views updated May 21 2018

Djibouti (Jibouti)

Country statistics


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

capital (population):

Djibouti (524,700)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Issa 47%, Afar 37%, Arab 6%


Arabic and French (both official)


Sunni Muslim 93%, Roman Catholic 4%


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.

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