Djibouti

This article is about the country. For the capital of Djibouti, see Djibouti City.
جمهورية جيبوتي
Jumhūriyyat Jībūtī
République de Djibouti

Republic of Djibouti
Flag of Djibouti Coat of arms of Djibouti
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Djibouti
Location of Djibouti
Capital Djibouti
Largest city Djibouti
Official language Arabic and French
Government Parliamentary democracy
 - President Ismail Omar Guelleh
 - Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita
Independence from France 
 - Date June 27 1977 
Area
 - Total 23,200 km² (149th)
8,958 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 0.09% (20 km² / 7.7 mi²)
Population
 - July 2005 estimate 793,000 (160th)
 - 2000 census 460,700
 - Density 34/km² (168th)
88/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $1.641 billion (164th)
 - Per capita $2,070 (141st)
HDI  (2003) 0.494 (low) (148th)
Currency Franc (DJF)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .dj
Calling code +253

Djibouti (Arabic: جيبوتيJībūtī, Somali: Jabuuti), officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a small country in eastern Africa, located in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. On the other side of the Red Sea, on the Arabian Peninsula, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the coast of Djibouti, is Yemen.

Contents

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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 nineteenth 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 among the first on the African continent to accept Islam. Djibouti is a Muslim country which regularly takes part in Islamic as well as Arab meetings.

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Politics

Djibouti is a semi-presidential republic, with executive power in the government, and legislative power in both the government and parliament. The parliamentary party system is dominated by the People's Rally for Progress and the current President is Ismail Omar Guelleh. The country's current constitution was approved in September 1992. Djibouti is a one party dominant state with the People's Rally for Progress in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but have no real chance of gaining power (see Elections in Djibouti).

The government is seen as being controlled by the Somali Issas, though at its head power is shared between a Somali President and an Afar Prime Minister (Scoitas Shilades), with cabinet posts similarly divided. The country has recently come out of a decade long civil war, with the government and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) signing a peace treaty in 2001. Two FRUD members are part of the current cabinet.

Despite elections of the 1990s being described as "generally fair", Guelleh was sworn in for his second and final six year term as president in a one-man race on 8 April 2005. He took 100% of the votes in a 78.9% turnout. Opposition parties boycotted the election, describing the poll as "ridiculous, rigged, and rubbish".

Djibouti's second president, Guelleh was first elected to office in 1999, taking over from his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled the country since its independence from France in 1977. [1]

The prime minister, who leads the council of ministers ('cabinet'), is appointed by the President. The parliament - the Chambre des Députés - consists of 65 members who are elected every five years.

In 2001 the Djiboutian government leased the former French Foreign Legion base Camp Le Monier to the United States. Camp Lemonier is being used by the United States Central Command in operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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Administrative divisions

Map of the Regions of Djibouti.

Djibouti is divided into five regions and one city. It is further subdivided into fifteen districts.

The regions and city are:

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Geography

Map of Djibouti
Map of Djibouti

Djibouti is in Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia. Its coordinates are 11°30′N 43°00′E.

Djibouti shares a 113-km border with Eritrea, 337 km with Ethiopia and 58 km with Somalia (total 506 km). It also has 314 km of coastline.

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Economy

The economy of Djibouti is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location and status as a free trade zone in northeast Africa. Two-thirds of the inhabitants live in the capital city, the remainder being mostly nomadic herders. Scant rainfall limits crop production to fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported.

Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. It has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An unemployment rate of 40% to 50% continues to be a major problem. Inflation is not a concern, however, because of the fixed tie of the franc to the US dollar. Per capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% over the last seven years because of recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and refugees). Also, renewed fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea has disturbed normal external channels of commerce. Faced with a multitude of economic difficulties, the government has fallen into arrears on long-term external debt and has been struggling to meet the stipulations of foreign aid donors. [2]

Typical street in the city of Djibouti, Djibouti, Africa.  Winter, 2005.
Typical street in the city of Djibouti, Djibouti, Africa. Winter, 2005.
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Demographics

The population is divided into two main groups, the Issa of Somali people, who make up about 60%, and the Afar, about 35%. The remainder is formed by Europeans (mostly French and Italians), Arabs and Ethiopians. Tensions between the Afar and Issa was the cause of the civil war in the early 1990s.

The Somali ethnic component in Djibouti is mainly composed of the Issas, who form the majority and rule the nation, and the Gadabuursi and Isaaq, all of whom are closely related as Dir subclans. The Issas form part of the ciise waraabe, while the Gadabuursi and Isaaq are part of the Mahe Dir, Mohammed Hiniftire. Other Somalis in Djibouti include Issas from the Ethiopian Somali Region and from northern Somalia.

The vast majority of the people of Djibouti are Muslim; only a small percentage (6 %) is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic), notably the Europeans.

Although French and Arabic are the official languages, Somali and Afar are widely spoken.

The bulk of Djibouti's people are urban residents; the remainder are herders. Health, sanitary, and education services are relatively poor in both urban and rural areas.

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Culture

See also: Music of Djibouti, List of writers from Djibouti
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Miscellaneous topics

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Further reading

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External links

Government
News
Overviews
Directories
Tourism
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References and notes

  1. DJIBOUTI: Guelleh sworn in for second presidential term. Retrieved on December 4, 2005.
  2. CIA Fact Book
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