Djibouti: Facts About The Hidden Gem

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Have you ever heard of a country which celebrates Christmas on January 7 every year instead of December 25? Have you ever known of a reign where people are great fan of qat (khat) chewing? Are you aware of a country where Islam is followed for more than 1,000 years now, with 94% of the majority following it (and the remaining 6% following Christianity)?

Have you ever heard about Djibouti? A country located in the Horn of Africa? Then that’s the one stop answer for all. Read more to discover about Djibouti – a Gateway to Africa for the Arabian Peninsula.

As you know, the Horn of Africa (HOA) is a peninsula in Northeast Africa, jutting out into the Arabian Sea and comprising of countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and ofcourse, Djibouti.

Keeping this structure in mind, Djibouti primarily gets a borderline by Eritrea (on its north), Ethiopia (west and south), and Somalia (southeast). The remaining area borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east.

The Republic of Djibouti is spread over an area of 23,200 square kilometers approximately, being the 3rd smallest country in continental Africa, housing a total population of 810,179. The population is divided further into two main sub-groups, the Issa of Somali and the Afar. The remnants are small mixed percentage of Arabs, Europeans and Ethiopians.

But still, the country rolls eye balls for certain aspects which makes it stand out, for example, 50% of the taxi fare shoots up after sunset here or that its Lake Abbe is located in the area where the Australopithecus skeleton Lucy was found way back in 1974.

Its most famous attraction is Lake Assal (meaning Honey Lake) which is a natural crater in central-western Djibouti. It’s the world’s largest salt reserve and is also considered as a “national treasure”, becoming the saltiest lake outside Antarctica – even saltier than the famous Dead Sea. It lies 155 m below sea level in the Afar Triangle, making it the lowest point on land in Africa and the second-lowest land depression on Earth after the Dead Sea. As there is no water outflow system, and the evaporation further makes it the most briny preserve in the world after Don Juan Pond.

The Capital and the largest city is Djibouti, followed by Ali Sabieh, which is the second largest city. Named after its famous bottom point of the Gulf of Tadjoura, and also known as “Land of Tehuti” (named after the Egyptian Moon God), the current state was founded on June 27, 1977. Therefore this date is celebrated till today as the National Holiday, with other few National Holidays being New Year, Mouloud (birth of the Prophet), Labour Day, Islamic New Year and Christmas.

Being a French territory until 1977, the country took a while to establish itself and today follows a single-party republic government. It’s also famous for some interesting historic facts like cattle were domesticated here around 3500 years ago, or that it was known as French Somaliland from 1896 to 1967.

But if you keep aside history, even today the country is eminent for facts such as 93% of women here have gone through genital mutilation process or that the only U.S. Military Base in Africa is based here. Interestingly, the country also took to face three elections before they could actually achieve independence.

The ruling President is Ismail Omar Guelleh (1999) and the present Prime Minister is Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed (2013). The sad part is the unemployment rate here, which is as high as 50%. Most of the food for consumption is imported, as their agriculture can only support fruits and vegetables, due to almost no rains, and they keep a dry climate throughout.

Major industries of Djibouti are construction, salt mining, agricultural processing, leather tanning, petroleum refinery and pharmaceuticals. Few of the natural resources found here are salt, marble, granite, petroleum, pumice and gold. Major trading partners are Yemen, Saudi Arabia, China, India and the neighbors Somalia and Ethiopia.

Country Code: 253

Languages Spoken: Arabic (official), Somali, French (official) and Afar

Currency: Franc


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