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Yemen (Arabic: اليَمَن al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen (Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية al-Jumhuuriyya al-Yamaniyya) is a country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. Yemen has an estimated population of more than 23 million people and is bordered by Saudi Arabiamarker to the North, the Red Seamarker to the West, the Arabian Seamarker and Gulf of Adenmarker to the South, and Omanmarker to the east.

Yemen's size is just under 530,000 km2, and its territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotramarker, about 415 kilometres (259 miles) to the south of Yemen, off the coast of Somaliamarker. Yemen is the only republic on the Arabian Peninsula, and one of eight in the Arab World. Its capital is Sana'amarker. Between 2000 and 2006, 17.5% of the population lived on less than US$ 1.25 per day.

History

Between 2200 BC and the 6th century AD, Yemen was part of the Sabaean, Awsanian, Minaean, Qatabanian, Hadhramawtian, Himyarite, and several other kingdoms, which controlled the lucrative spice trade. It was known to the ancient Romans as Arabia Felix ("Happy Arabia") because of the riches its trade generated. Augustus attempted to annex it, but the expedition failed.

In the 3rd century and again in the early seventh century, many Sabaean and Himyarite people migrated out of the land of Yemen to North Africa and the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula following the destruction of the Ma'rib Dammarker (sadd Ma'rib). In the 7th century, Islamic caliphs began to exert control over the area. After the caliphate broke up, the former North Yemen came under the control of imams of various dynasties, usually of the Zaidi sect, who established a theocratic political structure that survived until modern times.

Egyptian Sunni caliphs occupied much of North Yemen throughout the eleventh century. By the sixteenth century and again in the nineteenth century, north Yemen was part of the Ottoman Empire, and during several periods its imams exerted control over south Yemen.

In 1839, the British occupied the port of Adenmarker and established it as a colony in September of that year. They also set up a zone of loose alliances (known as protectorates) around Aden to act as a protective buffer. North Yemenmarker became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 and became a republic in 1962.

In 1967, the British withdrew from Aden. After the British withdrawal, this area became known as South Yemen. The two countries were formally united as the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990.

Politics

Yemen (Yaman) is a Presidential republic with a bicameral legislature. Under the constitution, an elected president, an elected 301-seat House of Representatives, and an appointed 111-member Shura Council share power. The president is head of state, and the prime minister is head of government.

The constitution provides that the president be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates endorsed by at least fifteen members of the Parliament. The prime minister, in turn, is appointed by the president and must be approved by two thirds of the Parliament. The presidential term of office is seven years, and the parliamentary term of elected office is six years. Suffrage is universal for people age 18 and older.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first elected President in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and President of North Yemen since 1978). He was re-elected to office in September 2006. Although he stated his reluctance to run again, popular demonstrations and editorials offering support in major newspapers helped persuade him to run. Saleh's victory was marked by an election that international observers judged to be "partly free", though the election was accompanied by some violence, violations of press freedoms and allegations of fraud by the opposition.

Parliamentary elections were held in April 2003, and the General People's Congress (GPC) maintained an absolute majority. There was a marked decrease from previous years in election-related violence.

The constitution calls for an independent judiciary. The former northern and southern legal codes have been unified. The legal system includes separate commercial courts and a Supreme Court based in Sana'amarker. Since the country is an Islamic state, the Islamic Law (Sharia) is the main source for laws. Indeed, many court cases are debated according to the religious basis of law, and many judges are religious scholars as well as legal authorities. Unlike Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states, however, consumption of alcohol by non-Muslims is tolerated.

Governorates and districts

As of February 2004, Yemen is divided into twenty governorates (muhafazah) and one municipality. The population of each governorate is listed in the table below.
Governorates of Yemen
Governorates of Yemen (Arabic names)
Division Capital City Population

2004 Census
Population

2006 est.
Key
'Adanmarker Adenmarker 589,419 634,710 1
'Amranmarker 'Amranmarker 877,786 909,992 2
Abyanmarker Zinjibarmarker 433,819 454,535 3
Ad Dalimarker 470,564 504,533 4
Al Bayda'marker Al Bayda 577,369 605,303 5
Al Hudaydahmarker Al Hudaydahmarker 2,157,552 2,300,179 6
Al Jawfmarker Al Jawf 443,797 465,737 7
Al Mahrahmarker Al Ghaydahmarker 88,594 96,768 8
Al Mahwitmarker Al Mahwitmarker 494,557 523,236 9
Amanat Al Asimahmarker Sanaamarker 1,747,834 1,947,139 10
Dhamarmarker Dhamar 1,330,108 1,412,142 11
Hadramautmarker Al Mukallamarker 1,028,556 1,092,967 12
Hajjahmarker Hajjahmarker 1,479,568 1,570,872 13
Ibbmarker Ibbmarker 2,131,861 2,238,537 14
Lahijmarker Lahijmarker 722,694 761,160 15
Ma'ribmarker Ma'ribmarker 238,522 251,668 16
Raymah 394,448 418,659 17
Sa'dahmarker Sa`dahmarker 695,033 746,957 18
Sana'amarker San`a'marker 919,215 957,798 19
Shabwahmarker `Ataq 470,440 494,638 20
Ta'izzmarker Ta`izzmarker 2,393,425 2,513,003 21


The governorates are subdivided into 333 districts (muderiah), which are subdivided into 2,210 sub-districts, and then into 38,284 villages (as of 2001).

Before 1990, Yemen existed as two separate entities. For more information, see Historic Governorates of Yemen.

Geography

Map of Yemen
Yemen is in the Middle East, in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Seamarker, Gulf of Adenmarker, and Red Seamarker. It is west of Omanmarker and south of Saudi Arabiamarker.

A number of Red Seamarker islands, including the Hanish Islandsmarker, Kamaranmarker and Perimmarker, as well as Socotramarker in the Arabian Seamarker belong to Yemen. Many of the islands are volcanic; for example Jabal al-Tairmarker had a volcanic eruption in 2007 and before that in 1883.

At 527,970 km² (203,837 sq mi), Yemen is the world's 49th-largest country (after Francemarker). It is comparable in size to Thailandmarker, and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of Californiamarker. Yemen is situated at .

Until recently, Yemen's northern border was undefined; the Arabian Desert prevented any human habitation there.

The country can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the Rub al Khalimarker in the east.

The Tihamah ("hot lands") form a very arid and flat coastal plain. Despite the aridity, the presence of many lagoons makes this region very marshy and a suitable breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes. There are extensive crescent-shaped sand dunes. The evaporation in the Tihama is so great that streams from the highlands never reach the sea, but they do contribute to extensive groundwater reserves. Today, these are heavily exploited for agricultural use. Near the village of Madar about 48 km North of Sanaa dinosaur footprints were found, indicating that the area was once a mud flat.
The town of Hajarin
The Tihamah ends abruptly at the escarpment of the western highlands. This area, now heavily terraced to meet the demand for food, receives the highest rainfall in Arabia, rapidly increasing from 100 mm (4 inches) per year to about 760 mm (30 inches) in Ta'izzmarker and over 1,000 mm (40 inches) in Ibbmarker.

Agriculture here is very diverse, with such crops as sorghum dominating. Cotton and many fruit trees are also grown, with mangoes being the most valuable. Temperatures are hot in the day but fall dramatically at night. There are perennial streams in the highlands but these never reach the sea because of high evaporation in the Tihama.

The central highlands are an extensive high plateau over 2,000 metres (6,560 feet) in elevation. This area is drier than the western highlands because of rain-shadow influences, but still receives sufficient rain in wet years for extensive cropping. Diurnal temperature ranges are among the highest in the world: ranges from 30 °C (86 °F) in the day to 0 °C (32 °F) at night are normal. Water storage allows for irrigation and the growing of wheat and barley. Sana'a is located in this region. The highest point in Yemen is Jabal an Nabi Shu'aybmarker, at 3,666 meters (12,028 ft).

The Rub al Khalimarker in the east is much lower, generally below 1,000 metres, and receives almost no rain. It is populated only by Bedouin herders of camels.

Economy



Remittances from Yemenis working abroad and foreign aid paid for perennial trade deficits. Reports average annual growth in the range of 3–4% from 2000 through 2007. Its economic fortunes depend mostly on declining oil resources, providing around 90% of the country's exports.

The World Bank predicts that Yemen's oil and gas revenues will plummet during 2009 and 2010, and fall to zero by 2017 as supplies run out. In 2008 the UK's Royal Institute for International Affairs warned that economic collapse in Yemen could threaten stability throughout the region from northeast Africa to Saudi Arabia and, citing armed conflicts with Islamists and tribal insurgents, described Yemen's democracy as "fragile". These concerns have prompted the desires of leaders and diplomats from the West and elsewhere to preserve Yemen's economic stability.

As such, the country is trying to diversify its earnings. In 2006 Yemen began an economic reform program designed to bolster non-oil sectors of the economy and foreign investment. As a result of the program, international donors pledged about $5 billion for development projects. In addition, Yemen has made some progress on reforms over the last year that will likely encourage foreign investment. Oil revenues increased in 2007, probably a result of higher prices.

Substantial Yemeni communities exist in many countries of the world, including Yemen's immediate neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula, Indonesiamarker, Pakistanmarker, the Horn of Africa, the United Kingdommarker, Israelmarker, and the United States, especially in the area around Detroit, Michiganmarker, and in Lackawanna, New Yorkmarker. Beginning in the mid-1950s, the Soviet Unionmarker and Chinamarker provided large-scale assistance. For example, the Chinese are involved with the expansion of the International Airport in Sanaa.

In the south, pre-independence economic activity was overwhelmingly concentrated in the port city of Aden. The seaborne transit trade, which the port relied upon, collapsed with the closure of the Suez Canalmarker and Britain's withdrawal from Aden in 1967.

Since unification, the government has worked to integrate two relatively disparate economic systems. However, severe shocks, including the return in 1990 of approximately 850,000 Yemenis from the Persian Gulf states, a subsequent major reduction of aid flows, and internal political disputes culminating in the 1994 civil war hampered economic growth. As the fastest growing democracy in the Middle East, Yemen is attempting to climb into the middle human development region through ongoing political and economic reform.

Since the conclusion of the war, the government entered into agreement with the International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF) to implement a structural adjustment program. Phase one of the IMF program included major financial and monetary reforms, including floating the currency, reducing the budget deficit, and cutting subsidies. Phase two will address structural issues such as civil service reform.

In early 1995, the government of Yemen launched an economic, financial and administrative reform program (EFARP) with the support of the World Bank and the IMF, as well international donors. The First Five-Year Plan (FFYP) for the years 1996 to 2000 was introduced in 1996. The World Bank has focused on public sector management, including civil service reform, budget reform and privatization. In addition, attracting diversified private investment, water management and poverty-oriented social sector improvements has been made a priority for the implementation of the programs in Yemen. These programs had a positive impact on Yemen’s economy and led to the reduction of the budget deficit to less than 3% of GDP during the period from 1995 to 1999 and the correction of macro-financial imbalances.

In 1997, IMF and the Yemeni government began medium-term economic reform programs under the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) and Extended Fund Facility (EFF). This program was aimed at reducing dependence on the oil sector and establishing a market environment for real non-oil GDP growth and investment in the non-oil sector. Increasing the growth rate in the non-oil sector was one of the government's most important objectives. Programs also focused on reducing unemployment, strengthening the social safety net and increasing financial stability. To achieve these reforms, the government and IMF implemented containment of government wages, improvements in revenue collection with the introduction of reforms in tax administration, and a sharp reduction in subsidies bills through increased prices on subsidized goods. As a result, the fiscal cash deficit was reduced from 16% of GDP to 0.9% from 1994 to 1997. This was supported by aid from oil-exporting countries despite the wide-ranging fluctuations in world oil prices. The real growth rate in the non-oil sector rose by 5.6% from 1995 to 1997.

The World Bank is active in Yemen, with 22 active projects in 2004, including projects to improve governance in the public sector, water and education. In 1996 and 1997, Yemen lowered its debt burden through Paris Club agreements and restructuring U.S. foreign debt. In 2003, government reserves reached $50 billion. The government has recently done a number of regulatory reforms and Yemen now ranks 98th on the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business" index.

Foreign relations and wars



The geography and ruling Imams of North Yemenmarker kept the country isolated from foreign influence before 1962. The country's relations with Saudi Arabia were defined by the Taif Agreement of 1934, which delineated the northernmost part of the border between the two kingdoms and set the framework for commercial and other intercourse. The Taif Agreement has been renewed periodically in 20-year increments, and its validity was reaffirmed in 1995. Relations with the British colonial authorities in Adenmarker and the south were usually tense.

The Soviet and Chinese Aid Missions established in 1958 and 1959 were the first important non-Muslim presence in North Yemen. Following the September 1962 revolution, the Yemen Arab Republic became closely allied with and heavily dependent upon Egypt. Saudi Arabia aided the royalists in their attempt to defeat the Republicans and did not recognize the Yemen Arab Republic until 1970. At the same time, Saudi Arabia maintained direct contact with Yemeni tribes, which sometimes strained its official relations with the Yemeni Government. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis found employment in Saudi Arabia during the late 1970s and 1980s.



In February 1989, North Yemen joined Iraqmarker, Jordanmarker, and Egyptmarker in forming the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC), an organization created partly in response to the founding of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and intended to foster closer economic cooperation and integration among its members. After unification, the Republic of Yemen was accepted as a member of the ACC in place of its YAR predecessor. In the wake of the Persian Gulf crisis, the ACC has remained inactive. Yemen is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

British authorities left southern Yemen in November 1967 in the wake of an intense rebellion. The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, the successor to British colonial rule, had diplomatic relations with many nations, but its major links were with the Soviet Union and other Marxist countries. Relations between it and the conservative Arab states of the Arabian Peninsula were strained. There were military clashes with Saudi Arabia in 1969 and 1973, and the PDRY provided active support for the Dhofarmarker rebellion against the Sultanate of Oman. The PDRY was the only Arab state to vote against admitting new Arab states from the Persian Gulf area to the United Nations and the Arab League. The PDRY provided sanctuary and material support to various insurgent groups around the Middle East.

Yemen is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and also participates in the nonaligned movement. The Republic of Yemen accepted responsibility for all treaties and debts of its predecessors, the YAR and the PDRY. Yemen has acceded to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The Persian Gulf crisis dramatically affected Yemen's foreign relations. As a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 1990 and 1991, Yemen abstained on a number of UNSC resolutions concerning Iraq and Kuwait and voted against the "use of force resolution." Western and Persian Gulf Arab states reacted by curtailing or canceling aid programs and diplomatic contacts. At least 850,000 Yemenis returned from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

Subsequent to the liberation of Kuwaitmarker, Yemen continued to maintain high-level contacts with Iraq. This hampered its efforts to rejoin the Arab mainstream and to mend fences with its immediate neighbors. In 1993, Yemen launched an unsuccessful diplomatic offensive to restore relations with its Persian Gulf neighbors. Some of its aggrieved neighbors actively aided the south during the 1994 civil war. Since the end of that conflict, tangible progress has been made on the diplomatic front in restoring normal relations with Yemen's neighbors. The Omani-Yemeni border has been officially demarcated. In the summer of 2000, Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed an International Border Treaty settling a 50 year old dispute over the location of the border between the two countries. Yemen settled its dispute with Eritreamarker over the Hanish Islandsmarker in 1998.

After the departure from the Persian Gulf Arab states, as many as 15,000 Yemenis migrated to the U.S. Many Yemenis can be found in the south of Dearborn, Michiganmarker. In the early 90s, Yemenis went in search of manufacturing jobs. They continue to work in the U.S. and routinely send money back to their families.

Kidnapping of foreign tourists by tribes was an ongoing problem from the 1990s until at least 2009. In many instances, the kidnappers attempted to use hostage taking to gain leverage in negotiations with the government. One victim of kidnapping was former German Secretary of State Jürgen Chrobog, a man who himself had conducted negotiations with kidnappers while in office. In June 2009, a group of nine foreign tourists were kidnapped near the city of Saada. Seven were killed and two children survived.

Yemen has historically enjoyed good relations with Somaliamarker, its neighbour to the south and fellow Arab League member. Ethnic Somalis for the most part blend in well with Yemeni society, as they share centuries of close Islamic, migratory and Arab origin. Non-ethnic Somalis such as the Bantus face the greatest hardship, as they are shunned by both Yemeni and Somali society. The World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, estimates that 110,600 Somali refugees and asylum seekers lived in Yemen in 2007.

Yemen also maintains good relations with Djiboutimarker, its other Somali neighbour to the west across the Red Seamarker. With a rapidly expanding economy, a stable government, huge investments from fellow Persian Gulf Arab nations, and a strategic maritime location in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Adenmarker, Djibouti stands as an important ally. While Djibouti is largely inhabited by Somalis, it is separate from the Somali Republicmarker and holds its own seat in the United Nations and the League of Arab States. On February 22, 2008, it was revealed that a company owned by Tarek bin Laden was planning to build a bridge across the Bab el Mandebmarker, linking Yemen with Djibouti.

Since 2004 a civil war is being fought in Northern Yemen between Yemeni forces and Shiite Houthi rebels. In 2009 it has spilled over into the neighbouring border region of Saudi Arabia. This conflict is increasingly becoming a danger to regional stability according to news reports by CNN and the BBC as various countries are said to be involved, e.g. Iranmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, Egyptmarker and Jordanmarker . The United Nations and UNDP Yemen report about a growing problem of civilians fleeing from the region.

Demographics

The Population of Yemen was about 28 million according to July 2005 estimates, with 46% of the population being under 15 years old and 2.7% above 65 years.

Yemen has one of the world's highest birth rates; the average Yemeni woman bears six children. Although this is similar to the rate in Somaliamarker to the south, it is roughly twice as high as that of Saudi Arabia and nearly three times as high as those in the more modernized Persian Gulf Arab states.

Yemenis are mainly of Arab origin. Arabic is the official language, although English is increasingly understood by citizens in major cities. In the Mahramarker area (the extreme east) and the island Soqotra, several ancient south-Arabic Semitic languages are spoken. When the former states of north and south Yemen were established, most resident minority groups departed.
Yemenite Jews once formed a sizable Jewish minority in Yemen with a distinct culture. They also occupied key industries including silversmiths, and their influence on Yemeni culture is still discussed within the souks. However, most of them emigrated to Israelmarker in the mid 20th century, following the Jewish exodus from Arab lands and Operation Magic Carpet. In the early 20th century, they had numbered about 50,000; they currently number only a few hundred individuals and reside largely in Sana'a. The original Jews' village is now left abandoned and is popularly known as "Bait-baws".

Arab traders have long operated in Southeast Asia, trading in spices, timber and textiles. Most of the prominent Indonesians, Malaysiansmarker and Singaporeans of Arab descent have their origins in southern Yemen in the Hadramawt coastal region. As many as 10 million Indonesians are of Hadrami descent and today there are almost 10,000 Hadramis in Singaporemarker. Fifty years ago, there were Hadramis who emigrated from Yemen to Somalia but this emigration has stopped now due to political and civil unrest.

According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Yemen hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 124,600 in 2007. Refugees and asylum seekers living in Yemen were predominately from Somaliamarker (110,600), Iraqmarker (11,000) and Ethiopiamarker (2,000).

The Yemeni diaspora is largely concentrated in the United Kingdommarker, where between 70,000 and 80,000 Yemenis reside, also just over 15,000 - 20,000 Yemenis reside in the United Statesmarker and 2,000 live in Francemarker.

Religion



Religion in Yemen consists primarily of two principal Islamic religious groups. 60% of the Muslim population is Sunni and 40% is Shi'a. Sunnis are primarily Shafi'i, but also include significant groups of Malikis, Salafis and Hanbalis. Shi'is are primarily Zaidis, and also have significant minorities of Twelver Shias and Musta'ali Western Isma'ili Shias.

The Sunnis are predominantly in the south and southeast. The Zaidis are predominantly in the north and northwest whilst the Jafaris and Ismailis are in the main centers such as Sana'a and Ma'rib. There are mixed communities in the larger cities. Less than 1% of Yemenis are non-Muslim, adhering to Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.

Health

Despite the significant progress Yemen has made to expand and improve its health care system over the past decade, the system remains severely underdeveloped. Total expenditures on health care in 2004 constituted 5 percent of gross domestic product. In that same year, the per capita expenditure for health care was very low compared with other Middle Eastern countries— US$34 according to the World Health Organization. According to the World Bank, the number of doctors in Yemen rose by an average of more than 7 percent between 1995 and 2000, but as of 2004 there were still only three doctors per 10,000 persons. In 2005 Yemen had only 6.1 hospital beds available per 10,000 persons.Health care services are particularly scarce in rural areas; only 25 percent of rural areas are covered by health services, compared with 80 percent of urban areas.Most childhood deaths are caused by illnesses for which vaccines exist or that are otherwise preventable. According to 2009 estimates, life expectancy in Yemen is 63.27 years.

Human rights

The government and its security forces, often considered to suffer from rampant corruption, have been responsible for torture, inhumane treatment and even extrajudicial executions. There are arbitrary arrests of citizens, especially in the south, as well as arbitrary searches of homes. Prolonged pretrial detention is a serious problem, and judicial corruption, inefficiency, and executive interference undermine due process. Freedom of speech, the press and religion are all restricted.

Human Rights Watch reported on discrimination and violence against women as well as on the abolition of the minimum marriage age of fifteen for women. The onset of puberty (interpreted by some to be as low as the age of nine) was set as a requirement for marriage instead.Human Rights Watch: World Report 2001 on Yemen last accessed 11 August 2006 Reports of other forms of hostile prejudice directed towards disabled people, and ethnic and religious minorities were also reported. Censorship is actively practiced and in the mid-2000s legislation was passed requiring journalists to reveal their sources under certain circumstances, and the government has raised the start-up costs for newspapers and websites significantly. In violation of the Yemeni constitution, the security forces often monitor telephone, postal, and Internet communications. Journalists who tend to be critical of the government are often harassed and threatened by the police.

Since the start of the Sa'dah insurgency many people accused of supporting Al-Houthi have been arrested and held without charge or trial. According to the US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2007, "Some Zaydis reported harassment and discrimination by the Government because they were suspected of sympathizing with the al-Houthis. However, it appears the Government's actions against the group were probably politically, not religiously, motivated".

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported several violations of refugee and asylum seekers' rights in the organization's 2008 World Refugee Survey. Yemeni authorities reportedly deported numerous foreigners without giving them access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, despite the UN’s repeated requests. Refugees further reported violence directed against them by Yemeni authorities while living in refugee camps. Yemeni officials reportedly raped, beat and robbed camp-based refugees with impunity in 2007.

Languages

While the national language is Arabic (Yemeni Arabic is spoken in several regional dialects), Yemen is one of the main homelands of the South Semitic family of languages, which includes the non-Arabic language of the ancient Sabaean Kingdom. Its modern Yemeni descendants are closely related to the modern Semitic languages of Eritreamarker and Ethiopiamarker. However, only a small remnant of those languages exists in modern Yemen, notably on the island of Socotramarker and in the back hills of the Hadhramaut coastal region. Modern South Arabian languages spoken in Yemen include Mehri, with 70,643 speakers, Soqotri, with an estimated 43,000 speakers in the Socotramarker archipelago (2004 census) and 67,000 worldwide, Bathari (with an estimated total of only 200 speakers), and Hobyót language.

Foreign language in public schools is taught from grade seven on, though the quality of public school instruction is low. Private schools using a British or American system teach English and produce proficient speakers, but Arabic is the dominant language of communication. The number of English speakers in Yemen is small compared to other Arab countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Private schools have also started to teach French alongside Arabic and English.

Culture

Yemen is a culturally rich country with influence from many civilizations, such as the early civilization of Sheba.

Qat

Qat, also known as Khat (Catha edulis) is a large, slow growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a height of between 1 and 6 meters; in equatorial regions it may reach a height of 10 meters. This plant is widely cultivated in Yemen and is generally used for chewing. When Khat juice is swallowed, its leaf juice has a caffeine-like effect. It is deeply rooted in Yemeni culture, which it has exported to its neighbours across the Gulf of Adenmarker, Somaliamarker, Djiboutimarker and, to a lesser degree, Eritreamarker (where it is mainly consumed by ethnic Arabs of Yemeni and Rashaida origins). Khat is chewed by men and women.

Cinema

The Yemeni film industry is in its early stages, there being only two Yemeni films as of 2008. Released in 2005, A New Day in Old Sana'a deals with a young man struggling between whether to go ahead with a traditional marriage or go with the woman he loves.

In August 2008, Yemen’s Interior Minister Mutahar al-Masri supported the launch of a new feature film to educate the public about the consequences of Islamist extremism. "The Losing Bet" was produced by Fadl al-Olfi. The plot follows two Yemeni jihadis, who return from years living abroad. They are sent home by an Al Qaeda mastermind to recruit new members and carry out deadly operations in Yemen.

Education

In the strategic vision for the next 25 years since 2000, the government has committed to bring significant changes in the education system, thereby reducing illiteracy to less than 10% by 2025. Although Yemen’s government provides for universal, compulsory, free education for children ages six through 15, the U.S. Department of State reports that compulsory attendance is not enforced. The government has developed the National Basic Education Development Strategy in 2003 that aimed at providing education to 95% of Yemeni children between the ages of 6–14 years and also to decrease the gap between males and females in urban and rural areas.

World heritage sites

A footbridge in Shaharah, Yemen.
Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.

The Old Walled City of Shibammarker in Wadi Hadhramaut, inscribed by UNESCOmarker in 1982, two years after Yemen joined the world heritage organisation, is nicknamed "Manhattan of the Desert", because of its "skyscrapers". Surrounded by a fortified wall, the 16th Century City is one of the oldest and examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.

The ancient Old City of Sana’a at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet has been inhabited for over two and a half millennia and was inscribed in 1986. Sana’a became a major Islamic centre in the 7th Century and the 103 mosques, 14 hammams (traditional bath houses) and more than 6,000 houses that survive all date from before the 11th Century.

Close to the Red Sea Coast, the Historic Town of Zabid, inscribed in 1993, was Yemen’s capital from the 13th to 15th Century, and is an archaeological and historical site. It played an important role for many centuries, because of its university, which was a centre of learning for the whole Arab and Islamic world. Algebra is said to have been invented there in the early 9th Century by the little known scholar al-Jaladi.

The latest addition to Yemen’s list of World Heritage Sites is the Socotramarker Archipelago. Mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th Century, this remote and isolated Archipelago consists of four islands and two rocky islets near the Gulf of Aden. The site has rich biodiversity. 37% of Socotra’s 825 plants, 90% of its reptiles and 95% of its snails are unique and do not occur anywhere else in the world. It is home to 192 bird species, 253 species of coral, 730 species of costal fish and 300 species of crab and lobster, as well as a range of Aloes and the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari). The cultural heritage of Socotra includes the unique Soqotri language.

See also



References

  1. UNDP: Human development indices - Table 3: Human and income poverty (Population living below national poverty line (2000-2007))
  2. http://www.freedomhouse.org/inc/content/pubs/fiw/inc_country_detail.cfm?year=2007&country=7304&pf
  3. Governorates of Yemen.
  4. Central Statistical Organisation of Yemen. General Population Housing and Establishment Census 2004 Final Results [1], Statistic Yearbook 2005 of Yemen [2]
  5. Statistic Yearbook 2006 of Yemen
  6. [3]
  7. IMF
  8. IMF
  9. Doingbusiness.org
  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_British_tourists_in_Yemen
  11. http://www.agi.it/world/news/200906151355-cro-ren0029-yemen_7_foreign_tourists_killed_2_children_found_alive
  12. "Die Ehre der Daha" Spiegel, 1/2006, p. 90
  13. http://www.agi.it/world/news/200906151355-cro-ren0029-yemen_7_foreign_tourists_killed_2_children_found_alive
  14. [4]
  15. [5]
  16. [{{cite news|title=News Report|publisher=Yemen Times|date=2009-11-23|url=http://www.yementimes.com/defaultdet.aspx?SUB_ID=33116]
  17. [6]
  18. [7]
  19. Roger D. Woodard, The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia, (Cambridge University Press: 2008), p. 228
  20. Ethnologue entry for South Arabian languages
  21. US Department of State
  22. The world's successful diasporas
  23. Hadramis in Singapore, by Ameen Ali Talib
  24. Yemenis in the UK
  25. independent.co.uk - Yemen: The land with more guns than people
  26. UNHRC - Yemen: The conflict in Saada Governorate - analysis
  27. i=768&p=community&a=2 Yemen Times
  28. European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation
  29. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Yemen.pdf This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  30. Derechos: Human Rights in Yemen
  31. [8]
  32. [9]
  33. (Qat plant)
  34. http://www.pulitzercenter.org/openitem.cfm?id=1129 – Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, August 29, 2008


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