(äˈdən, āˈdən) [key
], city (1994 pop. 398,399), SW Yemen, on the Gulf of Aden near the southern entrance to the Red Sea. It is the chief port of Yemen. Aden consists of two peninsulas, Aden and Little Aden, and an intervening stretch of the mainland. Each peninsula has a high volcanic headland (Aden rises to 1,742 ft/531 m, and Little Aden to 1,147 ft/350 m), which is linked to the mainland by a flat, sandy isthmus. The bay between the peninsulas is an excellent harbor. Aden peninsula contains most of the city's population and is divided into a number of districts that were once towns. Wells near Sheikh Othman, on the mainland, supply the city with water. Little Aden peninsula has the city's main industrial district and is the site of a large oil refinery; the manufacture of soap, cigarettes, and salt is also important.
Aden, a free port since 1850, has been the chief entrepôt and trading center of S Arabia since ancient times. It enjoyed commercial importance until the discovery (late 15th cent.) of an all-water route around Africa to India. With the opening of the Suez Canal (1869), Aden regained its importance and again became a major trading center and also an important refueling stop; the harbor was deepened to accommodate the largest vessels able to use the canal. Aden's economy, which depends heavily on canal traffic, suffered from the closing of the canal during and after the 1956 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.
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