extent of Islamic extremism in Djibouti is unknown, there is no doubt that the government’s acceptance of a strong U.S. military presence has earned it enmity from opponents of the United States throughout the region.

Major Events

The dissolution of Somalia into a patchwork of warring fiefdoms in 1991 has had several profound and largely destructive effects on Djibouti. The most visible of these are the squalid refugee camps housing thousands of Somali refugees. The precise number is unknown; recent estimates of ten thousand are probably too low. Though efforts at repatriation are ongoing, they have not been particularly successful. Many of the refugees prefer living illegally in the streets of the capital to repatriation. Among these are children and unmarried women at high risk of abduction, forced labor, and sexual exploitation. Because these crimes are relatively common throughout East Africa and the Middle East, and because Djibouti is a major transit point between those two areas, it has emerged as a center of what is known as human trafficking. The U.S. State Department has placed Djibouti in the second tier of its Human Trafficking Watch List, a classification indicating that the nation’s efforts to eliminate these crimes do not meet minimum international standards. It also indicates, however, that the State Department believes local authorities are making significant, good-faith efforts to meet those standards.

Djibouti has recently received considerable attention in the international press in the context of U.S. anti-terror operations. In 2006, for example, Amnesty International released a report naming Djibouti as a center of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” program. Few details are available, but it appears that the CIA has access to a global network of secret prisons in which suspected Islamic extremists have been detained and interrogated without trial. Amnesty International’s report named Djibouti, a close U.S. ally, as the site of one of these prisons. While these charges are hotly debated, it is clear that they have focused international attention on Djibouti’s own human rights record, which is mixed. Though the nation ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2002, journalists critical of the government continue to risk detention, and the newspapers that employ them are routinely shut down. In June 2007 the international group Reporters Without Borders drew attention to the government’s recent closure of the nation’s only remaining privately owned newspaper, Le Renouveau Djiboutien , a weekly publication associated with the opposition party MRDD. The newspaper’s managing editor was detained four times in 2003 and currently lives abroad. Following this most recent closure, the government controlled all print media in the country.

Twenty-First Century

Many of the problems facing Djibouti in the twenty-first century are related to the chaos in Somalia. In addition to the refugee issue, Djibouti faces a number of difficult foreign policy choices. All of the factions in Somalia have targeted civilians, and none appears able to win. In those circumstances, it is not at all clear which faction to support, or even to recognize. Djibouti recently established a close relationship with the breakaway state of Somaliland, which has rebelled from the internationally recognized but essentially powerless Somali government. Somaliland’s success, however, is by no means assured, and many observers have criticized Djibouti’s actions as premature and likely to alienate other Somali factions. Should one or more factions in Somalia decide to attempt to crush Somaliland’s rebellion, Djibouti may find itself under attack as well.

A similar but slightly less likely scenario exists with regard to the nation’s other immediate neighbors, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Armed conflict between the two has been ongoing for decades. Eritrea, though much smaller than Ethiopia, nevertheless possesses one important geographic advantage: it controls landlocked Ethiopia’s traditional route to the Red Sea. The best alternative route lies through Djibouti. If the conflict grows more intense, as it has periodically, the rail link between the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and the port of Djibouti will be an attractive target for the Eritreans.

Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa . Robert I. Rotberg, Ed. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2005.

Milas, Seifulaziz. Prevention of Violent Conflict and the Coherence of EU Policies Towards the Horn of Africa: A Case Study on Demobilisation in Djibouti . London: InterAfrica Group, 2000.

Woodward, Peter. The Horn of Africa: Politics and International Relations . London: I. B. Tauris, 2003.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

  • Area: 8,494 sq mi (22,000 sq km) / World Rank: 150
  • Location: Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, Eastern Africa, bordering Eritrea to the north, the Gulf of Aden to the east, Somalia to the southeast, and Ethiopia to the south and west
  • Coordinates: 11°30′N, 43°E
  • Borders: 316 mi (508 km) / Eritrea, 70 mi (113 km); Ethiopia, 209 mi (337 km); Somalia, 36 mi (58 km).
  • Coastline: 195 mi (314 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM (22 km)
  • Highest Point: Moussa Ali, 6,654 ft (2,028 m)
  • Lowest Point: Lac Assal, 509 ft (155 m) below sea level
  • Longest Distances: approx. 132 mi (213 km) NE-SW / 96 mi (155 km) SE-NW
  • Longest River: None
  • Natural Hazards: Earthquakes, drought
  • Population: 460,700 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 162
  • Capital City: Djibouti, on the Gulf of Tadjoura
  • Largest City: Djibouti, 355,000 (2001)

OVERVIEW

Djibouti is a small, desert country on the coast of the Horn of Africa. Its eastern coast borders the Strait of Mandeb (Bab el Mandeb), which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti is part of the Afar Triangle, a three-sided structural depression that forms part of the East African Rift Valley. The country can be divided into three major geographic regions: a coastal plain at elevations of less than 650 ft (200 m), mountains backing the plain, and a desert plateau behind the mountains.

Djibouti is on seismically active terrain, at the meeting point of the Arabian and African tectonic plates, with frequent tremors and thick layers of lava flow from past volcanic activity.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

The rugged volcanic mountains in the northern part of the country average 3,300 ft (1,000 m) in elevation. The highest peak is Moussa Ali (6,654 ft / 2,028 m). Low mountains separate the coast from Djibouti's central plateau region, which rises from 1,000 to 5,000 ft (300 to 1,500 m).

INLAND WATERWAYS

The desert terrain of Djibouti is broken in places by salt lakes fed by saline underground aquifers. The largest is Lac Assal. At 509 ft (155 m) below sea level is the lowest point in Africa and the second-lowest in the world. It is also the world's saltiest body of water and reaches temperatures of up to 135°F (57°C) in the summer. There are no permanent inland water courses and very little fresh groundwater of any kind. In the far west is Lake Abe, formed by Ethiopia's Awash River.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Djibouti's eastern shore forms most of the west bank of the Strait of Mandeb, the connecting point between the Gulf of Aden to the south and the Red Sea to the north. The coastline is deeply indented south of Cape Bir to form the Gulf of Tadjoura, which is 28 mi (45 km) across at its entrance and penetrates 36 mi (58 km) inland.

Much of the coastline consists of white, sandy beaches and it is fringed by picturesque coral reefs. The capital city of Djibouti, which is the site of a deepwater port, is built on these reefs.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Djibouti's climate is extremely hot and dry. The average high temperature in the capital is 87°F (31°C) in the cool season (October to April) and 99°F (37°C) in summer. The dry hamsin wind increases the already hot summer temperatures, which can rise as high as 113°F (45°C). Rainfall is infrequent, averaging under 5 in (13 cm) annually.

About 90 percent of Djibouti's terrain, essentially all of the interior of the country, is flat, barren, desert land made up of volcanic rock. Vegetation is minimal. The coastal plain is more fertile, but still requires irrigation.

Districts – Djibouti
Name Area (sq mi) Area (sq km) Capital
Ali Sabih (Ali-Sabieh) 925 2,400 Ali Sabib
Dikhil 2,775 7,200 Dikhil
Djibouti 225 600 Djibouti
Obock 2,200 5,700 Obock
Tadjouri (Tadjourah) 2,825 7,300 Tadjoura
SOURCE : Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989.

HUMAN POPULATION

Because the vast majority (about two-thirds) of Djibouti's population is concentrated in or around the capital, and much of the rest of the country is uninhabitable desert, Djibouti has been called a city-state or mini-state.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Djibouti is a poor country with few natural resources. Its economy relies heavily on the trade that passes through the Strait of Mandeb. The country's scant mineral resources include salt and limestone.

FURTHER READINGS

Aboubaker Alwan, Daoud, and Yohanis Mibrathu. Historical Dictionary of Djibouti. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

"Drought And Economic Refugees Overburden Capital." Africa News Service, September 6, 2001.

Gordon, Frances Linzee. Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. Oakland, Calif.: Lonely Planet Publications, 2000.

Saint Viran, Robert. Djibouti, Pawn of the Horn of Africa. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

"Tiny Djibouti's Port is Thriving as Neighbors' Problems Continue." The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2000.

University of Pennsylvania African studies Web site. Djibouti Page.http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Country_Specific/Djibouti.html (accessed March 12, 2002).

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Djibouti

Djibouti

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of Djibouti

Continent: Africa

Area: 8,487 square miles (21,980 sq km)

Population: 460,700

Capital City: Djibouti

Largest City: Djibouti (200,000)

Unit of Money: Djiboutian franc

Major Languages: French and Arabic (both official)

Literacy: 46%

Land Use: 9% meadows, 91% other

Natural Resources: geothermal areas

Government: Republic

Defense: 24 million

The Place

Djibouti is in northeast Africa. It sits on the Gulf of Aden, the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

This small African country can be divided into three main regions. The coastal plain is in the eastern part of Djibouti. The Gulf of Tadjoura cuts into this plain near the center of the country. The coastal plain does not rise more than 650 feet (200 m) above sea level. Volcanic plateaus rise up in the central and southern parts of Djibouti to a top elevation of about 5,000 feet (1,500 m). They are bordered by plains and lakes. In the northern part of the country, mountain ranges tower up to 6,650 feet (2,028 m) high.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Djibouti is a very hot, dry place. Temperatures range from 85° F (29° C) in the winter to 106° F (41° C) in the summer. The country averages about 10 inches (25 cm) of rain annually. Most of the landscape is desert, and very little vegetation grows there.

The People

The Djibouti population consists of two main ethnic groups—the Issas and the Afars. The Issas make up about three-fifths of the population and live mainly in the southern part of the country. The Afars account for about two-fifths of Djiboutins and live in the northern and western areas. About 80% of Djiboutins live in urban areas. The population density is 67 people per square mile (20 people per sq km).

The wealth in Djibouti is held mostly by government employees, and much of the country is poor. The monthly minimum wage is just 99, but some managers can earn $4,375 monthly. A large percentage of the workforce is unemployed. A very large refugee population puts a strain on the country's economy.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

The Djibouti health care system is weak. There is 1 doctor for every 4,200 people, and the average life expectancy is 50 years of age.

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Djibouti

DJIBOUTI

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Djibouti

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 21,883 sq. km. (8,450 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.

Cities: Capital—Djibouti. Other cities—Dikhil, Ali-Sabieh, Obock, Tadjoura.

Terrain: Coastal desert.

Climate: Torrid and dry.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Djiboutian(s).

Population: Between 650,000 and 800,000.

Annual growth rate: 6%.

Ethnic groups: Somalis (Issaks, Issas, and Gadaboursis), Afars, Ethiopians, Arab, French, and Italian.

Religions: Muslim 94%, Christian 6%.

Languages: French and Arabic (official); Somali and Afar widely used.

Education: Literacy—46.2%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—100 to 150/1,000. Life expectancy —50 yrs.

Work force: Low employment rate; estimates run well under 50% of the work force. The largest employers are the Government of Djibouti, including telecommunications and electricity; Port of Djibouti; and Airport. The U.S. Government, including the military camp and the embassy, is the second largest employer. Able-bodied unemployed population (est. 1999)—50%.


Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Ratified September 1992 by referendum.

Independence: June 27, 1977.

Branches: Executive—president. Legislative—65-member parliament, cabinet, prime minister. Judicial—based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law.

Administrative subdivisions: 5 cercles (districts)—Ali-Sabieh, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, and Tadjoura.

Political parties: People's Rally for Progress (RPP) established in 1981; New Democratic Party (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) were both established in 1992; and the Front For The Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) was legally recognized in 1994. Five additional parties were established in 2002: Djibouti Development Party (PDD); Peoples Social Democratic Party (PPSD); Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ); Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

National holiday: Independence Day, June 27 (1977).

Economy

GNP: (2002 est.) $600 million.

Adjusted per capita income: $850 per capita for expatriates, $450 for Djiboutians.

Natural resources: Minerals (salt, perlite, gypsum, limestone) and energy resources (geothermal and solar).

Agriculture: (less than 3% of GDP) Products—livestock, fishing, and limited commercial crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Industry: Types—banking and insurance (12.5% of GDP), public administration (22% of GDP), construction and public works, manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture.

Trade: (1999 est.) Imports—$263 million, consists of basic commodities, pharmaceutical drugs, durable and nondurable goods; exports, $69 million, consists of everyday personal effects, household effects, hides and skins, and coffee. Major markets—France, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Arabian peninsula countries.


PEOPLE

About two-thirds of the Republic of Djibouti's 652,000 inhabitants live in the capital city. The indigenous population is divided between the majority Somalis (predominantly of the Issa tribe, with minority Issak and Gadaboursi representation) and the Afars (Danakils). All are Cushitic-speaking peoples, and nearly all are Muslim. Among the 15,000 foreigners residing in Djibouti, the French are the most numerous. Among the French are 3,000 troops.


HISTORY

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.


It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839-42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).


Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1884-85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were affirmed further by ageements with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1945 and 1954.


The administrative capital was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1896. Djibouti, which has a good natural harbor and ready access to the Ethiopian highlands, attracted trade caravans crossing East Africa as well as Somali settlers from the south. The Franco-Ethiopian railway, linking Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia, was begun in 1897 and reached Addis Ababa in June 1917, further facilitating the increase of trade.

During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during World War II, constant border skirmishes occurred between French and Italian forces. The area was ruled by the Vichy (French) government from the fall of France until December 1942, and fell under British blockade during that period. Free French and the Allied forces recaptured Djibouti at the end of 1942. A local battalion from Djibouti participated in the liberation of France in 1944.


On July 22, 1957, the colony was reorganized to give the people considerable self-government. On the same day, a decree applying the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of June 23, 1956, established a territorial assembly that elected eight of its members to an executive council. Members of the executive council were responsible for one or more of the territorial services and carried the title of minister. The council advised the French-appointed governor general.


In a September 1958 constitutional referendum, French Somaliland opted to join the French community as an overseas territory. This act entitled the region to representation by one deputy and one senator in the French Parliament, and one counselor in the French Union Assembly.


The first elections to the territorial assembly were held on November 23, 1958, under a system of proportional representation. In the next assembly elections (1963), a new electoral law was enacted. Representation was abolished in exchange for a system of straight plurality vote based on lists submitted by political parties in seven designated districts. Ali Aref Bourhan, allegedly of Turkish origin, was selected to be the president of the executive council. French President Charles de Gaulle's August 1966 visit to Djibouti was marked by 2 days of public demonstrations by Somalis demanding independence. On September 21, 1966, Louis Saget, appointed governor general of the territory after the demonstrations, announced the French Government's decision to hold a referendum to determine whether the people would remain within the French Republic or become independent. In March 1967, 60% chose to continue the territory's association with France.

In July of that year, a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.


In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory's citizenship law, which favored the A far minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum, and the Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977. Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country's first president.


GOVERNMENT

In 1981, Hassen Gouled Aptidon was elected President of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections. The electorate approved the current Constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.


In early 1992, the government decided to permit multiple party politics and agreed to the registration of four political parties. By the time of the national assembly elections in December 1992, only three had qualified. They are the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (People's Rally for Progress) (RPP) which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal) (PRD), and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party) (PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.


In 1999, President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years, Ismail Omar Guelleh was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election "irregularities" and the assertion that "foreigners" had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djiboution May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afarled FRUD.


Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with cabinet posts roughly divided. However, the Issas presently dominate the government, civil service, and the ruling party, a situation that has bred resentment and political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars.


In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP. In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government.


On May 12, 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what is termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.

Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which has grown significantly since the start of the civil war. In recent years the armed forces have downsized, and with the peace accord with the FRUD in 2001, the armed forces are expected to continue downsizing. The country's security also is supplemented by a special security arrangement with the Government of France. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 2,600 French troops, which includes a unit of the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Djibouti.


The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders, the Government of Djibouti is working with the ILO to hold new elections.


Although women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries, women's rights and family planning face difficult challenges, many stemming from poverty. Few women hold senior positions. Education of girls still lags behind boys and, because of the high unemployment rate, employment opportunities are better for male applicants.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 6/11/03


President: Ismail Omar Guelleh,

Prime Minister: Mohamed Dileita Dileita,

Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, & the Sea: Dini Abdallah Bililis,

Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Crafts: Elmi Obsieh Wais,

Min. of Communication & Culture: Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama,

Min. of Defense: Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed,

Min. of Economy, Finance, & Privatization: Yacin Elmi Bouh,

Min. of Education: Abdi Ibrahim Absieh,

Min. of Employment & National Solidarity: Mohamed Barkat Abdillahi,

Min. of Energy & Natural Resources: Mohamed Ali Mohamed,

Min. of Equipment & Transport: Elmi Obsieh Waiss,

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Intl. Cooperation, & Parliamentary Relations: Ali Abdi Farah,

Min. of Health: Banoita Tourab Saleh, Dr.

Min. of Housing, Town Planning, Environment, & National & Regional Development: Abdallah Adillahi Miguil,

Min. of Interior & Decentralization: Aboulkader Du'ale Waiss,

Min. of Justice & Penal & Muslim Affairs: Ismael Ibrahim Hemed,

Min. of Presidential Affairs & Investment Promotion: Osman Ahmed Moussa,

Min. of Trade & Industry: Saleban Omar Oudin,

Min. of Urban Planning, Housing, Environment, National, & Regional Development: Souleiman Omar Oudine,

Min. of Youth, Sports, Leisure, & Tourism: Akban Goita Moussa,

Min. Del. to the Prime Min. for Mosque Properties & Muslim Affairs: Cheik Mogueh Dirir,

Min. Del. to the Prime Min. for the Promotion of Women, Family Well-Being, & Social Affairs: Hawa Ahmed Youssouf,

Governor, Central Bank: Mahamoud Haid Djama,

Ambassador to the US: Olhaye Oudine Roble,

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Olhaye Oudine Roble,



Djibouti's mission to the UN is located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-753-3163). Djibouti's embassy in Washington is located at Suite 515, 1156 - 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202-331-0270) (fax. 202-331-0302).


ECONOMY

Djibouti's fledgling economy depends on a large foreign expatriate community, the maritime and commercial activities of the Port of Djibouti, its airport, and the operation of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. During the civil war (1991-94), there was a significant diversion of government budgetary resources from developmental and social services to military needs. France is insisting that future aid be conditional on an overhaul of Djibouti's dilapidated state finances in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund. Agriculture and industry are little developed, in part due to the harsh climate, high production costs, unskilled labor, and limited natural resources. Only a few mineral deposits exist in the country, and the arid soil is unproductive—89% is desert wasteland, 10% is pasture, and 1% is forested. Services and commerce provide most of the gross domestic product.

Djibouti's most important economic asset is its strategic location on the shipping routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean—the Republic lies on the west side of the Bab-el-Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its port is an important transshipment point for containers. It also functions as a bunkering port and a small French naval facility. Business increased at the Port of Djibouti when hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Ethiopia access to the Eritrean Port of Assab. Djibouti became the only significant port for landlocked Ethiopia, handling all its imports and exports, including huge shipments of U.S. food aid in 2000 during the drought and famine. In 2000, Jebel Ali Port Mangers, who manage the Port of Dubai, took over management of Djibouti's port. This was part of a regional management scheme that also included the Port of Beirut. As a result, the Port of Djibouti has increased its efficiency and is positioned to be a major port and transshipment port for the Red Sea.


The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The single-track railway—a prime source of employment—occupies a prominent place in Ethiopia's internal distribution system for domestic commodities such as cement, cotton textiles, sugar, cereals, and charcoal.


Principal exports from the region transiting Djibouti are coffee, salt, hides, dried beans, cereals, other agricultural products, wax, and salt. Djibouti itself has few exports, and the majority of its imports come from France. Most imports are consumed in Djibouti, and the remainder goes to Ethiopia and northwestern Somalia. Djibouti's unfavorable balance of trade is offset partially by invisible earnings such as transit taxes and harbor dues. In 2001, U.S. exports to Djibouti totaled $18.7 million while U.S. imports from Djibouti were about $1 million.


The city of Djibouti has the only paved airport in the republic. Djibouti has one of the most liberal economic regimes in Africa, with almost unrestricted banking and commerce sectors.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Military and economic agreements with France provide continued security and economic assistance. Links with Arab states and East Asian states, Japan and China in particular, also are welcome. Djibouti is a member of the Arab League, as well as the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU, now the African Union), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).


Djibouti is greatly affected by events in Somalia and Ethiopia, and, therefore, relations are important and, at times, very delicate. The fall of the Siad Barre and Mengistu governments in Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively, in 1991, caused Djibouti to face national security threats due to the instability in the neighboring states and a massive influx of refugees estimated at 100,000 from Somalia and Ethiopia. In 2000, after 3 years of insufficient rain, 50,000 drought victims entered Djibouti. In 1996 a revitalized organization of seven East African states, the IGAD, established its secretariat in Djibouti. IGAD's mandate is for regional cooperation and economic integration. In 1991 and 2000, Djibouti played a key role in the search for peace in Somalia by hosting Somali Reconciliation Conferences. In the summer of 2000, Djibouti hosted the Arta Conference which brought together various Somali clans and warlords. Djibouti's efforts to promote reconciliation in Somalia led to the establishment of the Transitional National Government (TNG) in Somalia. Djibouti hopes the TNG can form the basis for bringing peace and stability to Somalia.

With the Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 2000, Ethiopia channeled most of its trade through Djibouti. Though Djibouti is nominally neutral, it broke off relations with Eritrea in November 1998, renewing relations in 2000. Eritrea's President Isaias visited Djibouti in early 2001 and President Ismail Omar Guelleh made a reciprocal visit to Asmara in the early summer of 2001. While Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh has close ties with Ethiopia's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, he has tried to maintain an even hand, developing relations with Eritrea.


U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS

In April 1977, the United States established a Consulate General in Djibouti and at independence several months later raised its status to an embassy. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti arrived in October 1980. The United States provides about $7 million in primarily humanitarian assistance which is distributed multilaterally.


Djibouti has allowed the U.S. military, as well as other nations, access to its port and airport facilities. The Djiboutian Government has generally been supportive of U.S. and Western interests, as was demonstrated during the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Djibouti quickly supported international efforts to fight terrorism. As a victim of past international terrorist attacks, President Ismail Omar Guelleh took a very proactive position among Arab League members to support coalition efforts.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Djibouti (E), Plateau du Serpent, Blvd. Marechal Joffre, B.P. 185, Tel [253] 35-39-95, Fax 35-39-40, after-hours 35-13-43.

AMB/PO: Donald Y. Yamamoto
OMS: Patricia Reber
DCM: Ann Breiter
MGT: Christopher K. Derrick
GSO: Jennifer Mergy
CONS/PD: Chase Beamer
IPO: Susan Schreider
IMS: Baber Sultan
USLO: MAJ Steve Parker
RSO: Marcus A. Ramos
DAO: LTC Lee Whiteside, USA (res. Addis Ababa)
DEA: Robert Shannon (res. Cairo)
FAA: Ronald L. Montgomery (res. Dakar)
IRS: Frederick D. Pablo (res. Paris)
LAB: Virginia Palmer (res. Nairobi)


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
July 15, 2003


Americans planning travel to Djibouti should read the East Africa Public Announcement, available on the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov. Travelers should also read the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, available on the same website.


Country Description: Djibouti is a developing African country located on the shore of the Red Sea. Approximately two-thirds of its population of 650,000 reside in the capital, also called Djibouti (or Djibouti City). Modern tourist facilities and communications links are limited in Djibouti and are virtually non-existent outside the capital. Although there is no formal dress code, travelers should dress modestly in deference to local custom and culture, especially when visiting remote areas.


Entry Requirements: A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available if questioned by local officials. Police occasionally stop travelers on the main roads leading out of the capital to check identity documents.


Travelers may obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 331-0270, or at the Djibouti Mission to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 753-3163. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Dji boutian embassy or consulate. In countries where there is no Djiboutian diplomatic representation, travelers may sometimes obtain visas at the French Embassy.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Areas of Instability: Djibouti enjoys a stable political climate, thanks in part to the large French military presence based in country. However, Djibouti's international borders are very porous and lightly patrolled. In particular, Somalia, Djibouti's neighbor to the south, is believed to be a haven for terrorists and other insurgent elements. Continuing instability in Somalia and Yemen present the potential for internal unrest in Djibouti, which has large ethnic Somali and Yemeni populations. In addition, neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea recently concluded a settlement to a long-running border dispute, and nearby Yemen is pursuing a struggle against potential terrorists. Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighboring countries could disrupt air travel to and from Djibouti or otherwise negatively affect its security situation.

Safety and Security: On November 28, 2002, there was a car bomb attack on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, in which 16 people were killed, and an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter plane departing Mombasa. These incidents have highlighted the continuing threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks. U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including touristsites and other sites where Westerners are known to congregate.


Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Djiboutian security forces do not have a widespread presence in those regions. U.S. citizens are advised to keep themselves informed of regional developments and to register with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti upon arrival. Although large public demonstrations are uncommon, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.


Several hundred U.S. military personnel are stationed in Djibouti. The presence of U.S. armed forces may increase the likelihood of threats or attacks against American civilians.


Crime: Petty crime and pick pocketing is on the rise in the capital and elsewhere in the country.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited and medicines are often unavailable. Medicines that are available are extremely expensive. Medical services in outlying areas may be completely nonexistent.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medicale vacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs' home page at http://travel.state.gov or via autofax at 202-647-3000.


Other Health Information: Malaria is prevalent in Djibouti. Travelers are advised to begin malaria prophylaxis prior to arrival, as directed by a health professional.


Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/iht.


Road Safety: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Djibouti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:


Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: None


The Djiboutian Ministry of Defense and the national police force share responsibility for road safety in Djibouti. Land mines are known to be present in the northern districts of Tadjoureh and Obock. In addition, there are reports that there may be mines in the Ali Sabieh district in the south. Travelers should stay on paved roads and should check with local authorities before using unpaved roads.

The two main international routes to Djibouti City via Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and Yoboki, Djibouti, are in poor condition due to heavy truck traffic on both roads. The presence of many heavy trucks on those routes demands that drivers remain vigilant. Major roads outside the capital are paved but lack guardrails in some areas, and railroad crossings are not clearly marked.


Roads in Djibouti City and elsewhere in the country are narrow, poorly maintained, and poorly lit. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards. Speed limits are posted occasionally but are not enforced. The stimulant drug khat is widely used, particularly in the afternoons, creating another traffic hazard. Travelers should be aware that police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night.


The only two means of public inter-city travel are by bus and by ferry operating between Djibouti City and the towns of Tadjoureh and Obock. Buses are poorly maintained and their operators often drive erratically with little regard for passenger safety.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Djibouti driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Djibouti Embassy in Washington, DC.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial service at present between the United States and Djibouti, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Djibouti's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Djibouti's air carrier operations.


For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA International website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at 618-229-4801.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the laws of Djibouti, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for use, possession, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Although the mild stimulant khat is legal and widely used in Djibouti, it is considered an illegal substance in many countries, including the United States.


Customs Regulations: Djiboutian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Djibouti of firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Washington, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Currency Issues: Credit cards are not widely accepted in Djibouti. There are several automatic teller machines (ATMs) in Djibouti City and one each in Ali Sabieh, Tadjourah, and Plateau du Marabout, but they only accept Visa cards. The ATMs are frequently out of service, and travelers should not depend on them as the sole means for obtaining currency.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children, and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.


Registration/Embassy Location: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/dj1/wwwhindex.html and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. The U.S. Embassy is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City. The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti. The telephone number is (253) 35-39-95. Normal working hours are Sunday through Thursday, 7:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. The after-hours number is (253) 35-13-43, and the fax number is (253) 35-39-40.


Public Announcement
January 16, 2004


This Public Announcement is being re-issued to remind U.S. citizens of indications of terrorist threats against American and Western interests in Djibouti. This supersedes the October 14, 2003, Djibouti Public Announcement and expires on July 14, 2004.


The U.S. Government has received indications of terrorist threats in the region aimed at U.S. and Western in terests. All American citizens considering travel to Djibouti are advised to reevaluate their travel plans in light of the current situation.


American citizens in Djibouti should remain vigilant, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners, such as hotels, restaurants and places of worship, and should also avoid demonstrations and large crowds.

U.S. citizens planning to travel to Djibouti should consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Djibouti, the East Africa Public Announcement and the most recent Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, and 317-472-2328 from overseas.


U.S. citizens visiting or resident in Djibouti are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy, where they may obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. American citizens living or traveling in Djibouti may call the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti at 35-39-95, during and after normal business hours.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

POPULATION 472,810
MUSLIM 94 percent
CHRISTIAN 6 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

One of the smallest African countries, the Republic of Djibouti lies on the northeastern coast of the Horn of Africa, facing the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Mandeb, which separates the gulf from the Red Sea. Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia to the west and south, and Somalia to the southeast. The land is mainly volcanic desert, and the climate is hot and arid.

Two ethnic groups form the majority of Djibouti's population: The Issa, who are of Somali origin, make up 60 percent of the population, and the Afar, who are of Ethiopian origin, make up 35 percent. The rest consists of Yemeni Arabs and Europeans, who are mostly French. While Cushitic languages are most commonly spoken, the country's official languages are Arabic and French. Both the Issa and the Afar are Sunni Muslim, and most follow the Shafiite school of law and belong to the Qadiriyya Sufi brotherhood, which was well established in the region in the nineteenth century.

By the twelfth century Arab merchants had brought trade and the Islamic faith into the interior. Later, the coastal cities became important destinations for camel caravans emerging from the desert. The ancient trade patterns shifted when, in the late nineteenth century, the French colonial government created the port of Djibouti as the terminal for a new railroad connecting Djibouti with Ethiopia. French rule was accompanied by the arrival of Catholic missionaries, who first established Christianity in Djibouti in 1885.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

While Djibouti's constitution declares Islam to be the state religion, it also provides a restricted freedom of religion for others. The government generally claims to respect this right, but, in practice, proselytizing by non-Islamic religious groups is discouraged. In essence, Islam has not served to unite the Afar and the Issa peoples, but neither has it inspired any fanaticism for ethnic cleansing.

Major Religion

ISLAM

DATE OF ORIGIN Twelfth century c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 444,440

HISTORY

Due to the proximity of the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, its peoples were among the first on the African continent to adopt Islam. The region's first contact with Islam can be traced back to the seventh century c.e., during the lifetime of the prophet Muhammad, when persecuted Muslims fled Arabia and took refuge in the Horn, then known as Al-Habashi. By the twelfth century merchants and clerics from the Arabian Peninsula were proselytizing extensively along the coast, where local clans established small Muslim emirates. The greatest Islamic impact, however, is attributed to the Muslim merchants who traveled into the interior. Gradually Islam expanded, and the local Muslims established Islamic states separate from the Christian state of Abyssinia, which had previously controlled the whole region. These small Muslim states eventually coalesced into the three sultanates—Tadjoura, Rahayto, and Bobaad—that make up what is now Djibouti.

Arabs controlled trade in what is now Djibouti until the sixteenth century, when the Portuguese made a brief appearance there. As the Portuguese began making conquests farther east, however, the Arabs resumed their domination of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Caravans into the hinterland carried mainly imported cloth, firearms, and slabs of salt from Lake Assal. On their return to the coastal markets, they carried coffee, wax, hides, perfumes, and, above all, slaves.

Following the arrival of French imperial authorities in the region, the Catholic Church established its mission in 1885 through Capuchin missionaries from the province of Strasbourg. By the late 1880s France had expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the hinterland, designating the area French Somaliland. Following World War II the Afar and the Issa pressed the French government for independence, which was finally granted in 1977. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a senior Issa politician, became the first president of the Republic of Djibouti. Aptidon was elected to three consecutive six-year terms before stepping down in 1999, when Ismail Omar Gelleh was elected to the presidency.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

Ali Mirah, Ahmad Ibrahim al-Ghazi, and Ahmad Gran are noted heroes of the sixteenth-century strife between Muslims and Christians. Ali Aref and his contemporary Hassan Gouled Aptidon are highly respected for their roles in the negotiations that led to independence from France in 1977. All of the current sheikhs are also highly respected for their knowledge of Islam.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

The highest Muslim authority is the qadi of Djibouti. The main duty of this high-ranking religious leader is to preside over the Shari'ah (Islamic law) court, though he also celebrates marriages and registers divorces and wills. Mogue Hassan Dirir is the current qadi of Djibouti. Ongoure Hassan Ibrahim is an Islamic judge and politician of great influence.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

Every town and village in Djibouti has a mosque. The most famous are the Haaji Diide and the Masjid of Balbala.

WHAT IS SACRED?

The tombs of those considered holy are treated as sacred spaces. An example is the tomb of Sheikh Abu Yazid in the Goda Mountains. Residents and visitors stream to this location every year to honor the fifteenth-century religious leader.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

The general Islamic holy days, including every Friday and the month of Ramadan, are strictly observed by Muslims in Djibouti's urban centers. In addition to the Islamic calendar, Djiboutian Muslims also observe New Year's Day (1 January), Labor Day (1 May), Independence Day (27 June), and Christmas Day (25 December). In some cases rural people, who are mostly nomadic, alter the timing of Islamic festivals to suit their traditional ritual calendar, which is dictated by natural cycles as well as ancient traditions that honor their ancestors.

MODE OF DRESS

The distinctive dress of the Afar and the Issa reflects the hot climate. The men wear a piece of checkered cloth wrapped loosely about the loins that hangs below the knees. In addition, a cotton robe is thrown over one shoulder like a Roman toga. In most cases a traditional knife is added as an accessory. The women wear long skirts that are often dyed brown using mimosa bark. In addition, married women wear a piece of transparent cloth on their heads and sometimes over their shoulders and upper body. Young and unmarried women do not usually cover their heads, particularly in the interior. Traditional Arab dress (ihran) is worn at certain religious festivals and especially in preparation for the hajj.

DIETARY PRACTICES

There are no Islamic dietary practices that are distinctive to Djibouti.

RITUALS

The high Islamic festivals, such as the Id al-Fitr and the Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), are an important aspect of Muslim self-awareness and solidarity in Djibouti. Some aspects of religious life have been altered by urbanization, however. In contrast to their urban compatriots, for example, people in rural areas have continued to regulate their religious lives according to the ritual calendar. The veneration of saints, which is linked to the traditional cult of the ancestors, is also observed.

RITES OF PASSAGE

There are no rites of passage that are distinctive to Djibouti.

MEMBERSHIP

In a general sense every native Djiboutian is considered a Muslim. A Muslim resurgence in the country has been evident in the proliferation of mosques and Koranic schools funded by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

More than any other region of the continent, the Horn of Africa has endured the debilitating effects of conflict, which have led to complex humanitarian emergencies during the last three decades. With Muslim political and local leaders acting as facilitators, joint relief partnerships have negotiated with warring parties to facilitate the movement of humanitarian supplies across the lines of battle.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Islam has made the greatest strides in family, inheritance, and ritual law. Although the Issa and the Afar consider themselves to be deeply Muslim, the harsh conditions of their nomadic existence leave them little time to adhere to the details of Islamic practice, such as the observation of Ramadhan or frequent prayers. Furthermore, in most cases of conflict between Koranic law and tribal law, custom usually prevails. In cases of adultery, for example, Afar law applies the harsher punishment to the guilty man, in contrast to the general Islamic law. On the other hand, women who are guilty of adultery are either reprimanded by their husbands or, at most, divorced. In another example, instead of recognizing three categories of homicide—namely, premeditated, involuntary, and voluntary—Afar and Issa Muslims seek to avenge all murders.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Despite the political borders separating Djibouti's ethnic groups from their counterparts in other parts of the Horn, Djiboutians maintain close cultural and religious contacts through their clan networks. Furthermore, since the 1990s contacts with the Middle East and North Africa have helped to energize movements for Islamic renewal and political reform, particularly among unemployed youth. Djibouti's youth also study abroad at centers of Islamic learning. Several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have provided financial incentives to support such ventures. In 1992 Imam Muhammad University in Riyadh established an Arab Islamic institute in Djibouti to promote Islamic and Arabic-language education. In May 1999 the president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, declared Islam to be a central tenet of his government and named the qadi as the country's senior judge of Islamic law and minister-delegate for Islamic affairs under the Ministry of Justice.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Some clergy have advocated the state's adoption and application of Islamic law in Djibouti. The government has resisted such moves, however. Interpretations of jihad, or holy war, have generated debate since the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City in September 2001. The treatment of refugees fleeing conflicts and drought in other parts of the Horn continues to be a major social problem.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Much of Djibouti's art is still preserved in oral form, particularly song. The native languages in which Djiboutian's songs and poems are expressed contain numerous Arabic loan words. The country's significant literary artists include Raage Ugaas, an Issa poet whose works often focused on family life. In the 1940s the art of "miniature" poetry was introduced by Abdi Deeqsi, a young truck driver of great insight. His popular balwo, short poems not more than two lines in length, express deep feelings of love, affection, and the agonies of passion. Abdourahman A. Waberi has produced works of literature on such themes as exile, nomadism, and cultural conflict, including Le Pays sans ombre (1994), Cahier nomade (1996), Balbala (1997), and Moisson de crânes: textes pour le Rwanda (2000).

Examples of the influence of French and Islamic cultures on architecture in Djibouti are visible in buildings featuring Art Deco plasterwork around doors and windows or the delicate motifs and calligraphic elements of Islamic design.

Other Religions

Christians make up about 6 percent of Djibouti's population. The Roman Catholic Church, introduced during the period of French rule, claims the majority of the country's Christians and is the most active of the churches. It is the only church that has found converts among the local population. The country's Orthodox Christian community is composed of the Greek Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. The sole Protestant body in the country, the Protestant Church of Djibouti, dates from World War II. It is related to the Reformed Church of France, and its small membership consists entirely of Europeans. Most of the Christian churches in Djibouti serve the spiritual needs of foreigners, while the participation of others is largely restricted to the churche's humanitarian services.

Samuel K. Elolia

See Also Vol. 1: Islam

Bibliography

Coates, Peter D. "Factors of Intermediacy in Nineteenth-Century Africa: The Case of the Issa of the Horn." In Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Somali Studies. Edited by Thomas Labahn. Vol. 2. Hamburg: H. Buske, 1984.

Englebert, Victor. "The Danakil: Nomads of Ethiopia's Wasteland." National Geographic Magazine 147, no. 2 (1970): 186–212.

Lewis, I.M. Islam in Tropical Africa. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.

——. Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar, and Saho. London: International African Institute, 1955.

Shehim, Kassim. "The Influence of Islam on the Afar." Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 1982.

Thompson, Virginia, and Richard Adloff. Djibouti and the Horn of Africa. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1968.

Trimingham, J. Spencer. The Christian Church and Missions in Ethiopia (Including Eritrea and the Somaliland). London; New York: World Dominion Press, 1950.

——. The Influence of Islam upon Africa. New York: Praeger, 1968.

——. Islam in East Africa. New York: Books for Libraries, 1980.

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Djibouti

DJIBOUTI

Compiled from the January 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Djibouti


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 21,883 sq. km. (8,450 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.

Cities: Capital—Djibouti. Other cities—Dikhil, Arta, Ali-Sabieh, Obock, Tadjoura.

Terrain: Coastal desert.

Climate: Torrid and dry.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Djiboutian(s).

Population: (est.) Between 466,900 and 650,000.

Annual growth rate: 3%.

Ethnic groups: Somalis (Issaks, Issas, and Gadaboursis), Afars, Ethiopians, Arab, French, and Italian.

Religions: Muslim 94%, Christian 6%.

Languages: French and Arabic (official); Somali and Afar widely used.

Education: Literacy—46.2%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—100 to 150/1,000. Life expectancy—50 yrs.

Work force: Low employment rate; estimates run well under 50% of the work force. The largest employers are the Government of Djibouti, including telecommunications and electricity; Port of Djibouti; and Airport. The U.S. Government, including the military camp and the embassy, is the second largest employer. Able-bodied unemployed population (est. 1999)—50%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Ratified September 1992 by referendum.

Independence: June 27, 1977.

Branches: Executive—president. Legislative—65-member parliament, cabinet, prime minister. Judicial—based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law.

Administrative subdivisions: 6 cercles (districts)—Ali-Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, and Tadjoura.

Political parties: People's Rally for Progress (RPP) established in 1981; New Democratic Party (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) were both established in 1992; and the Front For The Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) was legally recognized in 1994. Five additional parties were established in 2002: Djibouti Development Party (PDD); Peoples Social Democratic Party (PPSD); Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ); Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

National holiday: Independence Day, June 27 (1977).

Economy

GNP: (2002 est.) $600 million.

Adjusted Per capita income: $850 per capita for expatriates, $450 for Djiboutians.

Natural resources: Minerals (salt, perlite, gypsum, limestone) and energy resources (geothermal and solar).

Agriculture: (less than 3% of GDP) Products—livestock, fishing, and limited commercial crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Industry: Types—banking and insurance (12.5% of GDP), public administration (22% of GDP), construction and public works, manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture.

Trade: (1999 est.) Imports—$263 million, consists of basic commodities, pharmaceutical drugs, durable and nondurable goods. Exports—$69 million, consists of everyday personal effects, household effects, hides and skins, and coffee. Major markets—France, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Arabian peninsula countries.


PEOPLE

About two-thirds of the Republic of Djibouti's 650,000 inhabitants live in the capital city. The indigenous population is divided between the majority Somalis (predominantly of the Issa tribe, with minority Issaq and Gadabursi representation) and the Afars (Danakils). All are Cushitic-speaking peoples, and nearly all are Muslim. Among the 15,000 foreigners residing in Djibouti, the French are the most numerous. Among the French are 3,000 troops.


HISTORY

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.

It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839-42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).

Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1884-85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were affirmed further by agreements with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1945 and 1954.

The administrative capital was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1892. In 1896, Djibouti was named French Somaliland. Djibouti, which has a good natural harbor and ready access to the Ethiopian highlands, attracted trade caravans crossing East Africa as well as Somali settlers from the south. The Franco-Ethiopian railway, linking Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia, was begun in 1897 and reached Addis Ababa in June 1917, further facilitating the increase of trade.

During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during World War II, constant border skirmishes occurred between French and Italian forces. The area was ruled by the Vichy (French) government from the fall of France until December 1942, and fell under British blockade during that period. Free French and the Allied forces recaptured Djibouti at the end of 1942. A local battalion from Djibouti participated in the liberation of France in 1944.

On July 22, 1957, the colony was reorganized to give the people considerable self-government. On the same day, a decree applying the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of June 23, 1956, established a territorial assembly that elected eight of its members to an executive council. Members of the executive council were responsible for one or more of the territorial services and carried the title of minister. The council advised the French appointed governor general.

In a September 1958 constitutional referendum, French Somaliland opted to join the French community as an overseas territory. This act entitled the region to representation by one deputy and one senator in the French Parliament, and one counselor in the French Union Assembly.

The first elections to the territorial assembly were held on November 23, 1958, under a system of proportional representation. In the next assembly elections (1963), a new electoral law was enacted. Representation was abolished in exchange for a system of straight plurality vote based on lists submitted by political parties in seven designated districts. Ali Aref Bourhan, allegedly of Turkish origin, was selected to be the president of the executive council. French President Charles de Gaulle's August 1966 visit to Djibouti was marked by 2 days of public demonstrations by Somalis demanding independence. On September 21, 1966, Louis Saget, appointed governor general of the territory after the demonstrations, announced the French Government's decision to hold a referendum to determine whether the people would remain within the French Republic or become independent. In March 1967, 60% chose to continue the territory's association with France.

In July of that year, a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.

In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory's citizenship law, which favored the Afar minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum, and the Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977. Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country's first president.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In 1981, Hassen Gouled Aptidon was elected President of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6 year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections. The electorate approved the current constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.

In early 1992 the constitution permitted the legalization of four political parties for a period of 10 years, after which a complete multiparty system would be installed. By the time of the national assembly elections in December 1992, only three had qualified. They are the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (People's Rally for Progress—RPP) which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal—PRD), and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party—PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.

In 1999, President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years, Ismail Omar Guelleh was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election "irregularities" and the assertion that "foreigners" had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afarled FRUD.

Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with cabinet posts roughly divided. However, the Issas presently dominate the government, civil service, and the ruling party, a situation that has bred resentment and political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars.

In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP. In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government.

On May 12, 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what is termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD. Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which has grown significantly since the start of the civil war. In recent years the armed forces have downsized, and with the peace accord with the FRUD in 2001, the armed forces are expected to continue downsizing. The country's security also is supplemented by a special security arrangement with the Government of France. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 2,600 French troops, which includes a unit of the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Djibouti.

The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders, the Government of Djibouti is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to hold new elections.

Although women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries, women's rights and family planning face difficult challenges, many stemming from poverty. Few women hold senior positions. Education of girls still lags behind boys and, because of the high unemployment rate, employment opportunities are better for male applicants.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 6/11/03

President: Ismail Omar Guelleh
Prime Minister: Mohamed Dileita Dileita
Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, & the Sea: Dini Abdallah Bililis
Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Crafts: Elmi Obsieh Wais
Min. of Communication & Culture: Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama
Min. of Defense: Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed
Min. of Economy, Finance, & Privatization: Yacin Elmi Bouh
Min. of Education: Abdi Ibrahim Absieh
Min. of Employment & National Solidarity: Mohamed Barkat Abdillahi
Min. of Energy & Natural Resources: Mohamed Ali Mohamed
Min. of Equipment & Transport: Elmi Obsieh Waiss
Min. of Foreign Affairs, Intl. Cooperation,& Parliamentary Relations: Ali Abdi Farah
Min. of Health: Banoita Tourab Saleh , Dr.
Min. of Housing, Town Planning, Environment, & National & Regional Development: Abdallah Adillahi Miguil
Min. of Interior & Decentralization: Aboulkader Du'ale Waiss
Min. of Justice & Penal & Muslim Affairs: Ismael Ibrahim Hemed
Min. of Presidential Affairs & Investment Promotion: Osman Ahmed Moussa
Min. of Trade & Industry: Saleban Omar Oudin
Min. of Urban Planning, Housing, Environment, National, & Regional Development: Souleiman Omar Oudine
Min. of Youth, Sports, Leisure, & Tourism: Akban Goita Moussa
Min. Del. to the Prime Min. for Mosque Properties & Muslim Affairs: Cheik Mogueh Dirir
Min. Del. to the Prime Min. for the Promotion of Women, Family Well-Being, & Social Affairs: Hawa Ahmed Youssouf
Governor, Central Bank: Mahamoud Haid Djama
Ambassador to the US: Olhaye Oudine Roble
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Olhaye Oudine Roble

Djibouti's mission to the UN is located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-753-3163). Djibouti's embassy in Washington is located at Suite 515, 1156 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202-331-0270; fax 202-331-0302).


ECONOMY

Djibouti's fledgling economy depends on a large foreign expatriate community, the maritime and commercial activities of the Port of Djibouti, its airport, and the operation of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. During the civil war (1991-94), there was a significant diversion of government budgetary resources from developmental and social services to military needs. France is insisting that future aid be conditional on an overhaul of Djibouti's dilapidated state finances in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund. Agriculture and industry are little developed, in part due to the harsh climate, high production costs, unskilled labor, and limited natural resources. Only a few mineral deposits exist in the country, and the arid soil is unproductive—89% is desert wasteland, 10% is pasture, and 1% is forested. Services and commerce provide most of the gross domestic product.

Djibouti's most important economic asset is its strategic location on the shipping routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean—the republic lies on the west side of the Bab-el-Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its port is an important transshipment point for containers. It also functions as a bunkering port and a small French naval facility.

Business increased at the Port of Djibouti when hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Ethiopia access to the Eritrean Port of Assab. Djibouti became the only significant port for landlocked Ethiopia, handling all its imports and exports, including huge shipments of U.S. food aid in 2000 during the drought and famine. In 2000, Jebel Ali Port Managers, which manages the Port of Dubai, took over management of Djibouti's port. This was part of a regional management scheme that also included the Port of Beirut and the Port of Djeddah.

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The single track railway—a prime source of employment—occupies a prominent place in Ethiopia's internal distribution system for domestic commodities such as cement, cotton textiles, sugar, cereals, and charcoal. The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti are jointly pursuing privatization of the railroad. In July 2004, four international companies applied for the concession of the railway. The railroad will undergo a two-year transitional period before concession is handed over.

Principal exports from the region transiting Djibouti are coffee, salt, hides, dried beans, cereals, other agricultural products, wax, and salt. Djibouti itself has few exports, and the majority of its imports come from France. Most imports are consumed in Djibouti, and the remainder goes to Ethiopia and northwestern Somalia.

Djibouti's unfavorable balance of trade is offset partially by invisible earnings such as transit taxes and harbor dues. In 2001, U.S. exports to Djibouti totaled $18.7 million while U.S. imports from Djibouti were about $1 million.

The city of Djibouti has the only paved airport in the republic. Djibouti has one of the most liberal economic regimes in Africa, with almost unrestricted banking and commerce sectors.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Military and economic agreements with France provide continued security and economic assistance. Links with Arab states and East Asian states, Japan and China in particular, also are welcome. Djibouti is a member of the Arab League, as well as the Organization of African Unity (OAU, now the African Union), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Djibouti is greatly affected by events in Somalia and Ethiopia, and, therefore, relations are important and, at times, very delicate. The fall of the Siad Barre and Mengistu governments in Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively, in 1991, caused Djibouti to face national security threats due to the instability in the neighboring states and a massive influx of refugees estimated at 100,000 from Somalia and Ethiopia. In 2000, after 3 years of insufficient rain, 50,000 drought victims entered Djibouti. In 1996 a revitalized organization of seven East African states, the IGAD, established its secretariat in Djibouti. IGAD's mandate is for regional cooperation and economic integration.

With the Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 2000, Ethiopia channeled most of its trade through Djibouti. Though Djibouti is nominally neutral, it broke off relations with Eritrea in November 1998, renewing relations in 2000. Eritrea's President Isaias visited Djibouti in early 2001 and President Ismail Omar Guelleh made a reciprocal visit to Asmara in the early summer of 2001. While Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh has close ties with Ethiopia's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, he has tried to maintain an even hand, developing relations with Eritrea.


U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS

In April 1977, the United States established a Consulate General in Djibouti and at independence several months later raised its status to an embassy. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti arrived in October 1980. The United States provides nearly $75 million in bilateral assistance for humanitarian programs, military training and border security.

Djibouti has allowed the U.S. military, as well as other nations, access to its port and airport facilities. The Djiboutian Government has generally been supportive of U.S. and Western interests, as was demonstrated during the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Djibouti quickly supported international efforts to fight terrorism. As a victim of past international terrorist attacks, President Ismail Omar Guelleh took a very proactive position among Arab League members to support coalition efforts.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

DJIBOUTI (E) Address: Plateau du Serpent, Blvd Marechal Joffre, P.O. Box 185; Phone: (253) 35-39-95; Fax: (253) 35-39-40; INMARSAT Tel: 68-313-4545/68-313-4546; Workweek: Sunday-Thursday, 0700-1530; Web site: In Process

AMB:Marguerita D. Ragsdale
AMB OMS:Diane Manago
DCM:VACANT
POL/ECO:Erinn Reed Stott
CON:Andrea K. Lewis
MGT:VACANT
AFSA:Robert A. Nicholas
AID:Janet Schulman
CLO:Miriam S. Anderson
EEO:Sweetie P. Lee Jones
GSO:Marissa D. Scott
ICASS Chair:Bryan Boyd
IMO:Sweetie P. Lee Jones
IPO:Robert A. Nicholas
MLO:Patrick Anderson
PAO:Tiffany M Bartish
RSO:Marc A. Ramos
State ICASS:Tiffany M Bartish
Last Updated: 2/2/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 12, 2004

Country Description: Djibouti is a developing African country located on the Gulf of Aden. It is a multi-party democracy with a legal system based on French civil law (Djibouti was a French colony until 1977) though modified by traditional practices and Islamic law. Although exact statistics are unavailable, unemployment is estimated to exceed 50% of the working-age population. Approximately two-thirds of the country's population of 650,000 reside in the capital, also called Djibouti.

Modern tourist facilities and communications links are limited in the city of Djibouti and are virtually non-existent outside the capital.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers may obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 331-0270, or at the Djibouti Mission to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 753-3163. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Djiboutian embassy or consulate. In countries where there is no Djiboutian diplomatic representation, travelers may sometimes obtain visas at the French Embassy. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Djibouti and other countries.

Safety and Security: Djibouti enjoys a stable political climate. However, its international borders are porous and lightly patrolled. In particular, Somalia, Djibouti's neighbor to the south, has become a haven for terrorists and other insurgent elements. Continuing instability in Somalia and in nearby Yemen present the potential for internal unrest in Djibouti, which has large ethnic Somali and Yemeni populations. In addition, tensions exist between neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea due to the unsettled nature of their long-running border dispute. Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighboring countries could disrupt air travel to and from Djibouti or otherwise negatively affect its security situation.

Terrorism continues to pose a threat in East Africa. U.S. citizens should be aware of the potential for indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and other sites where Westerners are known to congregate.

Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Djiboutian security forces do not have a widespread presence in those regions. In recent months, acts of sabotage have occurred along the Djibouti-Ethiopia railway. Although Americans were not specifically targeted in these attacks, U.S. citizens should exercise caution nonetheless.

U.S. citizens are advised to keep informed of regional developments and to register with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti upon arrival. Although large public demonstrations are uncommon, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available if questioned by local officials. Police occasionally stop travelers on the main roads leading out of the capital to check identity documents.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information of safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Although accurate crime statistics are not available, the capital is generally considered to be a low crime area. Petty thefts and pick-pockets are reported but major crimes involving foreigners are rare.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while over-seas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html#victims.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate medical facilities in the capital of Djibouti are limited and medicines are often unavailable. Medicines that are available are extremely expensive. Medical services in some outlying areas may be completely nonexistent. Motorists especially should be aware that in case of an accident outside the capital, emergency medical treatment will depend almost exclusively on passersby. In addition, cell phone coverage in outlying areas is often unavailable making it impossible to summon help.

Malaria is prevalent in Djibouti. Travelers to Djibouti are at risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam™), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone™). The CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced risk of contracting the disease. In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Djibouti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Djiboutian Ministry of Defense and the national police force share responsibility for road safety in Djibouti. Landmines are known to be present in the northern districts of Tadjoureh and Obock. In addition, there are reports that there may be mines in the Ali Sabieh district in the south.

Travelers should stay on paved roads and should check with local authorities before using unpaved roads.

The two main international routes to the city of Djibouti: via Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and Yoboki, Djibouti, are in poor condition due to heavy truck traffic on both roads. The presence of many heavy trucks on those routes demands that drivers remain vigilant. Major roads outside the capital are paved but lack guardrails in some areas. Railroad crossings are not clearly marked.

Roads are often narrow, poorly maintained, and poorly lit. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards. Speed limits are posted occasionally but are not enforced. The drug khat is widely used, particularly in the afternoons, creating another traffic hazard. Travelers should be aware that police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night.

The only two means of public inter-city travel are by bus or by ferry operating between the capital and the towns of Tadjoureh and Obock. Buses are poorly maintained and their operators often drive erratically with little regard for passenger safety.

Visit the website of Djibouti's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.office-tourisme.dj/home.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Djibouti, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Djibouti's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Persons violating the laws of Djibouti, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for use, possession, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Although the mild stimulant khat is legal and widely used in Djibouti, it is considered an illegal substance in many countries, including the United States. Djiboutians are generally conservative in dress and manner, especially in rural areas.

Djiboutian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Djibouti of firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Washington, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Djibouti. There are several automatic teller machines (ATMs) in Djibouti City and one each in Ali Sabieh, Tadjourah, and Plateau du Marabout, but they only accept Visa cards. The ATMs are frequently out of service, and travelers should not depend on them as the sole means for obtaining currency.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating name of country laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Djibouti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Djibouti, are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City. The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti. The telephone number is (253) 35-39-95. Normal working hours are Sunday through Thursday, 7:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. The after-hours number is (253) 35-13-43, and the fax number is (253) 35-39-40.

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Djibouti

Djibouti

The Republic of Djibouti is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, along the strategic coastline between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It is bordered by Eritrea on the north, Ethiopia on the west and south, and Somalia on the southeast. Djibouti covers an area of 23,000 square kilometers (8,958 square miles), consisting mainly of volcanic waste area with very little arable land . The climate is semi-arid to arid with very high temperatures and humidity during the monsoon seasons.

The population of Djibouti was estimated around 467,000 in 2004. About 60 percent of the population is concentrated in the capital city of Djibouti; most of the rest of its residents are nomadic herders. The indigenous population is about evenly distributed between the Issa, who are of Somali origin, and the Afar, who are also found in Eritrea and Ethiopia. The Afar live in the northern part of the country, and the Issa inhabit the southern part. The Port of Djibouti, which is connected by a railway line and an all-weather road to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the major source of income for Djibouti's economy.

Djibouti had been a French colony since 1862. In 1977, following a referendum , it became independent, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon (b. 1916), a senior Issa politician, became the president of the Republic of Djibouti. Gouled formed a new political party, the People's Progress Assembly, and Gouled and his party dominated Djibouti government for the next fifteen years.

In 1986, Aden Robleh Waaleh, a former cabinet minister and political associate of Gouled, formed an opposition party known as the National Djiboutian Movement for the Restoration of Democracy. In 1991, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy, a new opposition group made up of three insurgent Afar movements, launched a full-scale insurrection demanding political representation. In response, Gouled appointed a commission in 1992 to draft a new constitution to restore a multiparty system and to provide free elections. In May 1993, he won reelection to office in elections held under the new constitution. In 1999 Gouled announced that he would not seek reelection, and Ismael Omar Guelleh (b. 1947), the president's nephew and principal advisor, succeeded him, winning the presidential elections held in April 1999.

According to the constitution, the executive power of the government is vested in the president, who is directly elected for a six-year term and may serve for no more than two terms. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the president. The legislative power is held by the Assemblé nationale (National Assembly), consisting of sixty-five members elected for five-year terms. The judicial system is headed by the Cour Supreme (Supreme Court), followed by a high court and a court of first instance located in Djibouti. The legal system is based on French civil law, traditional practices, and Islamic law. According to Freedom House, Djibouti's scores for political rights, civil liberties, and freedom have increased over the last several years, recovering from abysmal scores in the 1990s. But Djibouti is still rated as only a "partly free" nation.

Because of Djibouti's strategic significance along the busiest sea route transporting Arab oil from Middle East to the West, France has long maintained a strong military and technical presence in Djibouti, and the United States established a base in Djibouti in 2002.

See also: Shari'a.

bibliography

Alwan, Daoud A., and Yohanis Mibrathu. Historical Dictionary of Djibouti. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Alwane, Ebo Houmed. "Djibouti: Tensions Socio-Politiques sun Fond de Succession." Afrique Politique (1997):85–109.

"Djibouti." In CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/dj.html>.

Dubois, Colette. Djibouti 1888–1967: Heritage or Frustration? Paris: Edition L'Harmattan, 1997.

Freedom House. "Djibouti." Freedom in the World 2004. New York: Freedom House, 2004. <http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2004/countryratings/djibouti.htm>.

Makinda, Samuel M. Superpower Diplomacy in the Horn of Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Schraeder, Peter J. "Ethnic Politics in Djibouti: From 'Eye of the Hurricane' to 'Boiling Cauldron.'" African Affairs 367 (1993):203–221.

Thompson, Virginia, and Richard Adloff. Djibouti and the Horn of Africa. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1968.

Mulatu Wubneh

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