Republic of Djibouti
President: Ismail Omar Guelleh
Prime Minister: Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed (2013)
Land area: 8,486 sq mi (21,979 sq km);
total area: 8,880 sq mi (23,000 sq km)
Population (2012 est.): 774,389 (growth
rate: 2.29%); birth rate: 15.6/1000; infant mortality rate:
53.53/1000; life expectancy: 61.57; density per sq km: 22
Capital (2009 est.):
Monetary unit: Djibouti franc
National name: Jumhouriyya
Current government officials
French and Arabic (both official), Somali,
Somali 60%, Afar 35%, other 5% (includes
French, Arab, Ethiopian, and Italian)
Independence Day, June 27
Islam 94%, Christian 6%
Literacy rate: 67.9% (2011 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011
est.): $2.244 billion; per capita $2,600. Real growth rate:
n.a.%. Inflation: 7%. Unemployment: 59% in urban areas,
83% in rural areas (2011 est.). Arable land: 0.04%.
Agriculture: fruits, vegetables; goats, sheep, camels, animal
hides. Labor force: 351,700 (2011). Industries:
construction, agricultural processing, salt. Natural
resources: geothermal areas, gold, clay, granite, limestone,
marble, salt, diatomite, gypsum, pumice, petroleum. Exports:
80.4 million (2011 est.): reexports, hides and skins,
coffee (in transit). Imports: $471.3 million f.o.b. (2011):
foods, beverages, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum
products. Major trading partners: Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia,
Saudi Arabia, India, China (2006).
Communications: Telephones: main lines
in use: 18,500 (2011); mobile cellular: 165,600 (2011). Radio
broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001).
Television broadcast stations: 1 (2002). Internet
hosts: 209 (2011). Internet users: 25,900 (2011).
Transportation: Railways: total: 100 km
(Djibouti segment of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad) (2011).
Highways: total: 3,065 km;
(2011 est.). Waterways: none. Ports and harbors:
Djibouti. Airports: 13 (2011).
International disputes: Djibouti
maintains economic ties and border accords with "Somaliland"
leadership while maintaining some political ties to various factions
in Somalia; although most of the 26,000 Somali refugees in Djibouti
who fled civil unrest in the early 1990s have returned, several
thousand still await repatriation in UNHCR camps.
Major sources and definitions
Djibouti lies in northeast Africa on the Gulf of
Aden at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. It borders Ethiopia,
Eritrea, and Somalia. The country, the size of Massachusetts, is mainly a
stony desert, with scattered plateaus and highlands.
Republic with a unicameral legislature.
Ablé immigrants from Arabia migrated to
what is now Djibouti in about the 3rd century B.C. Their descendants are the Afars, one of the two
main ethnic groups that make up Djibouti today. Somali Issas arrived
thereafter. Islam came to the region in 825.
Djibouti was acquired by France between 1843 and
1886 through treaties with the Somali sultans. Small, arid, and sparsely
populated, it is important chiefly because of the capital city's port, the
terminal of the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railway that carries 60% of
Ethiopia's foreign trade. Originally known as French Somaliland, the
colony voted in 1958 and 1967 to remain under French rule. It was renamed
the Territory of the Afars and Issas in 1967 and took the name of its
capital city on June 27, 1977, when France transferred sovereignty to the
new independent nation of Djibouti. On Sept. 4, 1992, voters approved in
referendum a new multiparty constitution. In 1991, conflict between the
Afars and the Issa-dominated government erupted and the continued warfare
has ravaged the country.
The dictatorial president, Hassan Gouled
Aptidon, who had run the country since its independence, finally stepped
aside in 1999, and Ismail Omar Guelleh was elected president. In March
2000, the main Afars rebel group signed a peace accord with the
government. The fighting, severe drought, and the presence of tens of
thousands of refugees from its war-torn neighbors, Ethiopia and Somalia,
have severely strained Djibouti's agricultural capacity.
The Vital Port of Djibouti Receives International Aid
In April 2000, experts estimated some 150,000
people, or more than one-quarter of the population, needed food aid. The
UN agreed to spend $2.7 million to increase the city of
Djibouti's port facilities since it is a crucial regional grain terminus.
In 2002, Djibouti became a key U.S. military base used to combat
terrorism. In 2005, President Guelleh, running unopposed, was
In parliamentary elections in Feb. 2008,
which were boycotted by the three main opposition parties, the ruling
Union for the Presidential Majority won 94.1% of the vote, taking all 65
In 2010, Parliament approved a constitutional amendment that allowed the president to run for a third term. However, it reduced the term from six years to five. Presidential elections in 2011 saw incumbent Ismail Omar Guelleh win a third term with 80.6% of the vote and a turnout of 69.7%. The opposition participated in parliamentary elections in Feb. 2013, the first time since its boycott in 2003. However, the governing Union for the Presidential Majority won 49 out of 65 seats, and the opposition denounced the results.
See also Encyclopedia: Djibouti
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes:
Ministry of the Economy, Finances, and Privitization
Planning http://www.ministere-finances.dj/ (in
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