/yem"euhn, yay"meuhn/, n.
1. Republic of, a country in S Arabia, formed in 1990 by the merger of the Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. 13,972,477; 207,000 sq. mi. (536,130 sq. km). Cap.: (political) San'a. Cap.: (economic) Aden.
2. Also called North Yemen. a former country in SW Arabia: since 1990 a part of the Republic of Yemen. Cap.: San'a.
3. Also called South Yemen. a former country in S Arabia: since 1990 a part of the Republic of Yemen. Cap.: Aden.

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Introduction Yemen
Background: North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border. Geography Yemen -
Location: Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea, between Oman and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 48 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 527,970 sq km land: 527,970 sq km note: includes Perim, Socotra, the former Yemen Arab Republic (YAR or North Yemen), and the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY or South Yemen) water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than twice the size of Wyoming
Land boundaries: total: 1,746 km border countries: Oman 288 km, Saudi Arabia 1,458 km
Coastline: 1,906 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: mostly desert; hot and humid along west coast; temperate in western mountains affected by seasonal monsoon; extraordinarily hot, dry, harsh desert in east
Terrain: narrow coastal plain backed by flat- topped hills and rugged mountains; dissected upland desert plains in center slope into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m highest point: Jabal an Nabi Shu'ayb 3,760 m
Natural resources: petroleum, fish, rock salt, marble, small deposits of coal, gold, lead, nickel, and copper, fertile soil in west
Land use: arable land: 2.75% permanent crops: 0.21% other: 97.04% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 4,900 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: sandstorms and dust storms in summer Environment - current issues: very limited natural fresh water resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note: strategic location on Bab el Mandeb, the strait linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, one of world's most active shipping lanes People Yemen
Population: 18,701,257 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 47% (male 4,468,928; female 4,317,648) 15-64 years: 50.1% (male 4,783,769; female 4,587,309) 65 years and over: 2.9% (male 273,282; female 270,321) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.4% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 43.3 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 9.31 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/ female total population: 1.04 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 66.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 60.59 years female: 62.46 years (2002 est.) male: 58.81 years
Total fertility rate: 6.9 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Yemeni(s) adjective: Yemeni
Ethnic groups: predominantly Arab; but also Afro- Arab, South Asians, Europeans
Religions: Muslim including Shaf'i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi'a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu
Languages: Arabic
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 38% male: 53% female: 26% (1990 est.) Government Yemen
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Yemen conventional short form: Yemen local short form: Al Yaman local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Yamaniyah
Government type: republic
Capital: Sanaa Administrative divisions: 17 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Abyan, 'Adan, Al Bayda', Al Hudaydah, Al Jawf, Al Mahrah, Al Mahwit, Dhamar, Hadramawt, Hajjah, Ibb, Lahij, Ma'rib, Sa'dah, San'a', Shabwah, Ta'izz note: there may be three more governorates: Ad Dali', Amran, and the capital city of Sanaa
Independence: 22 May 1990, Republic of Yemen was established with the merger of the Yemen Arab Republic [Yemen (Sanaa) or North Yemen] and the Marxist- dominated People's Democratic Republic of Yemen [Yemen (Aden) or South Yemen]; previously North Yemen had become independent on NA November 1918 (from the Ottoman Empire) and South Yemen had become independent on 30 November 1967 (from the UK)
National holiday: Unification Day, 22 May (1990)
Constitution: 16 May 1991; amended 29 September 1994 and February 2001
Legal system: based on Islamic law, Turkish law, English common law, and local tribal customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Field Marshall Ali Abdallah SALIH (since 22 May 1990, the former president of North Yemen, assumed office upon the merger of North and South Yemen); Vice President Maj. Gen. Abd al-Rab Mansur al-HADI (since 3 October 1994) head of government: Prime Minister Abd al-Qadir BA JAMAL (since 4 April 2001) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister election results: Ali Abdallah SALIH elected president; percent of vote - Ali Abdallah SALIH 96.3%, Najib Qahtan AL-SHAABI 3.7% elections: president elected by direct, popular vote for a seven- year term (recently extended from a five-year term by constitutional amendment); election last held 23 September 1999 (next to be held NA 2006); vice president appointed by the president; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
Legislative branch: a new constitutional amendment ratified on 20 February 2001 created a bicameral legislature consisting of a Shura Council (111 seats; members appointed by the president) and a House of Representatives (301 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - GPC 189, Islah 52, Nasserite Unionist Party 3, National Arab Socialist Baath Party 2, independents 54, election pending 1; seats by party as of January 2002: GPC 223, Islah 64, Nasserite Unionist Party 3, National Arab Socialist Baath Party 2, YSP 2, independents 7 elections: last held 27 April 1997 (next to be held 27 April 2003)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court Political parties and leaders: there are over 12 political parties active in Yemen, some of the more prominent are: General People's Congress or GPC [President Ali Abdallah SALIH]; Islamic Reform Grouping or Islah [Shaykh Abdallah bin Husayn al-AHMAR]; National Arab Socialist Baath Party [Dr. Qassim SALAAM]; Nasserite Unionist Party [Abdel Malik al-MAKHLAFI]; Yemeni Socialist Party or YSP [Ali Salih MUQBIL] note: President SALIH's General People's Congress or GPC won a landslide victory in the April 1997 legislative election and no longer governs in coalition with Shaykh Abdallah bin Husayn al-AHMAR's Islamic Reform Grouping or Islah - the two parties had been in coalition since the end of the civil war in 1994; the YSP, a loyal opposition party, boycotted the April 1997 legislative election, but announced that it would participate in Yemen's first local elections which were held in February 2001; these local elections aim to decentralize political power and are a key element of the government's political reform program Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACC, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC,
participation: ESCWA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Abd al- Wahhab Abdallah al-HAJRI FAX: [1] (202) 337-2017 telephone: [1] (202) 965-4760 chancery: Suite 705, 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Edmund
US: J. HULL (since 17 September 2001) embassy: Dhahar Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, Sanaa mailing address: P. O. Box 22347, Sanaa telephone: [967] (1) 303-161 FAX: [967] (1) 303-182
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; similar to the flag of Syria which has two green stars and of Iraq which has three green stars (plus an Arabic inscription) in a horizontal line centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt which has a heraldic eagle centered in the white band Economy Yemen -
Economy - overview: Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported strong growth in the mid-1990s with the onset of oil production, but has been harmed by periodic declines in oil prices. Yemen has embarked on an IMF-supported structural adjustment program designed to modernize and streamline the economy, which has led to substantial foreign debt relief and restructuring. Aided by higher oil prices in 1999-2000, Yemen worked to maintain tight control over spending and implement additional components of the IMF program. A high population growth rate and internal political dissension complicate the government's task.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $14.8 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $820 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 17% industry: 40% services: 43% (1998) Population below poverty line: NA Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 3%
percentage share: highest 10%: 25.9% (1998) Distribution of family income - Gini 33.4 (1998)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (2001 est.)
Labor force: NA Labor force - by occupation: most people are employed in agriculture and herding; services, construction, industry, and commerce account for less than one-fourth of the labor force
Unemployment rate: 30% (1995 est.)
Budget: revenues: $3 billion expenditures: $3.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: crude oil production and petroleum refining; small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods; food processing; handicrafts; small aluminum products factory; cement Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 3.2 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 2.976 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: grain, fruits, vegetables, pulses, qat (mildly narcotic shrub), coffee, cotton; dairy products, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, camels), poultry; fish
Exports: $3.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish
Exports - partners: Thailand 34%, China 26%, South Korea 14%, Singapore 9%, Japan 3%, Saudi Arabia 3% (1999)
Imports: $3 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: food and live animals, machinery and equipment
Imports - partners: Saudi Arabia 10%, UAE 8%, France 7%, US 7%, Italy 6% (1999)
Debt - external: $4.7 billion (2001) Economic aid - recipient: $176.1 million (1995)
Currency: Yemeni rial (YER)
Currency code: YER
Exchange rates: Yemeni rials per US dollar - 171.860 (December 2001), 168.678 (2001), 161.718 (2000), 155.718 (1999), 135.882 (1998), 129.281 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Yemen Telephones - main lines in use: 291,359 (1999) Telephones - mobile cellular: 32,042 (2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: since unification in 1990, efforts have been made to create a national telecommunications network domestic: the national network consists of microwave radio relay, cable, tropospheric scatter, and GSM cellular mobile telephone systems international: satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 2 Arabsat; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and Djibouti Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 1, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 1.05 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 7 (plus several low-power repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 470,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .ye Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 14,000 (2001) Transportation Yemen
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 69,263 km paved: 9,963 km unpaved: 59,300 km (1999)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: crude oil 644 km; petroleum products 32 km
Ports and harbors: Aden, Al Hudaydah, Al Mukalla, As Salif, Ras Issa, Mocha, Nishtun
Merchant marine: total: 4 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 15,002 GRT/23,752 DWT ships by type: cargo 1, petroleum tanker 3 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Hong Kong 2 (2002 est.)
Airports: 49 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 14 over 3,047 m: 3 2,438 to 3,047 m: 8 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 35 over 3,047 m: 2 2,438 to 3,047 m: 8 1,524 to 2,437 m: 8 914 to 1,523 m: 13 under 914 m: 4 (2001) Military Yemen
Military branches: Army (includes Special Forces, established in 1999), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Forces, Republican Guard Military manpower - military age: 14 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 4,272,156 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 2,397,914 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 238,690 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $482.5 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 5.2% (FY01)
Military - note: establishement of a Coast Guard, scheduled for May 2001, has been delayed Transnational Issues Yemen Disputes - international: demarcation of delimited boundary with Saudi Arabia involves nomadic tribal affiliations; Yemen has asserted traditional fishing rights to islands ceded to Eritrea in ICJ ruling

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officially Republic of Yemen

Country, southwestern Arabian Peninsula.

It also includes the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean and Kamaran Island in the Red Sea. Area: 214,300 sq mi (555,000 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 19,495,000. Capital: Sanaa. The population is mainly Arab. Language: Arabic (official). Religions: Islam (official), Sunnite and Shīʽite (mostly Zaydī); remnants of Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism. Currency: Yemeni rial. From the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, a narrow coastal plain leads to highlands that cover most of the country. The northern region covers the southern and southwestern parts of the Rub al-Khali. Mineral resources include iron ore, salt, petroleum, and natural gas, all of which are exploited. Agriculture is important; industries include food processing and salt production. Yemen is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Tribal affiliations have remained strong and directly affect local and national policy. Yemen was the home of ancient Minaean, Sabaean, and Ḥimyārite kingdoms. The Romans invaded the region in the 1st century AD. In the 6th century it was conquered by Ethiopians and Persians. Following the adoption of Islam in the 7th century, it was ruled nominally under a caliphate. The Egyptian Ayyūbid dynasty ruled there from 1173 to 1229, after which the region passed to the Rasūlids. From 1517 through 1918 the Ottoman Empire maintained varying degrees of control, especially in the northwestern section. A boundary agreement was reached in 1934 between the northwestern territory (controlled by a local religious leader), which subsequently became the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen), and the southeastern British-controlled territory, which subsequently became the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen). Relations between the two Yemens remained tense and were marked by conflict throughout the 1970s and '80s. The two officially united as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. Its 1993 elections were the first free, multiparty general elections held in the Arabian Peninsula, and they were the first in which women participated. In 1994, after a two-month civil war, a new constitution was approved.

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▪ 2009

528,076 sq km (203,891 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 23,013,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Mujawar

      In 2008 Yemen continued its open-door policy for tens of thousands of Somali refugees fleeing poverty and war, a policy that put a strain on the country's meagre resources. A large number of refugees died during treacherous journeys across the Gulf of Aden. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees recommended a global initiative to address the problem of Somali and other African refugees in Yemen.

      A suicide car-bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on September 17 killed at least 18 people. Pres. Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih accused the Islamist terrorist cell that was arrested in connection with the bombing of having ties with Israel, a charge that the Israeli government denied.

      In October flooding from torrential rains caused extreme devastation, especially in the province of Hadramawt, where most of the houses were made of mud brick, and damage was extensive. Dozens were killed in the flooding, which also affected Sanaa.

      During the year media attention was brought to the Yemeni practice of child marriage when three Yemeni child brides—one of them only eight years old—came forward publicly to accuse their fathers of having forced them to marry against their will and to seek divorces in the Yemeni courts. Amendments to Yemeni law in the last decade had removed the legal age of consent for marriage, and the decision regarding when a girl could marry was left up to her parents.

Ayesha Siddiqua Chaudhry

▪ 2008

528,076 sq km (203,891 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 22,231,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Ministers ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal and, from April 7, Ali Muhammad Mujawar

      The year 2007 was a tumultuous one for Yemen. Clashes in January–March between security forces and al-Houthi rebels in the north left more than 80 dead. In June the Shabab al-Muminay leader, ʿAbd al-Malik al-Houthi, finally accepted a cease-fire.

 According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 20,000 people entered Yemen illegally from East Africa, and at least 400 died along the way, with as many missing and feared dead. East Africans were leaving poverty and war behind, in hopes of a better future in the Middle East. They used Yemen as an entry point into oil-rich Gulf states.

      In March two foreign students (one of whom was a Muslim from France) were killed by Shiʿite rebels in an attack on a religious school. A mosque was firebombed in April by two unidentified attackers, who doused people with gasoline before lighting them on fire. On July 2 a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of Spanish tourists, killing seven Spaniards and two Yemenis at the Queen of Sheba temple in Marʾib. Yemeni government forces attacked the outskirts of Marʾib, allegedly killing the al-Qaeda militants responsible for planning the attack, including Kassem al-Raimi, who was thought to have masterminded the attack. Yemen continued to work with U.S. special forces based in Djibouti to fight al-Qaeda.

Ayesha Siddiqua Chaudhry

▪ 2007

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 20,676,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal

 In September 2006 Pres. Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih, reversing an earlier decision to step down in June, extended his 28-year presidency by winning another 7-year term in Yemen's democratic elections. One of President Salih's goals was to attract international aid to Yemen, which remained one of the poorest countries in the world; international aid was at the minimal $13 per capita. Western officials recognized that investing in Yemen would increase regional and global security, but many experts believed that Yemen might disintegrate in the manner of Afghanistan and Somalia. Despite many challenges, the Yemeni government continued to be a close ally of the U.S. in its “war on terrorism.” After the escape of 23 convicts in February, 13 of whom were linked with al-Qaeda, at least 9 were recaptured.

      Yemen faced major problems with kidnappings, which had damaged the country's international reputation and economy. In 2006 Swiss, Austrian, German, and Italian tourists and diplomats were abducted by tribal groups and used to bargain for the release of tribal members from prison. All captives were released in good health after negotiations. In an effort to discourage these abductions, at least two convicted kidnappers were executed in Yemen during the year.

Ayesha Siddiqua Chaudhry

▪ 2006

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 20,043,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal

 In 2005 the government of Yemen continued to cooperate closely with the U.S. on its “war on terrorism” and arrested hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects in the process. Yemeni authorities engaged in clashes with the followers of radical cleric Hussein al-Houthi, who had been killed in September 2004 after starting an uprising. These clashes led to the death of more than 200 people in 2005. Pres. Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih, responding to criticism that Yemen was one of the world's most heavily armed countries, continued his program to disarm tribal Yemenis who were carrying weapons in public. This led to a number of skirmishes between troops and tribesmen.

      The Yemeni government undertook drastic economic reforms in an effort to address its budget deficit. A tax increase coupled with a cut in fuel subsides—which more than doubled the cost of fuel—resulted in riots and the death of both civilians and government officers. Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the world.

      Though Yemen was officially considered polio-free, more than 100 cases of polio were reported. The World Health Organization described this outbreak as an epidemic, and WHO became heavily involved in orchestrating a national immunization drive to combat the polio outbreaks.

Ayesha Siddiqua Chaudhry

▪ 2005

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 20,733,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal

      The Yemeni government continued to confront hostile elements that were using violence against the regime, but during 2004 progress was made in achieving greater internal security. The Yemeni military and law-enforcement authorities successfully shut down a number of small terrorist groups. Socialist leader Jarallah Omar's assassin was tried and condemned to death. Reliable details about the terrorist groups were scarce, but some of them probably had loose connections with al-Qaeda. The terrorists all seemed to suffer, however, from a lack of financial resources, and a few resorted to robberies to sustain themselves. The government's cooperation with Washington in antiterrorism efforts continued. In September a Yemeni judge sentenced two men to death and four others to terms of up to 10 years in prison for the 2000 bombing attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole.

      A separate internal security problem arose in early 2004 when a royalist, Hussein al-Houthi, started a rebellion in the north near the town of Saada, demanding a return to the imamate that had been abolished in 1962 with the establishment of a republican form of government. He was rumoured to be enjoying financial support from Iranians because he was a Shiʿite Muslim. After a five-month insurgency, in which some 200 persons were killed, in October government forces found Houthi hiding in a cave and killed him. Meanwhile, political leaders were already preparing for local and presidential elections in 2005.

William A. Rugh

▪ 2004

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 20,010,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal

      On April 27, 2003, Yemen held its third national parliamentary election since the introduction in 1990 of a multiparty democratic system. Though the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), which represented southern constituents, had boycotted the 1997 election, it participated this time. Nevertheless, the election gave the General People's Congress (GPC) of Pres. Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih an increase in its legislative majority to 238 of the 301 seats. The GPC was helped in part by competition between the 21 opposition parties and independents. The YSP won only eight seats. It was noteworthy that 40% of the registered voters were women, one of the highest percentages in the Arab world.

      In May, President Salih pardoned four politicians who had led an attempted southern secession in 1994; the four had been condemned to death for treason after the 1994 civil war and had been living in exile. As a symbol of north-south reconciliation, Salih named one of them his special adviser.

      The economy was bolstered by the $2.3 billion in economic support that had been pledged for Yemen at a 2002 meeting in Paris between Yemeni government officials and donor countries. Yemen was attempting to hold down spending and comply with IMF recommendations.

William A. Rugh

▪ 2003

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 19,495,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister, ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal

      During 2002 international attention focused on Yemen's role in antiterrorism. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, the Yemeni and U.S. governments substantially increased their cooperation in combating terrorism, quietly exchanging information and working together to identify possible supporters of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Though authorities of the Yemeni central government did not have full control over the entire country, they made new efforts to expand their reach into the southeastern part of the country and provide greater security. Yemen also closed a number of Koranic schools and instructed mosque preachers to use moderation in their sermons. U.S. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney met Pres. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih in Yemen in March to discuss joint security. He was the highest-level U.S. official to visit Yemen since Vice Pres. George H.W. Bush in 1986.

      In early October 2002, however, a terrorist-related explosion and fire erupted on the large French-flagged oil tanker Limburg, near the Yemeni port of Al-Mukalla. On November 3 the CIA and Yemen coordinated a missile attack that claimed the lives of six alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen, including its top leader in the country. The missile was launched from a pilotless aircraft and signaled that the war on terrorism would be unconventional. (See Military Affairs: Special Report (Warfare in the 21st Century ).) On December 30 four Baptist missionaries were gunned down in a hospital in Jibla by a man believed to have links to an Islamist cell; three of them died in the attack.

William A. Rugh

▪ 2002

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 18,078,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Ministers ʿAbd al-Karim al-Iryani and, from March 31, ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal

      In February 2001, for the first time ever, Yemen held elections for local councils; of the more than 20,000 candidates, 7,000 representatives were chosen. Voters also approved a referendum that would extend the term of the president from five to seven years, a constitutional change that could allow Pres. Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih to remain in office until 2013. On April 28 President Salih appointed 111 members to the newly created Consultative Council, which would form the upper house of the parliament.

      In March 2001 President Salih reshuffled the cabinet and appointed as prime minister ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal, a southerner from the Hadramawt; he had served as foreign minister and minister of oil when Yemeni was unified in 1990. Prior to unification Ba Jamal had served in the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen's (South Yemen's) pro-Marxist government as planning and oil minister. Outgoing prime minister ʿAbd al-Karim al-Iryani, a veteran politician who had served in many cabinets (before and after unity), became a senior presidential adviser. The new 35-member cabinet, all of whom belonged to the president's party, included Wahiba Fare, Yemen's first woman minister; she became minister of state for human rights.

      Yemeni and U.S. authorities continued their intense investigation into the October 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole; several arrests were made. Following the September 2001 attacks in the U.S., Yemen cooperated with U.S. investigators, arrested dozens of suspects, and froze the bank accounts of two honey stores that were suspected of having links to terrorists.

William A. Rugh

▪ 2001

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 17,479,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister ʿAbd al-Karim al-Iryani

      In June 2000 Yemeni Foreign Minister ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Ba Jamal and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Saud al-Faisal, signed what Yemen called a “final and permanent treaty” concerning their common border. It was based on the Treaty of Taif of 1934, which had demarcated only a small part of the 2,500-km (1,550-mi) Yemeni-Saudi border. The two diplomats agreed to settle “in an amicable way” the undemarcated eastern end of the border, which had become the focus of tension and disagreement between Yemen and Saudi Arabia in recent years. Signed during a visit to Saudi Arabia by Pres. Maj. Gen. ʿAli ʿAbdallah Salih, this new agreement was expected to result in improved relations between the two countries.

      On October 12 suicide bombers in a small boat steered their craft into the side of the USS Cole, a U.S. destroyer in the harbour at the port of Aden. A large-scale investigation into the bombing, which killed 17 sailors and injured 39, was led by the FBI. (See Military Affairs .)

William A. Rugh

▪ 2000

555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 16,942,000
Chief of state:
President Maj. Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih
Head of government:
Prime Minister ʿAbd al-Karim al-Iryani

      The trial of terrorists responsible for the December 1998 killing of four kidnapped Western tourists continued through most of the year and affected Yemen's external relations. Although more than 100 foreigners had been taken hostage in Yemen since 1992, they had usually been treated well, and this was the first instance of the deliberate murder of foreigners. The event caused a slump in tourism, which had brought Yemen $200 million in 1998, and in international business. The terrorist leader, Zein al-Abidin al-Mihdar, was executed in October, and authorities hoped this would calm the situation.

      Yemen's first direct presidential election took place in September 1999. Ali Abdallah Salih had been in power since 1978 as chief of state of North Yemen and later of unified Yemen and had been elected by the parliament in 1994, but then the constitution was changed to provide for direct popular vote. Endorsed by his own party and by the main parliamentary opposition party, Salih won a huge majority of the votes cast and began a new term.

William A. Rugh

▪ 1999

      Area: 555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 16,496,000

      Capital: Sanʿaʾ

      Chief of state: President Maj. Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Faraj Said ibn Ghanem until April 29 and, from May 14, ʿAbd-al Karim al-Iryani

      In May 1998 ʿAbd-al Karim al-Iryani became Yemen's prime minister, a post he had held in Yemen (Sanʿaʾ) in 1980-83. Iryani had most recently been serving as foreign minister and had also at various times held other ministerial posts, including planning and education.

      The long-standing Yemeni-Saudi negotiations to delineate their common border made little progress in 1998. Yemeni-Saudi relations, in fact, suffered a brief setback in July when Saudi forces attacked a small Yemeni contingent on Duwaima Island in the Red Sea. Peace was restored quickly, but the island continued to be claimed by each country. Another foreign-policy problem was resolved in October, however, when an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague decided in Yemen's favour in a territorial dispute with Eritrea over the Hanish Islands.

      On December 28 a group calling itself the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army kidnapped 16 tourists in southern Yemen, 12 from the U.K. and 2 each from the U.S. and Australia. They were taken to a remote mountain retreat, where on December 30 Yemeni security forces attacked the kidnappers. In the ensuing gun battle four of the tourists, three kidnappers, and one policeman were killed. The other 12 tourists were freed.


▪ 1998

      Area: 555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 16,496,000

      Capital: Sanˋa'

      Chief of state: President Maj. Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih

      Head of government: Prime Ministers ˋAbd al-Aziz ˋAbd al-Ghani and, from May 15, Faraj Said ibn Ghanem

      Yemen held the second parliamentary election in its history on April 27, 1997. The General People's Congress (GPC) party of Pres. Ali Abdallah Salih won 187 of the 301 seats, and the Islah Party finished second with 53. After the election some successful independent candidates joined those two parties, increasing their seats to 226 and 59, respectively. The Yemeni Socialist Party had won 56 seats in the 1993 election, but in 1997 it boycotted the vote, charging election fraud. Yet international election observers, including the National Democratic Institute, found the voting by and large fair. On May 15 a new prime minister, Faraj Said ibn Ghanem, formed a new 28-member Cabinet, including 24 from the GPC.

      Yemen made progress in 1997 toward resolving its territorial dispute with Eritrea over Greater Hanish Island, submitting the problem to arbitration in The Hague. Yemeni-Saudi relations also improved somewhat with intensified negotiations over the nondemarcated portion of their common border.

      The government implemented a structural adjustment program to revive the economy, which was suffering the effects of the recent civil war and the loss of subsidies from many Arab and Western nations. Comprehensive reforms, including privatization, won endorsement and funding support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.


▪ 1997

      A republic of the southwestern Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has coastlines on the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea. Area: 555,000 sq km (214,300 sq mi), including the undemarcated area bordered by Saudi Arabia and claimed by Yemen. Pop. (1996 est.): 16.6 million. Cap.: San'a`. Monetary unit: Yemen Rial, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of YRls 100 to U.S. $1 (YRls 157.53 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Maj. Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih; prime minister, 'Abd al-Aziz 'Abd al-Ghani.

      Yemen and Saudi Arabia sought to improve their bilateral relations in 1996 with a series of high-level visits, but fundamental suspicions and border issues remained. Meanwhile, a confrontation with Eritrea broke out when Eritrean forces captured the Red Sea island of Greater Hanish in four days of fighting in mid-December 1995 that resulted in 16 casualties and some 160 captured Yemeni soldiers. Eritrea released the soldiers, but the sovereignty dispute continued, and Eritrea expelled the Yemeni ambassador in January. Egyptian Pres. Hosni Mubarak personally engaged in mediation of the dispute, and in March the two governments agreed to international mediation. By the year's end, however, the key issues had not been entirely resolved.

      Sporadic tribal unrest continued. In January 1996 one tribe kidnapped 17 French tourists in retaliation for the arrest of one of their tribesmen for a 1995 abduction of an American. (WILLIAM A. RUGH)

      This article updates Yemen, history of (Yemen).

▪ 1996

      A republic of the southwestern Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has coastlines on the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea. Area: 527,970 sq km (203,850 sq mi), including 55,871 sq km of undemarcated area bordered by Saudi Arabia and claimed by the former Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen). Pop. (1995 est.): 13,058,000. Cap.: San'a`. Monetary unit: Yemen Rial, with (Oct. 6, 1995) an official par value of YRls 50 to U.S. $1 (YRls 79.04 = £1 sterling) and a free market rate of YRls 140 to U.S. $1 (YRls 221.32 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Maj. Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih; prime minister, 'Abd al-Aziz 'Abd al-Ghani.

      Despite tensions, Yemen retained its national unity throughout 1995. Eleven parties agreed in February to a document establishing a new alliance, the Opposition Democratic Coalition. In March the minister of defense declared that the integration of the northern and southern armed forces had been "successfully completed." In June a Cabinet reshuffle further consolidated the power of the president, Maj. Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih, by tipping the balance of the coalition government in favour of his General People's Congress over the Yemeni Alliance for Reform.

      Border tensions with Saudi Arabia, which had heated up in December 1994 and January 1995, led to the signing in February of a memorandum of understanding. The parties renewed their commitment to the agreement signed in at-Ta`if, Saudi Arabia, in 1934 and established joint committees to arrive at definitive boundaries and promote bilateral ties. There were subsequent talks, and in June President Salih met with King Fahd. Later in the year, however, there were further border clashes. Agreement was reached defining the boundaries with Oman. In December Yemen accused Eritrea of "armed aggression" for landing forces on the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea. After fighting in the area was followed by a cease-fire, the Eritreans continued to hold one of the islands at year-end.

      Estimated daily oil production averaged 340,000 bbl in 1995. The World Bank granted an economic recovery credit of $80 million in December as various free-market reforms began to get under way. (JAMAL A. SA'D)

      This updates the article Yemen, history of (Yemen).

▪ 1995

      A republic of the southwestern Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has coastlines on the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea. Area: 531,869 sq km (205,356 sq mi), including 59,770 sq km of undemarcated area bordered by Saudi Arabia claimed by the former Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen). Pop. (1994 est.): 12,961,000. Cap.: San'a`. Monetary unit: Yemen rial, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a par value of 12.01 rials to U.S. $1 (free rate of 19.10 rials = £1 sterling); a truer value of the rial was on the black market, where in October about 84 rials = U.S. $1 (about 134 rials = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih; prime ministers, Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas, Muhammad Said al-Attar (acting) from May 9, and, from October 6, 'Abd al-Aziz al-Ghani.

      Civil war erupted in Yemen on May 5, 1994, after weeks of skirmishes between troops from the south and the north. Southern secessionists, headed by Ali Salim al-Baidh of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) and 'Abd ar-Rahman al-Jifri of the Sons of Yemen League, proclaimed the breakaway Democratic Republic of Yemen on May 21 and appealed to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states for diplomatic and moral support. On June 1 the UN, at the prompting of several Gulf states, adopted a resolution condemning the northern authorities and calling for an immediate cease-fire.

      Despite southern forces' acquisition of MiG-29s from Moldova, northern forces drove the rebels back to their stronghold in Aden. With the oil fields at Masila in northern hands, on July 7 the cities of Aden and Mukallah surrendered. The leaders of the putative secessionist state had fled into exile in Saudi Arabia and Oman. Jifri vowed to fight on, but Baidh was said to have "retired from politics."

      Northern leaders moved to heal the wounds of the civil war, which resulted in some 5,000 dead. On July 13 the council of ministers started a 10-day session, which adopted a reconciliation plan offering a general amnesty, compensation for losses, and a pledge to restore democracy and safeguard political pluralism. In a gesture to the south, the government proclaimed Aden the nation's economic capital. Subsequent talks between Planning and Development Minister 'Abd al-Karim al-Iryani and Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas, prime minister of the rebel state, held in Geneva under UN auspices, failed to make progress.

      In Cabinet changes announced in September, members of the YSP were dropped from the government. The Islamic fundamentalist party al-Islah gained six new seats in the Cabinet in what was seen as a sign of growing Islamic influence in the north. During a special session of the 301-seat Council of Representatives on September 28, all 235 delegates present approved a new constitution that abolished the presidential council and stipulated that the Shari'ah would henceforth be the source of all legislation in Yemen. Al-Islah was given credit for the change. (JOHN WHELAN)

      This updates the article Yemen, history of (Yemen).

▪ 1994

      A republic of the southwestern Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has coastlines on the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea. Area: 531,869 sq km (205,356 sq mi), including 59,770 sq km of undemarcated area bordered by Saudi Arabia claimed by the former Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen). Pop. (1993 est.): 12,519,000. Cap.: San'a`. Monetary unit: Yemen rial, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a par value of 16.50 rials to U.S. $1 (free rate of 25.08 rials = £1 sterling); a truer value of the rial was on the black market, where in October about 46 rials = U.S. $1 (about 70 rials = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Gen. Ali Abdallah Salih; prime minister, Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas.

      A major political crisis erupted in August 1993 when Vice Pres. Ali Salim al-Beidh declared that he would boycott meetings in the capital, San'a`, and remain in his southern power base of Aden. The announcement followed a visit to the U.S., where he was apparently warned of a plot to kill him in San'a`. Prime Minister Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas supported the vice president's call for political and economic reforms as well as improved security. Beidh claimed that more than 150 members of his Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) had been killed in ongoing political violence.

      On April 27, Yemen went to the polls in a general election that resulted in Pres. Ali Abdallah Salih's General People's Congress' becoming the largest single party, with 122 seats in the 301-member House of Representatives. The election was contested by 3,267 candidates from 21 parties. In the north the contests were largely between the fundamentalists and Salih's GPC, while in the south the YSP dominated. (For tabulated results, see Political Parties, above.)

      On May 30, Salih formed a 31-member coalition Cabinet with representatives from all the major parties, including six ministers from the fundamentalist al-Islah and one pro-Iraqi Ba'thist. Despite Salih's stated commitment to political reform, the government's cohesion remained fragile. The defense forces chief of staff, Col. Abdullah Hussein al-Bushiri, resigned, citing personal differences with the new defense minister and lack of progress in amalgamating the armed forces of the former North and South Yemen.

      A U.S. diplomat, kidnapped by tribesmen at the end of November, was released a few days later.

      While suffering from political upheavals and harassment by tribesmen, Western companies continued the search for oil, with Canadian Occidental bringing the Masila block on stream in July, boosting Yemen's overall production to 300,000 bbl a day. (JOHN WHELAN)

      This updates the article Yemen, history of (Yemen).

* * *

Yemen, flag of   mostly mountainous country situated at the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It is generally an arid country, though there are broad patches with sufficient precipitation to make agriculture successful. The people speak various dialects of Arabic (Arabic language) and are mostly Muslims (see Islam (Islām)).

      The history, culture, economy, and population of Yemen have all been influenced by the country's strategic location at the southern entrance of the Red Sea—a crossroads of both ancient and modern trade and communications routes. In the ancient world, the states that occupied the area known today as Yemen controlled the supply of such important commodities as frankincense and myrrh and dominated the trade in many other valuable items, such as the spices and aromatics of Asia. Because of its fertility as well as its commercial prosperity, Yemen was the location of a number of ancient kingdoms; for that same reason, it was known to the ancient Romans as Arabia Felix (Latin: “Fortunate Arabia”) to distinguish it from the vast forbidding reaches of Arabia Deserta (“Desert Arabia”). Later, Yemen was the place where coffee (Arabic: qahwah) was first cultivated commercially, and, before the introduction of coffee plants to other parts of the world, it was long the sole source of that precious bean.

      The present Republic of Yemen came into being in May 1990, when the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) merged with the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen). By stipulation of the unification agreement, Sanaa, formerly the capital of North Yemen, functions as the political capital of the country, while Aden, formerly the capital of South Yemen, functions as the economic centre. The two components of Yemen underwent strikingly different histories: whereas North Yemen never experienced any period of colonial administration at the hands of a European power, South Yemen was a part of the British Empire from 1839 to 1967. The contemporary borders are largely a product of the foreign policy goals and actions of Britain (United Kingdom), the Ottoman Empire, and Saudi Arabia.

 Even during the age of colonial hegemony, Yemen remained for the most part one of the most secluded regions of the world. Much the same can be said today; few outsiders travel Yemen's rugged hinterland, many parts of which have been little influenced by central government authority. It is perhaps this splendid isolation that has captivated the imagination of many from abroad. For all its remoteness, Yemen is likewise a country of great physical beauty, photogenic and picturesque, with a life and verdancy in the highlands unlike that found elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. Walter B. Harris, a journalist and traveler, visited Yemen in 1892. One of the first Westerners to see many parts of the country, he recounted his impressions in the book A Journey Through the Yemen, in which he says:Nothing can be imagined more beautiful than the scenery of the mountains of the Yemen. Torn into all manner of fantastic peaks, the rocky crags add a wildness to a view that otherwise possesses the most peaceful charms. Rich green valleys, well timbered in places, and threaded by silvery streams of dancing water; sloping fields, gay with crops and wildflowers; the terraced or jungle-covered slopes,—all are so luxuriant, so verdant, that one's ideas as to the nature of Arabia are entirely upset. Well known as is, and always has been, the fertility of this region, its extent is almost startling, and it can little be wondered at that Alexander the Great intended, after his conquest of India, to take up his abode in the Yemen….

  Most of Yemen's northern frontier with Saudi Arabia traverses the great desert of the peninsula, the Rubʿ al-Khali (“Empty Quarter”), and until 2000 remained undemarcated, as did the eastern frontier with Oman until 1992. Yemen is bounded to the south by the Gulf of Aden (Aden, Gulf of) and the Arabian Sea and to the west by the Red Sea. Yemen's territory includes a number of islands as well, including the Kamarān group, located in the Red Sea near Al-Ḥudaydah (Ḥudaydah, Al-); the Ḥanīsh Islands, in the southern Red Sea; Perim (Perim Island) (Barīm) Island, in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa; Socotra (Suquṭrā), Yemen's most important and largest island, located in the Arabian Sea nearly 620 miles (1,000 km) east of Aden; and the Brothers (Al-Ikhwān), a group of small islets near Socotra.

Relief and drainage
       Yemen may be divided into five major regions: a coastal plain running north-south known as the Tihāmah (Tihāmat al-Yaman) (an extension of the Tihāmat ʿAsīr), the western highlands, the central mountains (the Yemen Highlands), the eastern highlands, and finally the eastern and northeastern desert regions.

      The coastal plain ranges in width from 5 miles (8 km) to as much as 40 miles (65 km). Low mountains rising from 1,000 to 3,500 feet (300 to 1,100 metres) lie between the low hills of the plain and the great central massif, which has many peaks in excess of 10,000 feet (3,000 metres); the highest is Mount Al-Nabī Shuʿayb, which rises to 12,336 feet (3,760 metres). Toward the east-northeast, the mountains subside rather rapidly into the eastern highlands (2,500–3,500 feet [750–1,100 metres]), which drop off to the sandy hills of the Rubʿ al-Khali.

      Yemen is an arid country, and there are no permanent watercourses. The regular rainfall that occurs in some areas drains, in the northern part, westward toward the Red Sea through five major watercourses (wadis) and, in the southern part, southward into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea through three major watercourses. The largest of the latter is the Wadi Ḥaḍramawt (Hadhramaut Valley), which has been renowned since antiquity for its frankincense trees and which historically has been the locus of a number of sophisticated city-states. Together with their tributaries and lesser neighbours, these intermittently flowing channels slice the highlands and central massif into a large number of plateaus and ridges. In many places there is evidence of volcanic activity from as recently as a few hundred years ago; the existence of hot springs and fumaroles (volcanic vents) attests to continued subterranean activity. Moreover, the country sits astride one of the most active fault lines in the Red Sea region (Great Rift Basin) and has experienced several severe earthquakes in modern times, including one that shook the Dhamar area in December 1982, killing about 3,000 people and largely destroying several villages and hundreds of smaller settlements.

      Soils throughout the country vary from sandy to loamy, and most are low in organic matter, thus limiting agricultural options. In some areas, however, elaborate agricultural terraces cover the mountains from base to peak. The high agricultural productivity of this system is largely attributable to the soil that has been collected and enriched with compost over a period of centuries. In the modern period, neglect and civil conflict have taken their toll on the earthworks, which are particularly vulnerable to erosion. Still, the terraces are largely intact and are a breathtaking feature of mountainous Yemen.

      Most of Yemen lies in the border zone between two main weather patterns: the regular northerly winds (from the Mediterranean basin) and the southwest monsoon winds. These create a fairly well-defined seasonal rhythm; the northerly winds predominate during the winter, while in the summer the southwest monsoon brings the primary rains. Cut off from this pattern by the central mountains, the southern fringe areas on the Gulf of Aden experience a markedly tropical climate. In Aden as well as in the north at Al-Ḥudaydah, temperatures often exceed 100 °F (38 °C), with high humidity, whereas in Sanaa (at more than 7,200 feet [2,200 metres]) the daytime temperature averages just under 70 °F (21 °C), and humidity is low. The higher northern elevations of the central massif experience occasional frosts and dustings of snow during the winter months.

      On the Tihāmah, as well as along the southern coastal belt, the average annual precipitation is less than about 5 inches (130 mm); many years record no measurable precipitation. Rainfall increases with elevation; the lower highlands receive about 15 to 20 inches (400 to 500 mm) per year, while the middle highlands around Taʿizz and Ibb average more than 30 inches (750 mm) annually. Different annual cycles characterize the northern and southern parts of Yemen: whereas the north usually has two rainy seasons (March–May and July–September), the south often receives no precipitation except sparse amounts in the summer months. Throughout Yemen, precipitation is erratic and variable from year to year, and lengthy droughts are not unknown; there have been periods as long as five years when precipitation was one-tenth the normal amount. A serious drought occurred during North Yemen's civil war of 1962–70 and had lasting social and economic consequences.

Plant and animal life
 The distribution of vegetation roughly corresponds to the zones of elevation and precipitation. It is possible to distinguish three general regions: (1) the coastal plain and its wadis, in which dry-climate plants such as the date palm, citrus fruits, banana, and cotton as well as spurges (euphorbia), acacia, and tamarisk predominate (the dry wadis of the eastern desert support similar flora), (2) the middle highlands, with a variety of such food crops as melons, nuts, grapes, and grains, as well as various spurges (spurge), eucalyptus, sycamore, fig, and carob, and (3) the mountainous interior, with its temperate-zone crops, including coffee, the mild stimulant khat (qāt), and a variety of woody shrubs and trees. Yemen retained considerable forest cover into the early years of the 20th century. However, the pressures generated by rapid population growth—notably the increased demand for stovewood and agricultural land—largely depleted the forest legacy. In the early 21st century a negligible amount of forest cover remained.

 These same human pressures have had a devastating effect on Yemen's wildlife. Evidence suggests the presence of such species as panther, ostrich, various antelopes (including the Arabian oryx), and large cats (e.g., lions) as recently as a century ago; some species of panther and antelope, which persist in Yemen, are threatened, surviving in limited numbers. One of the largest wild mammals still widespread in Yemen is the hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas), though its numbers too are said to be diminished; among the smaller mammals are the hyena, fox, and rabbit. In two categories of wildlife—birds and insects—Yemen has a relatively abundant and varied population; many species remain uncatalogued. Probably the greatest diversity of fauna, however, inhabits the waters of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden. Among the many different species are tuna, mackerel, shark, sardines, lobster, shrimp, and squid.


Ethnic groups
      The people of Yemen overwhelmingly consider themselves Arabs (Arab), but they have tended to divide themselves between northern and southern groups, a historical division that has linguistic roots but which is otherwise difficult to trace. Yemenis of northern origin, for example, are said to have descended from Mesopotamians who entered the region in the 1st millennium BC, and they claim ancestry of the biblical figure Ismāʿīl (Ishmael). The southern group, which represents the old South Arabian stock, claims descent from Qaḥṭān, the biblical Joktan.

      Ethnic minorities include the Mahra, a people whose roots are unclear and who occupy a part of eastern Yemen, as well as the island of Socotra, and who speak a variant of the ancient Himyaritic language. (See Mahra Sultanate.) On the Tihāmah coastal plain, in-migrations from Ethiopia and Somalia have occurred over many centuries. There is a clear African admixture in the coastal population as well as a distinct social group known as the Akhdām, who perform menial tasks and are the closest thing to a caste in Yemen. In the far north there are still small remnants of the once-large Jewish communities (most migrated to Israel after 1948), while in the area of Aden and the eastern regions there are distinct Somali, Indonesian, and Indian elements in the population, legacies of the British colonial era as well of economic and political ties extending back over two millennia.

      Among Arab groups, tribal affiliation (tribe) is another deep-seated component of social identity. Some confederations of tribes have histories spanning more than two millennia. These affiliations continue to serve as a key basis for political and social organization throughout the country, although the postindependence governments of both South Yemen and, to a lesser extent, North Yemen set out to eradicate what then were considered reactionary cultural institutions. Although efforts toward detribalization were at least in part effective, subsequent events indicated that such identifications were still socially, economically, and politically relevant.

      More than nine-tenths of Yemenis speak some dialect of Arabic (Arabic language) as their first language, and Modern Standard Arabic—the literary and cultural language of the broader Arab world—is taught in schools. There are several main dialects, but minor differences often occur within smaller geographic areas. The Arabic of the rural areas of the south is still heavily influenced by the ancient South Arabian languages. A dialect of Judeo-Arabic spoken by the Jewish community has fallen almost entirely out of use in Yemen. Hindi, Somali, and several African languages are spoken in pockets. Several ancient Semitic (Semitic languages) dialects, including Bathari, Mehri, and Socotri (Soqotri), remain in a chiefly oral capacity. Those languages have tended to recede as literacy in Arabic has become more common.

      Throughout society, the broadest distinctions between population groups are based not on ethnicity but on religious affiliation. Islam (Islām) is the state religion, and the Sunni branch of Islam, represented by the Shāfiʿī (Shāfiʿīyah) school, predominates. The Shīʿite minority comprises the Zaydī (Zaydīyah) school, which has long been politically dominant in the mountainous highlands of the north, and the Ismāʿīlīs, now a relatively small group found in the Haraz region of northern Yemen and in Jabal Manakhah, the mountainous area west of Sanaa. The non-Muslim community is very small, consisting mostly of foreign visitors and workers. All are free to worship as they wish—including the Jewish community—but, as in most conservative Muslim countries, proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims is illegal.

      Historically, Yemen has had its share of Islamic militants, particularly since the return of combatants who fought in the 1980s on the side of the mujahideen (Arabic: mujāhidūn, “those who engage in jihad”) in the Afghan War (1978–92).

Settlement patterns
 Yemen is an overwhelmingly rural country, with about three-fourths of the people living in the countryside. With only a few exceptions, the rural population is distributed fairly evenly. The monsoon rainfall that causes the western slopes of the massif to be so well-dissected makes the area the most densely populated part of the country. Fertile soils are another regional asset. In varying concentrations, Yemenis inhabit nearly all the country's geographic zones—from sea level to 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) and higher. (In fact, the intricate variety of subregions and microclimates produces an agricultural base of astonishing diversity.) The scarcity of farmland has greatly influenced rural settlement and construction patterns, as has the need for security. Villages tend to be small, and buildings are erected on ground that cannot be cultivated—frequently along cliffs and rock outcroppings. Homes often consist of several stories (as many as five or more), with the lower floors being made of hand-hewn stone. Upper stories, where the family resides, are usually made of mud brick, a superior insulator. These quarters also have many windows, providing ventilation in the heat of the summer. The location of the living quarters in these upper stories offers the capacity for storage in the lower stories, as well as an element of security.

 Cities in Yemen follow patterns seen in other parts of the Arab world. Original construction consisted of a walled and fortified old city, in which the ornate multistory home was standard. The old city also contained shops, souks, schools, and mosques. In the modern period, urban areas began to sprawl outside the old city, and the wealthy began to build larger and more-ornate mansions and villas in nearby suburbs.

Demographic trends
      In many respects, the most important contemporary demographic trend has been the emigration of large numbers of males between the ages of 15 and 45 for employment in other countries. The number of such emigrants has fluctuated because of political and economic volatility over the years. Until the last decade of the 20th century, there were more than one million Yemeni nationals employed abroad—chiefly in Saudi Arabia and the smaller Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region, as well as in Great Britain (in the industrial Midlands and in Wales), and in the United States (in industrial areas of the Northeast and Midwest and in the agricultural areas of California). The remittances of these emigrants played an important role in the balance of payments, in radically increasing the income of most Yemenis, and in funding many local development projects. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, however, drastically altered the balance of migrant labour. Yemen's neutrality and failure to support a Saudi invitation extended to U.S. forces resulted in Saudi Arabia's retraction of the special status granted to Yemeni workers, forcing as many as one million labourers to return to a newly unified Yemen that was ill-prepared to reabsorb them.

      The population of Yemen continues to display characteristics typical of less-developed areas: high birth rate, high infant mortality rate, low levels of literacy, and the ill effects of poor hygiene, unsanitary water supplies, and inadequate public health service. Major health and education programs funded by foreign governments and by the United Nations have attempted to address both structural and programmatic deficiencies.

      Despite economic advances since the 1970s—most notably the beginning of the commercial exploitation of oil and natural gas—Yemen is one of the world's poorest and least-developed countries. The majority of Yemenis are subsistence agriculturalists. Only about 3 percent of the country's land is arable (mostly in the west), though roughly one-third is suitable for grazing. During the first half of the 20th century, the rulers in the north (the imams; see Zaydiyyah (Zaydīyah)) achieved and maintained virtual self-sufficiency in food production for their region. By contrast, at the beginning of the 21st century, unified Yemen was heavily dependent on imported food, despite the market expansion and increased investment of the 1970s and '80s. One important reason for this situation was the scarcity and high cost of domestic labour, the result of the exodus of much of the adult male labour force that began in the 1970s. In addition, the remittances of these emigrants (emigration) (most of which were transferred through unofficial channels and therefore not taxed) fueled inflation, driving the prices of domestic food products above those of imported equivalents, such as U.S. grains and Australian meats.

      One of the more important issues raised by the merger of the two Yemens was the integration of the socialist command economy of the south and the largely market-driven economy of the north. By the early 1970s the government of the south had nationalized almost all land and housing, along with most banking, industrial, and other business enterprises in the country; thereafter, all new industries and businesses of any size were state-owned and state-operated. Although closer to the opposite pole, industry and business in North Yemen were a hodgepodge of public, public-private, and private enterprises, with most of the bigger and more-important firms being public. The private sector has since been encouraged and has been fueled by remittances from migrant workers.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Yemen's difficult terrain, limited soil, inconsistent water supply, and large number of microclimates have fostered some of the most highly sophisticated methods of water conservation and seed adaptation found anywhere in the world, making possible the cultivation of surprisingly diverse crops. The most common crops are cereals such as millet, corn (maize), wheat, barley, and sorghum; myriad vegetables from a burgeoning truck farm industry have appeared on the market in recent years. There has also been extensive cultivation of fruits—both tropical (mangoes, plantains, bananas, melons, papayas, and citrus) and temperate (pears, peaches, apples, and grapes).

      The two main cash crops in the northern highlands are coffee (coffee production) (Coffea arabica) and khat (qāt; Catha edulis). The coffee trade, which began in the 16th century, was originally based on Yemeni coffee, and, for centuries, coffee was the most important and renowned export of Yemen. The port city of Mocha—from which a distinctive style of coffee takes its name—was the point from which most of Yemen's coffee was exported between the 16th and 18th centuries, before more-economical plantation cultivation was introduced in other parts of the world. In Yemen the coffee tree grows best in the middle highlands, at elevations of 4,500 to 6,500 feet (1,400 to 2,000 metres), where khat also flourishes. The latter is an evergreen shrub whose young leaves, which contain an alkaloid, are chewed as a mild stimulant. The production and consumption of khat occupy a prominent position in the culture and economy of Yemen. Increased affluence has allowed a growing section of the population to indulge in its use, which the government has attempted—with little success—to discourage. Greater demand has fueled a substantial increase in khat acreage. Although older coffee terraces are often converted to khat as their productivity declines, much of the land being devoted to khat was formerly considered marginal for commercial agricultural purposes and now benefits from regular soil-enhancement programs and terrace-maintenance efforts.

      Beginning in the 1970s, the cultivation of cotton—both in the Tihāmah coastal plain in the north and in the coastal plain east of Aden—was strongly supported by the respective national governments, and for a while it contributed significantly to national income. At the end of the 20th century, a significant decline in world cotton prices, as well as the high costs of initiation and development, meant that the Yemeni cotton industry was not competitive.

      The typical Yemeni farmer raises at least some livestock, typically the regional varieties of goats, sheep, or cattle. Agricultural development programs sponsored by Western countries introduced new varieties of dairy and beef cattle in the more temperate regions of the north; aid from foreign governments and international development programs, in the form of technical and monetary assistance, also contributed to livestock-focused projects in Yemen in the 20th century.

      Another important economic development has been the growth of both the artisanal and the industrial fishing (commercial fishing) industries. The waters of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are extraordinarily rich in a wide variety of commercially desirable fish and crustaceans. In the past, very small quantities of some species were marketed locally; the foreign technical and financial assistance provided to the fishing industry (notably by the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)) contributed markedly to its increased role in the national economy. At the beginning of the 21st century, the developing fishery sector, also increasingly supported by domestic government programs and assistance, was one of the top contributors to Yemen's economy.

Resources and power
      The export of oil generates a major portion of national income and government revenues. Oil (petroleum) and natural gas were first discovered in commercial quantity in North Yemen on the edge of the eastern desert near Maʾrib in 1984 by the Hunt Oil Company. Two years later, oil was found by a state corporation of the Soviet Union in the south, near the juncture of the two Yemens and Saudi Arabia. Since then, several other significant finds have been made, most notably the major commercial strike in 1991 in Masīlah, north of Al-Mukallā, by Canadian Occidental (later known as Nexen Inc.); the Masīlah field is one of Yemen's most productive. New exploration and the development of existing finds by several foreign companies continued in the early 21st century. Pipelines in Yemen carry crude oil to export facilities on the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea.

      As important, if not more so, are Yemen's large proven reserves of natural gas, located mostly in the western part of the country. Yemen has signed agreements with foreign companies to begin full exploitation of natural gas, but in the early 21st century the sector remained underdeveloped, and production was limited. Electricity is mostly generated by oil-burning thermal plants. At the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, energy restructuring plans provided for the construction of a number of gas-powered plants, with hopes that switching from oil to natural gas as Yemen's principal fuel for meeting electric and other domestic needs would maximize oil available for export and relieve domestic Yemeni oil dependence. Installed electrical capacity does not meet national demands, and scheduled blackouts are common. In the 2000s only about two-fifths of the country was tied into the national grid.

      There has never been a thorough survey of Yemen to determine precisely what other mineral resources might be commercially exploitable. Salt is extracted from underground mines near Al-Ṣalīf in the Tihāmah and from surface deposits near Aden in the south. In the past, coal and iron deposits supported a small-scale steel industry (primarily for the manufacture of swords and daggers, particularly the janbiyyah, a symbolic, largely ornamental dagger worn by many Yemeni men). There are deposits of copper, as well as some evidence of sulfur, lead, zinc, nickel, silver, and gold, and surveys in the late 20th and early 21st centuries indicated that some of these deposits were commercially exploitable.

      Continuing today in Yemen are traditional handicraft industries that achieved great renown in the past for the quality of their products: jewelry, especially silver and gold filigree; leatherwork; carpets; glass; utensils, especially for cooking; daggers and other metalwork; decorative woodwork; and stained-glass windows. Modern manufacturing enterprises did not contribute to the national income until the 1970s, with the exceptions of the oil refinery in Little Aden (the peninsula that encloses the western side of Aden's harbour), built originally by British Petroleum (BP PLC) in the 1950s and nationalized in 1977, and the cotton textile industry established in North Yemen in the last years of the imamate at the beginning of the 1960s.

      The multiyear development plans of the governments of both Yemens after the 1960s focused on the establishment of a more diversified and modern industrial base. Most of these manufacturers were designed as import-substitution enterprises, producing such items as cement, aluminum ware, plastic products, paints, textiles, furniture, cooking oil, foodstuffs, soft drinks, and tobacco products; some have since become significant contributors to the national income. Much of new manufacturing in recent decades has been related to transportation and communications infrastructure: road building, the construction of electrical power stations, electrification and the stringing of telephone lines. The oil and natural gas industry entails—in addition to the foreign primary firms—an array of local subcontractors and allied services. Pipeline construction and maintenance, as well as new refineries, make substantial contributions to the economy.

      The Central Bank of Yemen was formed in 1990 from the merger of the central banks of the two Yemens. It is responsible for issuing the rial, the national currency, and for managing the government's foreign exchange and other financial operations. The Yemen Bank for Reconstruction and Development (1962) provides commercial and customer services. Banking is a small sector of the economy; services have traditionally been difficult to obtain since, because of a weak court system, collecting money owed has been difficult. Many Yemenis rely on informal systems to meet financial needs.

      For many centuries, trade was the major source of wealth for the states that occupied the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Trade diminished in the 16th century, when the Portuguese set out to control seaborne commerce with the East, turning the Red Sea region, and especially Yemen, into an economic backwater. The only world commodity left to Yemen was the coffee trade, a monopoly that continued for several centuries. The construction of the Suez Canal (completed in 1869) revitalized the Red Sea route between Asia and Europe, proving prescient the British decision to take Aden in 1839. Aden's deepwater berths and sophisticated and extensive port facilities, which the British constructed over the years, made it one of the world's preeminent ports.

      Still, trade remained quite modest until the economic boom of the 1970s and '80s; at the height of this boom, the value of Yemeni exports (primarily coffee, cotton goods, and hides and skins) amounted to only a minute fraction of imports, which comprised foodstuffs of all types, manufactured goods (consumer as well as industrial), machinery, transportation equipment, chemicals, and petroleum products—the basic goods demanded by a population formerly isolated from the modern consumer economy. The ratio of exports to imports began to shift dramatically with the start of the export of oil in the late 1980s. With the exception of oil exports, however, Yemen conducts all but an infinitesimal portion of its export trade with its regional neighbours.

      Within the service sector, public administration is one of the largest employers. Overall, the service sector employs about one-fourth of the population and accounts for about two-fifths of the gross domestic product (GDP). Tourism accounts for a relatively small portion of the GDP; despite Yemen's rich natural and cultural heritage and government efforts to encourage tourism, the infrastructural underdevelopment and political instability have made many visitors wary of travel to the country.

Labour and taxation
      Although the government acknowledges the right of workers to organize, union membership in Yemen is minimal. All unions are federated within an umbrella labour organization, the General Federation of Trade Unions of Yemen. Collective bargaining is limited, and work stoppages and strikes are permitted only with government approval. More than half of Yemen's workforce is engaged in agricultural labour. Unemployment frequently exceeds 30 percent. Child labour is common, particularly in agriculture, and laws limiting the work hours of children under age 15 are seldom enforced. As is common in Muslim countries, the standard workweek is Saturday through Wednesday.

      The country derives most of its income from tax revenue, of which taxes derived from the oil industry are the most significant. There is a personal income tax, and income derived from tariffs and other taxation has traditionally been a major source of the state's non-petroleum-based income. The Islamic tithe (zakāt (zakat)) is administered by the state (though calculated by the individual); the proceeds are intended for the relief of the poor. Before 2000 the undemarcated frontier with Saudi Arabia, as well as the fluid political situation along those portions of the frontier that were demarcated (e.g., near Najrān, Saud.Ar.), made smuggling—and thus the loss of much-needed import duties—a chronic problem for revenue collectors.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Until the 1960s there were virtually no all-weather roads anywhere in Yemen except in the city of Aden. In the last years of the imamate, the first of these roads (roads and highways) were built in the north as part of foreign-aid packages by China, the United States, and the Soviet Union. These first roads—i.e., the one from Al-Ḥudaydah to Sanaa and the one from Mocha (Al-Mukhā) to Sanaa via Taʿizz—represented major feats of engineering. They cut the transportation time between the cities involved from days to hours and set off an explosion of intrastate traffic and trade. Since then, many of the formerly rudimentary roads in the north and south have been paved, and demands for similar improvements have been raised by numerous small towns and villages. Although all the major towns and cities are now served by all-weather roads, there are thousands of miles of tracks that are passable only by all-terrain vehicles; built at an accelerated rate since the mid-1970s, these tracks have provided an outlet for locally produced goods and easier access to consumer products. The former capital cities of Aden and Sanaa remain the transportation hubs of the south and north, respectively, and travel between most of the lesser towns and cities is not possible except through these centres.

      The 1970s and '80s saw the development of a public transportation system based on buses and shared taxis. Beginning in the late 20th century, the distribution of goods has been handled primarily by modern trucks, some of immense size; these trucks are often overloaded, and the accident rate on Yemeni roads is disproportionately high.

      Until the early 1960s, about three-fourths of North Yemen's very modest international trade passed through Aden. Following the revolution of 1962, however, the new government redirected trade through the Red Sea port of Al-Ḥudaydah (Ḥudaydah, Al-), which was expanded and modernized with major assistance from the Soviet Union. The ports of Aden and Al-Ḥudaydah now handle nearly all of Yemen's sea traffic. Although Al-Ḥudaydah's port is well-equipped, it has experienced periods of serious congestion. Aden's extensive facilities were underutilized during the socialist period. With unification and the major upgrading of port and manufacturing facilities that began in the late 20th century, Aden—which has good road connections to Taʿizz, Ibb, and beyond—will have the ability to handle most of the country's international trade. Yemen's other ports, most notably Mocha and Al-Mukallā (Mukallā, Al-), used chiefly by small craft and for coastal traffic and, in the case of Mocha, for smuggling, began plans for revival in the late 20th century. While Mocha canceled most of its development plans after Yemen's unification, in the early 21st century Al-Mukallā was included in a development program designed to expand the infrastructure of three of Yemen's port cities.

      Prior to unification, the state-owned airlines of the two Yemens provided each country with its chief transport link to the outside world for passengers, mail, and light freight. Both airlines, but especially the one in the south, greatly facilitated internal travel and transport between the cities and major towns of Yemen. The two airlines were finally merged nearly a decade after unification. Today, Yemenia (Yemen Airways) operates regular service to a large number of countries in the Red Sea region and to most other Arab states, as well as to a growing number of European transportation hubs. Major airports are at Aden, Sanaa, and Al-Ḥudaydah. There are a number of other smaller airports and airfields located in other cities.

      There are relatively few main phone lines in Yemen, and, like many other less-developed countries, Yemen is experiencing a boom in cellular and wireless phone service, with such service being provided by several private companies. The number of televisions and radios per capita is quite high. Television and radio stations are located in the larger cities, and more-affluent Yemenis have access to satellite feeds from other Arab countries and elsewhere. Internet service is sparse, and few people own computers.

Government and society
      The former states of North Yemen and South Yemen had sharply contrasting political systems. North Yemen was a republic governed nominally under a constitution adopted in 1970, suspended in 1974, and largely restored between 1978 and the late 1980s. Although a succession of bodies carried out some of the functions of a legislature, they exercised little real power until the late 1980s. During that period, policy making remained in the hands of a relatively progressive military elite that worked closely with a variety of civilians that included a large and growing group of technocrats, the major tribal leaders, and other traditional conservative notables. Although political parties were formally banned, several parties did exist and operated with varying degrees of influence during and between elections.

      South Yemen, also republican in form, had an avowedly Marxist regime, and the political system and economy reflected many of the goals and organizational structures of its “scientific socialism.” The Yemen Socialist Party (YSP), the only legal political organization, determined government policy and exercised control over the state administrative system, the legislature, and the military.

      The unified political system created in 1990 represented a pronounced departure from either of the previous ones, in theory and, to a large extent, in practice. The most important change was the decision to establish a multiparty representative democracy.

Constitutional framework
      The 1990 constitution (amended in 1994 and 2001) called for those rights and institutions usually associated with a liberal parliamentary democracy. The head of state is the president, who appoints the vice president and the prime minister; the latter is the head of government. The president holds office for no more than two seven-year terms and is assisted by a cabinet. The bicameral legislature consists of two houses: the House of Representatives, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage every six years, and the Shūrā (Consultative) Council, whose members are appointed by the president. The legislature oversees the executive, discusses and drafts legislation, and authorizes government budgets and economic plans. The constitution may be modified with a two-thirds vote by the House of Representatives.

Local government
      The issue of redefining territorial and administrative subdivisions after union was complex. In the north the provinces had corresponded to more or less obvious topographical regions. Each province was subdivided into qaḍāʾ (district) and nāḥiyah (tract) levels, largely representing distinctions within the population (e.g., tribal (tribe) affiliations). In the south, under the British, there had been a major distinction regarding administrative autonomy and political influence between the city of Aden (governed directly from London via the colonial office) and the hinterland, which was divided into more than 20 “statelets,” many of which were clearly associated with ancient tribal groupings of one form or another. In order to break down the old tribal affiliations and the associated economic and political factionalism, the postindependence government abolished these traditional units and reorganized the country into governorates (muḥāfaẓāt).

      United Yemen eventually embraced a system based, as in South Yemen, on a series of governorates—20 in total, not counting Sanaa, which forms its own unit. The governorates are in turn divided into several hundred districts. The governors of the governorates are appointed by the federal president, but each jurisdiction has its own elected council. An important issue that remains to be resolved is the amount of authority that the governorates will have in the federal system. The trend in both the north and the south was to provide the governorates with a high degree of autonomy. The first municipal elections under the Local Authority Law (1999) were held in 2001. However, Yemen has lacked the infrastructural resources to conduct efficient local elections, and safeguards providing protection from the interference of the central government have been slow to materialize.

      The two parts of the new state had markedly contrasting legal traditions. In the north the legal system had been a mix of Sharīʿah (Islamic law) and ʿurf (tribal custom). In the south the legal system was a mixture of Sharīʿah in matters of personal status (e.g., marriage, divorce, inheritance) and British commercial and common law (modified to suit the needs of the Marxist government) and, in rural areas, a combination of Sharīʿah and ʿurf.

      New legal codes were promulgated in 1991–94. Each district has a court of first instance, and each governorate has a court of appeals; the Supreme Court is located at the capital. These courts have full competency to hear all civil and criminal cases. The Supreme Judicial Council oversees the court system. There are a number of specialized courts. Under the constitution, Sharīʿah is the source of all legislation.

Political process
      There are a number of active political parties at the national level, but the composition and membership of political parties are regulated by law. Parties based on such factors as regional, tribal, sectarian, or ethnic persuasion are expressly prohibited. Each party must seek a license from a state committee to legally exist. The most successful party by far is the General People's Congress; other parties include Iṣlāḥ (the Yemeni Congregation for Reform), the Nasserite Unionist Party, and several socialist organizations.

      The combined armed forces of Yemen, including army, air force, and navy, are small and poorly equipped by the standards of the region. Since the unification of the state in 1990, the manpower of Yemen's conventional army has suffered a general decline. The extensive inventories of Eastern-bloc weapons that the country inherited rapidly became dated, and many weapons systems were discarded. The military consists of volunteers serving two-year enlistments, and there is no consistent military educational or professional development system or enlisted personnel or officers. Military strength has been augmented by a large number of paramilitary forces, mostly associated with the Ministry of the Interior. Also, there are a relatively small number of reservists and tribal levies that the government can call on in times of emergency.

      Military officers have often involved themselves in political affairs: in the north the military played the dominant role in the political system following the overthrow of the civilian government by Col. Ibrāhīm al-Ḥamdī in 1974. Internal security is a major concern of the government. The Political Security Organization is the major intelligence organ of the state; police and paramilitary groups provide security, and the Criminal Investigation Department conducts criminal investigations.

Health and welfare
      Despite the generally healthy climate of the Yemeni highlands, where most of the population live, the standard of public health remains very low. Contributing factors include: (1) unsanitary water supplies, (2) numerous cultural patterns that compromise both personal and group hygiene, (3) the presence of numerous diseases at endemic rates (e.g., malaria in the coastal belt and gastroenteritis in the highlands), (4) the very high birth rate, and (5) insufficient personnel and financial resources to provide modern medical care and to undertake any massive public health programs. There are various programs supported and operated by foreign donors that address these needs to some degree. Sanaa and Aden have numerous hospitals, but few meet Western standards of sanitation and medical practice.

 Although Yemeni architecture is among the loveliest and most fascinating in the Arab world, housing stock in general tends to be of poor quality. There are two basic housing types: houses of reed, thatch, and mud brick, which are largely found in coastal regions; and houses of stone and mud brick, which are more frequently found in the highlands. Throughout the country, access to fresh water and hygienic sewage disposal is poor. Houses with running water, internal sewage systems, and electricity remain the exception in most parts of the country, particularly in rural areas, where only a small fraction have indoor plumbing.

      Modern systems of education were established in both Yemens during the 1960s, but limited resources and a high birth rate ensured that education continued to reach only a fraction of school-age children. For a variety of social and cultural reasons, certain subgroups of the school-age population—most notably girls—remained underrepresented in the system. Despite the dramatic expansion of teacher training, the lack of adequately qualified Yemeni teachers was a major problem in the north; Egyptian and other Arab expatriates largely filled this void. The overall literacy rate remains relatively low, and the disparity between males and females is large. More than two-thirds of men and less than one-third of women are literate. Partly because of an inadequate infrastructure that includes classroom shortages and poor materials and facilities, only a portion of eligible children enroll in school. Among those who do attend, only a small fraction go on to complete secondary education.

      Higher education is limited to a very small minority. The University of Sanaa (founded 1970), established largely with grants from Kuwait, is coeducational and comprises a variety of specialized colleges—e.g., those of agriculture, medicine, commerce, and law. The University of Aden (1975) offers a similar array of specialties. These two senior institutions of higher learning have spawned universities and colleges throughout Yemen, and there are now several small colleges as well as vocational and polytechnic institutes in the larger urban centres that provide training in a variety of fields. However, wealthy families typically send their children abroad for higher education.

      In addition, both of the major Muslim sects operate religious institutes for the preparation of judges and other religious personnel, although this often requires additional study at such well-known institutions as al-Azhar University (Azhar University, al-) in Cairo. By the early 21st century the number of small religious schools associated with foreign Islamic groups had proliferated. Several thousand small religious academies were closed in 2005, and all non-Yemenis matriculating in unregistered schools were asked to leave the country for fear such institutions were involved in religious extremism.

Cultural life
      Yemen is a part of the Islamic world and as such reflects many of the contemporary trends in Islam. Most Yemenis are Muslim and are tolerant of non-Muslims as well as of the various branches of Islam. While proud of their Islamic heritage, Yemenis are also intensely proud of their pre-Islamic history, including that of the Sabaʾ and Ḥaḍramawt kingdoms. In their extensive networks of overland and maritime trade, the ancient Yemenis encountered myriad cultures and civilizations. There is ample evidence of Greek, Roman, Indian, Indonesian, and Chinese influence on various aspects of both traditional and contemporary Yemeni culture. Similarities have been drawn, for example, between marriage institutions in India and Yemen and between religious music in Yemen and Byzantine masses.

Daily life and social customs
      Yemen shares in many of the customs and lifeways that are found in other parts of the Arab world. Culture is intensely patriarchal (patriarchy), and households usually consist of an extended family living in a single domicile or family compound. The head of the family is the eldest male, who makes all significant decisions for the family and its members. Women play a secondary role in running the household and raising the children and, in rural areas, helping to work the family farm. Though nearly one-fourth of Yemeni women obtain work outside the home, a woman traditionally earns most of her social status through bearing children, particularly males. The birth of a male child is considered one of the most important social events in Yemeni society and is followed almost immediately by a circumcision ceremony. Though prohibited by law in 2001, female genital cutting still occurs, taking place primarily in private and varying significantly by region.

      Marriages (marriage) are almost always arranged and frequently are undertaken at a young age. Although the opinion of a potential bride or groom might be solicited on the issue, the final decision on marriage belongs with the head of the household. As in many parts of the Islamic world, endogamy (the practice of marrying someone from within one's own kin group) is common, the preferred marriage being with a paternal first cousin of the opposite gender. The practice of mahr (bride-price, given by the father of the groom) is a usual part of the marriage ceremony. Divorce is not common, but neither is there a stigma attached to it. Men may have as many as four wives at the same time, though in practice it is rare for a man to take more than one wife.

      Yemeni society is tribally (tribe) based, and trust and assurance most often are measured by degree of consanguinity. Families are very close and are the focus of the individual's primary devotion; one's second allegiance is to the tribe, an extended family unit that ordinarily traces its ties to a common eponymous ancestor. In rural Yemen, state authority is weak, and disputes between tribes are frequently solved through violence. The art of the feud is still quite real, and, as a consequence, Yemen is a gun culture. Virtually every household has at least one weapon, and men and boys often carry firearms in public. Even when not carrying a pistol or a rifle, most Yemeni males—particularly those belonging to a rural tribe—will carry a dagger, the traditional janbiyyah or jambiyyah, a short, broad, curved blade sheathed on a belt worn across the abdomen and serving as a signal of one's status within social and tribal hierarchies.

      The traditional nature of Yemeni society is reflected in choices of attire, though the native dress of Yemen differs somewhat from that found in other conservative parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Men sometimes wear the full-length, loose-fitting thawb—frequently with a jacket over it—but more often the traditional fūṭah, a saronglike wraparound kilt, is worn with a shirt. The turban is a common type of head covering, and a finely woven bamboo hat (shaped somewhat like a fez) called a kofiya (or kofia) is a more formal choice of headgear. There are various forms of dress for women, depending on the social role a woman plays and where she lives. Throughout the country, women wear clothing that covers the entire body: arms, legs, and hair are not exposed. In the city, dress tends to be of darker colours, and, when a woman goes outside of the home, she wears some sort of overgarment; this may range from the complete coverage of a burka to an overcoat-like balṭō to a ḥijāb, a head scarf. In addition, some women may attach a niqāb, a veil covering the face, to the head scarf. An outer garment, such as another scarf or shawl, may be worn as well. In the countryside, clothing for women tends to be somewhat more utilitarian and may consist of a dress or robe that provides for a greater range of movement and under which, in some parts of Yemen, it is not uncommon for a woman to wear a pair of loose slacks known as a sirwāl. Also in the countryside, a woman's face may or may not be covered, and dresses are sometimes sewn from brightly coloured fabric. Working women frequently wear a broad-brimmed straw hat (dhola) to ward off the sun.

      Traditional Yemeni cuisine is broadly similar to that found in other areas of the Arabian Peninsula, but it is also heavily influenced by the cuisine of eastern Africa and South Asia. The major meats are chicken, mutton, and goat. Other staples include potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. There are several types of bread; unleavened flat bread is typical. A popular dish in Yemen is saltah, a stew of lamb or chicken that is heavily spiced with fenugreek and other herbs. Tea is a common drink, and coffee is very popular. Alcoholic beverages are considered culturally and religiously inappropriate, though they are available.

      Unquestionably the most important and distinctive social institution and form of recreation in Yemen is the khat party, or khat “chew.” This is especially true in the northern part of the country, but, since the slight increase in general prosperity in the 1970s, the use of khat has spread to virtually all levels of Yemeni society. At least half of all men, and a smaller number of women, attend khat chews (which usually are segregated by gender) with some regularity, and many do so on a daily basis. Khat chews usually begin in the early afternoon after the main meal of the day, and they often go on until the early evening. Much gets done at these pleasurable sessions: gossip is exchanged, serious matters are discussed and debated, political and business decisions are made, business is transacted, disputes and grievances are settled, Yemeni history and lore are passed on, and music and poetry are played and recited.

      Yemenis celebrate the traditional Islamic holidays, including Īd al-Aḍḥāʿ (marking the culmination of the hajj rites near Mecca) and Īd al-Fiṭrʿ (marking the end of Ramadan), as well as the Prophet Muhammad's birthday. Shīʿites observe Āshūrāʾʿ (commemorating the death of al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, the Prophet's grandson). The Day of National Unity is May 22, the day on which, in 1990, North Yemen and South Yemen were officially united. A number of other civil and religious holidays also are observed.

The arts
 No doubt the best-known artifact of Yemeni culture is its domestic architecture, which dates back more than 2,000 years. In the mountainous interior, buildings are constructed of stone blocks and bricks, both baked and sun-dried; these buildings, housing extended families, rise to four to six stories, with highly decorated windows and other features designed to beautify them and emphasize their height. On the edge of the desert and in other regions where stone for construction is not abundant, multistoried houses are usually made of mud brick, with the various layers emphasized and often tinted; these structures have curving, sensuous lines. The city of Sanaa and the towns of Zabīd and Shibām are noted for their architecture, and each has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

      The most widespread and traditional cultural outlet is oral, in the form of proverbs, popular stories, and poetry; poems that deal with timeless themes such as love and death as well as with Yemeni history, biography, and Islamic themes and traditions are particularly prevalent. Yemen is an integral part of contemporary Arab trends in literature, political essays, and scholarly writing; Yemeni poets, past and present, are among the most esteemed in the Arab world. Similarly, the songs and singers of Yemen are highly respected, and some Yemeni instruments (such as the lutelike qanbus, or ṭurbī, now largely replaced by the ʿūd) and genres (such as al-ghināʾ al-ṣanʿānī, or Sanaani song) are quite unique.

      Dances, performed with or without musical accompaniment, are a feature of weddings and other social occasions; these are performed by men and women separately. The male dances are often performed with the janbiyyah dagger.

Cultural institutions
      The General Organization of Antiquities and Museums administers the major cultural institutions. Most institutions are located in the larger cities. The national museum in Sanaa and the archaeological museum in Aden house important treasures from the pre-Islamic period. The Military Museum is located in Sanaa. There are also military and folk museums in Aden.

Sports and recreation
      Organized sports fall under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. North Yemen first appeared in Summer Olympic competition in 1984 and South Yemen in 1988; the unified country has sent teams to the Summer Games since 1992. Two Yemeni boxers living abroad enjoyed great success: Naseem Hamed, a British boxer of Yemeni ancestry, held the world featherweight title during the late 1990s and early 21st century; and Isra Girgrah, a female boxer born in Yemen and fighting out of the United States, held several lightweight belts during that same period.

Media and publishing
      Through its control of the media, education, and trade, the socialist government of the south severely restricted the participation of its population in both regional and global cultural trends during its most ascetic period, extending from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The northern government correspondingly exercised certain restrictions in order to protect itself from the influence of the socialist south and from other challenges to the reigning political and cultural norms. In both Yemens, newspapers and magazines were closely censored, and radio and television were monopolized by the state.

      These conditions changed drastically with the merger in 1990. Since that time, more than 85 newspapers and journals—representing divergent points of view and a wide range of political, social, economic, and cultural organizations—have come into being. The national television and radio networks, although still operated by the government, are less strictly controlled than before unification.


The pre-Islamic period
 For more than two millennia prior to the arrival of Islam, Yemen was the home of a series of powerful and wealthy city-states and empires whose prosperity was largely based upon their control over the production of frankincense and myrrh, two of the most highly prized commodities of the ancient world, and their exclusive access to such non-Yemeni luxury commodities as various spices and condiments from southern Asia and ostrich plumes and ivory from eastern Africa. The three most famous and largest of these empires were the Minaean (Maʿīn) ( Maʿīn), the Sabaean ( Sabaʾ, the biblical Sheba (Sabaʾ)), and the Ḥimyarite (Ḥimyar) ( Ḥimyar, called Homeritae by the Romans), all of which were known throughout the ancient Mediterranean world; their periods of ascendancy overlap somewhat, extending from roughly 1200 BC to AD 525.

      The Romans (ancient Rome) began expanding their power and influence to the Red Sea in the 1st century AD and soon learned the secrets of the Yemeni traders—namely, the true source of luxury commodities provided by the Yemenis and how to exploit the monsoon winds to traffic between Red Sea ports and those of southern Asia and eastern Africa, where these treasures could be found. It was only a matter of time before Yemen, unable to compete effectively against imperial Rome, went into economic decline, and the subsequent loss of revenue made it impossible for Yemen to maintain its extensive cities and attendant facilities. The most famous instance was the failure to maintain the Great Dam at Maʾrib—the heart of a monumental irrigation project and one of the engineering marvels of the ancient world. Its rupture sometime in the 6th century AD constitutes the symbolic end to the long era of the Yemeni trading kingdoms.

 The last Ḥimyarite king, Dhū Nuwās (Yūsuf Ashʿar; c. 6th century AD), was a convert to Judaism who carried out a major massacre of the Christian population of Yemen. The survivors called for aid from the Byzantine emperor, who arranged to have an army from the Christian kingdom of Aksum (in what is now Ethiopia) invade Yemen in order to punish Dhū Nuwās. The leader of the Aksumite campaign was Abraha. After overthrowing Dhū Nuwās and conducting a massacre of Jews, Abraha stayed on to rule the Yemen. His attempt to extend his rule farther north, into the Hejaz (the western coastal region of the Arabian Peninsula), was ultimately a failure, though his effort to besiege Mecca is reported in the Qurʾān.

      The Ḥimyarites grew resentful of the Aksumites, who they came to view as usurpers, and sought the support of the Sāsānian dynasty of Persia to expel them. By obliging, the Persians added the satrapy of Yemen to their domains. The last Persian governor of Yemen apparently converted to Islam in AD 628, accepting the political dominance of the Muslim community.

The advent of Islam (Islāmic world)
      Islam spread readily and quickly in Yemen, perhaps because of the century of economic decline and the atrocious behaviour of both Jews and Christians during that time. The Prophet Muhammad sent his son-in-law as governor, and two of Yemen's most famous mosques—that in Janadiyyah (near Taʿizz) and the Great Mosque in Sanaa (said to have incorporated some materials from earlier Jewish and Christian structures)—are thought to be among the earliest examples of Islamic architecture.

      Despite the fact that Muhammad's first successor, the caliph Abū Bakr (served 632–634), managed to unify the Arabian Peninsula, it was not long before Yemen once again demonstrated its fractious nature. Often when the caliph sent a representative to put down rebellions or deal with other problems, the representative would establish his own dynasty. Such was the case with Muḥammad ibn Ziyād, who early in the 9th century founded the city of Zabīd as his capital. (See Ziyādid Dynasty.)

      For the history of Yemen, however, the most important event after the triumph of Islam was the introduction in the 9th century of the Zaydī (Zaydīyah) sect from Iraq—a group of Shīʿites who accepted Zayd ibn ʿAlī, a direct descendant of Muhammad, as the last legitimate successor to the Prophet. Much of Yemeni culture and civilization for the next 1,000 years was to bear the stamp of Zaydī Islam. That same span of time was host to a confusing series of factional, dynastic, local, and imperial rulers contesting against one another and against the Zaydīs for control of Yemen. Among them were the Ṣulayḥids (Ṣulayḥid dynasty) and the Fāṭimids (Fāṭimid Dynasty), who were Ismāʿīlīs (another Shīʿite branch); the Ayyūbids (Ayyūbid dynasty); and the Rasūlids (Rasūlid dynasty), whose long rule (13th–15th century) firmly established Sunnism in southern and western Yemen.

      Yemen next appeared on the world stage when, according to one account, the leader of a Sufi religious order discovered the stimulating properties of coffee (coffee production) as a beverage, probably about the beginning of the 15th century. As a result, Yemen and the Red Sea became an arena of conflict between the Egyptians, the Ottomans, and various European powers seeking control over the emerging market for Coffea arabica as well as over the long-standing trade in condiments and spices from the East; this conflict occupied most of the 16th and 17th centuries. By the beginning of the 18th century, however, the route between Europe and Asia around Africa had become the preferred one, and the world had once again lost interest in Yemen. In the meantime, the coffee plant had been smuggled out of Yemen and transplanted into a great variety of new and more-profitable locales, from Asia to the New World. The effect of the redirection of trade was dramatic: cities such as Aden and Mocha (as the name would suggest, once a major coffee centre), which had burgeoned with populations in excess of 10,000, shrank to villages of a few hundred.

The age of imperialism
 Developments in the 19th century were fateful for Yemen. The determination of various European powers to establish a presence in the Middle East elicited an equally firm determination in other powers to thwart such efforts. For Yemen, the most important participants in the drama were the British (British Empire), who took over Aden in 1839, and the Ottoman Empire, which at mid-century moved back into North Yemen, from which it had been driven by the Yemenis two centuries earlier. The interests and activities of these two powers in the Red Sea basin and Yemen were substantially intensified by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the reemergence of the Red Sea route as the preferred passage between Europe and East Asia. As the Ottomans expanded inland and established themselves in Sanaa and Taʿizz, the British expanded north and east from Aden, eventually establishing protectorates over more than a dozen of the many local statelets; this was done more in the interest of protecting Aden's hinterland from the Ottomans and their Yemeni adversaries than out of any desire to add the territory and people there to the British Empire. By the early 20th century the growing clashes between the British and the Ottomans along the undemarcated border posed a serious problem; in 1904 a joint commission surveyed the border, and a treaty was concluded, establishing the frontier between Ottoman North Yemen and the British possessions in South Yemen. Later, of course, both Yemens considered the treaty an egregious instance of non-Yemeni interference in domestic affairs.

      The north became independent at the end of World War I in 1918, with the departure of the Ottoman (Ottoman Empire) forces; the imam of the Zaydīs, Yaḥyā Maḥmūd al-Mutawwakil (Yaḥyā), became the de facto ruler in the north by virtue of his lengthy campaign against the Ottoman presence in Yemen. In the 1920s Imam Yaḥyā sought to consolidate his hold on the country by working to bring the Shāfiʿī areas under his administrative jurisdiction and by suppressing much of the intertribal feuding and tribal opposition to the imamate. In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of his campaigns against the tribes and other fractious elements, the imam sent a group of Yemeni youth to Iraq in the mid-1930s to learn modern military techniques and weaponry. These students would eventually become the kernel of domestic opposition to Yaḥyā and his policies.

      Yemeni independence allowed the imam to resuscitate Zaydī claims to “historic Yemen,” which included Aden and the protectorate states, as well as an area farther north that had been occupied only recently by an expanding Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia), including the province of Asir and some important areas around the Najrān oasis and Jīzān. These areas became a point of conflict with the house of Saʿūd. Yaḥyā, of course, did not recognize the standing Anglo-Ottoman border agreement.

      The British (British Empire), on the other hand, retained control over the south, which they considered strategically and economically important to their empire. Friction between the imamate and Britain characterized the entire interwar period, as Imam Yaḥyā sought to include the south in the united Yemen that he perceived to be his patrimony. The British in the meantime were consolidating their position in the south. The most important change was the incorporation of the Ḥaḍramawt and its great valley into the protectorate system—the result of the labours of British diplomat Harold Ingrams, who negotiated the famous “Ingrams's Peace” among the more than 1,400 tribes and clans that had been feuding in that district for decades.

      By the end of World War II in 1945, dissatisfaction with Yaḥyā and his imamate had spread to a rather wide segment of Yemeni society, including both secular and Muslim reformers and modernists, other elements of the traditional elite, and even the ʿulamāʾ (religious scholars). This tide of dissent culminated in early 1948 in the assassination of Yaḥyā and a coup by a varied coalition of dissidents. Much to the consternation of the plotters, however, Yaḥyā's son Aḥmad succeeded in bringing together many of the tribal elements of the north, overthrew the new government, and installed himself as imam. Although Imam Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā had indicated that he supported many of the popular political, economic, and social demands (e.g., creation of a cabinet with real responsibilities, abandonment of the principle of economic autarky, and the establishment of free public education), his own government soon resembled his father's in nearly all respects. An attempt on Aḥmad's life in 1955 only increased repression; indeed, his paranoia concerning the loyalty of major tribal elements prompted actions that eventually cost his son tribal support during the civil war after the 1962 revolution.

      In the meantime, the policies of both imams had backfired in the south. Although they had the advantage of offering an indigenous Muslim regime as an alternative to secular British rule, the imams' aggressive policies had alarmed many of the ruling families of the statelets in the south. The latter now believed, probably correctly, that, if their small statelets were to be taken over by the imam, their perquisites and status would be curtailed if not eliminated. Consequently, most deemed it advantageous to cooperate more closely with Britain, which, after all, subsidized them and implied a role for them in future arrangements. By the late 1950s an earlier proposal to federate some of the smaller statelets had grown into a much broader scheme to include all the principalities and sheikhdoms in a larger political entity that would eventually achieve independence.

      Britain's insistence that Aden be a part of the new entity created the anomaly that eventually killed the plan. The sophisticated business community, the activist trade unions, and other similarly modern political and social organizations in Aden feared for their future at the hands of what they perceived to be a group of largely illiterate and parochial tribal leaders from the backward rural protectorates. The tribal leaders, on the other hand, feared at worst their overthrow or at best a degree of political and economic participation severely limited by an Adeni population that included some non-Muslims and many non-Arabs.

      The British continued to insist upon their chosen course of action, and by 1965 all but 4 of the 21 protectorate states had joined the Federation of South Arabia. Shortly thereafter, Britain announced that it would leave southern Arabia and that independence would ensue no later than 1968. This announcement unleashed the violent political conflict that prevailed in Aden and the protectorates for the next two years as sundry organizations fought for control of the destiny of South Yemen.

Two Yemeni states
      In the north, meanwhile, Aḥmad died of natural causes in September 1962, and his son Muḥammad al-Badr became imam. Within a week, elements of the military, supported by a variety of political organizations, staged a coup and declared the foundation of the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen). The young imam escaped from his battered palace, fled into the northern highlands, and began the traditional process of rallying the tribes to his cause. The new republic called upon Egypt for assistance, and Egyptian troops and equipment arrived almost immediately to defend the new regime of ʿAbd Allāh al-Sallāl, the nominal leader of the 1962 revolution and the first president of North Yemen. Nearly as quickly, Saudi Arabia provided aid and sanctuary to the imam and his largely tribal royalist forces.

      The establishment of a republic in North Yemen provided a tremendous incentive to the elements in the south that sought to eliminate the British presence there. Furthermore, the Egyptians agreed to provide support for some of the organizations campaigning for southern independence—e.g., the Front for the Liberation of (Occupied) South Yemen (FLOSY). However, not all elements in either of the two Yemens were sympathetic to Egyptian policies, much less to the dominant role that Egypt had begun to play in southern Arabia. A new, radical alternative movement, the National Liberation Front (NLF), drew its support primarily from indigenous elements in the south. As the time for independence drew near, the conflict between the various groups, and especially between the NLF and FLOSY, escalated into open warfare for the right to govern after British withdrawal. By late 1967 the NLF clearly had the upper hand; the British finally accepted the inevitable and arranged the transfer of sovereignty to the NLF on Nov. 30, 1967.

      The new government in Aden renamed the country the People's Republic of South Yemen. Short of resources and unable to obtain any significant amounts of aid, either from the Western states or from those in the Arab world, it began to drift toward the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which eagerly provided economic and technical assistance in hopes of bringing an Arab state into its political sphere. By the early 1970s South Yemen had become an avowedly Marxist state and had inaugurated a radical restructuring of the economy and society along communist lines, renaming itself the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.

      In North Yemen the conflict between the imam's royalist forces and the republicans had escalated into a full-blown civil war that continued fitfully and tragically until 1970. Participation, however, was not limited to the Yemenis: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Jordan supported the royalists, whereas Egypt and the Soviet Union and other Eastern-bloc states supported the republicans. Britain and the United States, as well as the United Nations, also eventually became major players, even if only at the diplomatic level. By the late 1960s, however, the Yemenis decided that the only logical outcome of the conflict was a compromise, which would have as its most important side effect the departure of the various foreign forces. Al-Sallāl's pro-Egyptian regime was ousted in a bloodless coup in 1968 and replaced by a nominally civilian one headed by Pres. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Iryānī. Two years later, with the blessing of the two major foreign participants—Egypt and Saudi Arabia—the leaders of North Yemen agreed upon the Compromise of 1970, which established a republican government in which some major positions were assigned to members of the royalist faction. It was agreed that the imam and his family were not to return to Yemen or to play any role whatsoever in the new state; accordingly, the imam went into exile in Britain and died there in the late 1990s.

      The compromise government embarked haltingly upon a program of political and economic development, with few resources and even fewer skilled personnel to implement the desired changes. Impatient, the military and some tribal elements dismissed the civilian cabinet in 1974 and replaced it with a military-led Command Council headed by Ibrāhīm al-Ḥamdī, who appointed a cabinet largely composed of technocrats. That government slowly but surely began to build a set of more-modern institutions and to implement the beginnings of a program of development—at the local as well as the national level. Not all sectors of the population, however, accepted the government's new powers and influence over traditional political, economic, and social relationships. A clear indication of this discontent was the assassination of two presidents in succession (al-Ḥamdī in 1977 and, only eight months later, Aḥmad al-Ghashmī in 1978). The People's Constituent Assembly, which had been created somewhat earlier, selected Col. ʿAlī ʿAbd Allāh Ṣāliḥ (Ṣāliḥ, ʿAli ʿAbd Allāh) as al-Ghashmī's successor. Despite early public skepticism and a serious coup attempt in late 1978, Ṣāliḥ managed to conciliate most factions, to improve relations with Yemen's neighbours, and to resume various programs of economic and political development and institutionalization. More firmly in power in the 1980s, he created the political organization that was to become known as his party, the General People's Congress (GPC), and steered Yemen into the age of oil.

      Now that the two Yemens were independent, expectations rose in some quarters that there would be some form of unification, especially since both states publicly claimed to support the idea. Such was not forthcoming, however, the primary reason being the drastic divergence of political and socioeconomic orientations of the two regimes by the end of the 1960s. Whereas the north elected to remain a mixed but largely market economy and to retain ties with the West as well as with Saudi Arabia, the south began to move rapidly in a socialist direction under the leadership of the more radical wing of the NLF.

      Political differences led to a brief border war between the two Yemens in 1972. Notwithstanding efforts by some Yemenis and by others to resolve these disputes—indeed, despite the first of two aborted agreements to unify—the basic conflicts appeared irreconcilable. The South Yemenis perceived their cause, that of Marxist transformation of the Arab political, economic, and social systems, to be in desperate need of direct action. In fact, South Yemen helped to instigate and fund a broad-based opposition movement in the north, the National Democratic Front, in the mid-1970s; elements of the leadership sanctioned the assassination of the North Yemeni president, al-Ghashmī, in 1978. At the same time, South Yemen supported other revolutionary organizations in the region, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman. The continuing friction between the two Yemens led to another brief but more serious border war in 1979; as in the previous case, that conflict was followed by a short-lived agreement to unify.

      All the while, however, significant fissures—both ideological and practical—were opening in South Yemen within the ruling Yemen Socialist Party (YSP), the party that evolved out of the NLF. ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ismāʿīl was the major ideologue of the YSP, as well as head of state and the driving force behind South Yemen's move toward the Soviet Union earlier in the 1970s. Late in that decade, he was opposed by his former ally and leader of the “Chinese faction” in the regime, South Yemen president Sālim ʿAlī Rubayyī, whose visit to China inspired his politics with Maoist ideas. The conflict ended in Rubayyī's execution on charges that he had been behind the assassination of al-Ghashmī.

      In turn, Ismāʿīl proved too dogmatic and rigid—in his analyses, policies, and methods of implementation—and was deposed in 1980. His successor, ʿAlī Nāṣir Muḥammad, instituted a far less dogmatic political and economic order. In January 1986 the various personal and ideological differences surfaced briefly in an episode of violent civil strife that left Ismāʿīl and many of his supporters dead, resulted in the exile of ʿAlī Nāṣir Muḥammad, and brought to power a group of moderate politicians and technocrats led by ʿAlī Sālim al-Bayḍ and Ḥaydar Abū Bakr al-ʿAṭṭas. It was this element of the YSP that undertook the negotiations that brought about the unity of the two Yemens. The ability of the new leadership to build popular political support and to revive the faltering development of South Yemen was tested in the late 1980s—and it was found wanting.

Unified Yemen
      Two factors made the unity agreement of 1990 possible: (1) the discovery of oil (petroleum) and natural gas in both countries at roughly the same time and in roughly the same geographic region (from Maʾrib to Shabwah), some of which was in dispute between them (clearly, it would not have been in the best interest of either country to engage in a costly conflict over such important resources; it made far more sense to unite and share the profits to be gained from a rational exploitation of the deposits), and (2) the decision by Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail), then president of the Soviet Union, to abandon that country's support of the governments and policies of a number of eastern European states, some of which were South Yemen's principal sources of financial, technical, and personnel assistance. Once the communist bloc gave way to popular democratic movements, it was only a matter of time before the isolated South Yemeni regime would crumble. The rational option for the YSP—and the one it chose—was to enter into negotiations with North Yemen while still in power.

Manfred W. Wenner
      Inasmuch as the border wars of 1972 and 1979 each had concluded with unification agreements that, unsurprisingly, were aborted in a matter of months, the decision by the two ruling parties in late November 1989 to unify the two states—and, more importantly, its actual implementation six months later—took many Yemenis and nearly all outside observers by surprise. Whereas South Yemen had taken the lead in the past, this effort to unify was initiated and pushed by the Ṣāliḥ (Ṣāliḥ, ʿAli ʿAbd Allāh) regime of North Yemen. Adopted by the legislatures of the two Yemens on May 22, 1990, the constitution of the new republic was declared in effect on that date.

      The final terms of unification called for the full merger of the two states and the creation of a political system based on multiparty democracy. Sanaa was declared the political capital, and Aden was to be the economic capital. After a 30-month transition period, elections of a new national legislature were to take place in November 1992 (although ultimately they would be postponed). During the transition period, the two existing legislatures would meet together as a single body, and all other offices and powers would be shared equally between the two ruling parties, the GPC and the YSP. Ṣāliḥ was to serve as interim president of the republic and al-Bayḍ, the secretary-general of the YSP, was to be vice president.

      Efforts by the Ṣāliḥ government to strengthen and build support and legitimacy for the political system of united Yemen were sorely compromised by an environment marked by severe economic collapse and widespread deprivation, especially since these conditions came quickly after a period of improving economic conditions and soaring expectations. Most of the population in the northern part of Yemen had experienced better living conditions in the 1980s, if not before, and the prospects of oil revenues and the reputed benefits of unification had greatly raised expectations in both parts of Yemen at the end of the 1980s.

      The indirect cause of the collapse of the Yemeni economy can be found in the Persian Gulf War (1990–91), which followed Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait in August 1990. The growing importance of oil revenues notwithstanding, the Yemeni economy in the late 1980s remained heavily dependent on workers' remittances and external economic aid from Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, the other oil-rich Persian Gulf states. In the fall of 1990, the newly created Republic of Yemen took the position that a diplomatic solution for Iraq's aggression should be reached between the Arab countries. Yemen's refusal to join the U.S.-Saudi military coalition against Iraq prompted Saudi Arabia to expel several hundred thousand Yemeni workers and to cut all foreign aid to Yemen; most of the other Arab oil states followed suit. Within months, the republic's gross domestic product and government revenues—to which external aid contributed significantly—plunged; the unemployment and inflation rates, as well as the budget deficit, soared. By 1992, general contraction of the economy had produced widespread and deepening privation, and modest increases in oil revenues did not add much to the capacity of the new government to ease the growing suffering and to stem the collapse of the economy.

      With the economy ailing, spats of political violence, including bombings and assassinations, marred the years leading to the republic's first general parliamentary elections. Despite the growing acrimony, however, the unification regime was able to pull back from the political brink and hold the prescribed legislative elections in April 1993, only a few months later than originally planned; they were judged by international monitors to be relatively free and fair. President Ṣāliḥ's party, the GPC, emerged with a large plurality of seats. The Islamic Reform Grouping (Iṣlāḥ), the main organized opposition to the unification regime since 1990, and the YSP both won strong minority representation. Holding virtually all the seats, the three parties formed a coalition government in May 1993, amid some hope that the political crisis had passed.

Civil war and political unrest
      Instead, the conflict between the political leaders of the northern part of Yemen and those of the south worsened dramatically in the second half of 1993 and the early months of 1994. For the second time in little more than a year, Vice President al-Bayḍ left Sanaa and retired to Aden, taking many of his YSP colleagues with him. Despite major efforts at reconciliation, from within and without Yemen, the political struggle escalated into armed conflict in the spring of 1994, and YSP leaders and other southern politicians—still in control of their armed forces—resorted to armed secession in the early summer of that year. The Yemeni civil war of 1994, lasting from May to early July, resulted in the defeat of the southern armed forces and the flight into exile of most of the YSP leaders and other southern secessionists.

      The short civil war left the YSP in political shambles and left control of the state in united Yemen in the hands of a GPC-Iṣlāḥ coalition dominated by Ṣāliḥ. Over the next few years, the effort to reorganize politics and to strengthen the voice of the south in Yemen's political life was hampered by the inability of the YSP to resuscitate itself; at the same time, strained relations within the GPC-Iṣlāḥ coalition led to increasing dominance by the GPC and to an oppositional stance on Iṣlāḥ's part. The political conflict and unrest that accompanied and followed the civil war led to a revival of the power of the security forces and to the curtailment of the freedom of opposition parties, the media, and nongovernmental organizations, although, by the turn of the 21st century, democracy and human rights were more secure than they had been in either of the two Yemens. Human rights were being violated, but those violations were protested with increasing success by groups within Yemen.

      Yemen held its second parliamentary election on April 27, 1997. The GPC won a majority of the seats, and Iṣlāḥ finished second; when a number of successful independent candidates joined those two parties after the election, their respective seats were increased. Ṣāliḥ continued as president, and in September 1999 he was returned to office in the country's first direct presidential elections.

      Externally, Yemen settled two major border disputes. In 1998 a violent conflict with Eritrea over ownership of the Ḥanīsh Islands in the Red Sea was settled in Yemen's favour after international arbitration. Two years later Yemen and Saudi Arabia settled the long-standing and contentious disagreement over their mutual border.

      At home, huge revenues from the extraction and sale of petroleum stabilized the economy, but internal security remained elusive. During the 1990s, tribal groups seeking money or endeavouring to gain leverage in political disputes against the central government kidnapped scores of foreigners, including many tourists. At the same time, numerous Sunni Islamist groups gravitated to Yemen, particularly to tribal areas where the authority of the central government was weak, and preaching and teaching at many Yemeni mosques and madrasas (religious schools) took on a clearly anti-American tone. In 2000 Muslim militants associated with the al-Qaeda (Qaeda, al-) organization bombed (terrorism) the U.S. warship Cole in Aden's harbour. The group, whose leader Osama bin Laden (bin Laden, Osama) was of Yemeni ancestry, enjoyed substantial support among Yemeni Islamists. Following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, the Ṣāliḥ government moved against al-Qaeda by arresting dozens of militants and freezing assets of those believed to have supported the organization.

      Parliamentary elections held in 2003 reaffirmed the majority of the GPC, who seemed to benefit from fragmentation among the many smaller opposition parties. In 2004 a Zaydī rebellion protesting the government's close ties with the United States erupted in extreme northwestern Yemen. The rebels sought a return of the imamate, and, although their leader, Ḥusayn al-Hawthī, was killed at the end of the year, the rebellion continued. In 2006 Ṣāliḥ was elected to a second seven-year term as president.


Additional Reading
A general overview is provided by Robert D. Burrowes, The Yemen Arab Republic: The Politics of Development, 1962–1986 (1987), and Historical Dictionary of Yemen (1995); Manfred W. Wenner, The Yemen Arab Republic: Development and Change in an Ancient Land (1991); Tareq Y. Ismael and Jacqueline S. Ismael, The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen: Politics, Economics, and Society (1986); Robert W. Stookey, South Yemen, a Marxist Republic in Arabia (1982), and Yemen: The Politics of the Yemen Arab Republic (1978); Sheila Carapico, Civil Society in Yemen: The Political Economy of Activism in Modern Arabia (1998); E.G.H. Joffé, M.J. Hachemi, and E.W. Watkins (eds.), Yemen Today: Crisis and Solutions (1997); B.R. Pridham (ed.), Economy, Society & Culture in Contemporary Yemen (1985), and Contemporary Yemen: Politics and Historical Background (1984); Richard F. Nyrop (ed.), The Yemens: Country Studies, 2nd ed. (1986); and Werner Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years of Art and Civilisation in Arabia Felix (1987). Sociological and anthropological information may be found in Paul Bonnenfant (ed.), La Péninsule arabique d'aujourd'hui, 2 vol. (1982); and Joseph Chelhod et al., L'Arabie du sud: histoire et civilisation, 3 vol. (1984–85). Anthropological monographs include Steven C. Caton, “Peaks of Yemen I Summon”: Poetry as Cultural Practice in a North Yemeni Tribe (1990); Tomas Gerholm, Market, Mosque, and Mafrag: Social Inequality in a Yemeni Town (1997); Brinkley Messick, The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society (1993); and Martha Mundy, Domestic Government: Kinship, Community, and Polity in North Yemen (1995). The use of khat in Yemen is discussed by John G. Kennedy, The Flower of Paradise (1987); and Shelagh Weir, Qat in Yemen: Consumption and Social Change (1985). Charles F. Swagman, Development and Change in Highland Yemen (1988); and Thomas B. Stevenson, Social Change in a Yemeni Highlands Town (1985), chronicle the impact of the changes of the past two decades. The background and the nature of Yemeni migration are addressed in Jon C. Swanson, Emigration and Economic Development: The Case of the Yemen Arab Republic (1979); and Jonathan Friedlander and Ron Kelley (eds.), Sojourners and Settlers: The Yemeni Immigrant Experience (1988). Economic characteristics are outlined in People's Democratic Republic of Yemen: A Review of Economic and Social Development (1979), a study published by the World Bank; and Ragaei El Mallakh, The Economic Development of the Yemen Arab Republic (1986).International relations of the Yemens are described in F. Gregory Gause III, Saudi-Yemeni Relations: Domestic Structures and Foreign Influences (1990); Fred Halliday, Revolution and Foreign Policy: The Case of South Yemen, 1967–1987 (1990); Stephen Page, The Soviet Union and the Yemens: Influence on Asymmetrical Relationships (1985); and Mark N. Katz, Russia & Arabia (1986).Works on the history of the past five centuries are Eric Macro, Yemen and the Western World, Since 1571 (1968); Husayn B. ʿAbdullah al-ʿAmri (Husayn ʿAbd Allāh ʿAmri), The Yemen in the 18th & 19th Centuries: A Political and Intellectual History (1985); and Robin Bidwell, The Two Yemens (1983).Manfred W. Wenner Ed.

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  • yémen — ● yémen nom masculin (de Yémen, nom propre) Fourrure plate, moirée, du chevreau d Arabie. Yémen (république du) état du S. O. de la péninsule Arabique (créé en 1990 et réunissant la rép. arabe du Yémen, au N., et la rép. dém. et pop. du Yémen, au …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Yemen TV — Création 1996 Langue Arabe Pays   …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Yemen — [yem′ən] country on the S tip of the Arabian Peninsula: formed (1990) by the merger of the Yemen Arab Republic, or North Yemen, and a country directly east of it, the People s Democratic Republic of Yemen, or South Yemen: 214,287 sq mi (555,001… …   English World dictionary

  • Yemen — Yemen, land i Arabien. Se artiklen: Yemen …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Yemen — southwestern region of Arabia, from Arabic Yemen, lit. the country of the south, from yaman right side (i.e., south side, if one is facing east). The right side regarded as auspicious, hence Arabic yamana he was happy, lit. he went to the right,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Yemen — Yemen, s. Jemen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Yemen — Yemen, Teil der Arab. Halbinsel, s. Jemen …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Yemen — Republic of Yemen الجمهورية اليمنية al Jumhūrīyah al Yamanīyah …   Wikipedia

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