• Yemen

Yemen (الجمهوريّة اليمنية)   

Yemen is the land of legends and mysteries, an Arab state with an ancient history, unique culture and traditions. Name of the country "Al-Yaman" can be translated from Arabic as "welfare." Civilization that existed in what is now Yemen thousands of years ago, was left on the memory of itself numerous architectural monuments. Only here you can find the ancient clay skyscrapers and stone walled village on the slopes of the mountains, decorated with unique ornaments. Unusual landscape of Yemen, which is different from other Arabian countries significant natural diversity. It belongs to Yemen, one of the most exotic corners of our planet Socotra island, which is known from the times of Alexander the Great as the "island of happiness", the main supplier of myrrh, incense and unique pink and black pearls. Yemen relatively closed to tourists, the main types of tourism are excursions, eco-tourism and leisure (trekking programs, expeditions, scuba diving and windsurfing).

General information

The location, grounds and landscape 

Yemen is located in the south of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. It is part of the Middle East, bordering with Oman and Saudi Arabia, washed by the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. From Africa country it is separated by the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb. Yemen owns several islands: Socotra (3,650 sq. Km.) in Indian Ocean, Perim - Bab-el-Mandeb and Kamaran in the Red Sea.

The country's territory is 527 970 km². 

Yemen is predominantly mountainous country located on the plateau, which goes on the north and east to the desert of the Rub al Khali. In the west along the coast of the Red Sea it stretches long narrow flat strip. Within its territory there is the highest mountain in Arabia - Jebel. The top of these mountains - Al-Nabi Shaib reaches a height of 3600 m. Mountains are well represented by lava fields and cones of extinct volcanoes and hot springs are found.

East shallow slope of the mountains of Jebel almost completely occupies the central plateau. This basalt array height is from 2000 to 3000 m. Broad ledges plateau drops forming in the mountains of considerable areas of flat surface - hollow. Near the town of Marib the Central Plateau move over to plains, known as Sharki.

Southwest of the desert Rub al Khali is the most lifeless space throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Here you can meet the quicksand of dazzling whiteness. They are called the Bahr-es-Safi (Safi Sea), on behalf of the legendary king Safi, who was killed along with his troops in these sands. Quicksand is completely impassable for horses, and even a camel on the slopes of the dunes falls to his belly.

In the west to the mountains of Yemen abuts a narrow coastal plain - the Tihama. This plain, covered with sand and salt marshes, is crossed from east to west by numerous river beds - wadis originating in the mountains and, as a rule, not wafting flood waters to the Red Sea.

Population: more than 24 million people: representatives of many Arab tribes, as well as non-Arab population, mostly from India, Pakistan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Western Europe.

CapitalSanaa, with a population of about 2 million people.

Biggest cities: Sanaa, Aden, Hodeidah, Mukalla, Shibam.

Languages: Arabic (official), also used in everyday life Yemeni dialect of Arabic, and on Socotra island there is Socotri. Among the foreign very common are English and Russian languages​​.

Religion: Islam. Most Yemenis adhere to Sunni Islam. However in the north Shiites make up about 40% of the population. Also in Yemen there is a small minority of Hindus and Christians.

Time zoneGMT +3. Coincides with the time of Kiev.

Calling code: +967. 

Currency: Yemen Riyal (YER). 1.00 USD ≅ 215 YER, 1.00 EUR ≅ 295 YER.

Credit card payment systems: Visa, MasterCard, American Express (not so common, accepted in hotels of internatioal networks, at the international airports in Sanaa and Aden).

The climate and the average temperature

The country's climate varies in different regions: in the mountains (Sanaa) - semi-arid, temperate with low humidity (20-30%), and dust levels in combination with its sparse and low atmospheric pressure (200 mm Hg. Art. Below normal). Here, the daytime temperature is maintained at the same level almost the entire year (from +25 to +30 ° C during the day, and from +12 to +17 ° C at night). Rainfall is low, the main rains are in April and July-August. Sometimes, on the highest mountain tops falls snow.

The coastal strip, stretching along the coast of the Red Sea (Aden, Hodeidah), is characterized by high humidity combined with a hot climate. In this area, there are significant differences of day and night temperature (+40 ° C during the day and up to +14 ° C at night).

In the desert (on the border with Oman and Saudi Arabia), the climate is very hot (up to + 50 ° C), summer and winter winds often bring sandstorms. The average June temperature is about 27 ° C, and the average January temperature is about 14 ° C.

It ought to be noted the Socotra island. It drops an average rainfall, daytime temperatures are ranging from +20 to +30 ° C. Winter and spring winds are blowing weak, but significantly intensify in the summer.

 Flora and fauna

Most of the area is devoid of vegetation. The country faces the problem of deforestation and desertification. In the deserts and semi-deserts grow annual and perennial grasses, there are various species of wormwood. Scrublands are dominated by Acacia, camel-thorn, Haloxylon, jujube, oleander. Ubiquitous widespread is tamarisk. The coastal zone is occupied by sand and salt marshes, among plants grow halophytes. Foothills are covered with sparse forests and evergreen shrubs. In the oases grow date-palms and coconut, in some areas - sesame and mango. In the east there are trees of the Burseraceae family, of which are extracted aromatic resin. Along the coast of the Gulf of Aden you can find myrrh and frankincense (Boswellia) trees.

Fauna of the Yemen mainland has a relativ diverse. It is home to dozens of species of mammals. From ungulates dominated are antelopes and gazelles, and from predators - Arabian leopard, hyena, caracal, jackal, Arabian wolf. Ubiquitous widespread are foxes. In the foothills sometimes there cheetahs and leopards. In the mountains and near the fertile valleys inhabited by monkeys - baboons and gamadryas. There are many reptiles, insects and arachnids. Birds are presented kites, hawks, vultures, pelicans, flamingos, gulls, desert larks and others.

Very rich and diverse is marine fauna of coastal waters. It is home to many commercial fish species, including king mackerel, tuna, there are clusters of various marine invertebrates. Broad representation from different species have sharks, barracudas, dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays, etc.

The most highlights have flora and fauna of the archipelago of Socotra. Endemics are 37% of the 825 plants, 90% of reptiles. The island is home to 192 species of birds, 253 species of coral, 730 species of coastal fish and 300 species of crab and lobster, as well as the birthplace of the famous Dracaena cinnabari or Sokotra dragon's blood tree (Dracaena Sinnabari) and giant Dorsten (Dorstenia gigas). Dracaena has the form of the fungus up to 10 meters. From the bark of a tree at the incision begins to flow red juice, which hardens quickly; the resulting gum is purple, locals since ancient times used it in medical, veterinary and cosmetic purposes.

How best to get

Get to Yemen is most convenient by plane, but there are no direct air links with the CIS countries. Best to get  is a connecting flight that offer Turkish Airlines (from Kiev or Moscow, via Istanbul). You can also choose the more expensive Qatar Airways, Emirates and Royal Jordanian.

To get Socotra is uneasy. Here are constantly flying small aircraft, several times a week there are flights from Sanaa, Aden and other cities. In addition from the mainland go chartered vessels with cargoes for the locals. During the monsoon general communication may be interrupted for a long time.

Best time to visit

The best time for tours to Yemen is October-February, when the heat subsides and humidity reduces. To visit the island of Socotra is better from December to March.

Popular tourist sites

In Yemen there are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: city of Shibam, historic downtown Sanaa, Socotra Archipelago and the city of Zabid.

Sanaa is Yemen's capital and one of the oldest cities in the world. Here you can explore more than a hundred mosques and 6,500 other authentic Arab buildings. Among the main attractions there are the gates of Bab el-Yemen, which were built more than seven centuries, the Mosque of Al-Bakil of 16th century and Souq al-Mil, which is more than 1,000 years old, here you can buy almost everything you have in the country.

Shibam is the so-called "Manhattan of the desert". The world's first structures of this type number 10-11 floors. Almost all the buildings of yellow-white were built in the XIX century, in baked clay without additional coupling elements. The city itself is about 2000 years old. It sought not only to merchants and traders, but also bandits, for the defense of which was invented a special "vertical plan," which has created a solid and impregnable wall.

Zebid is the ancient city, which in 13-15 centuries was the capital of Yemen. Town planning, residential and military facilities make it an important historical and archaeological site. Here was a well-known University - Centre of Islamic science. Zabid is the city with interesting architecture, beautiful interior decoration of buildings, the city of narrow streets, ancient mosques, of which there are more than a hundred.

Socotra archipelago is one of the most exotic places on the planet, the birthplace of dragon trees. The archipelago consists of several different in shape and size of the islands. Its whole feature is the unique nature of the islands, natural landscape which is simply "heavenly." According to many scientists, it is the only place in the world where it is still preserved in its original nature intact. Here are the white and clean beaches, azure water, unusual vegetation, waterfalls and canyons, and most importantly - no upscale hotels and tourist crowds.

Kamaran Island - there are very picturesque coral reefs, mangrove forests, about 140 species of marine animals and the skeletons of hundreds of ships were broken at the bottom of the Red Sea. Diving on the island is highly valued by divers from around the world, but it is only suitable for experienced divers, as the dive here are quite difficult and dangerous due to the features of the local currents.

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