Yemen, known in ancient times as ‘Arabia Felix’ (Latin for ‘happy’), is located in the Middle East, to the south of Saudi Arabia and to the west of Oman. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. The country’s climate is desert-like; days are usually hot and dry, with daily maximum temperatures rising to 40ºC or more in the summer! If you are visiting Yemen, it might be a good idea to do so in the spring or autumn, where maximum temperatures hover between 25ºC and 35ºC, and nights are pleasantly cool.
Yemen is famous for its top grade coffee; Mocha, ensconced on the Red Sea coast, was once the nucleus of the international coffee trade and coffee continues to be one of the country’s most important products. Yemen is also known for the unique fashion sported by men, who wear futas (striped skirt) or robes, with jambiyas (daggers) attached to an elaborate belt. One of Yemen’s most oft photographed sites is Shibam (in the province of Hadramaut), known by travellers as ‘the Manhattan of the desert’ owing to its vertiginous mud tower houses, which have contributed to the area being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Around three thousand years ago, Yemen was the heart of the spice trade. The Minaean, Sabaean and Himyarite peoples controlled the movement of incense, spices and other luxury goods such as pearls, fine fabrics and gold, to kingdoms such as Greece and Rome. Islam arrived to Yemen in the 6th century A.D., and various powerful caliphates ruled in succession. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, the Ottoman Empire held sway. In the 20th century, North and South Yemen were divided, with the South becoming a communist state in 1970. The two states embarked on a violent civil war that would see hundreds of thousands of southerners flee to the north. In 1990, north and south were united to form the Republic of Yemen. Not long after unification, a group of southern leaders declared their state to be separate, yet their rebellion was swiftly quashed.
While there is very little vegetation in coastal areas, in the highland and wadis, beautiful acacias, Judas trees and date palms grow in abundance, as do many fruit trees. Some of Yemen’s most popular fruits include plump custard apples, juicy grapes, and sweet mangos, bananas and papayas. The fertile land also gives rise to a wide variety of herbs, including basil and balsam. The fauna of Yemen includes some of the most exotic animals in the world, including gazelles and leopards. Mountain hares can frequently be seen hopping about, and watch your step – you just might bump into a not-so-friendly scorpion or millipede! Yemen is a paradise for bird watchers, housing varieties such as ravens, hawks, parrots, honeysuckers and weaver finches. Sadly, many fascinating species have disappeared because of forest culling and hunting, yet animals such as baboons, foxes and mongooses can still be found in forests. Yemen is additionally famed for its many reptile varieties – the country boasts around 90 in total, including the stunning blue reptile called the agamid.
If you currently live in Yemen and would like to move to the UK to live, work or study, then you can learn lots more about Immigration on our website.
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