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The World Factbook (1990)/Yemen Arab Republic


Yemen Arab Republic [Yemen (Sanaa) or North Yemen]

World Factbook (1990) Yemen Arab Republic.jpg

See regional map VI


Total area: 195,000 km²; land area: 195,000 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than South Dakota

Land boundaries: 1,209 km total; Saudi Arabia 628 km, PDRY 581 km

Coastline: 523 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 18 nm
Continental shelf: 200 meters
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: sections of the boundary with PDRY are indefinite or undefined; undefined section of boundary with Saudi Arabia

Climate: desert; hot and humid along coast; temperate in central mountains; harsh desert in east

Terrain: narrow coastal plain (Tihama); western mountains; flat dissected plain in center sloping into desert interior of Arabian Peninsula

Natural resources: crude oil, rock salt, marble; small deposits of coal, nickel, and copper; fertile soil

Land use: 14% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 36% meadows and pastures; 8% forest and woodland; 42% other; includes 1% irrigated

Environment: subject to sand and dust storms in summer; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Note: controls northern approaches to Bab el Mandeb linking Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, one of world's most active shipping lanes


Population: 7,160,981 (July 1990), growth rate 3.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 52 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 17 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -4 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 129 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 48 years male, 49 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 7.6 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Yemeni(s); adjective—Yemeni

Ethnic divisions: 90% Arab, 10% Afro-Arab (mixed)

Religion: 100% Muslim (Sunni and Shi‘a)

Language: Arabic

Literacy: 15% (est.)

Labor force: NA; 70% agriculture and herding, 30% expatriate laborers (est.)


Long-form name: Yemen Arab Republic; abbreviated YAR

Type: republic; military regime assumed power in June 1974

Capital: Sanaa

Administrative divisions: 11 governorates (muḩāfaz̧at, singular—muḩāfaz̧ah); Al Bayḑā’, Al Ḩudaydah, Al Jawf, Al Maḩwīt, Dhamār, Ḩajjah, Ibb, Ma’rib, Şa‘dah, Şan‘ā’, Ta‘izz

Independence: November 1918 (from Ottoman Empire)

Constitution: 28 December 1970, suspended 19 June 1974

Legal system: based on Turkish law, Islamic law, and local customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Proclamation of the Republic, 26 September (1962)

Executive branch: president, vice president, prime minister, four deputy prime ministers, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral Consultative Assembly (Majlis ash-Shura)

Judicial branch: State Security Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President Col. ‘Ali ‘Abdallah SALIH (since 18 July 1978); Vice President (vacant);

Head of Government—Prime Minister ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘ABD AL-GHANI (since 12 November 1983, previously prime minister from 1975-1980 and co-Vice President from October 1980 to November 1983)

Political parties and leaders: no legal political parties; in 1983 President Salih started the General People's Congress, which is designed to function as the country's sole political party

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: Consultative Assembly—last held 5 July 1988 (next to be held NA); results—percent of vote NA; seats—(159 total, 128 elected)

Communists: small number

Other political or pressure groups: conservative tribal groups, Muslim Brotherhood, leftist factions—pro-Iraqi Ba‘thists, Nasirists, National Democratic Front (NDF) supported by the PDRY


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Mohsin A. al-AINI; Chancery at Suite 840, 600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20037; telephone (202) 965-4760 or 4761; there is a Yemeni Consulate General in Detroit and a Consulate in San Francisco; US—Ambassador Charles F. DUNBAR; Embassy at address NA, Sanaa (mailing address is P. O. Box 1088, Sanaa); telephone [967](2) 271950 through 271958

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with a large green five-pointed star centered in the white band; similar to the flags of Iraq, which has three stars, and Syria, which has two stars—all green and five-pointed in a horizontal line centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt, which has a symbolic eagle centered in the white band


Overview: The low level of domestic industry and agriculture make North Yemen dependent on imports for virtually all of its essential needs. Large trade deficits are made up for by remittances from Yemenis working abroad and foreign aid. Once self-sufficient in food production, the YAR is now a major importer. Land once used for export crops—cotton, fruit, and vegetables—has been turned over to growing qat, a mildly narcotic shrub chewed by Yemenis that has no significant export market. Oil export revenues started flowing in late 1987 and boosted 1988 earnings by about $800 million.

GDP: $5.5 billion, per capita $820; real growth rate 19.7% (1988 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 16.9% (1988)

Unemployment rate: 13% (1986)

Budget: revenues $1.32 billion; expenditures $2.18 billion, including capital expenditures of $588 million (1988 est.)

Exports: $853 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—crude oil, cotton, coffee, hides, vegetables; partners—US 41%, PDRY 14%, Japan 12%

Imports: $1.3 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—textiles and other manufactured consumer goods, petroleum products, sugar, grain, flour, other foodstuffs, and cement; partners—Italy 10%, Saudi Arabia 9%, US 9.3%, Japan 9%, UK 8% (1985)

External debt: $3.5 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 2% in manufacturing (1988)

Electricity: 415,000 kW capacity; 500 million kWh produced, 70 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: crude oil production, small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods; food processing; handicrafts; fishing; small aluminum products factory; cement

Agriculture: accounts for 50% of GDP and 70% of labor force; farm products—grain, fruits, vegetables, qat (mildly narcotic shrub), coffee, cotton, dairy, poultry, meat, goat meat; not self-sufficient in grain

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (1970-88), $354 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.4 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $2.9 billion; Communist countries (1970-88), $248 million

Currency: Yemeni riyal (plural—riyals); 1 Yemeni riyal (YR) = 100 fils

Exchange rates: Yemeni riyals (YR) per US$1—9.7600 (January 1990), 9.7600 (1989), 9.7717 (1988), 10.3417 (1987), 9.6392 (1986), 7.3633 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 4,500 km; 2,000 km bituminous, 500 km crushed stone and gravel, 2,000 km earth, sand, and light gravel (est.)

Pipelines: crude oil, 424 km

Ports: Al Hudaydah, Al Mukhā, Şalīf, Ra’s al Katib

Merchant marine: 1 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 192,679 GRT/40,640 DWT

Civil air: 7 major transport aircraft

Airports: 19 total, 14 usable; 3 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 9 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 3 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: system poor but improving; new radio relay and cable networks; 50,000 telephones; stations—3 AM, no FM, 17 TV; satellite earth stations—1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT, 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT, 1 ARABSAT; tropospheric scatter to PDRY; radio relay to PDRY, Saudi Arabia, and Djibouti

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Police

Military manpower: males 15-49, 1,289,217; 734,403 fit for military service; 79,609 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: $358 million (1987)