Other Free Encyclopedias » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Diana to Dreadnought


french somalia ethiopia afars

Djibouti (official name, Republic of Djibouti), formerly French Somaliland, republic in northeastern Africa, situated where the coast of Africa approaches the Arabian peninsula, bounded by Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. Its area is about 8,950 sq mi (23,200 km). The languages are Arabic and French. The official religion is Muslim.

Land and economy

Most of the country is stony desert. The climate is hot. Rainfall is usually scant, but in some years torrential rainfall causes flooding. Agricultural activity is limited. There are no known mineral resources, and industry is negligible. Hides and skins and live animals are the main exports.


The population is almost evenly divided into 2 ethnic groups: the Afars (from Ethiopia) and the Issas (from Somalia). The Issas are more urbanized than the Afars. The nation's government is carefully balanced between the two groups, but historical rivalries persist. The capital, also called Djibouti, is the economic and political hub of the country, with a port and a railway terminus.


In 1896 France signed treaties with Britain, Italy, and Ethiopia to define the boundaries of French Somaliland. In 1967 the colony voted to remain a French possession and became the French Territory of the Afars and Issas. It became independent in 1977. Djibouti has remained neutral during strife between its neighbors, Somalia and Ethiopia, despite close ethnic ties. Thousand of refugees have streamed into Djibouti, creating serious economic problems. Djibouti was among the African countries severely affected by drought in 1984–85. At the beginning of the 1990s there were consiberable tensions in Djibouti, caused by a border dispute with Somalia and the increasing internal demands for democratization. From 1991–1994, an Afar movement waged war against the national army. A multi-party system was introduced in 1992. Nevertheless, the “Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progrès” still is the only party in power, due to the fact that the opposition boycotted the elections in 1992.


Milovan Djilas [next] [back] Djibouti

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or