Following an upsurge in violence, Yemen is a country in crisis but it is also a country with a fascinating history and many natural wonders…here are some things you probably don’t know about this country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula:
1. A Young Country?
The area now known as Yemen has a history that dates back thousands of years. Despite this, Yemen itself is a relatively young country. It formed in 1990 when North Yemen and South Yemen united.
2. Queen of Sheba
Little is known about the Queen of Sheba, a mysterious woman of power thought to have lived thousands of years ago. But it is agreed by many that Sheba, over which she ruled, was in fact the Kingdom of Saba – located in the area now known as Yemen. In fact, a now extinct gazelle which could be found in the mountains of Yemen was named after this legendary queen.
Many will have heard of the coffee Mocha, famous for its chocolate aftertaste. But few will know that this bean comes from the mountains of Yemen. It is named after the ancient Yemeni port on the Red Sea coast – Mocha.
4. Eddie Izzard
Comedian, writer and actor Eddie Izzard was born in what was then known as the British Colony of Aden, which became independent as South Yemen in 1967.
5. The Galapagos of the Indian Ocean
The Yemeni island of Socorta (or Suqutra) has been called the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’ due to the number of endemic plants and creatures. The largely untouched island is home to a range of unusual-looking trees and plants – some of which are believed to be up to 20 million years old.
6. No oil here
Yemen is known to be the poorest country in the Middle East and has a desperate lack of water. Half of the population struggle daily to find or buy enough clean water.
7. Taxis over buses
While many of us might take a bus to travel between towns, in Yemen a shared taxi, called a bijou, is a more common form of transport. These taxis act like buses but reportedly only leave when the car is full.
8. Lots and lots of children
41% of the Yemeni population are under the age of 15, compared to around 18% in the UK.
9. Children in desperate need
Before the recent surge in violence over 60% of the population were in need, following decades of poverty and instability. Now this figure is estimated to be 80%, half of which are children.
Save the Children teams are working hard in Yemen protecting children and providing life-saving healthcare and water.