20 Fascinating Facts About Yemen
1. Yemen has ancient roots located at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
2. For more than 2,000 years from around 1200 BC, Yemen was home to a series of powerful and wealthy city-states and empires. Their prosperity was largely due to the production of frankincense and myrrh, two of the most valued products of the ancient world.
3. According to legend, Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, was founded by Shem, one of the three sons of Noah from the flood story in the Old Testament book of the Bible.
4. The UNESCO-listed Old City of Sana’a has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years and was a major center for Islam during the 7th and 8th centuries. The site comprises 103 mosques, 14 hammams, and over 6,000 houses, all built before the 11th century.
5. Yemen was once divided into north and south with the north ruled by the Ottoman Empire and the south ruled by the British.
6. In 1918, the Ottoman Empire dissolved and North Yemen gained independence.
7. In 1967, Britain withdrew from South Yemen it becomes the People’s Republic of Yemen. In 1969, a communist coup renamed the south the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.
8. The People’s Republic of South Yemen was the Arab world’s first and only Marxist state.
9. Decades of instability and conflict followed with the two Yemen regularly clashing as well as an eight-year civil war in North Yemen from 1962-70.
10. In 1990, the two Yemen’s became united as the Republic of Yemen with Ali Abdallah Saleh as president.
11. Even since unification in 1990, Yemen has been plagued by uprisings, civil war, protests, terrorism, and separatist movements.
12. Yemen lays claim to the Queen of Sheba, the legendary ancient ruler of the kingdom of Saba which is supposedly located in present-day Yemen.
13. Yemenis are famous for chewing a mild amphetamine-like drug called khat, a regional practice that dates back thousands of years. It is estimated that up to 90% of adult men chew khat several times a day and possibly 50% of adult women.
14. The UNESCO-listed 16th-century Old Walled City of Shibam is known as “the Manhattan of the desert” due to its impressive tower-like structures and rectangular grid plan of streets and squares.
15. The national symbol of Yemen is the golden eagle.
16. One of the more fun facts about Yemen is that it’s where mocha coffee gets its name. The port city of Mocha was once a vast coffee marketplace and is considered the birthplace of the coffee trade.
17. In ancient times, Yemen was known in Latin as Arabia Felix which means “Happy, or Flourishing, Arabia” due to its fertile land.
18. Yemen was the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to grant women the right to vote.
19. Yemen’s flag is horizontally striped red, white and black. Black supposedly represents the dark days of the past, white represents a bright future, and red is the blood of the struggle to achieve independence and unity.
20. Much of Yemen is covered by the Arabian Desert which at 2,300,000 sq km (900,000 sq mi) is the largest desert in Asia and the second largest on Earth. Only the Sahara in Africa is bigger.