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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 and final term in 2005.
Djibouti occupies a strategic geographic location at the mouth of the Red Sea and serves as an important transhipment 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.
land: 22,980 sq. km
water: 20 sq. km
15-64 years: 61.7% (male 206,323/female 260,772)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 11,349/female 13,924) (2011 est.)
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
geographic coordinates: 11 35 N, 43 09 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)
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 transhipment and refuelingcentre. Imports and exports from landlocked neighbour Ethiopia represent 85% 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% continues to be a major problem.
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