Interested in learning a few fun facts about Yemen?
Whether you’re traveling to Yemen sometime soon or just curious to understand more about this Arabian country, this article is for you.
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Yemen facts:
1. Yemen is the southernmost country on the Arabian Peninsula. To its north is Saudi Arabia; to its east is Oman; to its south is the Gulf of Aden which opens out to the Arabian Sea; and to its west is the Red Sea, with the African countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia just beyond. Aside from the mainland, there are a couple hundred islands in Yemen, including the Hanish Islands, Perim Island, and Socotra in the Guardafui Channel.
2. Yemen can be considered Arab, Arabian, and Middle Eastern. As a country located on the Arabian Peninsula, it is Arabian, but it is also Arab, for the most part, as more than 90% of its citizens are from the Arab ethnic (pan-ethnic) group. It is also one of the members of the Arab League. Other ethnic groups living in Yemen include Somalis, Afro-Arabs, and Indian-Pakistanis.
3. The earliest known use of coffee as a beverage comes from Yemen. Back in the 15th century, coffee first appeared as a drink in Sufi monasteries. Yemenis gave coffee the name “qahwa” in Arabic, which later was the basis for the words “coffee” and “cafe.”
4. Yemen’s capital is temporarily Aden. Aden is a port city located on the Gulf of Aden in the very south of the country. The constitutional capital of Yemen is Sanaa (Sana’a), but due to the Yemeni Civil War which began in 2015, Sanna has been under Houthi rebel control.
5. Yemen is home to 4 places on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Of these 4 places, 3 are cultural and 1 is natural:
- Historic Town of Zabid (cultural)
- Old City of Sana’a (cultural)
- Old Walled City of Shibam (cultural)
- Socotra Archipelago (natural)
6. Yemen is a fast-growing country, population-wise. It has over 28 million people, but one of the highest fertility rates in the world, at nearly 4.5 children per woman. Almost half of the population is under 15 years old, but only around 3% of the Yemeni population is aged over 65.
7. In ancient Europe, Yemen was called Arabia Felix. Called such by the ancient Greeks and Romans, Yemen (as Arabia Felix) was one of three divisions the Romans divided the Arabian Peninsula (the other two being Arabia Deserta and Arabia Petraea). The word “felix” in Latin meant both “happy, blessed” and “fertile,” and they named Yemen as such because it was much more fertile and had much more rainfall than the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
8. Sanaa, the official capital, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It has been inhabited for at least 2,500 years, though local legend says that Noah’s son Shem established the city. There are hundreds of mosques, houses, hammams, and other buildings from over 1,000 years ago still in great condition in the Old City of Sana’a.
9. Saltah is generally regarded as the national dish of Yemen. Saltah is a meat stew (maraq) mixed with sahawiq (a salsa-like chili paste), and some fenugreek froth on top. Many Yemeni people eat saltah with rice, potatoes, vegetables, and a side of flatbread. This is usually eaten for lunch, which is the main meal of the day in Yemen (rather than dinner).
10. Many Yemeni women wear a traditional hat known as a madhalla. The madhalla is a straw hat with a brim and a very-high peaked top, some at up to 2 ft (0.6 m) tall! It is meant to keep the woman wearing it cooler during the hot Yemeni days.
Well, that’s all our Yemen facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Yemen we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!