Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yemen (al-Yaman): A Short Summary

Differentiating Facts:

1. Republic: headed by President Saleh, with Vice President, Prime Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister. Still largely a tribal society. Kidnappings 1990s - present. Since 2004, Civil War between Yemeni forces and Shiite rebels, also 2009 South Yemen separatism.

2. Many population shifts in long history. Kidnappings of tourists. Ocean piracy. Rapes of refugees. Violence against women. High birth rate (average 6 babies per mother). Fastest growing country in Arabia. 46% pop. less than 15 yrs. of age. Malarial mosquitoes. Lack of vaccinations.

3. Censorship practiced. Freedom of speech, press and religion are restricted.

Historical & Geographical Facts:

1. Arabian Peninsula country in southwest Asia. 20 governates and 1 municipality. Notable cities --Capital: Sana (also sp. Sana'a & Sanaa). Shibam: "Manhattan of the Desert."

2. Pop. 23 mil. 53% Sunni, 47% Shi'a. Four Main Regions: west coastal plains, western highlands, eastern highlands, Rub Al Khali (desert) in the east. Over 200 islands, many volcanic.

3. Est. Nov. 1, 1918. Independent judiciary practices Muslim Sharia law. Britain withdrew from Aden with closure of Suez Canal in 1967. Before 1990 existed as 2 entities.

Economic Facts:

1. Currency: Rials. Long operations trading spices, timber, textiles. Strategic location on Bab el Mandeb-strait linking the Red Sea & the Gulf of Aden is one of the world's most active shipping lanes with a high risk of piracy.

2. China and Soviet Union have provided economic assistance since mid-50s. 40% Unemployment (2007). Dwindling natural resources (e.g. oil, water). Fear of economic collapse by 2017. Monetary reform programs with World Bank and IMF.

3. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has built new border control measures. Good relations with Somalia and Djibouti.

General facts:

1.  99% Muslim. Only 1% pop. non-Muslim.

2. Arabic language is used. Compulsory school attendance not enforced.

3. Khat, an evergreen shrub, chewed by men and women is deeply rooted in culture for its caffeine-like effect.

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