Facts About Djibouti’s Culture, Geography, and History
Djibouti is one of the four countries in the Horn of Africa. A gateway to Africa for some Asian countries and a home for about 942,333 Djiboutians. There are many more juicy facts about this small country. We have highlighted twelve interesting facts for your reading pleasure. Above all, if we can pique your curiosity to make Djibouti your next vacation spot, then its a win-win.
12. French is the official language
The official languages of Djibouti are Arabic and French. However, Somali and Afar indigenous languages are more widely spoken. French was inherited from the colonial period and is used as a medium of communication. The elite within the country are the ones most likely to use the French language. Studies show that only about 17,000 people speak French in Djibouti.
11. Erta Ale is a volcano in Ethiopia that settles in Djibouti’s Danakil Desert
Erta Ale is a volcano that settles in the Danakil Desert. The desert has a number of lakes formed by the lava flow of volcanoes that are dammed in several valleys. One of the Lakes is the Lake Africa. The Erta Ale is one of the active volcanoes that settled in the Lake. The banks of the lake have a thick saline crust.
10. Djibouti is mainly a desert landscape, around 90% of the land is desert
Approximately 90% of Djibouti’s land is a desert. Djibouti has no permanent rivers, only salt lakes in the desert. It has the Grand Bara desert which covers the southern part of Djibouti.
Desertification is a major issue in the country. From the narrow coastal plain, the land rises in the north to a small series of mountains. The South and Central Djibouti is covered by a stony desert and scattered volcanic plateaus with shallow saltwater lakes.
9. It is a country rich with coral and fish species
The Gulf of Tadjoura is one of the richest areas in the world for coral and fish species located in eastern Djibouti. Djibouti also has its share of ornamental fishes in the Gulf of Aden. The fish species are from the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. 80 species of reef-associated fish of 10 families were found in Djibouti.
8. It is home to the only USA military base in Africa
In Djibouti City, Camp Lemonnier is the only United States military base in Africa. In fact, it is the largest American permanent military base in Africa. Furthermore, it is home to more than 4000 personnel, who are mostly part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
Djibouti’s proximity to restive regions in Africa and the Middle East is what makes it a significant location base for military superpowers. As a result, Djibouti is a host of not only the US military base, but to the Chinese and French military base as well.
7. It has 195 miles of beautiful coastline
Djibouti has 195 miles of coastline which is 314 kilometers. Much of this coastline consists of gold and white, sandy beaches. Most of the length is in the Gulf of Tadjoura, a west oriented trench with a depth of about 883m.
In the north of Djibouti, the coastline has coral reefs, shoals, islands, and islets. The coastline is bordered by up to 60 miles of flat, low, sandy and barren plains. There are broken hills, mountains and bisected plains in the background. As a result, it is not uncommon to find cliffs and bluffs
6. The residents are referred to as Djiboutians
Djiboutians is the name you call residents of the Djibouti. Two major ethnic groups make up residence of Djibouti. The Issa Somali who are called the Issas, making up 60% of the population and a smaller component called the Gadabuursi. Likewise, the Afars makes up 35%. The remaining 5% is made up of Arabs, Ethiopians, and Europeans
5. It is the 3rd smallest country in (continental) Africa
Djibouti is the third smallest country in continental Africa. Furthermore, it is the eight smallest country in Africa with the land mass of 23.200 km2.
It is the smallest country in the Horn of Africa, which also consists of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
The economy is growing rapidly despite the inadequate rainfall and natural resources.
4. Home to a lake that’s saltier than the Dead Sea
Lac Assal of Djibouti is the saltiest lake with the exception of Antarctica’s lakes. In contrast, It is certainly more saltier than the Dead Sea. Lake Assal is the most saline body of water on earth after Don Juan Pond with 34.8% average salt concentration; the Dead Sea has 33.7% salt concentration.
The Lac Assal is the number one tourist attraction in the country. It has provided salt to many salt caravans in the past and does so to this day.
Salt mined in Djibouti often ends up in Europeans restaurants.
3. Has one of the lowest points in Africa
Lac Assal is the lowest point in Djibouti. Most noteworthy, it is also the lowest point on the continent of Africa. Lake Assal is 155m under the sea level in the Afar triangle. It is the third lowest point on earth after the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea
2. Became independent from France in 1977
Djibouti gained freedom from France in 1977. France colonized the country and named it French Somali land. Later, a referendum was held after Somali gained her independence. As a result, Djibouti had to decide if they should stay with France or join the Somali Republic. A previous referendum that did not support independence was held in 1958 and 1967.
Finally, on the 27th June 1977, Djibouti became her own independent country.
1. In Djibouti it’s common for taxi fares to go up after sunset, by about 50%
Taxi fares at night in Djibouti increase by around 50% after sunset. The taxi fares vary depending on the distance traveled. Even more, taxi drivers take advantage of ignorant passengers desperate to get to their location. As a result, taxi fares can become very high.
Although a billboard showing average prices of taxi fares can be found outside the airport, it has yet to change the situation.
Another Must Read: Most Developed Countries in Africa