Yemen is a tough nation to navigate, but the rewards for those who persevere are an amazing experience with very warm and open hosts. Yemen, despite its proximity to Saudi Arabia and being on the same peninsula as the United Arab Emirates, is unmistakably distinct.
Yemen is also one of the Middle East’s least developed and poorest nations.
Narrow coastal plain flanked by flat-topped hills and rocky mountains; dissected highland desert plains in the Arabian Peninsula’s desert interior. Yemen’s interior is a hill divided by valleys. Yemen is split into five provinces:
Coastal Plain: The Tihamah coastal plain is a low-lying flat plain with sections of extremely rich soil from the streams that flow into it from the mountains. Tihamah has some of the hottest spots in the planet. The majority of its cities are on the coast, where the salty sea air helps to mitigate the effects of the heat.
Western Highlands: The coastal plain suddenly ends at the western highlands, where monsoon rains from Africa gather power over the Red Sea and clouds coming in get entangled by the jagged peaks of the Western mountains and precipitate all the clouds carry. Some parts of the western highlands, most notably Ibb and Ta’izz, get rainforest-like rainfall, resulting in rich terrain ideal for coffee, qat, wheat, and sorghum cultivation.
Mountains in this area are renowned for their long ascents; most mountains rise 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level to 2,135-3,050 m (7,000-10,000 ft) summits. Among the notable peaks are Jabal Sumarah, Jabal Ba’dan, Jabal Sabir, and Jabal Ad Dukayik, all of which are about 3,000 m (10,000 ft) high.
The Central Highlands are more of a plateau with rolling hills above it since the mountains are less craggy and get less precipitation because the majority of it is dumped into the Western Highlands. Some of the Arabian Peninsula’s tallest mountains may be found here, notably the famous Jabal a Nabi Shu’ayb in the capital Sana’a, which rises 3,660 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level.
Some parts of the central highlands, such as Dhamar, have very rich soil, and the temperature in the central highlands is also severe. Diurnal temperatures are the highest in the world, with daytime highs of about 80°F and nighttime lows of below freezing. Except for the mountains, the majority of the central highlands are over 2,000-2,440 m (7,000-8,000 ft) in elevation.
Central Plateau: A steady decline from the central highlands leads to a 915-1,525 m (3,000-5,000 ft) plateau divided by valleys and wadis, or streams. Although the terrain is not as hard as in the central or western highlands, vegetation is only feasible in valleys or near wadis because they supply a lot of irrigation water from precipitation that occurs only in isolated places.
Flash floods are very frequent. This stretches from Shabwah to Hadhramaut and Al Mahra in Oman, which is also regarded by many Yemenis as part of Greater Yemen, as well as Najran, Jizan, and Asir in Saudi Arabia.
Desert: Rub Al-Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter, is the world’s most dangerous desert, as well as the world’s biggest expanse of sand. It is located in northwestern Yemen, southeastern Saudi Arabia, and northwestern Oman. It gets little rain for years at a time and has little to no vegetation. Temperatures may soar above 61°C (142°F).
According to 2014 estimates, Yemen has a population of 24 million people, with 46 percent of the population under the age of 15 and 2.7 percent above the age of 65. It reached 4.3 million in 1950. The population is expected to grow to about 60 million by 2050. Yemen’s total fertility rate is high, with 4.45 children per woman. It is the world’s 30th highest point. Sana’a’s population has grown quickly, from about 55,000 in 1978 to over 2 million in the early twenty-first century.
Yemen’s ethnic groupings are mostly Arab, with Afro-Arabs, South Asians, and Europeans following. When the previous nations of North and South Yemen were formed, the majority of the local minority communities left. Yemen is mostly a tribal culture. There are 400 Zaidi tribes in the country’s northern, mountainous regions. In metropolitan places like as Al-Akhdam, there are also hereditary caste groupings. Yemenis of Persian ancestry are also present. According to Muqaddasi, in the 10th century, Persians made up the majority of Aden’s population.
Yemenite Jews were formerly a significant minority in Yemen, with a unique culture from the rest of the world’s Jewish communities. Following the Jewish exodus from Arab countries and Operation Magic Carpet in the mid-twentieth century, the majority immigrated to Israel. An estimated 100,000 Indians live in the southern portion of the nation, around Aden, Mukalla, Shihr, Lahaj, Mokha, and Hodeidah.
The majority of notable Arab Indonesians, Malaysians, and Singaporeans are Hadhrami people with roots in southern Yemen’s Hadramawt coastal area. In Singapore now, there are about 10,000 Hadramis. The Hadramis spread across Southeast Asia, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.
The Maqil were a group of Arab Bedouin tribes from Yemen who moved west via Egypt. Several tribes of Yemeni Arabs migrated south to Mauritania, and by the end of the 17th century, they had taken control of the whole nation. They are also widespread across Morocco, Algeria, and other North African countries.
Yemen is the only country on the Arabian Peninsula that has signed two international treaties regulating refugee protection going back to 1951 and 1967. In 2007, Yemen had a population of about 124,600 refugees and asylum seekers. The majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Yemen were from Somalia (110,600), Iraq (11,000), Ethiopia (2,000), and Syria. Furthermore, more than 334,000 Yemenis have been internally displaced as a result of the war.
The Yemeni diaspora is mostly concentrated in neighboring Saudi Arabia, where between 800,000 and 1 million Yemenis live, and the United Kingdom, where 70,000 to 80,000 Yemenis live.
According to the International Religious Freedom Report, religion in Yemen is mainly divided into two major Islamic religious groups: 60–65 percent of the Muslim population is Sunni, and 35–40 percent is Shia. Sunnis are mostly Shafi’i, although there are also substantial Maliki and Hanbali communities. Shias are mainly Zaidiand have substantial Twelver and Ismaili Shia minority.
Sunnis are mostly found in the south and southeast. The Zaidis are concentrated in the north and northwest, whereas the Ismailis are concentrated in major cities like as Sana’a and Ma’rib. In the bigger cities, there are mixed-race neighborhoods. Non-Muslim Yemenis make up around 1% of the population, and they practice Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or have no religious connection.
The number of Christians in Yemen is estimated to be between 25,000 and 41,000. According to a 2015 research, there are 400 Christians of Muslim origin in the nation.
In Yemen, there are around 50 Jews remaining. In recent years, the Jewish Agency welcomed around 200 Yemenite Jews to Israel.
Yemen had a GDP (ppp) of US$61.63 billion in 2013, with a per capita income of $2,500. The biggest economic sector (61.4 percent of GDP) is services, followed by the industrial sector (30.9 percent) and agriculture (7.7 percent ). Petroleum production accounts for about 25% of GDP and 63 percent of government income.
Agriculture historically constituted 18–27 percent of GDP, but its allocation started to shift as a result of rural worker emigration and structural changes within the sector. Grain, vegetables, fruits, legumes, qat, coffee, cotton, dairy products, fish, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, camels), and poultry are the main agricultural commodities produced in the country.
The majority of Yemenis work in agriculture. The most prevalent crop is sorghum. Cotton and a variety of fruit plants, the most important of which are mangoes, are also cultivated. The growth of Khat, a mild narcotic plant that produces a stimulant when chewed, is a major issue in Yemen, accounting for up to 40% of the water taken from the Sana’a Basin each year, and this number is increasing. Some agricultural methods are drying out the Sana’a Basin and displacing important crops, resulting in higher food costs. Rising food costs, in turn, drove an extra 6% of the nation into poverty in 2008.] The government and the Dawoodi Bohra community in North Yemen are attempting to replace qat with coffee crops.
Yemen’s industrial sector is focused on crude oil production and refining, food processing, handicrafts, small-scale manufacturing of cotton textiles and leather items, aluminum products, commercial ship maintenance, cement production, and natural gas production. Yemen’s industrial output grew at a 4.8 percent annual pace in 2013. It also has significant proven natural gas reserves. In October 2009, Yemen’s first liquefied natural gas facility started operations.
In 2013, there were 7 million employees in the labor force. Services, industry, construction, and commerce account for less than a quarter of the work force. In 2003, the unemployment rate was at 35%.
Yemen’s exports were $6.694 billion in 2013. Crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, and liquefied natural gas are the major export goods. These goods were mostly sent to China (41%), Thailand (19.2%), India (11.4%), and South Korea (4.4 percent ). Imports totaled $10.97 billion in 2013. Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, animals, and chemicals are the most often imported goods. These goods were mostly imported from the EU (48.8%), the UAE (9.8%), Switzerland (8.8%), China (7.4%), and India (5.8 percent ).
The Yemeni government’s budget in 2013 was $7.769 billion in income and $12.31 billion in expenditures. Taxes and other revenues accounted for about 17.7 percent of GDP, with a budget deficit of 10.3 percent. The national debt was 47.1 percent of GDP. Yemen has about $5.538 billion in foreign currency and gold reserves in 2013. Its consumer price inflation rate was 11.8 percent over the same time. Yemen owed $7.806 billion in foreign debt.
The Soviet Union and China began to offer large-scale support in the mid-1950s. China and the United States, for example, are both participating in the development of Sana’a International Airport. Pre-independence economic activity in the south was largely centered on the port city of Aden. The port’s reliance on seaborne transit commerce deteriorated with the closing of the Suez Canal and Britain’s departure from Aden in 1967.
Since the war’s end, the government has worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to undertake a structural adjustment program. The program’s first phase includes significant financial and monetary changes such as floating the currency, decreasing the budget deficit, and eliminating subsidies. The second phase will focus on structural problems such as civil service reform.
With the assistance of the World Bank and the IMF, as well as foreign funders, Yemen’s government began an economic, financial, and administrative reform program (EFARP) in early 1995. These initiatives had a beneficial effect on Yemen’s economy, resulting in a decrease of the budget deficit to less than 3% of GDP from 1995 to 1999, as well as the repair of macro-financial imbalances. From 1995 to 1997, the non-oil sector’s actual growth rate increased by 5.6 percent.