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Djibouti- The God’s Land

For centuries, the outside world has undervalued and viewed everything in Djibouti negatively. “They all said we only had hot sun, dry winds, and a lot of rocks.” But what will you say about Djibouti?

 

Djibouti is a country situated on the northeast coast of the Horn of Africa. Its precise geographical location on the strait of Bab al-Mandeb which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti’s coastline serves as a commercial gateway between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn region’s interior. It is bordered by Eritrea and the Red Sea to the north and northeast, Ethiopia to the west and south, Somalia to the southeast, the Gulf of Aden to the east.

The country can be divided into three physiographic regions, The Northern Mountains, Grand Bara, The Southern Mountains. Djibouti has eight great arcs of mountains, consisting of the Mousa Ali, Goda, and Arrei Mountains that range with peaks of over 1,000 m (3,281 ft).

The Mousa Ali range is considered the country’s highest mountain range, with the tallest peak on the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea, among others. The Grand Bara Desert covers parts of southern Djibouti in the Arta Region, Ali Sabieh Region, and Dikhil Region.

Biodiversity of wildlife in Djibouti contains over 820 species of plants, 493 species of invertebrates, over 455 species of fisheries, 40 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians, 360 species of birds and 66 species of mammals.

Djibouti is self-sufficient in Fisheries, must of which can not be found anywhere else in the world. The areas richest in fishery resources are located in the north of the country (Obock) and, in the south, on the border with Somalia. The waters of Djibouti are rich in flora and fauna and have a variety of marine life, much akin to that of the entire northern Red Sea. The most common species include slipmouth, triggerfish, seerfish, groupers, dolphinfish, trevallies, tuna, barracuda, and red snappers, and many more.

The fishing sector has been identified by the Government as a segment of economic activity that can contribute to the economic growth of the country, to the reduction of poverty in both urban and rural areas, and to food security through the satisfaction of needs.

Djibouti City is the eponymous capital and largest city of Djibouti. It is located in the coastal Djibouti Region on the Gulf of Tadjoura. It is strategically positioned near the world’s busiest shipping lanes and acts as a refueling and transshipment center. The Port of Djibouti is the principal maritime port for imports to and exports from neighboring Ethiopia.

In antiquity, the territory was part of the location known to the ancient Egyptians as the Land of Punt (meaning “God’s Land”). The Puntites were a nation of people that had close relations with Ancient Egypt during the times of Pharaoh Sahure of the fifth dynasty and Queen Hatshepsut of the eighteenth dynasty. The Land of Punt at the time of Hatshepsut was ruled by King Parahu and Queen Ati. Djibouti area, along with other localities in the Horn region, was later the seat of the medieval Adal and Ifat Sultanates.

Djibouti is one of Africa’s smallest countries, the Republic of Djibouti is not only a rare example of stability in the horn of Africa, but it is also a place rich in culture and tradition.

Throughout history, Dijubouti’s favorable location played a role to attract visitors as well as the resources needed for its sustenances.

For thousands of years, Djibouti, like its neighbors flourished in the horn of Africa and had been know to ancient geographers and seafarers before European colonists arrived, the area was famous for its trading activities in importing cloths, firearms, salt, coffee wax hides, and perfumes.

The challenge that affects Djibouti is its location and climate change, this has contributed to its poor performance in it’s drive toward food self-sufficiency. The country has little arable land and few goods for export and must import most of its food. However, It’s  location is also is its blessing.

In more recent days, the country has gained attention and economic support from France and the united state because of its stance against international terrorism and providing a military base for both the French and the Americans. Must recently for the Chinese and Japanese.

The region we know today as Djibouti remained under the traditional leadership of Afars and the Issas for several centuries.

The Afar sultanate of Rahaita ruled in the north, Tadjourah in the west, and Gobaad ruled in the southern part of present-day Djibouti some part of the west fall under the sultanate of Awsa. The Issas, on the other hand, were subject to Ougas rule in the southeast of the territory. However, there was no clearly defined demarcation or common political framework that tied them together.

The two groups came for the first time under one rule during the french colonial ear.

During the European colonial expansion into Africa. France in the late 19th century created the territory of Somaliland precipitated by the British occupation of Egypt during the ear of European imperialism, or what had been aptly phrased as the ” scramble for Africa. “

During that period, colonial powers created spheres of influence and introduced a system of rule for economic and political reasons in order to have a firm grip on their conquered territories, colonial power also introduced division and rule as they imposed the superiority of one ethnic group over the other in Djibouti, the division continued to affect the populations even to this day.

Djibouti is a multiethnic country. As of 2018, it has a population of around 884,017 inhabitants.

The two largest ethnic groups are the Somali (60%) and the Afar (35%). The Somali clan component is mainly composed of the Issas, a sub-clan of the larger Dir. The remaining 5% of Djibouti’s population primarily consists of Arabs, Ethiopians, and Europeans (French and Italians). Approximately 76% of local residents are urban dwellers; the remainder is pastoralists.

Djibouti is a multilingual nation. The majority of local residents speak Somali (350,000 speakers in Djibouti city and Ali Sabieh) and Afar (300,000 speakers) as a first language. These idioms are the mother tongues of the Somali and Afar ethnic groups, respectively. Both languages belong to the larger Afroasiatic family. There are 2 official languages in Djibouti: Arabic and French.

According to the Somali Issas legend, it is thought that the name Djibouti comes from the name of a beast called ‘buti‘ (‘bear’) that used to terrorize the population. Upon its defeat – ‘jab‘ in the Somali language – after a wilful, pertinacious chase, it was said that “meeshi butida lagu jabiyey“ (“the beast was defeated”), and so they chose to name the country after this legend.

The Afar has two explanations for the word Djibouti. On one hand, the uplands in the Afar language take the name ‘Gabood’. Given the land’s geographical position, Arab sailors coming here would have used this word, later referring to the port as ‘Gabuut’, ‘Gabuuti’, ‘Jabuuti’. On the other hand, it is also thought that a French military who had just freshly arrived, met a woman carrying a sort of cooking pot, and asked her the name of the place while pointing out to the ground. She thought he was asking about the pot, and answered accordingly: “Yi-buuti” (“My metal cooking pot”).

Another etymological explanation refers to the Yemeni sailors who used and still navigate the Gulf of Aden. The name Djibouti would be the plausible twist of the sentence ‘jâ-al-bût‘, which means ‘the boat has arrived’.

The Territory formerly known as French Somaliland became independent as Djibouti on 27 June 1977. The country’s economic growth has remained strong and has drawn big investors’ interest. Thanks to Djibouti’s coastal location, the first African international electric railway line, linking Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Which accounts for 80% of Djibouti’s port activities. Many say Djibouti could soon become the next Dubai or Singapore (Djibouti’s Ambition), so Djibouti is a country to watch.

 

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