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officially the Republic of Yemen (Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية Al Jumhūriyyah al Yamaniyyah), is a country located in the Middle East. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east.
Yemen has a land area of 555,000 square kilometers and a population of approximately 24 million (2010). Its capital and largest city is Sana'a. Yemen's territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 415 km to the south of mainland Yemen, off the coast of Somalia. It is the only state in the Arabian Peninsula to have a purely republican form of government.
Yemen or Al Yaman means "The South". One etymology derives Yemen from yamin the "right side" as the south is on the right when facing the sunrise; yet this etymology is considered suspect. Another derives Yemen from yumn meaning "felicity" as the region is fertile; indeed the Romans called it Arabia Felix." The Cambridge History of Islam, Vol 1A, page 6 passingly remarks the following: "[...]may possibly be called the Yemenites, from a Sabaic word which denotes south".
Main article: History of Yemen
Yemen has long existed at the crossroads of cultures; it linked some of the oldest centers of civilization in the Near East by virtue of its location in South Arabia. Between the 12th century BC and the 6th century, it was part of the Minaean, Sabaean, Hadhramaut, Qataban, Ausan, and Himyarite kingdoms, which controlled the lucrative spice trade, and later came under Ethiopian and Persian rule. In the 6th century, the Himyarite king Abu-Karib Assad converted to Judaism. In the 7th century, Islamic caliphs began to exert control over the area. After this caliphate broke up, South Arabia came under the control of many dynasties who ruled part, or often all, of South Arabia. Imams of Persian origin ruled Yemen intermittently for 160 years, establishing a theocratic political structure that survived until modern times.
Egyptian Shia caliphs occupied much of Yemen throughout the 11th century. By the 16th century and again in the 19th century, Yemen was part of the Ottoman Empire, and in some periods Imams exerted control over all Yemen.
The modern history of South Arabia and Yemen began in 1918 when Yemen gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. Between 1918 and 1962, Yemen was a monarchy ruled by the Hamidaddin family. In 1962, North Yemen then became a republic, but Britain still had a protective area around the South Arabia port of Aden, which it had created in the 19th century. Britain withdrew in 1967 and the area became South Yemen. In 1970, the southern government adopted a Communist governmental system. The two countries were formally united as the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990.
The 2011 Yemeni protests followed the initial stages of the Tunisian Revolution and occurred simultaneously with the Egyptian Revolution and other mass protests in the Arab world in early 2011. The protests were initially against unemployment, economic conditions and corruption, as well as against the government's proposals to modify the constitution of Yemen. The protestors' demands then escalated to calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.
Main article: Geography of Yemen
Ancient Yemen 100 AD
Map of Yemen
Yemen is in the Arab World, in the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. It lies south of Saudi Arabia and west of Oman, between latitudes 12° and 19° N and longitudes 42° and 55° E.
A number of Red Sea islands, including the Hanish Islands, Kamaran, and Perim, as well as Socotra in the Arabian Sea, belong to Yemen. Many of the islands are volcanic; for example Jabal al-Tair had a volcanic eruption in 2007 and before that in 1883.
At 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi), Yemen is the world's 49th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Thailand and larger than the U.S. state of California. Yemen is situated at.
Tihama on the Red Sea near Khaukha
Until the signing of the Yemen-Saudi Arabia peace treaty in July 2000  Yemen's northern border was undefined; the Arabian Desert prevented any human habitation there.
The country can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the Rub al Khali in the east.
The Tihamah ("hot lands" or "hot earth") form a very arid and flat coastal plain along Yemen's entire Red Sea coastline. Despite the aridity, the presence of many lagoons makes this region very marshy and a suitable breeding ground for malaria mosquitoes. There are extensive crescent-shaped sand dunes. The evaporation in the Tihamah is so great that streams from the highlands never reach the sea, but they do contribute to extensive groundwater reserves. Today, these are heavily exploited for agricultural use. Near the village of Madar about 48 km (30 mi) north of Sana'a, dinosaur footprints were found, indicating that the area was once a muddy flat.
The Tihamah ends abruptly at the escarpment of the western highlands. This area, now heavily terraced to meet the demand for food, receives the highest rainfall in Arabia, rapidly increasing from 100 mm (3.9 in) per year to about 760 mm (29.9 in) in Ta'izz and over 1,000 mm (39.4 in) in Ibb.
The town of Hajarin
Agriculture here is very diverse, with such crops as sorghum dominating. Cotton and many fruit trees are also grown, with mangoes being the most valuable. Temperatures are hot in the day but fall dramatically at night. There are perennial streams in the highlands but these never reach the sea because of high evaporation in the Tihamah.
The central highlands are an extensive high plateau over 2,000 metres (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. Diurnal temperature ranges are among the highest in the world: ranges from 30 °C (86 °F) in the day to 0 °C (32 °F) at night are normal. Water storage allows for irrigation and the growing of wheat and barley. Sana'a is located in this region. The highest point in Yemen is Jabal an Nabi Shu'ayb, at 3,666 metres (12,028 ft).
Yemen's portion of the Rub al Khali desert in the east is much lower, generally below 1,000 metres (3,281 ft), and receives almost no rain. It is populated only by Bedouin herders of camels.
The growing scarcity of water is a source of increasing international concern. See Water supply and sanitation in Yemen.
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