Located in southern Arabia, Yemen was formerly two countries: the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (south and east) and the Yemen Arab Republic (northwest) were united in 1990.
Geography: Mountainous west with a fertile strip along the Red Sea. Arid desert and mountains elsewhere.
Climate; Desert climate, modified by altitude, which affects temperatures by as much as 54°F (30°C).
People and Society; Almost entirely of Arab and Bedouin descent, most Yemenis are Sunni Muslims, of the Shafi sect. In rural and northern areas, tribalism and Islamic orthodoxy are strong and most women wear the veil. Tension continues between the south, led by cosmopolitan Aden, and the more conservative north, though political opposition is now primarily from Islamists. Foreigners are subject to sporadic attacks and kidnappings.
The Economy; Instability deters investment. Considerable oil and natural gas reserves. Agriculture is the largest employer: qat (mild narcotic), coffee, and cotton.
Insight: Mokha, on the Red Sea, gave its name to the first coffee beans exported to Europe in the 1600’s
Official Name: Republic of Yemen
Date of Formation: 1990
Population: 23.6 million
Total Area: 203,849 sq. miles (527,970 sq. km)
Density: 108 people per sq. mile
Religions: Sunni Muslim 55%, Shi’a Muslim 42%, Christian, Hindu, and Jewish 3%
Ethnic Mix: Arab 99%, Afro-Arab, Indian, Somali, and European 1%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Yemeni rial = 100 fils