Africa :: Djibouti
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Djibouti
Map of Djibouti
Introduction ::Djibouti
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 and is a front-line state in the global war on terrorism.
Geography ::Djibouti
Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia
Geographic coordinates:
11 30 N, 43 00 E
Map references:
total: 23,200 sq km
country comparison to the world: 150
land: 23,180 sq km
water: 20 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Land boundaries:
total: 516 km
border countries: Eritrea 109 km, Ethiopia 349 km, Somalia 58 km
314 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Current Weather
desert; torrid, dry
coastal plain and plateau separated by central mountains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Lac Assal -155 m
highest point: Moussa Ali 2,028 m
Natural resources:
potential geothermal power, gold, clay, granite, limestone, marble, salt, diatomite, gypsum, pumice, petroleum
Land use:
arable land: 0.04%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.96% (2005)
Irrigated land:
10 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
0.3 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.02 cu km/yr (84%/0%/16%)
per capita: 25 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
earthquakes; droughts; occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods
Environment - current issues:
inadequate supplies of potable water; limited arable land; desertification; endangered species
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location near world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arabian oilfields; terminus of rail traffic into Ethiopia; mostly wasteland; Lac Assal (Lake Assal) is the lowest point in Africa
People ::Djibouti
740,528 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35.7% (male 132,233/female 131,785)
15-64 years: 61.1% (male 200,282/female 251,965)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 10,890/female 13,373) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 21.4 years
male: 19.8 years
female: 22.8 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.181% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
Birth rate:
25.58 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
Death rate:
8.37 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
Net migration rate:
urban population: 87% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.8 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 56.65 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 40
male: 64.55 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 60.73 years
country comparison to the world: 184
male: 58.31 years
female: 63.22 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.79 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
3.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
16,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
noun: Djiboutian(s)
adjective: Djiboutian
Ethnic groups:
Somali 60%, Afar 35%, other 5% (includes French, Arab, Ethiopian, and Italian)
Muslim 94%, Christian 6%
French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.9%
male: 78%
female: 58.4% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 4 years
male: 5 years
female: 4 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
8.4% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 11
Government ::Djibouti
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
Government type:
name: Djibouti
geographic coordinates: 11 35 N, 43 09 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
6 districts (cercles, singular - cercle); Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, Tadjourah
27 June 1977 (from France)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 27 June (1977)
approved by referendum 4 September 1992; note - constitution allows for multiparties
Legal system:
based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law; accepts ICJ compulsory jurisdiction with reservations
18 years of age; universal
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)
cabinet: Council of Ministers responsible to the president
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elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 8 April 2005 (next to be held by April 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Ismail Omar GUELLEH reelected president; percent of vote - Ismail Omar GUELLEH 100%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Chamber of Deputies or Chambre des Deputes (65 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 8 February 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats - UMP (coalition of parties associated with President Ismail Omar GUELLAH) 65
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic National Party or PND [ADEN Robleh Awaleh]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Abdillahi HAMARITEH]; Djibouti Development Party or PDD [Mohamed Daoud CHEHEM]; Front pour la Restauration de l'Unite Democratique or FRUD [Ali Mohamed DAOUD]; People's Progress Assembly or RPP [Ismail Omar GUELLEH] (governing party); Peoples Social Democratic Party or PPSD [Moumin Bahdon FARAH]; Republican Alliance for Democracy or ARD [Ahmed YOUSSOUF]; Union for a Presidential Majority or UMP [Mohamed Dileita DILEITA] (a coalition of parties including RPP, FRUD, PND, and PPSD); Union for Democracy and Justice or UDJ
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Union for Presidential Majority UMP (coalition includes RPP, FRUD, PPSD and PND); Union for Democratic Changeover or UAD (opposition coalition includes ARD, MRDD, and UDJ)
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roble OLHAYE Oudine
chancery: Suite 515, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 331-0270
FAX: [1] (202) 331-0302
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James C. SWAN
embassy: Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti
mailing address: B. P. 185, Djibouti
telephone: [253] 35 39 95
FAX: [253] 35 39 40
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of light blue (top) and light green with a white isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bearing a red five-pointed star in the center; blue stands for sea and sky and the Issa Somali people; green symbolizes earth and the Afar people; white represents peace; the red star recalls the struggle for independence and stands for unity
Economy ::Djibouti
Economy - overview:
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.011 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
$1.89 billion (2008 est.)
$1.785 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.102 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
5.9% (2008 est.)
4% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$2,800 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
$2,700 (2008 est.)
$2,600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.2%
industry: 14.9%
services: 81.9% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
351,700 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 160
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
59% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
note: data are for urban areas, 83% in rural areas
Population below poverty line:
42% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 30.9%
revenues: $135 million
expenditures: $182 million (1999 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
11.56% (31 December 2008)
Stock of money:
$462.7 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 131
$380 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$338 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 141
$284.1 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$269.9 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 128
$224.7 million (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
fruits, vegetables; goats, sheep, camels, animal hides
construction, agricultural processing
Electricity - production:
280 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
Electricity - consumption:
260.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
Oil - consumption:
12,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
Oil - exports:
19 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
Oil - imports:
8,476 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
Current account balance:
-$352 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
$100 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 191
Exports - commodities:
reexports, hides and skins, coffee (in transit)
Exports - partners:
Somalia 76.68%, France 4.89%, UAE 4.22% (2009)
$644 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 181
Imports - commodities:
foods, beverages, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Saudi Arabia 16.26%, India 16.03%, China 14.26%, US 9.57%, Malaysia 6.63%, Japan 4.74% (2009)
Debt - external:
$428 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 161
Exchange rates:
Djiboutian francs (DJF) per US dollar - 177.71 (2007), 174.75 (2006), 177.72 (2005), 177.72 (2004), 177.72 (2003)
Communications ::Djibouti
Telephones - main lines in use:
10,800 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 201
Telephones - mobile cellular:
44,100 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 196
Telephone system:
general assessment: telephone facilities in the city of Djibouti are adequate, as are the microwave radio relay connections to outlying areas of the country
domestic: Djibouti Telecom is the sole provider of telecommunications services and utilizes mostly a microwave radio relay network; fiber-optic cable is installed in the capital; rural areas connected via wireless local loop radio systems; mobile cellular coverage is primarily limited to the area in and around Djibouti city
international: country code - 253; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable with links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean and 1 Arabsat); Medarabtel regional microwave radio relay telephone network (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
199 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 188
Internet users:
13,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 197
Transportation ::Djibouti
13 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 152
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 3 (2009)
total: 100 km (Djibouti segment of the 781 km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway)
country comparison to the world: 127
narrow gauge: 100 km 1.000-m gauge
note: railway is under joint control of Djibouti and Ethiopia but is largely inoperable (2008)
total: 3,065 km
country comparison to the world: 164
paved: 1,226 km
unpaved: 1,839 km (2000)
Ports and terminals:
Transportation - note:
the International Maritime Bureau reports offshore waters in the Gulf of Aden are high risk for piracy; numerous vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crew, passengers, and cargo are held for ransom
Military ::Djibouti
Military branches:
Djibouti National Army (includes Navy and Air Force)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; 16-25 years of age for voluntary military training; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 165,000
females age 16-49: 213,894 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 110,441
females age 16-49: 147,939 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 8,260
female: 8,503 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
3.8% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 31
Transnational Issues ::Djibouti
Disputes - international:
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 and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 8,642 (Somalia) (2007)
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Djibouti is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude; large numbers of voluntary economic migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia pass illegally through Djibouti en route to Yemen and other locations in the Middle East; Djibouti's large refugee population - comprised of Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans - remains vulnerable to various forms of exploitation, including human trafficking
tier rating: Djibouti is placed on Tier 2 Watch List because it does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it is making significant efforts to do so; the government made nascent efforts to bring trafficking offenders and migrant smugglers to justice during the reporting period, but the government showed only limited evidence of progress in prosecuting specific human trafficking offenses and in raising public awareness of the crime (2009)

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)