|THE DJIBOUTI COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Djibouti within the continent of Africa
Map of Djibouti
Flag Description of Djibouti :The Djibouti flag was officially adopted on June 27, 1977, after gaining its independence from France.
Blue is symbolic of the Issa people, green the Afar people, and the red star in the white triangle represents unity.
OFFICIAL NAME: Jumhūriyyat Jībūtī (Arabic); République de Djibouti (French) (Republic of Djibouti)
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: multiparty republic with one legislative house (National Assembly )1
HEAD OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT: President: Ismail Omar Guelleh, assisted by Prime Minister: Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Arabic; French
OFFICIAL RELIGION: Islam
MONETARY UNIT: Djibouti franc (FDJ)
POPULATION: (2013 est.) 861,000
TOTAL AREA (sq mi) 8,960
TOTAL AREA (sq km) 23,200
- Urban: (2011) 76.3%
- Rural: (2011) 23.7%
LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH
- Male: (2012) 59.2 years
- Female: (2012) 64.1 years
LITERACY: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2007) 81.2%
- Female: (2007) 63.8%
GNI PER CAPITA (U.S.$) (2009) 1,280
1Constitutional amendments adopted in April 2010 call for a new Senate, yet to be established, in addition to the existing National Assembly, forming a bicameral parliament.
- 1 About Djibouti
- 2 Geography of Djibouti
- 3 Demography of Djibouti
- 4 Government of Djibouti
- 5 Economy of Djibouti
- 6 CULTURE LIFE of Djibouti
- 7 HISTORY of Djibouti
- 8 GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS OF DJIBOUTI
- 9 Principal Government Officials of Djibouti
- 10 Djibouti
- 11 TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION ABOUT DJIBOUTI
- 12 Djibouti in 2008
- 13 Djibouti in 2006
- 14 Disclaimer
Djibouti, small strategically located country on the northeast coast of the Horn of Africa. It is situated on the Bab el Mandeb Strait, which lies to the east and separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden.
Formerly known as French Somaliland (1896–1967) and the French Territory of the Afars and Issas (1967–77), the country took Djibouti as its name when it gained independence from France on June 27, 1977. Djibouti’s capital, Djibouti city, is built on coral reefs that jut into the southern entrance of the gulf; other major towns are Obock, Tadjoura, Ali Sabieh, Arta, and Dikhil.
The country’s Lilliputian aspect belies its regional and geopolitical importance. The capital is the site of a modern deepwater port that serves Indian Ocean and Red Sea traffic and hosts a French naval base. Djibouti city is also the railhead for the only line serving Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia.
Geography of Djibouti
Area: 21,883 sq. km. (8,450 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts. Cities: Capital--Djibouti. Other cities--Dikhil, Arta, Ali-Sabieh, Obock, Tadjoura. Terrain: Coastal desert. Climate: Torrid and dry.
Djibouti is bounded by Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia to the west and southwest, and Somalia to the south. The Gulf of Tadjoura, which opens into the Gulf of Aden, bifurcates the eastern half of the country and supplies much of its 230 miles (370 km) of coastline.
The landscape of Djibouti is varied and extreme, ranging from rugged mountains in the north to a series of low desert plains separated by parallel plateaus in the west and south. Its highest peak is Mount Moussa at 6,654 feet (2,028 metres); the lowest point, which is also the lowest in Africa, is the saline Lake Assal, 509 feet (155 metres) below sea level.
The country is internationally renowned as a geologic treasure trove. Located at a triple juncture of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and East African rift systems, the country hosts significant seismic and geothermal activity. Slight tremors are frequent, and much of the terrain is littered with basalt from past volcanic activity. In November 1978 the eruption of the Ardoukoba volcano, complete with spectacular lava flows, attracted the attention of volcanologists worldwide. Of particular interest was the tremendous seismic activity that accompanied the eruption and led to the widening by more than a metre of the plates between Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
Besides Lake Assal, the other major inland body of water is Lake Abbe, located on Djibouti’s southwestern border with Ethiopia. The country is completely devoid of any permanent above-ground rivers, although some subterranean rivers exist.
The often torrid climate varies between two major seasons. The cool season lasts from October to April and typifies a Mediterranean-style climate in which temperatures range from the low 70s to the mid-80s F (low 20s to low 30s C) with low humidity. The hot season lasts from May to September. Temperatures increase as the hot khamsin wind blows off the inland desert, and they range from an average low in the mid-80s F (low 30s C) to a stifling high in the low 110s F (mid-40s C). This time of year is also noted for days in which humidity is at its highest. Among the coolest areas in the country is the Day Forest, which is located at a high elevation; temperatures in the low to mid-50s F (low to mid-10s C) have been recorded.
The average annual precipitation is limited and is usually spread over 26 days. Different regions of the country receive varying amounts of precipitation: the coastal regions receive 5 inches (130 mm) of rainfall per annum, while the northern and mountainous portions of the country receive about 15 inches (380 mm). The rainy season lasts between January and March, with the majority of precipitation falling in quick, short bursts. One outcome of this erratic rainfall pattern is periodic flash floods that devastate those areas located at sea level.
Plant and animal life
Despite Djibouti’s relatively harsh landscape, abundances of flora and fauna abound. In the northern portion of the country, one finds the ancient Day Forest National Park and a variety of tree species, such as jujube, fig, olive, juniper, and momosa. To the south and southwest of the Gulf of Tadjoura, the vegetation is similar to that found in other arid regions of Africa, inclusive of acacia and doum palm trees. Among the types of fauna are a wide variety of bird species, numerous types of antelopes and gazelles, and more limited numbers of carnivores (such as cheetahs) and scavengers (such as hyenas), as well as monkeys, squirrels, and warthogs. Perhaps most spectacular is the extremely rich diversity of marine life found along Djibouti’s coastline and coral reefs, a factor that has made the country a special point of interest for international scuba-diving associations.
Demography of Djibouti
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Djiboutian(s). Population (est.): Between 466,900 and 650,000. Annual growth rate (2005 est.): 2.6%. Ethnic groups: Somali, Afar, Ethiopian, Arab, French, and Italian. Religions: Muslim 94%, Christian 6%. Languages: French and Arabic (official); Somali and Afar widely used. Education: Literacy--46.2%. Health: Infant mortality rate--100 to 150/1,000. Life expectancy (2005 est.)--43.1 years. Work force: Low employment rate; estimates run well under 50% of the work force. The largest employers are the Government of Djibouti, including telecommunications and electricity; Port of Djibouti; and airport. The U.S. Government, including the military camp and the embassy, is the second largest employer. Able-bodied unemployed population (est. 2006)--60%.
PEOPLE About two-thirds of the Republic of Djibouti's 650,000 inhabitants live in the capital city. The indigenous population is divided between the majority Somalis (predominantly of the Issa tribe, with minority Issaq and Gadabursi representation) and the Afars (Danakils). All are Cushitic-speaking peoples, and nearly all are Muslim. Among the 15,000 foreigners residing in Djibouti, the French are the most numerous. Among the French are 3,000 troops.
- Ethnic groups
On the basis of linguistic criteria, the two largest ethnic groups are the Somali and the Afar. Both groups speak related, but not mutually intelligible, eastern Cushitic languages.
The Afar (Denakil, or Danakil) speak a language that forms a dialect continuum with Saho. Saho-Afar is usually classified as an Eastern Cushitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language phylum. The Afar live in the sparsely populated areas to the west and north of the Gulf of Tadjoura. This region includes parts of several former as well as extant Afar sultanates. The sultans’ roles are now largely ceremonial, and the social divisions within the traditional Afar hierarchy are of diminished importance. The Afar are also found across the border in neighbouring Ethiopia. Their population distribution in the two countries forms a pattern that is somewhat elongated and triangular in shape and is often referred to as the “Afar triangle.”
The Somali, who also speak an Eastern Cushitic language, are concentrated in the capital and the southeastern quarter of the country. Their social identity is determined by clan-family membership. More than half the Somali belong to the Issa, whose numbers exceed those of the Afar; the remaining Somali are predominately members of the Gadaboursi and Isaaq clans that migrated from northern Somalia during the 20th century to work on the construction of the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railway and Djibouti city’s port expansion.
Djibouti city is home to a long-established community of Yemeni Arabs and houses a sizable contingent of French technical advisers and military personnel. In recent decades these groups have been joined by small but significant numbers of ethnic Ethiopians as well as Greek and Italian expatriates.
The republic recognizes two official languages: French and Arabic. However, Somali is the most widely spoken language, although it is rarely written and is not taught in the schools. The use of Afar is mostly restricted to Afar areas. Many Djiboutians are multilingual.
Fluency in French is particularly important for those with political aspirations. French is the means of instruction in primary and secondary schools, although Arabic is also taught as the first language at both these levels.
More than nine-tenths of the population is Muslim; nearly all adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam. Some Christian religions are represented in Djibouti, including Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.
- Settlement patterns
Djibouti is virtually a city-state, since about two-thirds of the population lives in or near the capital. Outlying towns are small trading centres that experience periodic population increases as camel caravans and sheep and goat herders encamp.
- Demographic trends
Djibouti is the most urbanized country in sub-Saharan Africa, with some four-fifths of the population classified as urban. The annual rate of population increase is higher than the world average but has dropped significantly since the 1980s. Some two-fifths of the population is under age 15, with an additional one-third under age 30. The average life expectancy is less than 50 years.
Both the Afar and the Somali maintain ties with relatives living in neighbouring Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Since independence, many newcomers from rural areas and regions beyond the national frontier have migrated to live with family members in Djibouti city.
Djibouti is host to a considerable number of refugees. In addition to thousands of economic migrants who, on an ongoing basis, clandestinely enter Djibouti and illegally assume a variety of jobs (usually in Djibouti city), the country periodically has been inundated with waves of refugees fleeing political persecution in neighbouring countries.
Government of Djibouti
Type: Republic. Constitution: Ratified September 1992 by referendum. Independence: June 27, 1977. Branches: Executive--president. Legislative--65-member parliament, cabinet, prime minister. Judicial--based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law. Administrative subdivisions: 6 cercles (districts)--Ali-Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, and Tadjoura. Political parties: People's Rally for Progress (RPP) established in 1981; New Democratic Party (PRD) and the National Democratic Party (PND) were both established in 1992; and the Front For The Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) was legally recognized in 1994. Five additional parties were established in 2002: Djibouti Development Party (PDD); Peoples Social Democratic Party (PPSD); Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ); Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD). Suffrage: Universal at 18. National holiday: Independence Day, June 27 (1977).
- Constitutional Framework
Djibouti did not adopt a constitution until 1992, 15 years after having achieved independence. Prior to that the country was governed by nine constitutional articles that had been adopted in 1981. Under the constitution the president, who serves as head of state and head of government, is elected by universal suffrage for a term of five years, without any limitation on the number of terms served. The president nominates and is assisted by a prime minister. The National Assembly is the legislative arm of the government and comprises 65 members who are presided over by the prime minister. Assembly members are elected by universal suffrage for a period of five years. A constitutional amendment in 2010 provided for the creation of a Senate, although one was not immediately established.
- Local government
The country is divided into six administrative units: five régions (Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Tadjourah, and Obock) and Djibouti city.
The judiciary is divided into three separate court systems. A customary court system maintains a trial level in Djibouti city and each region, as well as an appellate level in Djibouti city. These courts are responsible only for civil matters. A second court system, based on Sharīʿah, deals with family matters that fall under the jurisdiction of the Islamic faith. Although presided over by a kadi (a Muslim judge), this system is similar to the customary court system in that it includes both trial and appellate levels. The third court system is Western in origin, heavily patterned after the French judicial system. The Supreme Court constitutes the top court of appeals for this system. Its jurisdiction includes appeals from both the customary and Sharīʿah court systems.
- Political process
From 1981 until 1992 Djibouti had a single-party system, with the Popular Assembly for Progress (Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progrès; RPP) being the sole legal party. During this time deputies to the National Assembly could be elected only from a list supplied by the RPP; abstention from voting was the only legal form of opposition.
The 1992 constitution officially inaugurated a multiparty political system that authorized competition between four political parties. Although it was a significant departure from the single-party rule of 1977–92, critics noted that Djibouti largely remained a de facto single-party political system, with the ruling party maintaining wide powers. In 2002 the restriction on the number of parties was lifted, allowing for the creation of many new legally recognized political parties.
Women and minorities are able to participate in the political process, although representation tends to be disproportionate. In the mid-2000s, women held one-tenth of National Assembly seats. Women have also served in cabinet positions and as president of the Supreme Court. Minorities have held National Assembly seats as well as a number of cabinet positions.
Djibouti’s army and security forces fall under the direct control of the president as commander in chief. The Djiboutian Armed Forces comprise army, navy, and air force contingents as well as a National Security Force; the army is by far the largest branch. There are also paramilitary forces. Djiboutian forces have participated in missions as United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.
Djibouti also hosts international forces. France has long had a military presence in the country stemming from when Djibouti was a French colony. In the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001 and the subsequent international campaign to combat further acts of terror, the Djiboutian government has allowed the United States to station troops in the country. Germany also has a small number of troops stationed in Djibouti.
- Health and welfare
Historically, Djiboutians on average have been better off than the populations of their immediate neighbours. There are still problems, however. Many Djiboutians live in poor housing with inadequate water and sanitation. The infant mortality rate is high because of diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, malaria, and nutritional deficiencies. For the general population, tuberculosis is a major health problem, as are other respiratory diseases, diarrhea, and HIV/AIDS. About four-fifths of the country’s population has access to health care; that figure is considerably lower in rural areas. Djibouti city has a hospital and several primary care clinics, and local dispensaries serve the rural areas.
The widespread chewing of khat in Djibouti presents some health and societal problems. There is the obvious issue of physical side effects associated with prolonged usage that have a negative impact on one’s health. Some studies have indicated that most adult male Djiboutians spend more than five hours a day chewing khat, with the country’s high level of unemployment thought to be partially to blame for the pervasive habit. There is also a problem with khat usage by the portion of the Djiboutian workforce that is gainfully employed, as it is widely recognized that use of the drug severely hinders labour productivity.
Six years of primary education begin at age six. This is followed by seven years of secondary education that begin with a four-year cycle and continue with an additional three-year cycle. Although efforts have been made to increase school enrollment and attendance, it is estimated that fewer than half of primary-school-age children obtain an education. The University of Djibouti (2006) offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs. More than two-thirds of the adult population is literate.
Economy of Djibouti
GDP (2006 est.): $768 million. Adjusted per capita income: $850 per capita for expatriates, $450 for Djiboutians. Natural resources: Minerals (salt, perlite, gypsum, limestone) and energy resources (geothermal and solar). Agriculture (less than 3% of GDP): Products--livestock, fishing, and limited commercial crops, including fruits and vegetables. Industry: Types--banking and insurance (12.5% of GDP), public administration (22% of GDP), construction and public works, manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture. Trade (2004 est.): Imports--$987 million: consists of basic commodities, including food and beverages, pharmaceutical drugs, transport equipment, chemicals, and petroleum products. Exports--$250 million: re-exports, hides and skins, and coffee (in-transit). Major markets (2004)--France, Ethiopia, Somalia, India, China, and Saudi Arabia and other Arabian peninsula countries.
ECONOMY Djibouti's economy depends largely on its proximity to the large Ethiopian market and a large foreign expatriate community. Its main economic activities are the Port of Djibouti, the banking sector, the airport, and the operation of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. During the "lost decade" following the brunt of its civil war (1991-94), there was a significant diversion of government budgetary resources from developmental and social services to military needs. However, from 2001 on, Djibouti has become a magnet for private sector capital investment, attracting inflows that now average more than $200 million. It has also significantly improved its finances, paying current salaries, maintaining reserves, and generating a growth rate in 2006 of approximately 4.5%. Djibouti has become a significant regional banking hub, with approximately $600 million in dollar deposits. Its currency, the Djiboutian Franc, was linked to the dollar (and to gold) in 1949 and appreciated twice over the interim when the dollar was devalued and then freed to float. Agriculture and industry are little developed, in part due to the harsh climate, high production costs, unskilled labor, and limited natural resources. Mineral deposits exist in the country, but with the exception of an extraordinary salt deposit at Lac Asal, the lowest point in Africa, they have not been exploited. The arid soil is unproductive--89% is desert wasteland, 10% is pasture, and 1% is forested. Deforestation for charcoal is a significant problem, as it now replaces expensive imported cooking gas in many urban homes. Services and commerce provide most of the gross domestic product.
Djibouti's most important economic asset is its strategic location on the busy shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Roughly 60% of all commercial ships in the world use its waters from the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and into the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Its old port is an increasingly important transshipment point for containers as well as a destination port for Ethiopian trade. Last year alone, private investment in the old port totaled approximately $50 million. Djibouti is now in the second of three phases of a multi-year, $800 million, privately-financed project to build a new port with fueling, container, and free zone components. The old port will continue serving as a general shipping, bulk cargo, and break-bulk facility and also as the host of a small French naval facility.
Business soared at the Port of Djibouti when hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Ethiopia access to the Eritrean Port of Assab. Djibouti became the only significant port for landlocked Ethiopia, handling all its imports and exports, including huge shipments of U.S. food aid in 2000 during the drought and famine. In 2000, Dubai Ports World took over management of Djibouti's port and later its customs and airport operations. The result has been a significant increase in investment, efficiency, activity, and port revenues. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia. The single-track railway--a prime source of employment--occupies a prominent place in Ethiopia's internal distribution system for domestic commodities such as cement, cotton textiles, sugar, cereals, and charcoal. A weekly train from Ethiopia brings in most of Djibouti's fresh fruits and vegetables. In March 2006, the Governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti (which co-own the railway) selected the South African firm COMAZAR to manage the line. They are still in negotiations over the management agreement. In addition, the European Union is considering a $100 million project to upgrade a portion of the rail line.
Principal exports from the region transiting Djibouti are coffee, salt, live animals, hides, dried beans, cereals, other agricultural products, and wax. Djibouti itself has few exports, and the majority of its imports come from France. Most imports are consumed in Djibouti, and the remainder go to Ethiopia and northwestern Somalia. Djibouti's unfavorable balance of trade is offset partially by invisible earnings such as transit taxes and harbor dues. In 2001, U.S. exports to Djibouti totaled $18.7 million, while U.S. imports from Djibouti were about $1 million.
The city of Djibouti has the only paved airport in the republic. Djibouti has one of the most liberal economic regimes in Africa, with almost unrestricted banking and commerce sectors.
Djibouti has few natural resources and has limited capacity for agricultural and industrial pursuits; the country also has extensive unemployment, foreign debt, and regular budget deficits. The government continues to focus on financial-, telecommunications-, and trade-related services, solidifying the country’s position as an important regional business and trade hub in the Horn of Africa. As a result, the economy relies heavily on the service sector, which accounts for some four-fifths of the country’s gross domestic product.
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
Because of Djibouti’s harsh landscape and limited areas of arable land, agriculture is not a viable economic sector and is largely practiced at subsistence level only. In rural areas, nomadic pastoralism is a way of life. Sheep and goats are raised for milk, meat, and skins, while camels are used for transport caravans. Agriculture there is confined to a few wadis, which produce small yields of vegetables (mostly tomatoes) and dates.
Forests account for less than 1 percent of Djibouti’s total land area. Much of the country’s limited forest cover has long been exploited for grazing and firewood.
Offshore, Djibouti’s waters teem with many species of marine life, including tuna, barracuda, and grouper. The government has sponsored experimental fisheries projects and has succeeded in producing small marketable yields of fish products. However, many Cushitic peoples in the region do not consume fish, and this factor has limited development in this area.
- Resources and power
Djibouti has few natural resources. Salt is exploited—some is exported, and some is marketed through the informal sector of the economy. Efforts to exploit the country’s vast potential for geothermal energy are under way but have yet to yield substantial results. Virtually all the country’s electricity is generated by fossil fuels.
Because of limited development in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, Djibouti is heavily reliant on the import of consumer products. Despite liberal investment laws and Djibouti’s status as a free-trade zone, high labour and energy costs, an extremely small domestic market, and regional instability have hindered the attraction of foreign investors. The government traditionally has sought to overcome this handicap by launching parastatals (government-owned enterprises) in specifically targeted industries, such as a mineral-water-bottling plant at Tadjoura and a dairy plant outside Djibouti city. It has also attempted to exploit significant geothermal activity in the hopes of making the country energy self-sufficient. However, the parastatal sector was plagued by inefficiency and the need for significant budget subsidies. Since the mid-1980s the government has worked toward the privatization of these companies in an attempt to increase profit and productivity. In 1996 these efforts were further expanded as part of a structural-adjustment program sponsored by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
- Finance and services
The Central Bank of Djibouti issues the Djiboutian franc, the national currency, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a fixed parity. There are several commercial banks, development banks, and insurance companies in the country, most of which are located in Djibouti city.
The country is a popular business and finance centre in the region, as its banking and finance laws tend to be less restrictive than those of other countries. Subsequently, foreign businesspersons, particularly those from neighbouring countries, have utilized Djiboutian banks as financial havens for investment capital and as centres for generating import transactions in order to avoid the more regulated banking systems of their respective countries. The quality of the country’s telecommunication services also benefits the business sector.
Since 1982 Djibouti has suffered from an overall trade deficit. Because of limitations in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, the country must import almost all goods intended for final consumption. Imports include food and beverages, machinery and transportation equipment, electric appliances, and petroleum products. Exports include aircraft parts, animal hides and skins, and live animals. Many goods listed as exports are reexports destined for neighbouring countries. Important trading partners include Somalia, Ethiopia, India, and China.
A darker side of Djibouti’s trade habits concerns its daily importation from Ethiopia of the mild narcotic known as khat (qat; Catha edulis). This item of trade, which is managed by a government-sanctioned private syndicate, constitutes a sizable part of Djibouti’s total imports. The Djiboutian government continues to support the khat trade because it is estimated to employ as much as almost one-tenth of the country’s working population and contributes to a windfall in government revenue through taxes.
- Labour and taxation
Djibouti’s high unemployment rate—estimated to be anywhere from almost three-fifths to more than four-fifths of the country’s workforce—is further exacerbated by the thousands of illegal migrants who go to Djibouti and are willing to accept subminimum wages.
Tax revenue in Djibouti funds more than half the annual budget. Sources of revenue include indirect taxes, direct taxes, transit taxes, and harbour dues and related fees.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Djibouti’s title as a regional trade hub is built upon its modern international port and the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railway. There is also much unrecorded transshipment, via camels, dhows, and trucks, to bordering countries.
Djibouti’s road network comprises about 2,000 miles (3,000 km) of roads, of which less than half is paved. Primary routes include a paved road linking Tadjoura and the north with the capital, and the Grand Bara road, which links the capital with the south.
The Djibouti–Addis Ababa railway is an important source of revenue for Djibouti. It is jointly owned by the governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia and has been upgraded with the financial support of the European Union. Despite these upgrades, however, the line has continued to deteriorate, affecting both passenger and freight traffic. Still, the railway serves as an important economic lifeline for landlocked Ethiopia, especially in the wake of rising border tensions with the neighbouring coastal country of Eritrea that began in 1998.
The port of Djibouti is a free-trade zone with modern container and refrigeration facilities and a rail link to Ethiopia. The international port provides capabilities for bunkering and the transshipment of goods to other countries in the region. Attempts at diversification—including the construction of new container terminals, the refurbishment of docking berths, and the inauguration of a new port with a deepwater container facilities and an oil and gas terminal at nearby Doralé—have centred on capturing a larger share of the worldwide transshipment of goods along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Djibouti has several small airports throughout the country that provide access to domestic air service. There is an international airport located at Ambouli, near Djibouti city.
Djibouti’s international telecommunications services are some of the best in sub-Saharan Africa, designed to support the country’s position as a financial and business hub. An earth station links Djibouti to the Arab Satellite Communication Organization (Arabsat). Djibouti is also linked to the submarine South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe–3 (SEA-ME-WE-3) telecommunications system.
With regard to personal communication, mobile phone use is far more prevalent than landline use and continues to increase. Internet usage outside the business realm is limited but growing.
CULTURE LIFE of Djibouti
Djibouti is renowned for its delicate multicoloured textiles, which are made into saronglike garments called futa. These garments are sold in the capital’s colourful central market.
The cuisine of Djibouti mingles African and French influences to produce meals that might include roast lamb with a delicate yogurt sauce, lentil stew, flatbread, and cucumber salad, served with mineral water and fruit juice. The souk (marketplace) of Djibouti city is famed for its spicy oven-baked fish. The capital also houses several high-quality Vietnamese, Chinese, and Lebanese restaurants, making it a somewhat remote but altogether fascinating destination for gourmands.
Muslim feasts and holidays, including ʿĪd al-Fiṭr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā, which marks the culmination of the hajj, are celebrated by Djibouti’s predominant Muslim population. In addition to these, other major holidays in the country include Independence Day, which is celebrated on June 27.
- The arts and cultural institutions
Among students of literature, Djibouti is best known for having been the sometime home of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who lived in Djibouti for several years. Rimbaud lends his name to a cultural centre housing a small library and museum, on the grounds of which an annual music festival takes place. This festival draws performers from all over the country, and live recordings of headliner acts have proved popular with international audiences. Among the best-known performers are the Soukouss Vibration Band, Dinkara, Aïdarous, Père Robert, and Passengers—the last a Rastafarian group that performs reggae tunes by Bob Marley and other Jamaican artists, with lyrics translated into the Somali language. The government sponsors several organizations dedicated to the preservation of traditional culture and dance.
- Sports and recreation
Athletics is a major component of Djiboutian society. The most popular sport in Djibouti is running, and during the 1980s Djiboutian runners enjoyed a considerable amount of success. Ahmed Salah, the most accomplished Djiboutian marathoner, won several international events, including the first world marathon championship in 1985.
Football (soccer) has long been popular as a spectator sport. The Djiboutian national team participated in its first international competition in 1998. Tennis is developing a following, although access to tennis courts and equipment remains limited. Pétanque is also extremely popular. Similar to bocci ball, the game features players who take turns rolling a ball as close as possible to a target ball. Every night around the city, groups of Djiboutians play pétanque under the streetlights. Other sports favoured in Djibouti include volleyball, handball, basketball, and judo. Volleyball and handball each have active leagues, but basketball is less organized, largely because of the lack of suitable courts.
Djibouti made its first Olympic appearance at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Its runners have had strong showings, and, at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, Salah won the country’s first medal, a bronze in the men’s marathon.
- Media and publishing
Djibouti’s only television and radio broadcast company, which offers programming in French, Arabic, Afar, and Somali, is state-run, as is the daily French-language newspaper, La Nation. Independent publications include La Renouveau and La République, which are both weeklies.
HISTORY of Djibouti
The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.
It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839-42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).
Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1884-85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were affirmed further by agreements with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1945 and 1954.
The administrative capital was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1892. In 1896, Djibouti was named French Somaliland. Djibouti, which has a good natural harbor and ready access to the Ethiopian highlands, attracted trade caravans crossing East Africa as well as Somali settlers from the south. The Franco-Ethiopian railway, linking Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia, was begun in 1897 and reached Addis Ababa in June 1917, further facilitating the increase of trade.
During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during World War II, constant border skirmishes occurred between French and Italian forces. The area was ruled by the Vichy (French) government from the fall of France until December 1942, and fell under British blockade during that period. Free French and the Allied forces recaptured Djibouti at the end of 1942. A local battalion from Djibouti participated in the liberation of France in 1944.
On July 22, 1957, the colony was reorganized to give the people considerable self-government. On the same day, a decree applying the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of June 23, 1956, established a territorial assembly that elected eight of its members to an executive council. Members of the executive council were responsible for one or more of the territorial services and carried the title of minister. The council advised the French-appointed governor general.
In a September 1958 constitutional referendum, French Somaliland opted to join the French community as an overseas territory. This act entitled the region to representation by one deputy and one senator in the French Parliament, and one counselor in the French Union Assembly.
The first elections to the territorial assembly were held on November 23, 1958, under a system of proportional representation. In the next assembly elections (1963), a new electoral law was enacted. Representation was abolished in exchange for a system of straight plurality vote based on lists submitted by political parties in seven designated districts. Ali Aref Bourhan, allegedly of Turkish origin, was selected to be the president of the executive council. French President Charles de Gaulle's August 1966 visit to Djibouti was marked by 2 days of public demonstrations by Somalis demanding independence. On September 21, 1966, Louis Saget, appointed governor general of the territory after the demonstrations, announced the French Government's decision to hold a referendum to determine whether the people would remain within the French Republic or become independent. In March 1967, 60% chose to continue the territory's association with France.
In July of that year, a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.
In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory's citizenship law, which favored the Afar minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum. The Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country's first president. In 1981, he was again elected president of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections.
In early 1992, the constitution permitted the legalization of four political parties for a period of 10 years, after which a complete multiparty system would be installed. By the time of the December 1992 national assembly elections, only three had qualified. They were the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (People's Rally for Progress--RPP), which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal--PRD); and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party--PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.
In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP.
In 1999, Ismail Omar Guelleh--President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years--was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, with the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election "irregularities" and the assertion that "foreigners" had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.
In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government. On May 12, 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what was termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.
This discussion focuses on Djibouti since independence. For a more detailed treatment of earlier periods and of the country in its regional context, see eastern Africa, history of.--->>>>>Read More.<<<<
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS OF DJIBOUTI
Djibouti is a republic whose electorate approved the current constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.
In the presidential election held April 8, 2005 Ismail Omar Guelleh was re-elected to a second 6-year term at the head of a multi-party coalition that included the FRUD and other major parties. A loose coalition of opposition parties again boycotted the election. Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with an Afar career diplomat as Foreign Minister and other cabinet posts roughly divided. However, Issas are predominate in the government, civil service, and the ruling party. That, together with a shortage of non-government employment, has bred resentment and continued political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars. In March 2006, Djibouti held its first regional elections and began implementing a decentralization plan. The broad pro-government coalition, including FRUD candidates, again ran unopposed when the government refused to meet opposition preconditions for participation. Parliamentary elections were held in February 2008.
Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which grew significantly with the start of the civil war in 1991. With the 2001 final peace accord between the government and the Afar-dominated FRUD, the armed forces have been downsized. The country's security is supplemented by a formal security accord with the Government of France, which guarantees Djibouti's territorial integrity against foreign incursions. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 3,000 French troops stationed in Djibouti, including units of the famed French Foreign Legion.
The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders in the past, some labor leaders allege interference in their internal elections. Others voice opposition to newly-implemented labor laws that apply to new jobs created in free zones and that are less favorable to labor.
In 2002, following a broad national debate, Djibouti enacted a new "Family Law" enhancing the protection of women and children, unifying legal treatment of all women, and replacing Sharia. The government established a minister-designate for women's affairs and is engaged in an ongoing effort to increase public recognition of women's rights and to ensure enforcement. In 2007, it began establishing a network of new counseling offices to assist women seeking to understand and protect their rights. Women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries. The government is leading efforts to stop illegal and abusive traditional practices, including female genital mutilation. As the result of a three-year effort, the percentage of girls attending primary school increased significantly and is now more than 50%. However, women's rights and family planning continue to face difficult challenges, many stemming from acute poverty in both rural and urban areas. With female ministers and members of parliament, the presence of women in government has increased. Despite the gains, education of girls still lags behind boys, and employment opportunities are better for male applicants.
Principal Government Officials of Djibouti
President--Ismail Omar Guelleh Prime Minister--Dileita Mohamed Dileita Foreign Affairs--Mahamoud Ali Youssouf Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States--Roble Olhaye Oudine
Djibouti's mission to the UN is located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-753-3163). Djibouti's embassy in Washington is located at Suite 515, 1156 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202- 331-0270; fax 202-331-0302).
FOREIGN RELATIONS Military and economic agreements with France provide continued security and economic assistance. Links with Arab states and East Asian states, Japan and China in particular, also are welcome. Djibouti is a member of the Arab League, as well as the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Djibouti is greatly affected by events in Somalia and Ethiopia, so relations are important and, at times, delicate. The 1991 falls of the Siad Barre and Mengistu governments in Somalia and Ethiopia, respectively, caused Djibouti to face national security threats due to instability in the neighboring states and a massive influx of refugees estimated at 100,000 from Somalia and Ethiopia. In 2000, after 3 years of insufficient rain, 50,000 drought victims entered Djibouti. In 1996, a revitalized organization of seven East African states, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), established its secretariat in Djibouti. IGAD's mandate is for regional cooperation and economic integration, and it has also sought to play a positive role promoting regional stability, including its efforts in support of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.
Djibouti seeks to play the role of neutral in the frequently tense regional politics of the Horn of Africa. It became Ethiopia's sole link to the sea when fighting broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998. Aside from a two-year break in relations from 1998-2000, Djibouti has maintained a cordial relationship with Eritrea. Eritrea's President Isaias and Djibouti's President Guelleh exchanged visits in 2001, and Isaias returned to Djibouti in 2006 for the regional summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), hosted by President Guelleh in his capacity as incoming COMESA President. Djibouti continues to cultivate cordial relations with Ethiopia, reflecting the fundamental economic ties between the two countries and a long tradition of interchanges. However, rising tensions in Somalia and Ethiopian military involvement in Somalia in 2007 fueled widespread criticism of Ethiopia among Djibouti's majority Somali-speaking population. President Guelleh attended the 2007 Africa Union summit in Ethiopia and supports the African Union peacekeeping operation for Somalia (AMISOM).
U.S.-DJIBOUTIAN RELATIONS In April 1977, the United States established a Consulate General in Djibouti and upon independence in June 1977 raised the status of its mission to an embassy. The first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti arrived in October 1980. Over the past decade, the United States has been a principal provider of humanitarian assistance for famine relief, and has sponsored health care, education, good governance, and security assistance programs.
Djibouti has allowed the U.S. military, as well as other nations, access to its port and airport facilities. The Djiboutian Government has been very supportive of U.S. and Western interests, particularly during the Gulf crisis of 1990-91 and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2002, Djibouti agreed to host a U.S. military presence at Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion base outside the capital that now houses approximately 1,800 American personnel. U.S. service members provide humanitarian support and development and security assistance to people and governments of the Horn of Africa and Yemen. They support freedom and oppose terrorism. As a victim of past international terrorist attacks, President Guelleh continues to take a very proactive position against terrorism.
Principal U.S. Officials Ambassador--James Swan Deputy Chief of Mission--Eric Wong Consular Officer--Solange Garvey Public Affairs Officer--Niles Cole Political and Economic Officer--Rebecca Hunter United States Military Liaison Officer--Matt Romagnuolo Management Officer--Robert Osborne Regional Security Officer--Ellen Tannor
The U.S. Embassy in Djibouti is located at Villa Plateau du Serpent, Blvd. Marechal Joffre (Boite Postal 185), Djibouti (tel. 253 35-39-95; fax 253 35-39-40).
National capital, Djibouti
Djibouti, Arabic Jībūtī, port city and capital of the Republic of Djibouti. It lies on the southern shore of the Gulf of Tadjoura, which is an inlet of the Gulf of Aden. Built on three level areas (Djibouti, Serpent, Marabout) linked by jetties, the city has a mixture of old and modern architecture. Menilek Square contains the government palace. The climate is dry and hot.
Djibouti owes its creation as a port (c.. 1888) to Léonce Lagarde, first governor of French Somaliland, as the area was then called. Shortly after it became the capital (1892), work began on the railway that linked Addis Ababa, Eth., to the port in 1917. The harbour is landlocked, covers 160 acres (65 hectares), and has been modernized and dredged to depths of 40–65 feet (12–20 m). Djibouti became a free port in 1949, and the economic life of both the city and the nation depends on the city’s use as an entrepôt especially between Ethiopia and the Red Sea trade and as a refueling and supply station. Trade declined during the closure (1967–75) of the Suez Canal. Guerrilla attacks on parts of the Djibouti–Addis Ababa Railway during the Ethiopian civil war in the late 1970s led to further disruption of Djibouti’s economy. Drought and war during the 1980s and early ’90s sent many refugees to Djibouti from Somalia and Ethiopia, swelling its population and creating an additional strain on the city’s resources. Major population groups in the city are the Afars (Danakil), Issa Somalis, Arabs, Europeans (mostly French), and Asians. Pop. (2006 est.) 325,000.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION ABOUT DJIBOUTI
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The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. The CDC publication "Health Information for International Travel" can be found at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentYellowBook.aspx.
Djibouti Area: 23,200 sq km (8,950 sq mi) Population (2008 est.): 506,000 Capital: Djibouti Chief of state and head of government: President Ismail Omar Guelleh, assisted by Prime Minister Dileita ...>>>Read On<<<
Djibouti Area: 23,200 sq km (8,950 sq mi) Population (2006 est.): 487,000 Capital: Djibouti Chief of state and head of government: President Ismail Omar Guelleh, assisted by Prime Minister Dileita ...>>>Read On<<<
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