|General background: North Yemen became independent
of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had
set up a protectorate area around the southern port
of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what
became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern
government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive
exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the
south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility
between the states. The two countries were formally
unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern
secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In
2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation
of their border.
Area comparative: Slightly
larger than twice the size of Wyoming.
Mostly desert; hot and humid along west coast; temperate
in western mountains affected by seasonal monsoon; extraordinarily
hot, dry, harsh desert in east.
Narrow coastal plain backed by flat-topped hills and
rugged mountains; dissected upland desert plains in
centre slope into the desert interior of the Arabian
Population: 18,701,257 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Predominantly Arab; but also
Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans
Religions: Muslim including Shaf'i (Sunni)
and Zaydi (Shi'a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian,
Government type: Republic
Legal system: Based on Islamic law, Turkish
law, English common law, and local tribal customary
law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Yemen, one of the poorest
countries in the Arab world, reported strong growth
in the mid-1990s with the onset of oil production,
but has been harmed by periodic declines in oil prices.
Yemen has embarked on an IMF-supported structural
adjustment program designed to modernize and streamline
the economy, which has led to substantial foreign
debt relief and restructuring. Aided by higher oil
prices in 1999-2000, Yemen worked to maintain tight
control over spending and implement additional components
of the IMF program. A high population growth rate
and internal political dissension complicate the government's
Communication/Telephone system: Since unification
in 1990, efforts have been made to create a national
Places of interest: One of the most striking
features of Yemen is its astonishing architecture.
The country is covered in ancient skyscrapers - eight-floor
buildings made from stone and mud - where people live
on top of their animals and the views are spectacular.
You'll also see mind-blowing mosques, sultans' palaces
and villages perched on top of seemingly inaccessible
Travel tips: The US and Australian governments
have issued renewed travel warnings advising their
citizens not to go to Yemen, and suggesting that those
who are already there consider leaving as soon as