Yemen: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Yemen.



Location--In the south of the Arabian peninsula, bordered by the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the Arabian Sea.

How Created--For centuries Yemen was under the rule of the religious leader of the Zeidi Muslim sect (a Shia sect). The territory of Yemen was defined historically in rough terms by its fertile regions, but its borders varied over the centuries. It is the most fertile and most densely populated area in the Arabian peninsula. The division of the country into 2 states began with the British invasion of Aden in the south. In 1839 the British seized that port, and gradually pried many local sheikhs in what is now South Yemen away from allegiance to the Zeidi leader in the north. After British withdrawal from the south in 1967, that area became a separate state. Parts of North Yemen bordering Saudi Arabia had been taken by Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, and the border with Saudi Arabia in the desert region of the northeast is not defined. In 1972, a unity accord was signed between the 2 Yemens in which they set forth practical steps directed toward the unification of Yemen. However, this process is moving slowly.

Northern Yemen (Sana)

Size--77,200 sq. mi. (200,000 sq. km.).

Population--Over 6 million: Almost 100% Arab and Muslim (Zeidi and Sunni).

Who Rules--A clique of young army officers took power in June, 1974.

Who REALLY Rules--A Revolutionary Command Council has been set up, dominated by the army officers, who are heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for financial aid. The membership of the Council consists primarily of members of the Zeidi sect. Only one Sunni is represented on the Council.

Southern Yemen (Aden)

Size--111,074 sq. mi. (287,682 sq. km.).

Population--1,600,000: Mostly Arab and Muslim with some Indian, Somali, Christian, Hindu, and others.

Who Rules--A 3-person presidential council with a ministerial form of government. On the regional and local levels, locally selected committees direct the activities of the various agricultural and fishing cooperatives.

Who REALLY Rules--The Central Committee of the Marxist-Leninist National Liberation Front. Most of the top government people are members of the 30-person Central Committee. South Yemen is economically in a very dire situation, since no development took place under British rule. The Soviet Union, China, and Iraq give aid, but the Front has kept this aid balanced in such a way that no one of these states exercises control over South Yemen.

Aida Yafe'i, the only woman who is a full member of the Central Committee of the Front and also on the 5-person Secretariat that directs the daily business of the Front, has described the situation of women: "Here, too frequently, the progressiveness of some men in the Front stops at their doorsteps. They still consider women as property. We don't blame men personally for this. We recognize it as an illness that pervades the whole society."

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