Al-Jamhuriya Al-Yamaniya (Republic of Yemen)
Head of State
President Ali Abdullah Saleh
527,968 square km
18.28 million (2000); annual growth: 3.4 per cent (1999)
Sana'a (over 1 million inhabitants in 1998)
Arabic, English is spoken by many businessmen
Rial (YR) = 100 Fils
YR199 per US$; YR280 per Euro (December 2007)
GDP per capita
GDP real growth
6.50% (2000); 2.2% (2001)
GMT plus 3 hours
Based on Islamic and English common law and local tribal customs
Country phone code
Short historical overview
The ancient history of Yemen can be divided into two main periods. The first era begins in the first millennium BC and ends with the decline of the eastern cultural centers towards the end of the pre - Christian era . This was time during the rise of the frankincense and myrrh trade which the Southern Arabian kingdoms - Sheba, Maeen, Qataban, Ausan and Hadhramaut - had monopolized. The frankincense route, one of the most ancient trade routes, led from South Arabia to Ghaza in Palestine with about a distance of distance of 3,400 km. This monopoly ended in the first century when the land route was losing it’s importance and was finally replaced by a direct sea route between Egypt & India.
The second era begins with the founding of the Himyarite Kingdom and the rise of centers of civilization in the high plateau with it’s basins and unconquerable mountains. It ends with the decay of these cultures i.e. it lasts from the first to the sixth century A.D.. This was time when the Islamic period started.
The Prophet was still alive when Islam came to Yemen. With the conversion of Badhan, the Persian Governor of Yemen from 628 until 630 A.D., to Islam, many of the sheikhs and their tribes converted to Islam. It was during this period that Al-Janad Mosque and the Great Mosque in Sana’a was built . Active missionary work in Yemen only became possible after the conquest of Mecca in 630 A.D.
Between the eighth and the fourteenth century Yemen was ruled by a series of different dynasties in Sana'a, Zabeed, Saada, Djibla, Rada' and Taiz.
In the mid fifteenth century the Mamelukes of Egypt lost power to the Ottomans (Turks). During this period the town of Al-Makha (Moka or Mocca) on the Red sea coast, became the most important coffee port in the world.
The North/South division of Yemen took shape in the nineteenth century when the British occupied Aden and established control over its hinterland, restricting Ottoman influence to the North.
For much of the twentieth century, North and South developed in very different ways; the North under the rule of hereditary Imams; the South under British colonial rule or protection.
1962 - revolution in the North overthrew the Imamate and led, after a civil war during the 1960s, to the consolidation of a republican system.
1967 - the withdrawal of the British from Aden eventually resulted in the establishment of a communist state in the South. The northern and southern parts of the country were in conflict for much of the 1970s and 1980s.
1990 - on 22 May the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) were unified and became the Republic of Yemen (ROY).
1993 - democratic elections (the first in the Arabian Peninsula) led to a three-party coalition between the General People's Congress (GPC), the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) and Islah (a mainly northern Islamic tribal grouping). Disputes within the coalition resulted in an escalating political crisis.
1994 - in spite of a conciliation agreement signed in March, a series of military confrontations broke out, leading to a full-scale war between northern and southern forces in May, caused by the separatist movement of the Yemeni Socialist Party.
Unity was restored in July 1994, and in October President Saleh was re-elected as President by the parliament in Sana'a and announced the formation of a new coalition government comprising the GPC and Islah, with the YSP and other smaller parties in opposition.
1997 - in the first election since the 1994 civil war, the ruling GPC won 187 seats in the House of Representatives (301 member) in the elections held on 27 April.
1998 - in October, Eritrea and Yemen accepted the ruling of an international court in the Hague over the disputed Hanish islands in the Red Sea.
2000 - Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed a treaty in June, resolving 65 years of dispute over land and sea boundaries.
2001 - first local election was held in February. Yemenis also approved the extension of the President's and parliament's terms of office in a referendum.