Djibouti

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جمهورية جيبوتي
Jumhuriyaa Jibuti
République de Djibouti

The Republic of Djibouti (Template:Lang-ar, Ǧībūtī) is a small French client state in eastern Africa, located in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti 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. On the other side of the Red Sea, on the Arabian Peninsula, only 20 kilometres (2 miles) from the coast of Djibouti, is Yemen.

Contents

History

The territory now comprising Djibouti has been occupied by several peoples over recorded time and is now occupied by the Afar and the Somali Issa. These peoples had regular trade contacts with the Arabs, and adopted Islam as their religion. In the 19th century, France established a protectorate in the area, named French Somaliland, governed by Léonce Lagarde. In 1967, the name was changed to the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas. On June 27, 1977, the country was granted formal independence as Djibouti.

A civil war led by Afar rebels in the early 1990s was stopped by a peace accord in 1994.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Djibouti

Djibouti is a semi-presedential republic, with executive power in the government, and legislative power in both the government and parliament. The parlimanetary party system is dominated by the People's Rally for Progress and the current President is Ismail Omar Guelleh. The country's current consitution was approved in September 1992.

The government is seen as being controlled by the Somali Issas, though at its head power shared between an Somali President and an Afar Prime Minister (Dileita Mohamed Dileita), with cabinet posts simialrly divided. 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 2001. Two FRUD members are part of the current cabinet.

Despite elctions of the 1990s being described as "generally fair", Guelleh was sworn in for his second and final six year term as president in a one-man race on 8 April 2005. He took 100% of the votes in a 78.9% turnout. Opposition parties boycotted the election, describing the poll as "ridiculous, rigged and rubbish".

Djibouti's second president, Guelleh was first elected to office in 1999, taking over from his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled the country since its independence from France in 1977. Template:Ref

The prime minister, who leads the council of ministers ('cabinet') is appointed by the President. The parliament - the Chambre des Deputes - consists of 65 members who are elected every five years.

Administrative Divisions

Main articles: Regions of Djibouti, Districts of Djibouti

Djibouti is divided into 5 regions and one city. It is further subdivided into 15 districts.

The regions include:

Districts: see Districts of Djibouti

Economy

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.

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. 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 US 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). Also, renewed fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea has disturbed normal external channels of commerce. 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.

Image:Djibouti street.jpg
Typical street in the city of Djibouti, Djibouti, Africa. Winter, 2005.

Demographics

Template:Unreferencedsect Main article: Demographics of Djibouti

The population is divided into two main groups, the Issa, or Somali people, who make up about 60%, and the Afar, about 35%. The remainder is formed by Europeans (mostly French and Italians), Arabs and Ethiopians. The presence of two different population groups was the cause of the civil war in the early 1990s.

The Somali ethnic component in Djibouti is mainly composed of the Issas, who form the majority and rule the nation, and the Gadabuursi and Isaaq, all of whom are closely related as Dir subclans. The Issas form part of the Madoobe Dir, while the Gadabuursi and Isaaq are part of the Mahe Dir, Mohammed Hiniftire. Other Somalis in Djibouti include Issas from the Ethiopian Somali Region and from northern Somalia. Nearly all of the residents of Djibouti are Muslim.

Although French and Arabic are the official languages, Somali and Afar are widely spoken.

Further Reading

  • Djibouti: Pawn of the Horn of Africa Robert Saint-Veran
  • Historical Dictionary of Djibouti Daoud A. Alwan
  • Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti Charles W. Koburger

Government

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