Destination in brief
Djibouti in brief
Djibouti is located in northeast Africa, in an area called “the Horn of Africa”. Neighbors: Eritrea (north), Ethiopia (south), Somalia (west). It has a coastline on the Red Sea.
Djibouti was a French colony, and later a French overseas territory, until 1977 (it was known as French Somaliland until 1967).
Size: 23,200 km² (8,957.6 mi²) - Third smallest country in continental Africa – About 90% of the country’s territory is covered by desert.
Capital city: Djibouti City – The city was built by the French in the 19th century, so most houses are built in the French colonial style.
Population (in 2020): 982,000 – divided into two main ethnic groups: the Issa of Somali and the Afar.
Almost half of all men in Djibouti use khat as a stimulant. Chewing khat leaves produces similar effects to using amphetamine. On average, some 40% of the household budget is spent on khat, a huge financial drain in a country where almost half the population is unemployed. Khat also creates severe health problems.
Djibouti has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the world.
Language: French, Arabic, Somali, Afar – Somali is the most widely spoken language, although it is rarely written and is not taught in schools.
Religion: 94% Sunni Muslim, 6% Christian
Political system: semi-presidential republic, formally a parliamentary democracy
Djibouti is an extremely poor country. 60% of the population lives on 1 USD/day. These are mostly nomads, refugees, and homeless people. The average age is 25 and the child mortality rate is over 11%. Nearly 40% of the labor force is unemployed. Most of those who are employed work in agriculture.
Corruption pervades all aspects of economic and political life.
Currency: Djibouti franc (DJF)
Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 700 USD
Most common surname: Mohamed
Safety: Pickpockets are very active in the capital.
The al-Shabab regional Islamist militant group poses a serious threat to foreign military and civil personnel stationed in Djibouti.
Because of Djibouti’s strategic geographic position along the Red Sea, several countries have military bases there. The USA has the largest military presence, but India, China, Australia, Italy and Turkey also have soldiers stationed there. The French Foreign Legion has a training center in Djibouti.
The consumption of alcohol is legal, but drunkenness is punished with up to two years in prison.
When to go? If anytime, then November-March is best.
Top tourist attractions:
Lac Assal is the world’s saltiest lake after Antarctica’s lakes. It is even saltier than the Dead Sea. It is Djibouti’s, and the whole African continent’s lowest point.
The Gulf of Tadjoura (located in the eastern part of the country) is one of the richest areas in the world for coral and fish species.
Day Forest National Park, Djibouti National Park, Yoboki National Park