Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia with a location of 11 30 N, 43 00 E. The country has a total area of 23,200 sq km. The capital is Djibouti. French and Arabic are official languages.
Djibouti has a population of 757,074 with a life expectancy of 61.14 years. The country is 94.1% Sunni Muslim and 4.5% Christian, 1.4% is non-religious and 0.1% other. The ethnic break 46% Somali (Issa), 35.4% Afar, 11% Arab , 3 mixed African and European, French 1.6%, and 3% other.
Djibouti was under the influence of the ancient Aksumite Empire and occupied by the Afar. Merchants from Persia, Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Greece graced her ports. Later the Kingdom of Adal would rise to dominate the region, which grew powerful enough to challenge the Chrisitian Ethiopia empire. After 1543, Adal was defeated by the Ethiopian Empire. Smaller Afar sultanates rose to fill the vacuum--Obock and Tadjoura.
In 1888, the French colonized the region. The region was referred to as French Somaliland. The French main interest was its rails and link to Addis Ababa and Djiboutian ports. The Afar was favored by the French. The French colonial administration mainly concerned itself with coastal issue rather than events in the hinterland. In 1967, a referendum was circulated to stay within France or independence. Djiboutians chose to remain with France. The region was then named the French Territory of the Afars and Issas. On July 27, 1977, after rise in nationalist sentiments, Djibouti became independent from France.
Hassan Gouled Aptidon, an Issa, was elected the first president of Djibouti. He consolidated his power by doling patronage to supporters. He made Djibouti a one party state--the RPP. Hassan's government was burden with high employment and poor infrastructure, like clean water. The Afar proceeded to rebel, forming FRUD. FRUD brought much instability to Djibouti. They were able to control 2/3 of the country. In 1993, the government was able to regain control of the country. In 1994, they made a peace agreement with FRUD, but some factions continued their rebellion. FRUD was recognized as a legitimate party. Its members were integrated into the military and offered cabinet posts.
To gain support for economic development, the government implemented austerity measures, which worsen Djibouti's economic state. In 1998, the economic situation improved due to the civil war with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Goods were directed to the ports of Djibouti by Ethiopia, increasing business.
In 1999, Omar Guelleh became president of Djibouti, after Hassan Gouled Aptidon abstained from re-election. In February 2000, a peace agreement was struck with the remaining FRUD factions, ending the seven-year guerrilla war.
In January 2003, Djibouti had its first multiparty election. Ahmed Dini Ahmed, former prime minister and head of one of the faction of FRUD, was the opposition front-runner. The race was divided between the Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP) and Union for a Democratic Change (UAD).
UMP received 62% support of the electorate vote. In 2005, Omar Guelleh was re-elected president.
Djibouti (country). Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006.