REPUBLIC OF YEMEN
THE LAND--Yemen spans 203,645 square miles on the southwestern edge of the Arabian Peninsula and has borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. The country controls the Bab al Mandab strait, strategic gateway to the Red Sea.
THE PEOPLE--Yemen has 11 million people. They are mainly tribal, and the main religion is Sunni Islam.
THE ECONOMY--Yemen is among the poorest nations in the world, but newly discovered oil reserves could change that. Unofficial estimates say the reserves could amount to as much as 2 billion barrels.
Money from millions of Yemenis working outside their country, mainly in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, and from foreign aid helped prop up the economy of the pro-Western north for years. Farming is the main activity and crops include wheat, sorghum, coffee, tobacco and cotton.
HISTORY--By merging, the north and south regained their former status as part of ancient Arabia and the kingdom of Sheba that lasted for 800 years until the 2nd Century BC.
For the next 800 years it was ruled by the Himyarites, one of the earliest Arab tribes, then by Ethiopians and Persians until Islam arrived in the 7th Century.
In 1517 South Yemen became part of the Ottoman Empire. Britain seized Aden in 1839, and the surrounding territory later became a British protectorate.
Aden won independence in 1967 after a terrorist campaign, and South Yemen became the Arab world’s only Marxist state.
The northern country was established in 1962 after an Egyptian-backed revolution ousted the Saudi Arabian-backed imam.