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Djibouti officially the Republic of Djibouti is a country in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. On the other side of the Red Sea, on the Arabian Peninsula, from the coast of Djibouti, is Yemen.

Background History

The French Territory of the Afars and the Issas became Djibouti in 1977. Hassan Gouled Aptidon installed an authoritarian one-party state and proceeded to serve as president until 1999. Unrest among the Afar minority during the 1990s led to a civil war that ended in 2001 with a peace accord between Afar rebels and the Somali Issa-dominated government. In 1999, Djibouti's first multiparty presidential elections resulted in the election of Ismail Omar Guelleh as president; he was reelected to a second term in 2005 and extended his tenure in office via a constitutional amendment, which allowed him to begin a third term in 2011. Djibouti occupies a strategic geographic location at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and serves as an important shipping portal for goods entering and leaving the east African highlands and transshipments between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The government holds longstanding ties to France, which maintains a significant military presence in the country, and has strong ties with the United States. Djibouti hosts several thousand members of US armed services at US-run Camp Lemonnier.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Djibouti
  • conventional short form: Djibouti
  • local long form: Republique de Djibouti/Jumhuriyat Jibuti
  • local short form: Djibouti/Jibuti
  • former: French Territory of the Afars and Issas, French Somaliland


  • name: Djibouti
  • geographic coordinates: 11 35 N, 43 09 E
  • time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 27 June 1977 (from France)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Ismail Omar Guelleh (since 8 May 1999)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed (since 1 April 2013)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; president is eligible to hold office until age 75; election last held on 8 April 2011 (next to be held by 2016); prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral Chamber of Deputies

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court


People & Society


  • 810,179 (global rank: 163)
  • growth rate: 2.23% (global rank: 41)


  • noun: Djiboutian(s)
  • adjective: Djiboutian

Major Cities:

  • Djibouti (capital): 496,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Somali 60%, Afar 35%, other 5% (includes French, Arab, Ethiopian, and Italian)


  • Muslim 94%, Christian 6%


  • French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 62.4 years (global rank: 187)
  • male: 59.93 years
  • female: 64.94 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 50.2 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 41)
  • male: 57.46 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 42.72 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (global rank: 39)
  • people living with AIDS: 7,700 (global rank: 114)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 67.9%
  • male: 78%
  • female: 58.4%



Overview: Djibouti's economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location as a deepwater port on the Red Sea. Three-fourths of Djibouti's inhabitants live in the capital city; the remainder are mostly nomadic herders. Scant rainfall limits crop production to small quantities of fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported. Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. Imports, exports, and re-exports - primarily of coffee from landlocked neighbor Ethiopia - represent 70% of port activity at Djibouti's container terminal. Djibouti has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An unemployment rate of nearly 60% continues to be a major problem. While inflation is not a concern, due to the fixed tie of the Djiboutian franc to the US dollar, the artificially high value of the Djiboutian franc adversely affects Djibouti's balance of payments. Djibouti holds foreign reserves amounting to less than six months of import coverage. Djibouti has experienced relatively minimal impact from the global economic downturn, but its reliance on diesel-generated electricity and imported food leave average consumers vulnerable to global price shocks. President Guelleh in 2013 told international investors that Djibouti’s development plan is to increase its prominence in financial and communication sectors.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $2.505 billion (global rank: 187)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $2,700 (global rank: 181)
  • real growth rate: 5% (global rank: 58)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 3%, industry: 17.3%, services: 79.7%


  • currency: Djiboutian Frannc (DJF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 177.7


  • unemployment rate: 59%
  • population below poverty line: 18.8%

Agricultural Products:

  • fruits, vegetables; goats, sheep, camels, animal hides


  • construction, agricultural processing

Export Commodities:

  • reexports, hides and skins, coffee (in transit)

Import Commodities:

  • foods, beverages, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products




  • Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia


  • total: 23,200 sq km (global rank: 151)
  • land: 23,180 sq km
  • water: 20 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Massachusetts


  • desert; torrid, dry

Land Use:

  • arable land: 0.09%
  • permanent crops: 0%
  • other: 99.91%

Natural Resources:

  • potential geothermal power, gold, clay, granite, limestone, marble, salt, diatomite, gypsum, pumice, petroleum

Current Environmental Issues:

  • inadequate supplies of potable water; limited arable land; desertification; endangered species


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Djibouti maintains economic ties and border accords with "Somaliland" leadership while maintaining some political ties to various factions in Somalia; Kuwait is chief investor in the 2008 restoration and upgrade of the Ethiopian-Djibouti rail link; in 2008, Eritrean troops moved across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and occupied Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea
  • refugees (country of origin): 19,168 (Somalia)
  • human trafficking: Djibouti is a transit, source, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; economic migrants from East Africa en route to Yemen and other Middle East locations are vulnerable to exploitation in Djibouti; some woman and girls may be forced into domestic servitude or prostitution after reaching Djibouti City, the Ethiopian-Djiboutian trucking corridor, or Obock - the main crossing point into Yemen; Djiboutian and foreign children may be forced to beg, to work as domestic servants, or to commit theft and other petty crimes

Published: Monday, March 09, 2015