Yemen Country Overview

According to Countryaah, Yemen is a state of Asia, at the southwestern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders on the N with Saudi Arabia and on the E with the Sultanate of Oman. Pertaining to the Yemen is the island of Socotra, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, as well as Perim, Kamaran, Hanish and other smaller islands in the Red Sea.

  1. Physical characteristics

The territory of the Yemen is located on the edge of the Graben which is part of the larger fracture system of the Rift Valley African. Proceeding inland, from the side of the Red Sea as well as the Arabian Sea, a narrow and flat coastal selvedge abruptly gives way to steep escarpments that lead to the central plateaus; these appear engraved by deep valley furrows such as the wide beds of the uidian, streams with a typically torrential regime, or by pits of tectonic origin and from intermontane basins. The morphology then becomes less harsh and the reliefs slope gently towards the NE, plunging into the great desert of ar-Rub al-Khali. The area is notable for its strong seismicity and, in its outermost part, the outflow of magma along the fracture lines has given rise to numerous volcanic systems that are now extinct. Physiographic entity in itself is the eastern part of the country, the Hadramaut region, a set of plateaus interrupted by important valley formations, which extends as far as Oman.

The country it is characterized by a dry tropical climate, with high temperatures that gradually mitigate due to the altitude. The reliefs, capturing the humid air masses of monsoon nature in the summer and Mediterranean cyclone residues in the late winter, allow rainfall which, in their values ​​(up to 900 mm per year in the internal mountain), are absolutely unique in the Arabian context. Very diversified landscapes derive from the interaction between orography, temperature and rainfall: the coast along the Red Sea (Tihama), while not lacking in settlements, is generally repulsive, with high temperatures, high humidity rates but little rainfall. The central area, the morphologically more uneven one, is climatically the most favored and its reliefs, terraced and adapted to agriculture, bear a high anthropogenic load. On the other hand, the transition zone to the east, downwind and therefore less affected by the rains, is drought, sparsely populated and a prelude to the desert landscape itself. Hostile is also the environment of the Hadramaut, where life abounds only in the oases and in the depths of the uidians.

  1. Population

The Arabs represent almost all (93%) of the residents of the country; in the Tihama and in the Aden area there are Nilo-Hamitic communities, which arrived in the Yemen in successive waves, the last of which occurred in 1992-93, following the civil war in Somalia. The demographic increase rate is high (2.7% in 2010), as are the birth rate (34.3 ‰) and the fertility rate (4.8 children per woman of childbearing age). The social conditions of the population are characterized by a great backwardness, as evidenced by infant mortality (56.7 ‰), which remains high, albeit declining in the last 20 years, the illiteracy rate, just under 50%, and life expectancy at birth which stands at 63 years. The prevailing form of settlement is centralized in small nuclei gathered around the oases, close to a wadi or in an elevated position. The weight of the urban population is modest, equal to 31% of the total (2008). The main demographic and economic center is the capital (1,947,139 residents In 2006). After Sana, the major centers are Aden, with an important port in an excellent strategic position (at the entrance to the Red Sea) with respect to the large currents of maritime traffic, Taizz and Hodeida.

Largely dominant religion is the Sunni Muslim, which reaches 99% in the north of the country; in the south, 45% of the population is of the Shiite rite.

  1. Economic conditions

Listed as one of the poorest countries in the world, the Yemen has found a response to the high demographic pressure and scarcity of resources with a massive migratory exodus, which lasted until the 1980s, to oil countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. In 1983, the peak of the phenomenon, emigrant remittances constituted about 40% of the gross national product of the two countries (North and South) as a whole. Unification did not solve the chronic problems of the new state. With perestroika the Yemen of the South had lost the advantages that the USSR guaranteed for various reasons, and inherited obsolete productive structures and a hypertrophic bureaucratic-military apparatus. The discovery and commercialization (since 1987) of oil seemed to herald better times, but the Gulf War, due to the ambiguous position taken towards Iraq, led to the suspension of aid and a dramatic exodus from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to over a million Yemenis. Reunification, opposed by powerful neighbors, still appears more formal than substantial today, and was marked by bloody episodes of civil war.

The primary sector occupies 33.9% of the assets (2006), but only 9.7% participates in the formation of the gross product (2009). Just 8% of the territory is arable and 2/3 consists of parcels of less than 1 ha. On the highlands, minor cereals and fruit trees prevail. Also produced is a high-quality coffee, widely exported, and qat (Catha edulis), a plant whose buds, when chewed, secrete alkaloid substances, and of which the Yemenites are major consumers. The qat is not only a social problem, but also an economic one, as just under 50% of the arable land is destined for the cultivation of Catha edulis, which absorbs 30% of the country’s water resources. On the coast, investments are made in industrial crops such as cotton, tobacco, dates and bananas. However, the agricultural trade balance remains strongly in deficit and the phenomenon of de-naturalization is serious. Fishing is expanding and in al-Mukalla, on the Gulf of Aden, there are product processing plants; the livestock patrimony is also substantial.

The industry – apart from the oil sector (almost 15 million tonnes in 2008, with refineries in Mā′rib and Little Aden), however affected by regional tensions and market fluctuations – is underdeveloped and not very diversified (in addition to the traditional types (textiles, food, tanning, tobacco processing), there are factories for the production of plastic materials and building materials; the secondary sector occupies 18% of the assets and makes up 46.2% of the gross product. Natural gas reserves are substantial (480 billion m3), the exploitation of which began in 2004. Tourism has good development opportunities due to the charm of the desert environments and the architectural heritage of the ancient Yemeni cities, but is struggling to establish itself due to the conditions of serious insecurity in the country. The trade balance is strictly dependent on the trend in the price of crude oil, which constitutes over 90% of exports. Main trading partners are China, Thailand, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Land communications can count on 71,300 km of roads, of which 6,200 are asphalted. The railways are completely missing. International airports in the capital and in Aden.

Yemen Country Overview