When someone mentions Yemen, chances are the humanitarian crisis rocking the region comes to mind. The conflicts result from a deteriorated economy, affecting citizens’ living conditions and health. However, there is more to the country than what often appears in the tabloids. Here are some interesting Yemen facts to get you started.
1. Yemen Is One of Two Republic Countries In the Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula includes countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, and Yemen. Other than Iraq, Yemen is the only republic, with the rest being monarchical states. It was formed in 1990 when the North and South Yemen United.
2. Majority of Land in Yemen Is Desert
Even though Yemen has about 200 islands, including Socotra, the land in Yemen is majorly arid. The Arabian Desert, which also spread to parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar, covers most of Yemen, opening the country up to hunger and poverty.
3. There Is A Well Of Hell in Yemen
Yemen is home to The Well of Barhout, nicknamed the Well of Hell. The sinkhole located in Mahara, Yemen, has a circular entrance, measures about 100 feet (30 meters) wide, and is about 367 feet (112 meters) deep. Natives claim strange voices and foul smells usually emanate from the hole and is believed to be an epitome of bad lack.
4. Sana’a Is The Capital City of Yemen
The Yemeni constitution recognizes Sana’a as the capital city of Yemen. However, it is not its administrative center as the seat of the Yemeni government was relocated to Aden, the former capital city of South Yemen, before the 2 regions combined. At an altitude of about 2,300 meters, Sana’a is among the highest cities worldwide.
5. A Meteorite Fell on A Russian Military Base in Yemen
In 1980, a meteorite believed to be from the moon of Mars fell on the Russian Military Base in Yemen. Interestingly, it contained the Florenskiite mineral, which is not found anywhere on Earth.
6. Khat Is Yemen’s Top Cash Crop
Estimates show that 60-90% of men and 35% of females in Yemen chew khat daily. Sometimes referred to as qat or Catha edulis, khat is Yemen’s biggest cash crop, providing livelihoods to about 37% of the population. About 40% of the country’s water supply goes into irrigating the plants.
7. There Has Been A Civil War In Yemen Since 2014
After uniting Northern and Southern Yemen in 1990 to form the Republic of Yemen, the country did well until 2014, when a civil war started. The Houthi insurgents took control of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, demanding a new government and lowered fuel prices.
After failed negotiations, Yemen’s president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, was forced to resign. This prompted Saudi Arabia, with the backing of other Gulf States and the United States, to start a war against the Houthi insurgents. In 2015, President Hadi relocated to the port city of Aden, where he assumed his role.
8. Yemen Is Home To The World’s Most Alien Place
Socotra is an island in Yemen that is considered one of the world’s most alien locations. It is located about 210 miles (340km) southeast of Yemen and was a major tourist destination until the country plunged into crisis. Visitors explored the bottle trees, cucumber trees, and dragon’s blood trees. A third of the plant species on the island are not found anywhere else in the world.
9. Some Yemenites Sued NASA For Trespassing on Mars
Adam Ismail, Abdulla al-Umari, and Mustafa Khalil filed a lawsuit with the Yemeni Prosecutor general challenging NASA’s Pathfinder Mission on Mars in 1997. The Yemeni citizens argued that they had inherited the planet from their ancestors about 3,000 years before. They demanded that NASA suspend their operations immediately. The case did not see the light of day as it was thrown out.
10. Alcohol is Illegal in Yemen
Alcohol is one of the few countries where alcohol is illegal. Authorities argue that the drinks are against the principles of Islam, which guides the region. Consumption, distribution, and selling of these products are prohibited in most parts of the country except in Aden and Sana’a. Permitted restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs in these cities can sell specific volumes of alcohol.
11. The Yemenite Wars Ended In A Stalemate
The Yemenite wars happened in 1972 and 1979. Coincidentally, both lasted 3 weeks and 2 days, they didn’t have any winners, and territories remained intact. As a result, the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and South Yemen pleaded to unify.