All About Yemen

Yemen , officially the Republic of Yemen . Country located on the southwestern coast of the Arabian peninsula , and which was formed in 1990 as a result of the unification of the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen and the Arab Republic of Yemen . It is bordered to the north by Saudi Arabia , to the east by Oman , to the south by the Gulf of Aden and to the west by the Red Sea .

From the 27 of January of 2011 thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh . The protesters call for stability and fight against chaos. The protests have been uninterrupted since February 12 .

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. In addition, the Saleh regime is exposed to the continuous actions of Al Qaeda, which has bases in this country, an attempted secession from the south and a Shiite rebellion in the north of the country that acts sporadically.

Form of government:Parlamentary republic
Capital :
 • Population:
Official language:Arab
Prime Minister:
Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi
Ahmed ben Dagher
General characteristics
Surface :527,968 km² km²
 • Density
29 780 664 (2019) hab
55.6 hab / km²
Currency :Yemeni rial (YER)
Name :Yemeni or Yemeni
Hours :UTC + 3


Yemen, whose Arabic name is pronounced AL-YAMAN , appears in history books under many names. The ancient geographers called it “Happy Arabia”. In the Old Testament , Yemen is referred to as The South and the Queen of Sheba , the Queen of the South, Queen Timna. The word AL-YAMAN is said to derive from the name of the ruler AYMAN IBN YA’RUB QAHTAN .

Ancient Arab legends, and even current Yemenis say that AL-YAMAN derives from the word AL-YUMN (which means blessings and prosperity). This meaning agrees with the name “Happy Arabia”.

Others say that the name AL-YAMAN derives from yumna (the right of the Kaaba …). Arabs tend to orient themselves with respect to the right because this side is a symbol of fortune. However, some Yemenis continue to call the north “Al-SHAM” and the south “AL-YAMAN”. Today, the official name of the country is “Republic of Yemen”.


Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Middle East. Its land, relatively fertile in some valleys, and its humid climate allowed the development of a stable population. Its nomadic inhabitants were devoted throughout ancient times to herding and raising birds.

The Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy referred to Yemen in his texts as Eudaimon Arabia (a term better known from its Latin translation, Arabia Felix). The Mediterranean peoples saw arriving caravans loaded with incense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon and laudanum; or riches such as gold , ebony , ivory and silk , so they deduced that it was a land of fable. Its greatest splendor was the kingdom of Saba –capital, Mariaba (Marib) – with its mysterious queen and her love affair with the Jewish King Solomon , which gave rise to the myth. The legend of Arabia Felix resurfaced in the seventeenth, when French, English and Portuguese merchants heard of a drink, “black gold” – coffee – that was exported to the whole world through the Yemeni port of Moka.

Between the XII century a. C. and the 6th century , the area was dominated by three successive civilizations, which controlled the lucrative spice trade: the Mineos, the Sabaeans and the Himyarites.

The Kingdom of Saba, whose capital was Ma’rib, achieved great power due to its strategic location, between India and the Mediterranean , which allowed it to monopolize the spice trade. The legendary Old Testament Queen of Sheba was supposedly from there. From the 3rd century AD. C., the kingdom of Saba happens to be dominated by the Himyarita dynasty, reason why it is spoken of the Kingdom of Himyar. In 572 the kingdom was annexed by Sassanid Persia.

The Islam came to Yemen around the year 630; from then on, Yemen became part of the Arab caliphates, dependent on Damascus and later on Baghdad . During the 8th century, small independent states began to appear in Yemen, such as the Zaidí or Zaidita dynasty, which was followed by others. In later centuries Yemen oscillates between independence and submission first to the caliphs of Egypt and then to the sultans of the Ottoman Empire . From the 15th century on , Portugal intervened , taking over the port of Aden for about twenty years. In the 18th century, Ibn Saud, founder of the Saudi dynasty, annexes Yemen, which then returns, after a brief period of independence, to Egyptian rule in the first half of the 19th century . The British settled in Aden in 1839 , and became a decisive power in the area.

After the First World War , Yemen achieved independence, becoming a kingdom. In 1926 a new Saudi intervention takes place, but the following year the Zaydite Imam is restored to his throne; new border disputes with the neighboring country will finally be resolved with the delivery to Saudi Arabia of the Asir region . At the same time, the Aden area continues under British rule; in 1937 the area was organized into a colony (Aden) and two protectorates, eastern and western.

In 1945 the Kingdom of Yemen joined the Arab League , and in 1947 the UN . In 1962 , the last king was overthrown, and the Arab Republic of Yemen, known as North Yemen, was established, although in an almost continuous situation of civil war until 1970 . In the Aden region, despite Britain’s efforts to prevent it, in 1967 the former British rule was transformed into the Marxist-oriented People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen or South Yemen, becoming the first Arab communist state. Although in the 1970s there were several clashes between the two states, and even two brief civil wars (in 1972 and 1979 ), in 1981 a draft Constitution for a reunified state was finally reached. The reflected the agreement reached on 22 of maypole of 1990 , when both republics merge into one, the Republic of Yemen.

Some historical events

  • 1962 – Revolution in the north that brings down the imamate and leads after a civil war in the 60s to the consolidation of a republican system.
  • 1967 – The withdrawal of the British from Aden eventually resulted in the establishment of a communist state in the south. North and South were in conflict during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • 1990 – On May 22, the Arab Republic of Yemen and the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen unify and the Republic of Yemen is born.
  • 1993 – Democratic elections (the first in the Arabian Peninsula) generate a triple coalition between the General People’s Congress, the Socialist Party of Yemen and Islah (an important grouping of the Islamic tribes of the north). Disputes within this coalition increased a political crisis.
  • 1994 – Despite a conciliation agreement signed in March, a series of military confrontations broke out, sparking a large-scale war between northern and southern forces in May, caused by the separatist movement of the Yemeni Socialist Party. Unity was reestablished in July , and in October Saleh is re-elected president by the parliament in Sana’a and a new governing coalition is announced, consisting of the General People’s Congress and Islah, and the Socialist Party and Yemen and other small parties in the opposition.
  • 1997 – On April 27 , in the first election since the 1994 civil war, the ruling party (CGP) adds 187 seats out of 301 in the House of Representatives.
  • 1998 – In October Eritrea and Yemen accept the decision of the International Court of The Hague in the dispute over the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea .
  • 2000 – Yemen and Saudi Arabia sign an agreement on land and sea boundaries, resolving 65 years of disputes.
  • 2001 – In the first local elections held in February, Yemenis approve the extension of presidential and parliamentary terms ex officio in a referendum.

Anti-government protests

Inspired by the popular uprisings that led the Egyptian president to resign from office, thousands of protesters in Yemen began protesting from January 27 , 2011 (uninterruptedly since February 12 ). The protests initially sought to prevent the indefinite reelection of current President Saleh, but over time they began to directly demand his resignation. On March 1, current President Ali Abdullah Saleh , accused the US and Israel of trying to destabilize his country and the Arab world.

The protests gradually spread to the southern regions, until then considered strongholds favorable to President Ali Abdulah Saleh, with sporadic incidents of street violence.The protesters demanded, in addition to the resignation of the president, that of his entire cabinet.

The surroundings of the University of Sanaa were taken by protesters who settled there to pressure the authorities, despite having been the target of attacks by government supporters with firearms, sabers, daggers, sticks and stones, according to witnesses.

The Yemeni president rejected in the first week of March a proposal made as an ultimatum by his adversaries to prepare a gradual and peaceful resignation, in order to leave office at the end of 2011, instead of 2013 , the date on which his term expires. constitutional.

According to Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi , popular discontent against Saleh and the protests were a consequence of the precarious economic conditions in Yemen, where a third of Yemenis suffered from chronic hunger. On March 11, 14 people were injured during the dispersal of another anti-government demonstration in the south of the country .


Yemen is located in the Middle East , in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, bounded by the Arabian Sea , the Gulf of Aden , the Red Sea , the west of Oman and the south of Saudi Arabia . Until relatively recently, its border to the north was not defined, because the Arabian desert prevents any human settlement there. It is considered one of the cradle areas of humanity.

Certain islands in the Red Sea, the Hanish Islands , the Kamaran Island and the volcanic islands of Perim and Jabal al-Tair belong to Yemen ; and in the Arabian Sea, the island of Socotra . With 527,970 km², Yemen, by extension, ranks 49th in the world (after France ), its size being similar to Thailand , and somewhat larger than the state of California ( USA ) and Spain . Yemen is located 15 ° N 48 ° E.

The western sector of Yemen is predominantly mountainous, with heights exceeding 3,500 meters, while the eastern sector is basically plateaus, dominated by the desert. There are no permanent rivers and rainfall is very low. The temperatures, normally very high, are milder in the maritime areas and in the mountains.

The country can be geographically divided into four main regions: the western coastal plateau (Tihamah), the western mountains, the eastern mountains, and the Rub al-Jali, in the east, the largest sand desert in the world.

The Tihamah (“hot lands”) region is a very arid and flat coastal plateau. Despite the aridity, the presence of many lagoons makes it a very swampy region, with abundant malarial mosquitoes. There are also large areas of movable sand dunes, shaped like a crescent (known as “barhan”). The evaporation in Tihama is so great that the mountain currents never reach the sea, but they contribute to the existence of large underground water reserves, reserves that are now intensively exploited for agricultural use.

The Tihamah ends abruptly in the rugged western mountains. This region, now heavily overgrown to meet the demand for food, receives the highest rainfall in Arabia, rising rapidly from 100mm per year to 760mm in the city of Ta’izz and reaching 1,000mm in the city of Ibb. Agriculture here is very diverse, predominantly sorghum crops, but also cotton and also many fruit trees, mango being the most appreciated. Temperatures are warm during the day but drop dramatically at night. There are permanent currents in the mountains, but they never reach the sea due to the high evaporation in the Tihama.

The central mountains region is a large plateau located at an altitude of about 2,000 m. It is drier than the western mountains due to the shelter of the mountains, but it still receives enough rain in wet years to be cultivated. The variation of daytime temperatures is among the highest in the world: the normal range goes from 30 ° C in the day to 0 ° C at night. Water storage allows for irrigation and growth of wheat and barley. The capital of Yemen, Sana’a, is located in this region, at 2,350 m. Yemen’s highest point is here too, and it’s Jabal al Nabi Shu’ayb, at 3,760 meters.

The Rub al-Jali desert region in the east is much lower, generally below 1,000 m, and receives almost no rain. It is populated only by Bedouin owners of large herds of camels.


The climate in Yemen is varied and depends on the different altitudes of each region. There are no marked differences between the seasons. There are generally two seasons, summer and winter . During the summer the climate is hot with a high percentage of humidity in the coastal region. In this region the winter is moderate.

Occasionally the summer is rainy due to the action of the monsoon from the Indian Ocean. These rains reduce the high summer temperature of the coastal region. In the high areas, summer is pleasant in summer and relatively cold in winter, particularly at night and early in the day, then the days are usually sunny.


In Yemen, where just 1% of the area is irrigable, the economy remains very archaic. Within the agricultural sector, mention should be made of cereal crops (millet, sorghum, wheat ) and coffee . Yemeni livestock is quite important, especially when it comes to the sheep herd. The recent oil discoveries have made this country a producer state.

The subsoil contains notable reserves of natural gas . It also has industries related to the manufacture of plastic materials, such as the manufacture of pipes and accessories; There are also food, textile, wood, chemical, tobacco, and paper products industries.

Its main trading partners are Thailand , China , South Korea , Singapore , Japan , and Saudi Arabia .

Map of Yemen
Map of Yemen

It should be noted that Yemen is the poorest country of all the Arab countries, as it has a GDP per capita of $ 889 ( 2006 ).

Unlike other inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula who have historically been nomadic or semi-nomadic, Yemenis are, for the most part, sedentary. They live in small towns and villages scattered along the coast or in the mountains.

Inhabitants: 20,727,063 (July 2005 est.), 20,024,867 (July 2004)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 46.5% (men 4,905,831; women 4,727,177) 15-64 years: 50.8% (men 5,364,711; women 5,172,811) 65 and over: 2, 7% (men 274,166; women 282,367) (2005 est,)

Population growth rate: 3.45% (2005 est,)

Birth rate: 43.07 births / 1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate: 8.53 deaths / 1,000 population (2005 est,)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants / 1,000 inhabitants (2005 est,)

Distribution by sex: at birth: 1.05 men / women under 15 years of age: 1.04 men / women 15-64 years: 1.04 men / women 65 and over: 0.97 men / women total population : 1.04 men / women (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 70.28 deaths / 1,000 live births (2000 est,)

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 61.75 years Men: 59.89 years Women: 63.71 years (2005 est.)

Fertility rate: 6.67 children born / woman (2005 est,)

Ethnic groups: Predominance of Arabs; although there is also Afro-Arab. European

Religions: Muslims, including Shaf’i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi’a), small groups of Jews, Christians and Hindus.

Languages: Arabic

Literacy: definition: people aged 15 years and over who can read and write total population: 50.2% men: 70.5% women: 30% (2003 est.)


Yemen Culture is the result of the influence of many Middle Eastern civilizations, such as the ancient Sheba civilization.


The old part of Sana’a is a world heritage site with an architectural style that is typical of Yemen such as tower style houses with multiple floors. Within this part of the city, you will find the market or souk al-Milh, which is recognized by many as the best on the Peninsula in which it is located.

This part of the city has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years, so there are some real architectural gems. In addition to the multi-storey houses there are more than a hundred mosques, twelve baths and 6,500 houses, which are decorated with elaborate friezes and window frames that have quite intricate carvings, filled with stained glass.

Cultural and natural assets

Shibam Old Walled City

View of the Old City of Sana'a.
View of the Old City of Sana’a.

Cultural asset registered in 1982 , located in the Hadramaut Governorate . This 16th century walled city is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. Its impressive tower-shaped buildings, which seem to spring from the cliffs on which they have been built, have earned it the nickname “Manhattan of the desert.”

Sana’a old cityView of the Old City of Sana’a.

Cultural asset registered in 1986 , located in the Government of Sana’a . Built in a valley located 2,200 meters above sea level, the city of Sana’a has more than 2,500 years of history. In the 7th and 8th centuries it was an important center for the spread of the Islamic religion. The legacy of its splendid political and religious past is attested by its 103 mosques, 14 public bathhouses (hammam) and 6,000 houses built before the 11th century . The multi-story tower houses, built with packed earth, help to enhance the beauty of the site.

Zabid historical town

Zabid historical town
Zabid historical town

Cultural asset registered in 1993 , in danger since 2000 , located in Al Hudaydah Governorate . The military and domestic architecture of this city, as well as its urban layout, give it an exceptional value on the archaeological and historical level. Zabid was not only the capital of Yemen between the 13th and 15th centuries , but it was also of great importance in the Arab and Muslim world for several centuries due to its reputed Islamic university.

Socotra Archipelago
Socotra Archipelago

Socotra Archipelago

Natural asset registered in 2008 , located in the Government of ‘Adan . Located to the northwest of the Indian Ocean , near the Gulf of Aden, this archipelago made up of four islands and two rocky islets is 250 km off the African coast and seems to extend the so-called “Horn of Africa ”. The site is exceptional for the great richness and diversity of its flora and fauna, as well as for their high level of endemism. Indeed, 37% of its 825 plant species, 90% of the reptiles and 95% of the land snails do not occur anywhere else in the world.

The archipelago is also home to important populations of land and sea birds of global importance. Of the 192 varieties of birds, 44 breed on the islands and 85 are regular migratory species. Some of them are in danger of extinction. The marine biodiversity of the site is also considerable, with 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 species of coastal fish, and 300 varieties of lobsters, crabs and shrimp.


There are many traditional Yemeni handicraft industries, with varied branches and professions that last for generations. They notice the beauty and charm especially when observing the quality of the arts in areas such as architecture, jewelry, traditional weapons, weavings, stone and clay pottery, leather and products made with palm leaves.


The Gastronomy of Yemen is one of the cuisines of the Middle East that is characterized by the diversity of ingredients and the use of spicy spices. Yemen was formerly known as ‘South Yemen’ and ‘North Yemen’ and in 1990 they merged into the so-called Republic of Yemen.

Ingredients Zhug is a well-known hot sauce in Yemeni cuisine made with various spices, such as: cardamom, caraway, coriander, etc. This sauce is usually eaten on flat bread (a staple food in Yemen). Another staple food is hilbeh which is often served in the south, while its northern variant is called hulba.

Chicken and lamb are found as ingredients in dishes very frequently, often more than beef, which is more expensive. Fish is also generally served in coastal areas. Cheese, butter, and other dairy products are less common in the Yemeni diet. Buttermilk, however, is highly prized and easily found. The use of oil in cooking is used in main dishes, and semn (سمن) (clarified butter) in pastry recipes.

Dishes Yemen’s national dish is saltah (سلطة), which has slight regional variations throughout the territory. The base of the dish has its origin in a Turkish meat stew called maraq (مرق), it is accompanied by a fenugreek paste, sahawiq (سهاويق) or sahowqa (a mixture of chillies, tomatoes, garlic and various minced herbs in a sauce .) rice, potato, scrambled egg, and various vegetables. It is usually eaten with flat bread.

Other well-known dishes are: Aseed, Fahsa, Thareed, Samak Mofa, Lahm Mandi, Fattah, Shafut, Bint AlSahn, Jachnun.

Drinks Tea is a traditional drink among Yemenis, who usually drink it after chewing qat. The most common varieties are milk tea, black tea (with cloves, cardamom or mint). Coffee varieties such as Qishr, Qahwa, and infusions such as Karkadé are also drunk.

Although coffee and tea are consumed throughout Yemen, coffee is preferred in Sana’a, while tea is preferred in Aden and Hadramaut. Tea is taken at breakfast, after lunch (often accompanied by sweets and pastries), and during dinner. Cloves, cardamom and mint are usually added.


Yemeni music is strongly influenced by the musical elements and genres of the Arabian Peninsula and Yemeni music is known abroad thanks to popular Pan-Arab musician and Yemeni Jews who became musical stars in Israel during the 20th century. In the Arab world, Yemen has traditionally been considered an important musical center.

Yemen’s national anthem is United Republic, written by Abdallah “al-Fadhool” Abdulwahab Noman.

UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Sanaa’s poetic songs, called al-Ghina al-San’ani, a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of mankind on November 7, 2003.

Folk music Yemeni folk music is usually a part of the home, played and sung in a room surrounded by windows high above the house called the mafraj, usually while chewing qat (leaves from a local bush with similar stimulating and psychoactive effects to amphetamines). This kind of interpretation based on poetic intonation is called homayni; and its tradition dates back to the fourteenth century. Two of the most famous Yemeni musicians, Ahmed Fathey and Osama al Attar now reside in the United Arab Emirates. The Homayni style of Sanaa, the Yemeni captain is the most popular today.

There is a large Yemeni community in Cardiff and other cities in Wales. In recent years Yemeni music has become part of the Welsh music scene.

Yemeni musicians

  • Abubakr Salim Balfaqih
  • Ahmad as-Sunaydar
  • Ahmad Qasim
  • Ahmed Fathey
  • Ali al-Aanisi
  • Ali as-Simah
  • Ayoob Tarish Absi
  • Faisal Alawi
  • Fouad al-Kibsy
  • Jamil Ghanim
  • Muhammad Hamood al-Harithi
  • Muhammad Murshid Naji

The song of Sana’a

It is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Yemen, registered as such in 2008 . The Sana’a song, also known as al-Ghina al-San’ani, designates a set of songs that belong to a rich musical tradition practiced throughout Yemen. This song, which is rooted in various poetic traditions dating from the 14th century, constitutes an important part of a number of important ceremonies and social activities, such as the wedding evening (samra) or the magyal, a daily meeting between friends and colleagues who takes place in the afternoons.

The songs are performed by a solo singer accompanied by two ancient instruments: the qanbus (Yemeni lute) and the traditional sahn nuhasi, a copper tray that the musician balances on the tips of both thumbs and taps gently with the other eight fingers. There are many different melodic types. The modulation of one to another during the same performance is not frequent, but the artistic talent of the singer is judged by his ability to embellish a melody by emphasizing the meaning of the text and captivating the audience. This music can also accompany different traditional dances.

The poetic repertoire, composed in various Yemeni dialects and in classical Arabic, contains many elegant puns and is imbued with deep emotion. These texts constitute the most revered and frequently cited collection of poetry in Yemen. Although these songs are directly associated with the city of Sana’a, the historical capital of Yemen, they are widespread throughout the country, even in rural areas. In fact, the poetic repertoire often draws on the dialects of the different regions of the country. Furthermore, performers of other genres are often inspired by traditional melodies, particularly for country dances and contemporary music.

Although Yemenis continue to be very proud of the Sana’a singing tradition, the audience for concerts has decreased and today’s musicians, although more and more numerous, only know a few songs that they intersperse in their concerts before moving on to a lighter contemporary repertoire. Only some musicians of previous generations have preserved all the tradition and subtleties of the performance of the Sana’a song.

Judeo-Yemenite dance

Yemenite Dance Group
Yemenite Dance Group

Yemeni Judaiism is not just an ethnic group, it is a phenomenon. Its rich culture was preserved over time and continues to this day in all its manifestations, one of which is dance.

Yemeni dance is unique in its style and impresses with its beauty and delicacy. It is a functional dance, since it is danced in family or religious events, as an integral part of them and not as entertainment. It is a chamber dance, danced indoors, by a small number of dancers and accompanied by songs. The song was taken from the “diwan”, a collection of poems written mostly by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, the greatest of the Judeo-Yemeni poets. The Judeo-Yemenite community is not a compact mass, since it is made up of Jews who lived in different regions of Yemen and each region has different customs, dances and songs that identify it.


The Yemeni film industry is in its early stages and as of 2008 only two Yemeni films have been created. In 2005 A New Day in Old Sanaa, which tells the story of a young man who is torn between marrying by tradition or continuing with the woman he loves.

In August 2008, Yemen’s Interior Minister Mutahar al-Masri supported the launch of a new film to educate the public about the consequences of Islamic extremism. The losing bet was produced by Fadl al-Olfi. The plot follows two Yemenis who return to their country after years living abroad, sent by an al Qaeda chief to recruit new members and carry out terrorist operations in Yemen.


The Islam is the official religion. Most Yemenis are Muslim except for a small Jewish minority.


Since 2000, the Yemeni government has introduced an educational project with which it intends to introduce significant changes in the education system, reducing illiteracy to less than 10% by the year 2025. [4] Although the Yemeni government offers free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 15, the US Department has reported that the obligation is not enforced. The government has developed in 2003 a National Basic Educational Development Strategy that aims to provide education to Yemeni children between 6 and 14 years old and also reduce the differences between men and women in rural and Rubanian areas.

A seven-year project has also been designed to promote gender equality and the quality and efficiency of secondary education, focusing on girls in rural areas, which was approved by the World Bank in March 2008.

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