macrohistory & world report

Republic of Yemen

Map of Yemen

Yemen (capital Sanaa), including its island Socotra.

President Saleh

Former President Saleh, had been a military man
supported by the army. Left office February 27, 2012.

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Yemen is a low income country that is highly dependent on declining oil resources for revenue. Petroleum accounts for roughly 25% of GDP and 63% of government revenue. Yemen has tried to counter the effects of its declining oil resources and continuing attacks on its oil pipelines by diversifying its economy through an economic reform program initiated in 2006 that is designed to bolster non-oil sectors of the economy and foreign investment. In October 2009, Yemen exported its first liquefied natural gas as part of this diversification effort. In January 2010, the international community established the Friends of Yemen group that aims to support Yemen's efforts toward economic and political reform. In 2012, the Friends of Yemen pledged nearly $7 billion in assistance to Yemen. The Yemeni Government also endorsed a Mutual Accountability Framework to facilitate the efficient implementation of donor aid. The unrest that began in early 2011 caused GDP to plunge almost 11% in 2011. Availability of basic services, including electricity, water, and fuel, has improved since the transition, but progress toward achieving more sustainable economic stability has been slow and uneven. Yemen continues to face difficult long-term challenges, including declining water resources, high unemployment, severe food scarcity, and a high population growth rate."

Typical of poorer countries, Yemen has low health figures, a high birth rate and a poor corruption index figure.

Most people are employed in agriculture and herding.

Unemployment rate
2003: 35%

Export commodities
Crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas

Export partners
2010: China 34.4%, India 23%, Thailand 6.6%, South Africa 5.7%, Japan 5.3%, UAE 4.8%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $7.127 billion, imports $9.187 billion  

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 74th among 141 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Two state-run television stations, Channel One from Sanaa and Channel Two from Aden.

Female to male income ratio: 30:100 (Foreign Policy magazine, 2008.


Living in an urban area
2010: 32%

Ethnic groups
Predominantly Arab; but also Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans

Muslim including Shaf'i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shia), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2011:males 82.1, females 48.5%
2003: males 70.5%, females 35%



South of Saudi Arabia: 1906 kilometers of coastline along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 1,100 kilometers east and west. 300 kilometers north and south. Mostly desert. Capital: Sanna


President elected by popular vote for a seven-year term. 

A bicameral legislature, one body, the Shura, consisting of 111 seats, its members appointed by the president. The second body, with 301 seats, its members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms.

2008: Women in Assembly of Representatives: 1 percent. For women, a passport and travel abroad requires a husband’s or father’s permission.

Recent History

Independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.

In 1970 a government in southern Yemen adopts a Marxist orientation.

Two decades of hostility between a government in the north and a government in the south ends in 1990 with unification: the creation of the Republic of Yemen.

A southern secessionist movement in 1994 is crushed. 

April 2007: In Yemen water is precious and scarce. Forty percent of irrigation water goes to the growing the drug khat, widely used by the Yemeni people, with farmers receiving 20 times the return they would growing potatoes. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world and importing most of its food. Khat gives people who chew it a mild euphoria.

Apr 2008: Foreign Policy magazine describes Yemen as 36 percent undernourished, with wheat prices having doubled since February 2008.

Mar 5, 2011: Demonstrations have been going on in Yemen since early February. Protesters want a better distribution of wealth and President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for 33 years, to step down. Yemen is over-populated and suffers high unemployment. The protesters want more job opportunities and an end to corruption. Yemen has a Shia rebellion in the north, a separatist movement in the south, and a resurgent al-Qaeda in its east. President Saleh has agreed not to run again at the end of his term in office in 2013.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.