Djibouti Overview

Djibouti Overview


The population is made up of two main ethnic groups: the Afar (35%), of Danakil stock, who occupy the northern regions, and the Issa (46%), Somali people mainly settled in the S of the country. There are also minorities of Arabs (11%), whose settlement is ancient, and of Europeans (5%), French in particular; the others are 3%. Furthermore, since the 1970s, Ethiopian, Somali and Eritrean refugees have poured into the country, estimated by the UN to be over 100,000 people. The average density is 31 residents / km², but the population is largely concentrated in the capital and its miserable shanty town of Bal Bela. The only other important center is Tagiura, located between the sea and the wooded slopes of Mount Gouda, the starting point for caravan traffic to Ethiopia.


According to a2zcamerablog, Djibouti is a country located in Africa. The vegetation of Djibouti is sparse and rather sparse. Its landscape, almost everywhere desert, is dominated by arid plateaus scattered with thorny acacias and euphorbias. Some mangrove swampsthey extend along the coast, while along the course of the rivers there is a sort of gallery forest consisting of acacias, tamarisks, euphorbias and date palms and only in the mountainous areas above 800 m do real forests develop with junipers, figs and euphorbias. As for the fauna, the excessively high temperatures and the scarcity of water mean that only the most resistant animals such as the camel can live the difficult life of this area of ​​Africa. The most serious environmental problem facing Djibouti is severe desertification. The percentage of protected areas is among the lowest on the continent, only 0.04%.


A French possession since 1862, it was included in the French Somali Coast, which in 1967 became the French Afar and Issa Territory. This, which was endowed with a statute contemplating internal autonomy, was in practice managed by the Afar ethnic group, with the total exclusion of the Issa people. The Ethiopian revolution of 1974 also had direct repercussions on the Territory: the Ligue Populaire Africaine pour l’Indépendance (LPAI, ethnicity issa) accentuated the weight of its opposition. France itself, which until the summer of 1975 had maintained an attitude of intransigence in the face of independentist demands, took an orientation open to negotiation, to the point that Ali Aref, a member of the Afar ethnic group and, as such, president of the Governing Council, gave his party, L’Union et Progrès dans l’Ensemble Français, the new name of Union Nationale pour l’Indépendance. Aref lost, however, much of his following and the same support of Paris, so that the political leadership passed into the hands of the LPAI, until then to the opposition. In the electoral consultations of May 1977, a single list was presented, called Rassemblement Populaire pour l’Indépendance, which secured all the seats up for grabs. June 27 Hassan Gouled Aptidon, leader of the LPAI, was elected president of the new Republic, which took the name of Djibouti. France was allowed to maintain a military base in the country. In 1979 Aptidon announced the constitution of a new party, the Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progrès, in place of the LPAI. Politically moderate, Aptidon was re-elected in 1981 and 1987: in this period the government tried to improve relations with neighboring countries, starting with Ethiopia and refugees were welcomed from Ogaden and from Somalia. As for domestic politics, Aptidon could not find an agreement that would satisfy both the Issa, the majority, and the Afar, and during 1989 some unrest broke out. The ethnic clash, also fueled by the heavy economic crisis, resumed with renewed vigor in 1991, when the Afar, established the Front pour la Restauration de l’Unité et de la Démocratie (FRUD), launched bloody attacks on government forces, coming to control much of the north of the country. In 1993 the first multi-party elections (provided for by the new Constitution approved by referendum in 1992) confirmed with a large majority in the office of President Aptidon, who in the same year unleashed a vast offensive against the troops of the FRUD, causing a mass exodus of the Afar population towards Ethiopia. In December 1994 a fraction of the FRUD signed a peace protocol with the government of Djibouti that provided for the ceasefire, the reintegration of the guerrillas into the regular army and the entry (which actually occurred in June 1995) of some of its representatives in the executive. Previously, the government coalition had launched, at the request of the International Monetary Fund, a rigorous austerity plan, which provoked protests from major trade union organizations. In March 1996, the FRUD was transformed into a legal political party, while members of the executive against this policy, including the Minister of Defense, were ousted from the government. The general elections of December 1997, boycotted by the opposition, saw the clear affirmation of the Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progrès (RPP). In April 1999, the chief of staff, as well as the grandson of the outgoing president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, was elected president and in September 2002 he recognized all the parties hitherto excluded from the political scene of the country. In January 2003, the first pluralist political elections since the country’s independence took place, which saw the triumph of the coalition, the Union pour la Majorité (UMP), which supported President Guelleh, who was re-elected after the withdrawal of the only opposition candidate in the 2005 elections. In 2010, parliament approved an amendment to the constitution to allow Guelleh to be re-nominated in the presidential elections in April 2011, won by the outgoing president with over 79% of the votes.


The two main ethnic groups living in Djibouti, the Afar and the Issa, share a strong nomadic tradition, and despite the growing trend towards a sedentary lifestyle, most of the residents maintain strong links with the past. The Muslim religion severely limits the use of alcohol; on the other hand, the notable consumption of qat stands out, a herb with mildly exciting effects, coming from Ethiopia and extremely widespread among men. Dances characterize life’s highlights and feasts, as well as poetry and oral literature. As for the clothes, women wear long skirts and a brightly colored veil called shalma, men have long pants or a particular version of the oriental sarong., the futa. The most interesting handicrafts are afar knives and woven straw mats, called fiddima. The cuisine is strongly influenced by the French colonial past: very rich and varied on the coast, it has its specialty in fish, grilled and spiced, very tasty. Inside, of course, the choice is more limited, and the basic ingredients are rice and meat.

Djibouti Overview

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