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Republic of Yemen
الجمهورية اليمنية (
|Motto: ٱللَّهُ، ثُمَّ ٱلْوَطَنُ، ٱلثَوْرَةُ، ٱلْوَحْدَةُ|
Allāh, thumma al-Waṭan, ath-Thawrah, al-Waḥdah
"God, then Country, Revolution, Unity"
|Anthem: الجمهورية المتحدة|
|Government||Unitary provisional republic|
|Rashad al-Alimi (disputed)[n 3]|
|Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed (disputed)[n 4]|
Yemeni Civil War
|16 September 2014|
In ancient times, Yemen was the home of the Sabaeans, a trading state that included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. Later in 275 AD, the Himyarite Kingdom was influenced by Judaism. Christianity arrived in the fourth century, and Islam spread rapidly in the seventh century, with Yemenite troops playing a crucial role in early Islamic conquests. Various dynasties emerged between the 9th and 16th centuries. During the 1800s, the country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires. After World War I, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was established, followed by the creation of the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962. South Yemen became independent in 1967. In 1990, the two Yemeni states united to form the modern Republic of Yemen (al-Jumhūrīyah al-Yamanīyah). President Ali Abdullah Saleh was the first president of the new republic until his resignation in 2012 in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Since 2011, Yemen has been facing a
The ongoing humanitarian crisis and conflict has received widespread criticism for having a dramatic worsening effect on Yemen's humanitarian situation, that some say has reached the level of a "humanitarian disaster" and some have even labelled it as a genocide. Yemen is one of the least developed countries, facing significant obstacles to sustainable development and is one of the poorest countries in the MENA region. The United Nations reported in 2019 that Yemen had the highest number of people in need of humanitarian aid, amounting to about 24 million individuals, which is nearly 75% of its population. As of 2020, Yemen ranked highest on the Fragile State Index and second-worst on the Global Hunger Index, surpassed only by the Central African Republic. Additionally, it has the lowest Human Development Index out of all non-African countries.
The term Yamnat was mentioned in
Other sources claim that Yemen is related to yamn or yumn, meaning "felicity" or "blessed", as much of the country is fertile. The Romans called it Arabia Felix ("happy" or "fortunate" Arabia"), as opposed to Arabia Deserta ("deserted Arabia"). Latin and
Yemen has existed at the crossroads of its civilisations for more than 7000 years. The country was home to figures such as the
With its long sea border between eastern and western civilizations, Yemen has long existed at a crossroads of cultures with a strategic location in terms of trade on the west of the Arabian Peninsula. Large settlements for their era existed in the mountains of northern Yemen as early as 5000 BC.
Between 700 and 680 BC, the Kingdom of Awsan dominated Aden and its surroundings and challenged the Sabaean supremacy in the Arabian South. Sabaean Mukarrib Karib'il Watar I conquered Awsan, and expanded Sabaean rule and territory to include much of South Arabia. Lack of water in the Arabian Peninsula prevented the Sabaeans from unifying the entire peninsula. Instead, they established various colonies to control trade routes.
Evidence of Sabaean influence is found in northern Ethiopia, where the South Arabian alphabet, religion and pantheon, and the South Arabian style of art and architecture were introduced. The Sabaean created a sense of identity through their religion. They worshipped El-Maqah and believed that they were his children. For centuries, the Sabaeans controlled outbound trade across the Bab-el-Mandeb, a strait separating the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean.
By the third century BC, Qataban, Hadramout, and Ma'in became independent from Saba and established themselves in the Yemeni arena. Minaean rule stretched as far as
The Romans had a vague and contradictory geographical knowledge about Arabia Felix or Yemen. The Roman army of 10,000 men was defeated before Marib. Strabo's close relationship with Aelius Gallus led him to attempt to justify his friend's defeat in his writings. It took the Romans six months to reach Marib and 60 days to return to Egypt. The Romans blamed their Nabataean guide and executed him for treachery. No direct mention in Sabaean inscriptions of the Roman expedition has yet been found.
After the Roman expedition – perhaps earlier – the country fell into chaos, and two clans, namely
The Himyarite annexed Sana'a from
In 354 AD,
According to Islamic traditions, King
After the death of Ma'adikarib Ya'fur around 521 AD, a Himyarite Jewish
Advent of Islam and the three dynasties
Muhammad sent his cousin Ali to Sana'a and its surroundings around 630 AD. At the time, Yemen was the most advanced region in Arabia. The Banu Hamdan confederation was among the first to accept Islam. Muhammad sent Muadh ibn Jabal, as well to Al-Janad, in present-day Taiz, and dispatched letters to various tribal leaders. The reason behind this was the division among the tribes and the absence of a strong central authority in Yemen during the days of the prophet.
Major tribes, including Himyar, sent delegations to
Yemen was stable during the
Several emirates led by people of Yemeni descent were established in North Africa and
Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Ziyad founded the
In 904, the
In 989, the Yufirid emir Abdullah ibn Qahtan attacked and burned Zabid, weakening the Ziyadid dynasty. The Ziyadid monarchs lost effective power after 989, or even earlier than that. Meanwhile, a succession of slaves held power in Zabid and continued to govern in the name of their masters, eventually establishing their own dynasty around 1022 or 1050 according to different sources. Although they were recognized by the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, they ruled no more than Zabid and four districts to its north. The rise of the Isma'ili Sulayhid dynasty in the Yemeni highlands reduced their history to a series of intrigues.
Sulayhid dynasty (1047–1138)
The Sulayhid dynasty was founded in the northern highlands around 1040; at the time, Yemen was ruled by different local dynasties. In 1060, Ali ibn Muhammad Al-Sulayhi conquered Zabid and killed its ruler Al-Najah, founder of the Najahid dynasty. His sons were forced to flee to Dahlak. Hadramawt fell into Sulayhid hands after their capture of Aden in 1162.
By 1063, Ali had subjugated
Ali al-Sulayhi was killed by Najah's sons on his way to Mecca in 1084. His son Ahmed Al-Mukarram led an army to Zabid and killed 8,000 of its inhabitants. He later installed the Zurayids to govern Aden. al-Mukarram, who had been afflicted with facial paralysis resulting from war injuries, retired in 1087 and handed over power to his wife Arwa al-Sulayhi. Queen Arwa moved the seat of the Sulayhid dynasty from Sana'a to Jibla, a small town in central Yemen near Ibb. Jibla was strategically near the Sulayhid dynasty source of wealth, the agricultural central highlands. It was also within easy reach of the southern portion of the country, especially Aden. She sent Ismaili missionaries to India, where a significant Ismaili community was formed that exists to this day. Queen Arwa continued to rule securely until her death in 1138.
Arwa al-Sulayhi is still remembered as a great and much-loved sovereign, as attested in Yemeni historiography, literature, and popular lore, where she is referred to as Balqis al-sughra ("the junior queen of Sheba").
Ayyubid conquest (1171–1260)
The Ayyubids failed to capture the Zaydis stronghold in northern Yemen. In 1191, Zaydis of Shibam Kawkaban rebelled and killed 700 Ayyubid soldiers. Imam Abdullah bin Hamza proclaimed the imamate in 1197 and fought al-Mu'izz Ismail, the Ayyubid Sultan of Yemen. Imam Abdullah was defeated at first but was able to conquer Sana'a and Dhamar in 1198, and al-Mu'izz Ismail was assassinated in 1202.
Abdullah bin Hamza carried on the struggle against the Ayyubid until his death in 1217. After his demise, the Zaidi community was split between two rival imams. The Zaydis were dispersed, and a truce was signed with the Ayyubid in 1219. The Ayyubid army was defeated in Dhamar in 1226. Ayyubid Sultan Mas'ud Yusuf left for Mecca in 1228, never to return. Other sources suggest that he was forced to leave for Egypt instead in 1223.
Rasulid dynasty (1229–1454)
Umar first established himself at Zabid, then moved into the mountainous interior, taking the important highland centre Sana'a. However, the Rasulid capitals were Zabid and Taiz. He was assassinated by his nephew in 1249. Omar's son Yousef defeated the faction led by his father's assassins and crushed several counterattacks by the Zaydi imams who still held on in the northern highland. Mainly because of the victories he scored over his rivals, he assumed the honorific title "al-Muzaffar" (the victorious).
The Rasulid state nurtured Yemen's commercial links with India and the Far East.
The Rasulid sultans built numerous
The dynasty is regarded as the greatest native Yemeni state since the fall of the pre-Islamic Himyarite Kingdom. They were of Turkic descent. They claimed an ancient Yemenite origin to justify their rule. The Rasulids were not the first dynasty to create a fictitious genealogy for political purposes, nor were they doing anything out of the ordinary in the tribal context of Arabia. By claiming descent from a solid Yemenite tribe, the Rasulids brought Yemen to a vital sense of unity in an otherwise chaotic regional milieu.
They had a difficult relationship with the
Tahiride dynasty (1454–1517)
The Tahiride were too weak either to contain the
Realizing how rich the Tahiride realm was, they decided to conquer it.
The Zaydis and Ottomans
The Ottomans had two fundamental interests to safeguard in Yemen: The Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and the trade route with India in spices and textiles—both threatened, and the latter virtually eclipsed, by the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea in the early 16th century. Yemen is a land with no lord, an empty province. It would be not only possible but easy to capture, and should it be captured, it would be master of the lands of India and send every year a great amount of gold and jewels to Constantinople
Yemen is a land with no lord, an empty province. It would be not only possible but easy to capture, and should it be captured, it would be master of the lands of India and send every year a great amount of gold and jewels to Constantinople
We have seen no foundry like Yemen for our soldiers. Each time we have sent an expeditionary force there, it has melted away like salt dissolved in water.
The Ottomans sent yet another expeditionary force to Zabid in 1547, while Imam al-Mutawakkil Yahya Sharaf ad-Din was ruling the highlands independently. Imam al-Mutawakkil Yahya chose his son Ali to succeed him, a decision that infuriated his other son al-Mutahhar ibn Yahya. Al-Mutahhar was lame, so he was not qualified for the imamate. He urged Oais Pasha, the Ottoman colonial governor in Zabid, to attack his father. Indeed, Ottoman troops supported by tribal forces loyal to Imam al-Mutahhar stormed Taiz and marched north toward Sana'a in August 1547. The Turks officially made Imam al-Mutahhar a Sanjak-bey with authority over 'Amran. Imam al-Mutahhar assassinated the Ottoman colonial governor and recaptured Sana'a, but the Ottomans, led by Özdemir Pasha, forced al-Mutahhar to retreat to his fortress in Thula. Özdemir Pasha effectively put Yemen under Ottoman rule between 1552 and 1560. He was considered a competent ruler given Yemen's notorious lawlessness, garrisoning the main cities, building new fortresses, and rendering secure the main routes. Özdemir died in Sana'a in 1561 and was succeeded by Mahmud Pasha.
Unlike Özdemir's brief but able leadership, Mahmud Pasha was described by other Ottoman officials as a corrupt and unscrupulous governor. He used his authority to take over several castles, some of which belonged to the former
The Zaydi tribesmen in the northern highlands particularly those of
In 1632, Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad sent an expeditionary force of 1,000 men to conquer Mecca.
During that period, Yemen was the sole
Great Britain and the nine regions
The British were looking for a coal depot to service their steamers en route to India. It took 700 tons of coal for a round-trip from
Haines bombarded Aden from his warship in January 1839. The ruler of Lahej, who was in Aden at the time, ordered his guards to defend the port, but they failed in the face of overwhelming military and naval power. The British managed to occupy Aden and agreed to compensate the sultan with an annual payment of 6,000 riyals. The British evicted the Sultan of Lahej from Aden and forced him to accept their "protection". In November 1839, 5,000 tribesmen tried to retake the town but were repulsed and 200 were killed. The British realised that Aden's prosperity depended on their relations with the neighbouring tribes, which required that they rest on a firm and satisfactory basis.
The British government concluded "protection and friendship" treaties with nine tribes surrounding Aden, whereas they would remain independent from British interference in their affairs as long as they did not conclude treaties with foreigners (non-Arab colonial powers). Aden was declared a free zone in 1850. With emigrants from India, East Africa, and Southeast Asia, Aden grew into a world city. In 1850, only 980 Arabs were registered as original inhabitants of the city. The English presence in Aden put them at odds with the Ottomans. The Turks asserted to the British that they held sovereignty over the whole of Arabia, including Yemen as the successor of Mohammed and the Chief of the Universal Caliphate.
The Ottomans were concerned about the British expansion from the
The Ottomans learned from their previous experience and worked on the disempowerment of local lords in the highland regions. They even attempted to secularize the Yemeni society, while Yemenite Jews came to perceive themselves in Yemeni nationalist terms. The Ottomans appeased the tribes by forgiving their rebellious chiefs and appointing them to administrative posts. They introduced a series of reforms to enhance the country's economic welfare. However, corruption was widespread in the Ottoman administration in Yemen. This was because only the worst of the officials were appointed because those who could avoid serving in Yemen did so. The Ottomans had reasserted control over the highlands for a temporary duration. The so-called Tanzimat reforms were considered heretic by the Zaydi tribes. In 1876, the Hashid and Bakil tribes rebelled against the Ottomans; the Turks had to appease them with gifts to end the uprising.
The tribal chiefs were difficult to appease and an endless cycle of violence curbed Ottoman efforts to pacify the land.
Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
Imam Yahya hamid ed-Din al-Mutawakkil was ruling the northern highlands independently from 1911. After the Ottoman departure in 1918, he sought to recapture the lands of his Qasimid ancestors. He dreamed of Greater Yemen stretching from Asir to Dhofar. These schemes brought him into conflict with the de facto rulers in the territories claimed, namely the Idrisids, Ibn Saud, and the British government in Aden. The Zaydi imam did not recognize the Anglo-Ottoman border agreement of 1905 on the grounds that it was made between two foreign powers occupying Yemen. The border treaty effectively divided Yemen into north and south. In 1915, the British signed a treaty with the Idrisids guaranteeing their security and independence if they would fight against the Turks. In 1919, Imam Yahya hamid ed-Din moved southward to "liberate" the nine British protectorates. The British responded by moving quickly towards Tihama and occupying al-Hudaydah. Then they handed it over to their Idrisi allies. Imam Yahya attacked the southern protectorates again in 1922. The British bombed Yahya's tribal forces using aircraft to which the tribes had no effective counter.
In 1925, Imam Yahya captured al-Hudaydah from the Idrisids.
Starting in 1890, hundreds of Yemeni people from Hajz, Al-Baetha, and Taiz migrated to Aden to work at ports, and as labourers. This helped the population of Aden once again become predominantly Arab after, having been declared a free zone, it had become mostly foreigners. During World War II, Aden had increasing economic growth and became the second-busiest port in the world after New York City. After the rise of labour unions, a rift was apparent between the sectors of workers and the first signs of resistance to the occupation started in 1943. Muhammad Ali Luqman founded the first Arabic club and school in Aden, and was the first to start working towards a union.
Arab nationalism made an impact in some circles who opposed the lack of modernization efforts in the Mutawakkilite monarchy. This became apparent when Imam Ahmad bin Yahya died in 1962. He was succeeded by his son, but army officers attempted to seize power, sparking the North Yemen Civil War. The Hamidaddin royalists were supported by Saudi Arabia, Britain, and Jordan (mostly with weapons and financial aid, but also with small military forces), whilst the military rebels were backed by Egypt. Egypt provided the rebels with weapons and financial assistance, but also sent a large military force to participate in the fighting. Israel covertly supplied weapons to the royalists to keep the Egyptian military busy in Yemen and make Nasser less likely to initiate a conflict in the Sinai. After six years of civil war, the military rebels were victorious (February 1968) and formed the Yemen Arab Republic.
The revolution in the north coincided with the
Relations between the two Yemeni states fluctuated between peaceful and hostile. The South was supported by the Eastern bloc. The North, however, was not able to get the same connections. In 1972, the two states fought a war. The war was resolved with a ceasefire and negotiations brokered by the Arab League, where it was declared that unification would eventually occur. In 1978, Ali Abdullah Saleh was named as president of the Yemen Arab Republic. After the war, the North complained about the South's help from foreign countries. This included Saudi Arabia.
In 1979, fresh fighting between the two states resumed and efforts were renewed to bring about unification.
Thousands were killed in 1986 in the
Unification and civil war
In 1990, the two governments reached a full agreement on the joint governing of Yemen, and the countries were merged on 22 May 1990, with Saleh as president.
After the invasion of Kuwait crisis in 1990, Yemen's president opposed military intervention from non-Arab states. As a member of the United Nations Security Council for 1990 and 1991, Yemen abstained on a number of UNSC resolutions concerning Iraq and Kuwait and voted against the "...use of force resolution." The vote outraged the U.S. Saudi Arabia expelled 800,000 Yemenis in 1990 and 1991 to punish Yemen for its opposition to the intervention.
In the absence of strong state institutions, elite politics in Yemen constituted a de facto form of collaborative governance, where competing tribal, regional, religious, and political interests agreed to hold themselves in check through tacit acceptance of the balance it produced. The informal political settlement was held together by a power-sharing deal among three men: President Saleh, who controlled the state; major general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who controlled the largest share of the Republic of Yemen Armed Forces; and Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Ahmar, figurehead of the Islamist al-Islah party and Saudi Arabia's chosen broker of transnational patronage payments to various political players, including tribal sheikhs. The Saudi payments have been intended to facilitate the tribes' autonomy from the Yemeni government and to give the Saudi government a mechanism with which to weigh in on Yemen's political decision-making.
Following food riots in major towns in 1992, a new coalition government made up of the ruling parties from both the former Yemeni states was formed in 1993. However, Vice President al-Beidh withdrew to Aden in August 1993 and said he would not return to the government until his grievances were addressed. These included northern violence against his
An accord between northern and southern leaders was signed in Amman, Jordan on 20 February 1994, but this could not stop the civil war. During these tensions, both the northern and southern armies (which had never integrated) gathered on their respective frontiers.
In October 2000, 17 U.S. personnel died after a
In 2005, at least 36 people were killed in clashes across the country between police and protesters over rising fuel prices.
A suicide bomber killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemenis in the
This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2021)
There is a system of social stratification in Yemen that was officially abolished at the creation of the Republic of Yemen in 1962 but, in practice, this system has not disappeared and Yemeni society is still organized around hierarchical ranks. The difference between ranks is manifested by descent and occupation and is consolidated by marriages between people of the same ranks.
There are five status groups. At the top of hierarchy, there are the religious elites, also called sada. These are then followed by the strata of judges (quad). The third hierarchical status is the qaba’il, who are the peasants who belong to tribes and who live mainly from agriculture and trading. The fourth group is called the mazayanah. This group is composed of people who had no land and provide different kinds of services such as butchers and craftsmen. Finally, at the bottom of the hierarchy are the slaves (a’bid) and even further below them
In January 2009, the Saudi Arabian and Yemeni al-Qaeda branches merged to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, and many of its members were Saudi nationals who had been released from Guantanamo Bay. Saleh released 176 al-Qaeda suspects on condition of good behaviour, but terrorist activities continued.
The Yemeni army launched a fresh offensive against the Shia insurgents in 2009, assisted by Saudi forces. Tens of thousands of people were displaced by the fighting. A new ceasefire was agreed upon in February 2010. However, by the end of the year, Yemen claimed that 3,000 soldiers had been killed in renewed fighting. The Shia rebels accused Saudi Arabia of providing support to
On orders from U.S. President
The U.S. launched a series of
In 2010, the Obama administration policy allowed targeting of people whose names are not known. The U.S. government increased military aid to $140 million in 2010. U.S. drone strikes continued after the ousting of President Saleh.
As of 2015[update],
Revolution and aftermath
This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2021)
The 2011 Yemeni revolution followed other Arab Spring mass protests in early 2011. The uprising was initially against unemployment, economic conditions, and corruption, as well as against the government's proposals to modify the constitution of Yemen so that Saleh's son could inherit the presidency.
In March 2011, police snipers opened fire on a pro-democracy camp in Sana'a, killing more than 50 people. In May, dozens were killed in clashes between troops and tribal fighters in Sana'a. By this point, Saleh began to lose international support. In October 2011, Yemeni human rights activist
Hadi took office for a two-year term upon winning the uncontested presidential elections in February 2012.
By 2012, there has been a "small contingent of U.S. special-operations troops" – in addition to CIA and "unofficially acknowledged" U.S. military presence – in response to increasing terror attacks by AQAP on Yemeni citizens. Many analysts have pointed out the former Yemeni government role in cultivating terrorist activity in the country. Following the election of the new president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the Yemeni military was able to push Ansar al-Sharia back and recapture the Shabwah Governorate.
The central government in Sana'a remained weak, staving off challenges from
Hadi managed to flee from Sana'a to Aden, his hometown and stronghold in
Yemen has been suffering from a famine since 2016 as a result of the Civil War. More than 50,000 children in Yemen died from starvation in 2017. The famine is being compounded by an outbreak of cholera that has affected more than one million people. The Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and blockade of Yemen have contributed to the famine and cholera epidemic. The UN estimated that by the end of 2021, the war in Yemen would have caused over 377,000 deaths, and roughly 70% of deaths were children under age 5.
On 4 December 2017, deposed strongman and former president
After losing the support of the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen's President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi resigned, and Presidential Leadership Council took power in April 2022.
Yemen is almost entirely in
A number of Red Sea islands, including the
Regions and climate
Yemen can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the
The central highlands are an extensive high plateau over 2,000 m (6,562 ft) in elevation. This area is drier than the western highlands because of rain-shadow influences, but still receives sufficient rain in wet years for extensive cropping. Water storage allows for irrigation and the growing of wheat and barley. Sana'a is in this region. The highest point in Yemen and Arabia is Jabal An-Nabi Shu'ayb, at about 3,666 m (12,028 ft).
Yemen contains six terrestrial ecoregions:
The flora of Yemen is a mixture of the tropical African, Sudanian plant geographical region and the Saharo-Arabian region. The Sudanian element—characterized by relatively high rainfall—dominates the western mountains and parts of the highland plains. The Saharo-Arabian element dominates in the coastal plains, eastern mountain, and the eastern and northern desert plains. A high percentage of Yemen plants belong to tropical African plants of Sudanian regions. Among the Sudanian element species, the following may be mentioned:
Yemen is a republic with a
The 1991 constitution provides that the president be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates endorsed by at least 15 members of the Parliament. The prime minister, in turn, is appointed by the president and must be approved by two-thirds of the Parliament. The presidential term of office is seven years, and the parliamentary term of elected office is six years. Suffrage is universal for people aged 18 and older, but only Muslims may hold elected office.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first elected president in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and president of North Yemen since 1978). He was re-elected to office in September 2006. Saleh's victory was marked by an election that international observers judged was "partly free", though the election was accompanied by violence, violations of press freedoms, and allegations of fraud. Parliamentary elections were held in April 2003, and the
The constitution calls for an independent judiciary. The former northern and southern legal codes have been unified. The legal system includes separate commercial courts and a Supreme Court based in Sana'a. Sharia is the main source of laws, with many court cases being debated according to the religious basis of law and many judges being religious scholars as well as legal authorities. The Prison Authority Organization Act, Republican decree no. 48 (1981), and Prison Act regulations, provide the legal framework for management of the country's prison system.
The geography and ruling imams of North Yemen kept the country isolated from foreign influence before 1962. The country's relations with Saudi Arabia were defined by the Taif Agreement of 1934, which delineated the northernmost part of the border between the two kingdoms and set the framework for commercial and other intercourse. The Taif Agreement has been renewed periodically in 20-year increments, and its validity was reaffirmed in 1995. Relations with the British colonial authorities in Aden and the south were usually tense.
The Soviet and Chinese Aid Missions established in 1958 and 1959 were the first important non-Muslim presences in North Yemen. Following the September 1962 revolution, the Yemen Arab Republic became closely allied with and heavily dependent upon Egypt. Saudi Arabia aided the royalists in their attempt to defeat the Republicans and did not recognize the Yemen Arab Republic until 1970. At the same time, Saudi Arabia maintained direct contact with Yemeni tribes, which sometimes strained its official relations with the Yemeni Government. Saudi Arabia remained hostile to any form of political and social reform in Yemen and continued to provide financial support for tribal elites.
In February 1989, North Yemen joined Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt in forming the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC), an organization created partly in response to the founding of the Gulf Cooperation Council and intended to foster closer economic cooperation and integration among its members. After unification, the Republic of Yemen was accepted as a member of the ACC in place of its YAR predecessor. In the wake of the Persian Gulf crisis, the ACC has remained inactive. Yemen is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council mainly for its republican government.
Yemen is a member of the United Nations, the
Since the end of the 1994 civil war, tangible progress has been made on the diplomatic front in restoring normal relations with Yemen's neighbors. In the summer of 2000, Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed an International Border Treaty settling a 50-year-old dispute over the location of the border between the two countries. Until the signing of the Yemen-Saudi Arabia peace treaty in July 2000,
In March 2020, the Trump administration and key US allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, cut off tens of millions of dollars for health care programs and other aid to the United Nations' appeal for Yemen. As a result of funding cuts, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) stated that the UN agencies were forced to either close or reduce more than 75 per cent of its programs that year alone, affecting more than 8 million people. Saudi Arabia had been leading a Western-backed military coalition, including the United Arab Emirates as a key member, which intervened in Yemen in 2015, in a bid to restore the government ousted from power by the Houthi movement. The United Nations described the situation in Yemen, where the war killed tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine, as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The armed forces of Yemen include the
The number of military personnel in Yemen is relatively high; in sum, Yemen has the second largest military force on the Arabian Peninsula after Saudi Arabia. In 2012, total active troops were estimated as follows: army, 390,000; navy, 7,000; and air force, 5,000. In September 2007, the government announced the reinstatement of compulsory military service. Yemen's defense budget, which in 2006 represented approximately 40 percent of the total government budget, is expected to remain high for the near term, as the military draft takes effect and internal security threats continue to escalate. By 2012, Yemen had 401,000 active personnel.
The government and its security forces, often considered to suffer from rampant corruption, have been responsible for torture, inhumane treatment, and extrajudicial executions. There are arbitrary arrests of citizens, especially in the south, as well as arbitrary searches of homes. Prolonged pretrial detention is a serious problem, and judicial corruption, inefficiency, and executive interference undermine due process. Freedom of speech, the press, and religion are all restricted. Journalists critical of the government are often harassed and threatened by the police. Homosexuality is illegal, punishable by death.
Yemen is ranked last of 135 countries in the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report. Human Rights Watch reported on discrimination and violence against women as well as on the abolition of the minimum marriage age of fifteen for women. The onset of puberty (interpreted by some to be as low as the age of nine) was set as a requirement for marriage instead. Publicity about the case of ten-year-old Yemeni divorcee Nujood Ali brought the child marriage issue to the fore not only in Yemen but also worldwide.
In 2017, the UN Human Rights Council voted to create a team of experts to investigate suspected breaches of humanitarian law and human rights in Yemen. In December 2021, The Guardian revealed, Saudi Arabia used "incentives and threats" as part of a pressure campaign to end a UN inquiry into human rights infringements in Yemen.
On 30 June 2020, a human rights group revealed the scale of torture and deaths in Yemen's unofficial detention centres. UAE and Saudi forces were responsible for some of the most shocking treatment of prisoners, including being hung upside down for hours and sexual torture such as the burning of genitals.
According to 2020 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates, 6.1 million girls and women were in need of gender-based violence services. The UNFPA also reported a rise in gender-based violence cases amid COVID-19 pandemic, increase in rate of child marriages, most acutely among internally displaced persons (IDPs). One in five girls aged 10 to 19 were married in IDP camps, compared to 1 in 8 in host communities.
The United States Department of State 2013 Trafficking in Persons report classified Yemen as a Tier 3 country, meaning that its government does not fully comply with the minimum standards against human trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
On 22 June 2020, Human Rights Watch wrote an open letter to the UN Secretary-General on "Children and Armed Conflict" report to improve the protection of children in Yemen and in Myanmar. Amnesty said, United Nations Security Council must urgently fix its monitoring and reporting mechanism for children impacted by armed conflict.
On 14 September 2020, Human Rights Watch demanded an end to the interference caused by Houthi rebels and other authorities in Yemen aid operations, as millions of lives dependent on the aid operations were being put at risk.
As of the end of 2004, Yemen was divided into twenty governorates (
In 2014, a constitutional panel decided to divide the country into six regions—four in the north, two in the south, and capital Sana'a outside of any region—creating a federalist model of governance.
Yemen as of 2013[update] had a GDP (PPP) of US$61.63 billion, with an income per capita of $2,500. Services are the largest economic sector (61.4% of GDP), followed by the industrial sector (30.9%), and agriculture (7.7%). Of these, petroleum production represents around 25% of GDP and 63% of the government's revenue.
Principal agricultural commodities produced in the nation include grain, vegetables, fruits,
Most Yemenis are employed in agriculture. However, the role of
Yemen's industrial sector is centred on crude oil production and petroleum refining, food processing, handicrafts, small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods, aluminum products, commercial ship repair, cement, and natural gas production. In 2013, Yemen had an industrial production growth rate of 4.8%. It also has large proven reserves of natural gas. Yemen's first liquified natural gas plant began production in October 2009.
Export and import
As of 2013[update], exports from Yemen totaled $6.694 billion. The main export commodities are crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas. These products were mainly sent to China (41%), Thailand (19.2%), India (11.4%), and South Korea (4.4%). Imports as of 2013[update] total $10.97 billion. The main imported commodities are machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, livestock, and chemicals. These products were mainly imported from the EU (48.8%), UAE (9.8%), Switzerland (8.8%), China (7.4%), and India (5.8%).
As of 2013[update], the Yemeni government's budget consisted of $7.769 billion in revenues and $12.31 billion in expenditures. Taxes and other revenues constituted roughly 17.7% of the GDP, with a budget deficit of 10.3%. The public debt was 47.1% of GDP. Yemen had reserves of foreign exchange and gold of around $5.538 billion in 2013. Its inflation rate over the same period based on consumer prices was 11.8%. Yemen's external debt totaled $7.806 billion.
Water supply and sanitation
A key challenge is severe
The average Yemeni has access to only 140 cubic meters of water per year (101 gallons per day) for all uses, while the Middle Eastern average is 1000 m3/yr, and the internationally defined threshold for water stress is 1700 cubic meters per year. Yemen's groundwater is the main source of water in the country, but the water tables have dropped severely leaving Yemen without a viable source of water. For example, in Sana'a, the water table was 30 metres (98 feet) below surface in the 1970s but had dropped to 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) below surface by 2012. The groundwater has not been regulated by Yemen's governments.
Even before the revolution, Yemen's water situation had been described as increasingly dire by experts who worried that Yemen would be the first country to run out of water.
In part due to the
Together with partners, UNICEF has advanced its efforts and provided access to safe and sustained drinking water to 8.8 million people (5.3 million children) in Yemen. It scaled up its emergency WASH assistance in Yemen to ensure sustainable WASH services through capacity building of local WASH authorities, solarisation of water systems and rainwater harvesting.
Yemen's population is 33 million by 2021 estimates, with 46% of the population being under 15 years old and 2.7% above 65 years. In 1950, it was 4.3 million. By 2050, the population is estimated to increase to about 60 million. Yemen has a high total fertility rate, at 4.45 children per woman. It is the 30th highest in the world. Sana'a's population has increased rapidly, from roughly 55,000 in 1978 to nearly 1 million in the early 21st century.
When the former states of North and South Yemen were established, most resident minority groups departed.
Most of the prominent
The Maqil were a collection of Arab Bedouin tribes of Yemeni origin who migrated westwards via Egypt. Several groups of Yemeni Arabs turned south to Mauritania, and by the end of the 17th century, they dominated the entire country. They can also be found throughout Morocco and in Algeria as well as in other North African countries.
Yemen is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula that is signatory to two international accords dating back to 1951 and 1967 governing the protection of refugees. Yemen hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 124,600 in 2007. Refugees and asylum seekers living in Yemen were predominantly from Somalia (110,600), Iraq (11,000), Ethiopia (2,000), and Syria. Additionally, more than 334,000 Yemenis have been internally displaced by conflict.
Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Yemen, while Yemeni Arabic is used as the vernacular. In al Mahrah Governorate in the far east and the island of Socotra, several non-Arabic languages are spoken. Yemeni Sign Language is used by the deaf community.
Yemen is part of the homeland of the South Semitic languages. Mehri is the largest South Semitic language spoken in the nation, with more than 70,000 speakers. The ethnic group itself is called Mahra. Soqotri is another South Semitic language, with speakers on the island of Socotra isolated from the pressures of Arabic on the Yemeni mainland. According to the 1990 census in Yemen, the number of speakers there was 57,000.
Islam is the
The Sunnis are predominantly in the south and southeast. The Zaidis/Shias are predominantly in the north and northwest whilst the Ismailis are in the main centres such as Sana'a and Ma'rib. There are mixed communities in the larger cities. About .05 percent of Yemenis are non-Muslim – adhering to Christianity,
Yemen is number five on Open Doors' 2022 World Watch List, an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Estimates of the number of Christians in Yemen range from 25,000 to 41,000. A 2015 study estimates 400 Christians from a Muslim background reside in the country.
There are approximately 50, or fewer,
According to WIN/Gallup International polls, Yemen has the most religious population among Arab countries, and it is one of the most religious populations found anywhere in the world.
The adult literacy rate in 2010 was 64%. The government has committed to reduce illiteracy to less than 10% by 2025. Although Yemen's government provides for universal, compulsory, free education for children ages six through 15, the U.S. Department of State reports that compulsory attendance is not enforced. The government developed the National Basic Education Development Strategy in 2003 that aimed at providing education to 95% of Yemeni children between the ages of six and 14 years and also at decreasing the gap between males and females in urban and rural areas.
A seven-year project to improve gender equity and the quality and efficiency of secondary education, focusing on girls in rural areas, was approved by the World Bank in March 2008. Following this, Yemen has increased its education spending from 5% of GDP in 1995 to 10% in 2005.
According to the
Despite the significant progress Yemen has made to expand and improve its health care system over the past decade, the system remains severely underdeveloped. Total expenditures on health care in 2002 constituted 3.7 percent of gross domestic product.
In that same year, the per capita expenditure for health care was very low, as compared with other Middle Eastern countries—US$58 according to United Nations statistics and US$23 according to the World Health Organization. According to the World Bank, the number of doctors in Yemen rose by an average of more than 7 percent between 1995 and 2000, but as of 2004 there were still only three doctors per 10,000 persons. In 2003 Yemen had only 0.6 hospital beds available per 1,000 persons.
Health care services are particularly scarce in rural areas. Only 25 percent of rural areas are covered by health services, as compared with 80 percent of urban areas.
Radio broadcasting in Yemen began in the 1940s when it was still divided into the South by the British and the North by the Imami ruling system. After the unification of Yemen in 1990, the Yemeni government reformed its corporations and founded some additional radio stations that broadcast locally. However, it drew back after 1994, due to destroyed infrastructure resulting from the civil war.
Television is the most significant media platform in Yemen. Given the low literacy rate in the country, television is the main source of news for Yemenis. There are six free-to-air channels currently headquartered in Yemen, of which four are state-owned.