Interesting facts about Yemen

yemen flag

Yemen is an Arab country in Western Asia, occupying South Arabia, the southern end of the Arabian

The official name of the country is the Republic of Yemen.

It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to the south, and Oman to the east-northeast.

The official language is Arabic.

It is the 49th largest country in the world by area with 527,970 square kilometers (203,850 square miles).

Sana’a is the capital and largest city Yemen. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. At an elevation of 2,300 metres (7,500 ft), it is also one of the highest capital cities in the world.


The terrain of Yemen is characterized by a narrow coastal plain backed by flat-topped hills and rugged mountains. An upland desert plain in the center slopes into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula.

Jabal an-Nabi Shu’ayb at 3,666 meters (12,028 feet) above sea level is the highest mountain in Yemen and the highest mountain in the Arabian Peninsula.

jabal an-nabi shu'ayb

Yemen has 1,906 kilometers (1,184 miles) of coastline along the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.

Yemen’s territory includes more than 200 islands.

Isolated Socotra, 355 kilometers (220 miles) from mainland Yemen, is home to a panoply of strange plants and animals uniquely adapted to the hot, harsh, windswept island. The landscape of remote Socotra Island looks as if it comes from a sci-fi film but in fact has evolved to look so other-worldy as the ‘lost world’ island has been separated from mainland Africa for between six and seven million years. The island was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world natural heritage site in July 2008.


Yemen has 4 UNESCO world heritage sites.

Surrounded by a fortified wall, the 16th-century city of Shibam is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. Its impressive tower-like structures rise out of the cliff and have given the city the nickname of ‘the Manhattan of the desert’. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.


Situated in a mountain valley at an altitude of 2,300 meters, the Old City of Sana’a has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. In the 7th and 8th centuries the city became a major centre for the propagation of Islam. This religious and political heritage can be seen in the 103 mosques, 14 hammams and over 6,000 houses, all built before the 11th century. Sana’a’s many-storeyed tower-houses built of rammed earth (pisé) add to the beauty of the site.

old city of sana'a

Zabid’s domestic and military architecture and its urban plan make it an outstanding archaeological and historical site. Besides being the capital of Yemen from the 13th to the 15th century, the city played an important role in the Arab and Muslim world for many centuries because of its Islamic university. Zabid has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993


Yemen was the home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba), a trading state that flourished for over a thousand years and probably also included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In 275 AD, the region came under the rule of the later Jewish-influenced Himyarite Kingdom. Christianity arrived in the fourth century, whereas Judaism and local paganism were already established. Islam spread quickly in the seventh century and Yemenite troops were crucial in the expansion of the early Islamic conquests.

The Ottoman Turks nominally occupied the area from 1538 to the decline of their empire in 1918.

The country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early twentieth century.

The northern portion of Yemen was ruled by imams until a pro-Egyptian military coup took place in 1962. The junta proclaimed the Yemen Arab Republic, and after a civil war in which Egypt’s Nasser and the USSR supported the revolutionaries and King Saud of Saudi Arabia and King Hussein of Jordan supported the royalists, the royalists were finally defeated in mid-1969.

Ideological differences provoked conflicts between pro-Soviet South Yemen and pro-Western North Yemen in 1972 and 1979.

The Republic of Yemen was established on May 22, 1990, when pro-Western Yemen and the Marxist Yemen Arab Republic merged after 300 years of separation to form the new nation.

Yemen’s principal natural resources are oil and natural gas as well as agriculturally productive land in the west. Other natural resources include fish and seafood, rock salt, marble, and minor deposits of coal, gold, lead, nickel, and copper.

Saltah is considered the national dish of Yemen, and widely eaten in northern parts of the country. It is mainly served for lunch. The base is a brown meat stew called maraq, a dollop of fenugreek froth, and sahawiq or sahowqa (a mixture of chillies, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs ground into a salsa).


Qat is the most popular drug in Yemen, with effects similar to amphetamine. Chewing starts after lunch, with men and women in separate rooms. Leaves are plucked and gently crushed between the teeth until a wad builds up in the cheek. It’s a social activity and chewers’ conversation often centres on politics. Qat is a stimulant, so chewers without religious scruples often wash it down with whisky in order to sleep.

Yemen is the poorest nation in the middle east.

More children are born in Yemen than in any other middle eastern country yearly.

Alcohol is banned in Yemen due to strict Islamic religious policies.

Yemen is an ultraconservative Muslim country. Homosexual behavior is punishable by death, and it is forbidden to take pictures of women.

Yemen has been in a state of political crisis since 2011, starting with street protests against poverty, unemployment, corruption, and president Saleh’s plan to amend Yemen’s constitution and eliminate the presidential term limit, in effect making him president for life.

President Saleh stepped down and the powers of the presidency were transferred to Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was formally elected president on 21 February 2012 in a one-man election.