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September 2011



Yemen, (527,970 sq. km.) about the size of California and Pennsylvania combined, lies at the base of the Arabian Peninsula. Its capital city Sanaa has an estimated population of 2.229 million (2009); other major cities of Yemen are: Aden, Taiz, Hodeida, and al-Mukalla. Yemen's terrain is mountainous in the interior bordered by desert with a flat and sandy coastal plain. Its climate is temperate in the mountainous regions in the western part of the country, extremely hot with minimal rainfall in the remainder of the country, and humid on the coast.

Unlike other people of the Arabian Peninsula who have historically been nomads or semi-nomads, Yemenis are almost entirely sedentary and live in small villages and towns scattered throughout the highlands and coastal regions. Yemenis are mainly of Semitic origin, although African strains are present among inhabitants of the coastal region. Arabic is the official language, although English is increasingly understood in major cities.

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. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. Yemen is a republic with a bicameral legislature. Under the constitution, an elected president, an elected 301-seat House of Representatives, and an appointed 111-member Shura Council share power. The president is head of state, and the prime minister is head of government.

Yemen's natural resources include: petroleum, fish, rock salt, marble, coal, gold, lead, nickel, and copper. Natural hazards facing Yemen include: sandstorms and dust storms in summer, with limited volcanic activity.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 9/2011; 5/2011

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