Largest island of Yemen.
Measuring 1,200 square miles, Socotra (also Suqutra) Island is located in the Arabian Sea, about 500 miles from Aden and less than 200 miles from Somalia. The sparsely populated island has a mountainous interior and most of its population engages in farming or fishing; the most striking feature of this isolated place is its biodiversity and the great number of unique flora and fauna. The ruler of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra resided there under British rule during much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The island became a part of South Yemen in 1967 and, with Yemeni unification in 1990, it became a part of the Republic of Yemen (ROY). Given its location near the sea lanes, Socotra was long thought to be of strategic value by Western imperial powers. During the latter half of the Cold War, South Yemen allowed the Soviet Union to maintain a submarine base and other military facilities there; Russia continues to maintain a modest naval presence. During the late 1990s there were rumors about a deal between the United States and the ROY over military facilities on the island, but the complicated, if not strained, relations between the two countries, beginning with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Aden in 2000, squelched this talk. The considerable activities regarding Socotra now focus on its development as a tourist destination featuring and protecting its unique biodiversity.
Miller, Anthony G., and Morris, M. J. An Ethnoflora of the Socotra Archipelago. Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Garden, 2004.
Wranik, Wolfgang. A Field Guide to the Fauna of the Socotra Archipelago. Rostock, Ger.: University of Rostock, 2004.
robert d. burrowes