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This article is about the country. For the capital of Djibouti, see Djibouti (city).
For the national anthem, see Djibouti (song).
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Republic of Djibouti
République de Djibouti
Motto: "Unité, Égalité, Paix" (translation)
"Unity, Equality, Peace"
(and largest city) Djibouti
Official language(s) Arabic and French
Government Semi-presidential republic
- President Ismail Omar Guelleh
- Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita
Independence from France
- Date June 27, 1977
- Total 23,200 km2 (149th)
8,958 sq mi
- Water (%) 0.09 (20 km² / 7.7 sq mi)
- 2009 estimate 864,000 (160th)
- 2009 census 818,159
- Density 37.2/km2 (168th)
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
- Total 2.101 billion
- Per capita 2,549
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
- Total 1.128 billion
- Per capita 1,369
Gini (2009) 40.0
HDI (2007) increase 0.520 (medium) (155th)
Currency Franc (DJF)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
- Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code DJ
Internet TLD .dj
Calling code 253
Djibouti (Arabic: جيبوتي Jībūtī, French: Djibouti, Somali: Jabuuti, Afar:
Gabuuti), officially the Republic of Djibouti (Arabic: جمهورية جيبوتي
Jumhūriyyat Jībūtī, French: République de Djibouti, Somali: Jamhuuriyadda
Jabuuti, Afar: Gabuutih Ummuuno), is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered
by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the
southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden
at the east. Djibouti, which had a population of 818,159 at the 2009 census, is
one of the least populous countries in Africa. The predominant religion in
Djibouti is Islam, with a 94% majority, with the remaining 6% practicing
Christianity. In the 19th century, Djibouti, then known as French Somaliland (French:
Côte Française des Somalis), was acquired by France through various treaties with
Somali sultans. In 1967 the name was changed to the French Territory of the Afars
and the Issas (French: Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas). The territory
was declared an independent nation in 1977, and changed its name to the Republic of
Djibouti. Djibouti joined the United Nations on September 20, 1977. While
Djibouti is an independent state, it maintains deep French relations, and through
various military and economic agreements with France, it receives continued security
and economic assistance.
4 Regions and districts
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Main article: History of Djibouti
The history of Djibouti goes back thousands of years to a time when populations in
the area traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India
and China. Through close contacts with the adjacent Arabian Peninsula for more than
1,000 years, the Somali and Afar ethnic groups in the region became among the first
populations on the continent to embrace Islam.
Place Menelik in Djibouti City in 1905.
From 1862 to 1894, the land on the north side of the Gulf of Tadjoura was called
Obock, and was ruled by Somali Sultans. France first gained a foothold in the region
through various treaties signed between 1883 and 1887. In 1894, Léonce Lagarde
established a permanent French administration in the city of Djibouti and named the
region French Somaliland (Côte française des Somalis). It lasted from 1896 until
1967, when it was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas.
In 1958, on the eve of neighboring Somalia's independence in 1960, a referendum was
held in Djibouti to decide whether or not to join the Somali Republic or to remain
with France. The referendum turned out in favour of a continued association with
France, partly due to a combined yes vote by the sizable Afar ethnic group and
resident Europeans. There was also widespread vote rigging, with the French
expelling thousands of Somalis before the referendum reached the polls. The
majority of those who voted no were Somalis who were strongly in favour of joining a
united Somalia as had been proposed by Mahmoud Harbi, Vice President of the
Government Council. Harbi was killed in a plane crash two years later. Djibouti
finally gained its independence from France in 1977 and Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a
French-groomed Somali who campaigned for a yes vote in the referendum of 1958,
eventually wound up as the nation's first president (1977–1991).
Djibouti is a Somali, Afar and Muslim country, which regularly takes part in Islamic
affairs. It is also a member of the Arab League, as well as the African Union and the
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
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Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material
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Main article: Politics of Djibouti
Djibouti is a semi-presidential republic, with executive power in the central
government, and legislative power in both the government and parliament. The
parliamentary party system is dominated by the People's Rally for Progress (RPP) and
the President who currently is Ismail Omar Guelleh. The country's current
constitution was approved in September 1992. Djibouti is a one party dominant state
with the People's Rally for Progress in power. Other parties are allowed, but the
main opposition, Union for a Presidential Majority, boycotted the 2005 and 2008
elections leaving all of the legislative seats to the RPP. (See Elections in
The national assembly building in Djibouti City.
The government is seen as being controlled by the Somali Issa Dir clan who enjoy the
support of the Somali clans, especially the Gadabuursi Dir who are the second most
prominent Somali clan in Djibouti politics. The country has recently come out of a
decade-long civil war, with the government and the Front for the Restoration of Unity
and Democracy (FRUD) signing a peace treaty in 2000. Two FRUD members are part of the
Djibouti's second president, Guelleh, succeeded Hassan Gouled Aptidon in office in
1999. Despite elections of the 1990s being described as "generally fair", Guelleh
was sworn in for his second and final six-year term as president after a one-man
election on 8 April 2005. He took 100% of the votes in a 78.9% turnout.
The prime minister, who follows the council of ministers ('cabinet'), is appointed by
the President. The parliament – the Chambre des Députés – consists of 52
members who are selected every five to nine years.
In 2001, the Djiboutian government leased the former French military base Camp
Lemonnier to the United States Central Command for operations related to Combined
Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). In 2009, Central Command transitioned
responsibilities in Africa to AFRICOM.
France's 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion is based in Djibouti, but not in
In February 2011 protesters in Djibouti joined the Arab world protests, demanding
that President Guelleh step down.
Main article: Geography of Djibouti
Lac Assal area
Djibouti lies in Northeast Africa on the Gulf of Aden at the southern entrance to the
Red Sea. It has 314 km (195 mi) of coastline and shares a 113 km (70 mi) border with
Eritrea, 337 km (209 mi) with Ethiopia and 58 km (36 mi) with Somalia (total 506
km/314 mi). It lies between latitudes 10° and 13°N, and longitudes 41° and 44°E.
The country is mainly a stony semidesert, with scattered plateaus and highlands. It
has an area of 8,900 square miles (23,051 km2).
Regions and districts
Main articles: Regions of Djibouti and Districts of Djibouti
Map of the regions of Djibouti
Djibouti is sectioned into five regions and one city. It is further subdivided into
The regions and city are:
Ali Sabieh Region (Région d'Ali Sabieh)
Arta Region (Région d'Arta)
Dikhil Region (Région de Dikhil)
Djibouti (city) (Ville de Djibouti)
Obock Region (Région d'Obock)
Tadjourah Region (Région de Tadjourah))
Main article: Economy of Djibouti
The economy of Djibouti is based on service activities connected with the country's
strategic location and status as a free trade zone in northeast Africa.
Two-thirds of the inhabitants live in the capital city, the remainder being mostly
nomadic herders. Scant rainfall limits crop production to fruits and vegetables, and
most food must be imported.
Fishing boats docked at the Port of Djibouti.
In April 2005, the United Nations World Food Programme warned that 30,000 people in
Djibouti face serious food shortages following three years of poor rains.
Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international
transshipment and refueling center. It has few natural resources and little industry.
The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its
balance of payments and to finance development projects. Salt Investment, a
Djiboutian company, is overseeing a $70 million operation to industrialize the
collection of Djibouti’s plentiful salt in the Region Lake Asal.
There are gold miners from India, geothermal experts from Iceland, Turkish hotel
managers, Saudi oil engineers, French bankers and American military contractors.
Investors from Dubai have leased the country's port, in an effort to develop the area
as a gateway to the region. Saudi investors are reportedly exploring the possibility
of linking the Horn of Africa with the Arabian Peninsula via an 18-mile long oversea
bridge referred to as the Bridge of the Horns. Tarek bin Laden, half brother of Osama
bin Laden, has been linked to the project.
An unemployment rate of 40% to 50% continues to be a major problem. Inflation is not
a concern, however, because of the fixed tie of the franc to the U.S. dollar. Per
capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% over the last seven years because of
recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and
refugees). The secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia has been beneficial to Djibouti, as
the Port of Djibouti is now serving as landlocked Ethiopia's primary link to the sea.
Faced with a multitude of economic difficulties, the government has fallen into
arrears on long-term external debt and has been struggling to meet the stipulations
of foreign aid donors.
Afar man in nomadic attire
A Somali man in a traditional taqiyah.
Main article: Demographics of Djibouti
The population consists of two major ethnic groups: the Somali and the Afar. The
Somali clan component in Djibouti is mainly composed of the Issas, who form the
majority, and the Gadabuursi. Both are subclans of the Dir. The Issas form part of
the Madoobe Dir while the Gadabuursi are part of the Madaluug Dir. The remainder of
the population consists of Europeans (mostly French and Italians), Arabs and
Ethiopians. Although French and Arabic are the official languages, Somali and Afar
are widely spoken. The bulk of Djibouti's people are urban residents; the
remainder are pastoralists.
The life expectancy at birth is about 60 for both females and males. Fertility is
at 2.79 children per woman. In the country there are about 18 doctors per 100,000
According to a 2005 World Health Organization estimate, about 93.1% of Djibouti's
women and girls have undergone female genital cutting, a pre-marital custom
mainly endemic to Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East that has its ultimate
origins in Ancient Egypt. Although legally proscribed in 1994, the procedure
is still widely practiced, as it is deeply ingrained in the local culture.
Encouraged and performed by women in the community, circumcision is primarily
intended to deter promiscuity and to offer protection from assault. About 94%
of Djibouti's male population has also reportedly undergone male circumcision.
Main articles: Islam in Djibouti and Christianity in Djibouti
Mosque in Djibouti city
Djibouti's population is predominantly Muslim. Islam is observed by 94% of Djibouti's
population (about 740,000) (2010 estimate), while the remaining six percent follow
Religion in Djibouti
Every town and village in Djibouti has a mosque where people go to worship.[citation
needed] Tombs of their former religious leaders and those considered holy are known
as sacred spaces. The most famous sacred space for Islam in Djibouti is the tomb of
Sheikh Abu Yazid, which is found in the Goda Mountains. In addition
to the Islamic calendar, Muslims in Djibouti also recognize New Year's Day (January
1) and Labor Day (May 1) as holidays.
The Republic of Djibouti names Islam as the sole state religion, the Constitution of
1992 provides for the equality of citizens of all faiths (Art. 1) as well as the
freedom to practise any religion (Art. 11). Djibouti's Family Code (Code de la
Famille) of 2002 prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men, unless the men
convert to Islam. Marriage, divorce and inheritance are handled by the Family Court
which applies the Family Code and has jurisdiction over Muslims, while non-Muslims
must instead turn to civil courts. According to the International Religious Freedom
Report 2008, while Muslim Djiboutians have the legal right to convert to another
faith or marry outside of Islam, "converts may face negative societal, tribal, and
familial attitudes towards their decision" and often face pressure to revert to
Between 7,000 and 8,000 Catholics live in Djibouti, of which some 300 are local
Djiboutians, the rest being foreigners. The Christian population
largely consists of foreign-born or expatriate residents. Djibouti
has a Catholic diocese, 4 Catholic priests all of whom are foreigners – as well as
about 40 Catholic missionaries.
Main article: Culture of Djibouti
Beach in Djibouti City
Djiboutian attire reflects the region's hot and arid climate. When not dressed in
western clothing such as jeans and t-shirts, men typically wear the macawiis, which
is a sarong-like garment worn around the waist. Among nomads, many wear a loosely
wrapped white cotton robe called a tobe that goes down to about the knee, with the
end thrown over the shoulder (much like a Roman toga).
Women typically wear the dirac, which is a long, light, diaphanous voile dress made
of cotton or polyester that is worn over a full-length half-slip and a bra. Married
women tend to sport head-scarves referred to as shash, and also often cover their
upper body with a shawl known as garbasaar. Unmarried or young women, however, do not
always cover their heads. Traditional Arabian garb such as the male jellabiya
(jellabiyaad in Somali) and the female jilbāb is also commonly worn. For some
occasions such as festivals, women may adorn themselves with specialized jewelry and
head-dresses similar to those worn by the Berber tribes of the Maghreb.
A lot of Djibouti's original art is passed on and preserved orally, mainly through
song. Many examples of Islamic, Ottoman, and French influences can also be noted in
the local buildings, which contain plasterwork, carefully constructed motifs and
See also: Music of Djibouti and List of African writers (by country)#Djibouti
Main article: Education in Djibouti
Education in Djibouti is strongly influenced by France. Although the government
effort resulted in an increase in enrollment during the 1990s, the education system
is still below people’s expectations and the needs of a developing nation.
There are 81 public primary schools, 24 registered private primary schools, 12
secondary schools and two vocational schools in Djibouti. Female gross
enrollment rate was at 21.9% and male gross enrollment rate was at 29.0% in
Flag of Djibouti.svg Djibouti portal
Main articles: Outline of Djibouti and Index of Djibouti-related articles
Communications in Djibouti
Foreign relations of Djibouti
Military of Djibouti
Transport in Djibouti
Scouting in Djibouti
Pan Sahel Initiative
^ a b c "Djibouti". World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2007-09-06.
^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF).
World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved
^ a b c d "Djibouti". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
^ Human Development Report 2009. The United Nations. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
^ "Communication Officielle des Resultats du Recensement Général de la
Population". Ministère de l'Economie, des Finances et de la Planification, Djibouti.
2010. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
^ World Bank country data Djibouti (2009) (number rounded)
^ United Nations member states
^ A Country Study: Somalia from The Library of Congress
^ Hugh Chisholm (ed.), The encyclopædia britannica: a dictionary of arts,
sciences, literature and general information, Volume 25, (At the University press:
^ a b Barrington, Lowell, After Independence: Making and Protecting the Nation in
Postcolonial and Postcommunist States, (University of Michigan Press: 2006), p.115
^ Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African history, (CRC Press: 2005), p.360.
^ "DJIBOUTI: Guelleh sworn in for second presidential term". Retrieved December
^ Brass, Jennifer N. 2008. "Djibouti's unusual resource curse" Journal of Modern
African Studies. 46, 4: 523-545.
^ Djibouti drought threatens 30,000 with grave food shortages, 29 April 2005,
World Food Programme. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
^ a b https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/dj.html
^ "IRIN | Country Profile | Djibouti". Irinnews.org. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
^ Prevalence of FGM
^ Rose Oldfield Hayes (November 1975). "Female genital mutilation, fertility
control, women's roles, and the patrilineage in modern Sudan: a functional analysis".
American Ethnologist 2 (4): 617–633. doi:10.1525/ae.1975.2.4.02a00030.
^ Herbert L. Bodman, Nayereh Esfahlani Tohidi, Women in Muslim societies:
diversity within unity, (Lynne Rienner Publishers: 199, p. 41.
^ a b DJIBOUTI: Women fight mutilation
^ Suzanne G. Frayser, Thomas J. Whitby, Studies in human sexuality: a selected
guide, (Libraries Unlimited: 1995), p. 257.
^ Male Circumcision and AIDS: The Macroeconomic Impact of a Health Crisis
^ CIA World Factbook (2010) – Djibouti
^ United Nations High Commi