“Unit, Equality, Peace”
Djibouti or Republic of Djibouti is a country located in dividing East Africa of the borders with Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen. It opens on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden separating Africa from Asia. Djibouti has the characteristic to have an eponymous capital.
Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea form the “horn of Africa”, a mountainous peninsula which ends in the Cape Guardafui (or Ras Asir) advancing in the sea of Arabia.
Djibouti is member of UNO, the African Union, the Arab League, the IMF and the Organization of the Islamic co-operation
Djibouti at a glance
Administrative divisions: 6 areas
Population: more than 800,000 inhabitants
Principal languages: Arabic and French (official languages)/Somalian and afar (spoken languages)
Principal religion: Islam
Current president: Ismail Omar Guelleh
Currency: Franc Djibouti
Conversion into euro: 100 Djibouti francs = 0.50 euro
Tourism: Greatest vigilance is necessary to visit the country because of the conflicts the opponent in Somalia and in Eritrea the zones close to the borders with these countries are formally misadvised. Navigation is also risky in this area because of maritime piracy. The health risks are also alarming (cholera, paludism, dengue and tuberculosis).
In the horn of Africa
Djibouti is located on the Eastern frontage of Africa, more precisely in the baptized part of the continent the “Horn of Africa”. This area is formed by four countries, Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea
Djibouti has more than 300 kilometers of coasts opening on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and including the Gulf of Tadjourah which is part itself of the Gulf of Aden.
The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden separate the African continent and the continent of Asia and are thrown in the Sea of Arabia belonging to the Indian Ocean. The Red Sea is prolonged in north through Suez bored at the 19th century in order to open a passage between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
An arid and volcanic country
Djibouti is mainly made of vast arid regions but present despite everything the different landscapes, the sandy plains extending along the Red Sea with the mountains located in north via the depressions and the plates from the west, the deserts of the center and the granitic solid masses of the south.
More the high summit, Mousa Alli, culminating with 2,028 meter altitudes is located at the same time on the border of Djibouti and those of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is about a volcano which belongs to the Block Danakil, a mountainous solid mass bordering the Valley of the Great Rift which extends on more than 6,000 kilometers of the Middle East in the Southern Africa via the Red Sea and the area of the African big lakes.
The seismic activity of Djibouti east at the origin of the formation of a volcano in 1978.
Ardoukôba located in the center of the country, near to the end of the gulf of Tadjourah was born in one week following a series of 800 earthquakes low magnitude which shook the area during a whole day. Since this eruption, the volcano is in sleep.
Most of Djibouti is arid and misses water cruelly. The streaming and surface water resulting from precipitations evaporates quickly and do not benefit the population. Projects of work are studied to try to cure this serious problem.
Even both plus big lakes of the country, the lake Abbot located on the Ethiopian border and the lake Assal located in the center of the country (depression of Afar) are endoergic salted lakes (without emissary).
The lake Abbot is regularly drained or marshy and from fumaroles escape from its surface, pointing out its volcanic origin. Gazelles and pink flamingos as well as the pets belonging to the Afars caravaneers live in this area.
The lake Assal is recorded at an altitude of 153 meters under the sea level and is thus the point low of the continent. It is also the lake more salted in the world located in one of the hottest areas with temperatures regularly exceeding the 55
The lake is separated from the handle of Ghoubbet al-Kharab (the pit of the demons) by Adoukôba. Ghoubbet al-Kharab is known for its current violent ones, for his strong concentration of fish and sharks which make happiness of the fishermen and for its two uninhabited volcanic small islands (Islands of the Devil) if it is not by the djinns (supernatural creatures of Islam) if the legends are listened to.
The vegetation is rare in almost all the country. There exists only one forest in Djibouti, the Forest of Day, covering the solid mass of Puckered, west of Gulf of Tadjourah. This space is mainly planted junipers of Africa, boxwood and acacias and shelters in particular Francolin of Djibouti, an endemic bird in great danger of extinction. Its natural space victim of deforestation is protected today by a national park.
Located between the Ecuador and the Tropic of Cancer, Djibouti profits from a climate of the desert type hot with the thin ones and rare precipitations. The average temperatures spread out between 27 and 43
Along the littoral, the air takes care of the moisture come from the sea but is quite as difficult to support. Only the mountainous part of the country, in north, is a little less dry and profits from a climate of the semi-arid type hot with average temperatures from 23 to 37.
A history influenced by the climate
The study of the basin of Gobaad located between the lake Abbot and the town of Dikhil, in the south and the west of the Republic of Djibouti made it possible to recall the genesis of this vast depression. With the wire of the millennia, the area underwent various climatic variations which influenced the surface and the level of the lake.
The analysis of the sediments confirmed that the lake recovered during Pleistocene the whole of the basins of Gobaad and Dikhl. In the layers going back to 800,000 to 130,000 years, one finds bones of large animals, elephants and hippopotamuses which at present do not live any more this area. Several wet and dry periods follow one another until the 3rd millennium before our era, time of the beginning of the aridity.
These climatic conditions strongly influenced the human occupation. Several archaeological sites gone back to 1.5 million years were discovered with the accesses of the lake Abbot and in the lower basin of Gobaad. However, the excavation of these sites sheltering of many fossils of animals did not make it possible to confirm a human presence at that time.
On the other hand, it is certain that hominids occupied the area at the beginning of the 4th millenium before JC since human bones were in particular discovered to Ali Daba, to Asa Koma and in Wakrita. One in particular discovered a site of cutting-up of one elephant using tools cut in the volcanic stone as well as many remains of aquatic animals (fish, crocodiles, hippopotamuses…). These men thus lived on hunting, the fishing season and the gathering in a place wetter than currently.
Towards 2,500 before JC, the tribes become seminomadic, domesticate bovids, sheep and donkeys and control ceramics. They practice funerary rites (tumulus of Antakari) and also continue to fish and drive out.
It is probable that the practice of the breeding in the Horn of Africa was spread at the beginning of Egypt and Sudan which knew the breeding since the 6th millennium.
The 1st millennium should however be waited so that the inhabitants of the Horn of Africa become farmers.
Culture of Handouga
It seems that a civilization develops in Handouga also known under the name of “ancient city of Gallagota”. The habitat is turned into a sedentary population and them boxes built using blocks of basalt gather in only one relatively important village (a hundred dwellings) located on the roads borrowed by the caravans originating in Ethiopia and Dakka. The inhabitants know the work of copper and iron and probably agriculture.
It is difficult to date the beginning from the culture of Handouga which is extinct around the 16th century of our era for an unknown reason.
The gulf of Tadjourah
All the area located around the gulf of Tadjourah is occupied only by wandering tribes, caravaneers and stockbreeders in transhumance. However, two cities are founded before colonization:
• Tadjourah installed on the northern littoral of the eponymous gulf is the first true town of Djibouti. It was created around the 15th century by the sultans Afars, people of Sunni Islamic confession probably originating in Ethiopia. It is difficult to date their arrival in Djibouti but they were present with certainty at the 13th century.
• Zeilah is an important port based well before the birth of Tadjourah on the site of a city of Avalites, people living along the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb separating Djibouti and Yemen. This city currently is part of Somalia.
These two commercial cities are probably at the origin of the Islamization of the country.
The arrival of Europeans
The pre-colonial history of Djibouti keeps great remote regions and it is difficult to specify the chronology. However, it seems certain that the towns of Tadjourah and Zeilah were occupied or have at least to pay a tribute in Egypt towards the end of the 19th century.
In 1859, the assassination of a French tradesman off Djibouti serves as a pretext for France to conclude an agreement with the notable ones from Tadjourah, in 1862. This agreement yields to France the grounds located between the course of Ras Bir, to the extreme North-East of the gulf, and the course Douméra at the border between Djibouti and Eritrea
It is however necessary to wait two more decades to see the taking of Léonce Lagarde appointed governor of the “Territory of Obock and dependences” (first French colony in Djibouti) in 1887. Lagarde will extend the French possessions, by obtaining the protectorate of the sultanate of Tadjourah and by signing a treaty with the people of Issas occupying the coast of the south.
In 1895, the town of Djibouti is selected like new administrative center of the colony and becomes an important stopover for the French maritime company, the “Shipping Company”.
The colony bears from now on the name of “French Coast of the Somali”. It will change once again name to in 1967 become the “French territory of Afars and Issas” until the declaration of the independence of the country, ten years later.
Meanwhile, Djibouti benefits from the construction of the railroad which joined initially To say Dawa and then Addis-Abeba what enables him to establish trade relations with Ethiopia
After one period of great instability during the Second World War, the French of Djibouti being divided between the Allies and the Vichy government, the country becomes an overseas territory in 1958.
To the Independence
By 1966, independence movements are born but the first demonstrations are violently repressed.
Finally, it is after the development of a resolution of UNO and the catch as a hostage of a school bus by nationalist militants that France agrees to acknowledge the right to independence of Djibouti.
The Republic of Djibouti is founded in June 1977 and Hassan Gouled Aptidon becomes the first President about it but the country knows disorders immediately. The government then sets up an authoritarian regime and repressive and practical ethnic exclusion with respect to Afars. The first free elections take place only in 1992 after a civil war but Aptidon is re-elected.
During its presidency, the Face for the Restoration of the Unit and Democracy (FRUD) is opposed to the government. A peace agreement is signed in 2001 after more than 10 years of disorders.
Aptidon leaves the presidency in 1999 whereas it is 83 years old and it is its nephew, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh who replaces it since this date. He undertakes reforms aiming instigating the economy in particular by the opening of the country to the foreign investors and at improving the life of the people.
In 2010, Islam becomes religion of State and the constitution is modified in order to allow an unlimited number of presidential mandates.
The country is regularly victim of attacks and the tensions are sharp between Djibouti and the adjoining countries.
Djibouti is a republic semi-presidential election whose president is elected by the pure universal direct suffrage one 5 years duration. He is the chief of the government and is charged to name the Prime Minister (currently Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed).
The legislative power is exerted by the National Assembly.
The judicial power is exerted by the Supreme Court and the institutional Council.
A beautiful economic growth but poor people
After having known difficult years because of the drought and the international financial crisis, the saving in Djibouti presents a positive growth higher than 6%. However, poverty (more than 40% of the population lives under the poverty line), the debt of the country and unemployment rate (40%) remain very alarming.
The economy rests mainly on the port activities and the investments allowing the improvement of the infrastructures and the creation of zones intended to accommodate foreign industries, in particular Chinese. The government also wishes to develop tourism.
The great force of the country is its strategic position on an important maritime corridor borrowed in particular for the routing of oil.
It is estimated that nearly 40% of the world sea traffic passes off Djibouti. Several military bases belonging to the United States, Japan and France were established on its territory in order to protect the ships against piracy. The presence of the soldiers contributes to the improvement of the economic situation.
The tertiary sector accounts for 80% of the GDP but benefits only one small portion of the population. Agriculture and industries respectively account for 4 and 16% of the GDP. The country must import food substances and manufactured goods to mitigate these weaknesses.
A society turned to Islam
The total population of the Republic of Djibouti exceeds the 820,000 inhabitants of which nearly 600,000 live in urban environment. In spite of a life expectancy not exceeding 63 years and a high rate of infant mortality (nearly 5%), the natural increase in population is higher than 2%.
Two great ethnic groups are listed in Djibouti, the Somali (gathering Issas, Gadaboursis and Issaqs) installed in the south of the countries and Afars, of the nomads living north of gulf respectively accounting for 60 and 20% of the population.
The Djibouti population also counts 15% of Arabs and a little more than 2% of French.
Djibouti Arabic and French are the two official languages of Djibouti but it quasi totality of the population is expressed in Somali. French is the language of the administration while Arabic is the second principal language. The afar is the mother tongue of part of the population but is less and less used in the cities.
The majority of the Djiboutis are Moslem Sunnits (98%). Islam became religion of State to Djibouti in 1992 and the country is member of the Arab League which plays the part of observer with UNO and the Organization of the Islamic co-operation in charge of the safeguard of the place saints of Islam and to promote the economic cooperation, cultural and social of its Member States.
The Djibouti cuisine is halal and is influenced by the various African cultures, Yemeni and Frenchwoman. The dishes containing fish and of meat or roasted prepared seafood or ragout are reserved for the richest population of the country. The lahoh, a kind of crepe, the lenses and rice are used as accompaniment with the meals which generally are much spiced.
The oats pulp (garoobey) is very often only the flat daily newspaper of the Djiboutis. On the other hand, they consume fruits enormously.
The tourists wishing to stay less than three months in Djibouti must be in possession of a visa to claim near the embassy. For the stays exceeding three months, it is necessary to obtain a temporary residence permit of maximum one year or a resident's card reserved to the employees with Contract Work.
Because of the risks of terrorist attacks, the border zones with Eritrea and Somalia, the archipelago of the Seven Brothers and the north of Djibouti are not sure destinations. Circulation in certain sectors is in addition subjected to an authorization of the military authorities.
Navigation in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and more generally with broad of the whole of the Horn of Africa is dangerous because of the acts of piracy.
Vigilance is of setting in the rest of the country. One should not carry outward sign of wealth nor to handle money as a public. It is also misadvised going in establishment attended by soldiers. Displacements must be carried out in convoy and following the attended tracks. It is also necessary to respect the habits of the country like not photographing the inhabitants without their authorization.
The vaccine yellow fever is obligatory for the travelers coming from a country at the risk. It is also advised to be in order of vaccination against the diphtheria-tetanus-whooping-cough, the typhoid fever, the viral hepatitis A and B, meningitis, the rage and the BCG.
It is necessary to be protected from the punctures from mosquitos responsible for the dengue and paludism, to comply with strict rules of hygiene to guard itself against the cholera and to avoid the behaviors at the risk (VIH).
Even if tourism is not developed in Djibouti, the country became a destination appraisal by the amateurs of scuba diving. Unfortunately, the reef of the archipelago of the Seven Brothers is currently misadvised because of the lack of security in the area.
The trekking in the inland make it possible to discover lunar landscapes but of a great beauty, in particular the salted volcanos and lakes. These journeys are however not recommended to the fragile people, sensitive to stifling heat or little trained and the presence of a guide is essential. The summer months are to be avoided because of the furnace which prevails in all the country. It is preferable to visit Djibouti between October and April.
For a few years, the hotel facilities have improved along the littoral and of the establishments propose a pleasant comfort with the tourists.