Djibouti is a nation in the Horn of Africa. Its official name is the Republic of Djibouti. It is bounded to the north by Eritrea, to the west and south by Ethiopia, and to the southeast by Somalia. The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden constitute the remainder of the boundary to the east. Djibouti has a total land area of only 23,200 km2 (8,958 sq mi).
The region was once a part of the Land of Punt. The medieval Adal and Ifat Sultanates were based in nearby Zeila (now in Somalia). Following treaties made by the reigning Somali and Afar sultans with the French in the late nineteenth century, the colony of French Somaliland was created, and its railroad to Dire Dawa (and eventually Addis Ababa) allowed it to swiftly replace Zeila as the port for southern Ethiopia and the Ogaden. It was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issasin in 1967.
Djiboutians voted for independence a decade later. This marked the official foundation of the Republic of Djibouti, named after its capital city. Djibouti joined the United Nations the next year, on September 20, 1977. Tensions over government representation erupted into violent conflict in the early 1990s, culminating in a power-sharing deal between the ruling and opposition parties in 2000.
Djibouti is a multi-ethnic country with a population of over 846,687 people. The two official languages of the nation are Arabic and French. Approximately 94 percent of people practice Islam, a faith that has been prevalent in the area for over 1,000 years. The Somali Issa and Afar are the two most populous ethnic groupings. Both speak Afroasiatic languages, which are recognized as national languages in their respective countries.
Djibouti is strategically positioned near some of the busiest maritime channels in the world, controlling access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. It is a vital refueling and transshipment hub, as well as the primary marine port for imports and exports to and from neighboring Ethiopia. The country, which is a developing economic centre, is home to a number of international military outposts, notably Camp Lemonnier. The regional organisation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also has its headquarters in Djibouti City.