The Republic of Yemen (Al-Jamahiriya al-Yemeni), is situated in the south-west of the Arabian peninsular. It borders to the west with the Red Sea , to the south with the Indian Ocean , to the north with Saudi Arabia , and to the east with the Sultanate of Oman. According to the peace treaty with Saudi Arabia and Oman , Yemen has an area of around 528,000 square kilometres.
Large parts of the country, especially to the east, are controlled by perimeter areas of the great Arabian Desert . This area is cut off from the coastal lowlands in the south and west by up to 3000-metre high mountains. The capitol city of Sana’a with a population of nearly two million is situated in the western mountain area and lies at about 2200 metres above sea level.
The former Marxist orientated republic, the Peoples Republic of South Yemen (Independence from Great Britain in 1967) and the republican North Yemen (Revolution war against the Imamat 1962-1970), were united on the 22nd of May 1990.
The population growth of around 3,5% has enabled the number of Yemeni to jump to over 21 million during the past 20 years (status 2006). Despite intensive efforts made by the government, the provision of schools and hospitals as well as the improvement of drinking water and electricity supplies, cannot keep pace with the needs of the population.
The counties language is Arabic, far to the east of the country, in the province of Mahra and on the island of Soqotra, there are small groups who speak two of the ancient South Arabian related languages.
The official state religion is Islam. The population subdivides into the Sunnis who mainly live in the south and the Shias majority who live in the north. Additionally there is an Ishmaelite minority belonging to the Bohra. There only remains a small part of the once large and renowned for their craftsmanship Jewish community, these have mainly settled in the area around Sada. Foreign Christians and Hindus form two further small religious communities.
Conditions of entry
The responsible embassies and/or consulates in ones home country provide visas for Yemen. Tourists from states belonging to the European Union, and tourists from Switzerland, are able to become a tourist visa valid for three months directly at Yemeni airports or harbours when entering the country. Passports must be valid for at least a further six months as from the date of entering.
The climate in Yemen differs depending on the region:
Around the coastal lowlands at the Red Sea (Tihama), such as at the Indian Ocean, there is a humid and hot tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 25 and 48 degrees centigrade and a humidity of between 65 and 90 percent. In comparison, the mountainous areas have a climate with an average annual temperature of 21 degrees centigrade and a relative humidity of between 20 and 50 percent. Both the rainy seasons in March/April and from July to September provide a “cooling down” during the summer. The maximum temperature in June/July lies at around 38 degrees centigrade, and in December/January, the temperature could well drop to below freezing during the nighttime. There is a dry hot climate in the desert, whereby during the summer months, the temperature can climb to above 45 degrees centigrade.
The whole year over it is advisable to choose light clothing made of natural fibres, In addition, during the winter months a pullover or wind tight jacket, sturdy shoes, and socks should be taken along. Take into account when choosing clothing that Yemen is a conservative Islamic country, ones clothing should not be figure accentuating, and should cover ones arms and legs. It is not always expected that western females wear a headscarf (but would be registered very positively as a sign of respect). It is however, advisable that both men and women wear some form of headdress due to the altitude, and ultra violet radiation. Sun and insect protection lotion should by all means be taken with on tour, because these products are not normally on offer in Yemen.
GSM & CDMA mobile telephones function in Yemen. Inform yourself beforehand with your provider about charges. Not all regions of Yemen have complete coverage for mobile phones. In some mountainous and desert areas, there are “dead zones”.
The currency in Yemen is the Yemeni Rial, which is divided into 100 Fils. Notes are mainly used, coins not very often. It is advisable to take cash with one in various ready counted amounts.
A better rate of exchange is available in exchange offices (correct rate of exchange, tourist friendly opening hours, and locations) for large notes. Euros are just as welcome as dollars. One may be offered a worse rate of exchange, or experience a lot of bureaucracy when exchanging Travellers Cheques. Some hotels and businesses accept credit cards (Visa and Master Card are favoured), however, the introduction of cash points (ATM – Automated Teller Machines) is in its early stages and one should not completely rely on banks or credit cards.
It is forbidden to take Yemeni Rial into the country; it is not worth it anyway, the rate of exchange in Yemen is much better. Keep a few dollars or euros ready on the day of arrival for use as tips.
The time difference between Central European Time and Yemen is +2 hours, During the European summer +1 hour, this means, it is either one or two hours later than in Europe.
Non-Muslims are permitted to take two litres of alcoholic beverages into the country, in addition to this, for all those entering the country, 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250 g pipe tobacco. One may also take jewellery and cosmetics with one for personal use.
Bedouine in the desert
Traditional Yemeni dagger
Old Town of Sana’a