Djibouti officially the Republic of Djibouti is a country in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. On the other side of the Red Sea, on the Arabian Peninsula, from the coast of Djibouti, is Yemen.

Background History

The French Territory of the Afars and the Issas became Djibouti in 1977. Hassan Gouled Aptidon installed an authoritarian one-party state and proceeded to serve as president until 1999. Unrest among the Afars minority during the 1990s led to a civil war that ended in 2001 following the conclusion of a peace accord between Afar rebels and the Issa-dominated government. In 1999, Djibouti's first multi-party presidential elections resulted in the election of Ismail Omar Guelleh; he was re-elected to a second term in 2005. Djibouti occupies a strategic geographic location at the mouth of the Red Sea and serves as an important transshipment location for goods entering and leaving the east African highlands. The present leadership favors close ties to France, which maintains a significant military presence in the country, but also has strong ties with the US. Djibouti hosts the only US military base in sub-Saharan Africa.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Djibouti
  • conventional short form: Djibouti
  • local long form: Republique de Djibouti/Jumhuriyat Jibuti
  • local short form: Djibouti/Jibuti
  • former: French Territory of the Afars and Issas, French Somaliland


  • name: Djibouti
  • population: 567,000
  • geographic coordinates: 11 35 N, 43 09 E
  • time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 27 June 1977 (from France)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Ismail Omar Guelleh (since 8 May 1999)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Dileita Dileita (since 4 March 2001)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 8 April 2011 (next to be held by 2016); prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral Chamber of Deputies

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court

People & Society


  • 774,38 (global rank: 162)
  • growth rate: 2.285% (global rank: 36)


  • noun: Djiboutian(s)
  • adjective: Djiboutian

Major Cities:

  • Djibouti (capital): 567,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Somali 60%, Afar 35%, other 5% (includes French, Arab, Ethiopian, and Italian)


  • Muslim 94%, Christian 6%


  • French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 61.57 years (global rank: 184)
  • male: 59.15 years
  • female: 64.07 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 53.31 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 41)
  • male: 60.88 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 45.5 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 2.5% (global rank: 27)
  • people living with AIDS: 14,000 (global rank: 88)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 67.9%
  • male: 78%
  • female: 58.4%


The economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location and status as a free trade zone in the Horn of Africa. Two-thirds of Djibouti's inhabitants live in the capital city; the remainder are mostly nomadic herders. Scanty rainfall limits crop production to fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported. Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. Imports and exports from landlocked neighbor Ethiopia represent 70% of port activity at Djibouti's container terminal. Djibouti has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An unemployment rate of nearly 60% in urban areas continues to be a major problem. While inflation is not a concern, due to the fixed tie of the Djiboutian franc to the US dollar, the artificially high value of the Djiboutian franc adversely affects Djibouti's balance of payments. Per capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% between 1999 and 2006 because of recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and refugees). Djibouti has experienced relatively minimal impact from the global economic downturn, but its reliance on diesel-generated electricity and imported food leave average consumers vulnerable to global price shocks.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $2.244 billion (global rank: 184)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $2,600 (global rank: 175)
  • real growth rate: 4.8% (global rank: 80)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 3.2%, industry: 16.6%, services: 80.1%


  • currency: Djiboutian Frannc (DJF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 177.7


  • unemployment rate: 59%
  • population below poverty line: 42%

Agricultural Products:

  • fruits, vegetables; goats, sheep, camels, animal hides


  • construction, agricultural processing

Export Commodities:

  • reexports, hides and skins, coffee (in transit)

Import Commodities:

  • foods, beverages, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products



  • Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia


  • total: 23,200 sq km (global rank: 151)
  • land: 23,180 sq km
  • water: 20 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Massachusetts


  • desert; torrid, dry

Land Use:

  • arable land: 0.04%
  • permanent crops: 0%
  • other: 99.96%

Natural Resources:

  • potential geothermal power, gold, clay, granite, limestone, marble, salt, diatomite, gypsum, pumice, petroleum

Current Environmental Issues:

  • inadequate supplies of potable water; limited arable land; desertification; endangered species

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Djibouti maintains economic ties and border accords with "Somaliland" leadership while maintaining some political ties to various factions in Somalia; Kuwait is chief investor in the 2008 restoration and upgrade of the Ethiopian-Djibouti rail link; in 2008, Eritrean troops move across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and occupy Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea
  • refugees (country of origin): 8,642 (Somalia)

Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008