About Djibouti [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Djibouti; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.


Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia


Desert; torrid, dry


Coastal plain and plateau separated by central mountains


lowest point: Lac Assal -155 m
highest point: Moussa Ali 2,028 m

Geo Notes

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

Approved Official Names

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

Capital City

name: Djibouti
geographic coordinates: 11 35 N, 43 09 E
time difference: UTC+3

Administrative Divisions

6 districts (cercles, singular - cercle); Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, Tadjourah

Natuaral Hazards

Earthquakes; droughts; occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods
volcanism: Djibouti experiences limited volcanic activity; Ardoukoba (elev. 298 m, 978 ft) last erupted in 1978; Manda-Inakir, located along the Ethiopian border, is also historically active

Environmental Issues

Inadequate supplies of potable water; limited arable land; desertification; endangered species

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

Life Expectancy

total population: 60.73 years
male: 58.31 years
female: 63.22 years (2010 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.)

Languages Spoken

French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar

Religions Practiced

Muslim 94%, Christian 6%

Legal System

Based on French civil law system, traditional practices, and Islamic law; accepts ICJ compulsory jurisdiction with reservations

National Holiday

Independence Day, 27 June (1977)

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 (2009)

Broadcast Media

Maintains restrictions on the licensing and operation of broadcast media; state-owned Radiodiffusion-Television de Djibouti (RTD) operates the sole terrestrial TV station as well as the only 2 domestic radio networks; no private TV or radio stations; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available (2007)


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.

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.

National Anthem

name: "Jabuuti" (Djibouti)
lyrics/music: Aden ELMI/Abdi ROBLEH
note: adopted 1977

Djibouti location map

total: 23,200 sq km
land: 23,180 sq km
water: 20 sq km

Djibouti flag

740,528 (July 2010 est.)


noun: Djiboutian(s)
adjective: Djiboutian

Ethnic Groups

Somali 60%, Afar 35%, other 5% (includes French, Arab, Ethiopian, and Italian)


3.1% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

27 June 1977 (from France)

Government Type


Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

13,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

195 (2010)

Internet Country Code


Refugees & IDPs

refugees (country of origin): 8,642 (Somalia) (2007)

Number Airports

13 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


total: 100 km (Djibouti segment of the 781 km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway)
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
paved: 1,226 km
unpaved: 1,839 km (2000)

Ports & Terminals


National Budget

revenues: $135 million
expenditures: $182 million (1999 est.)

Account Balance

-$352 million (2009 est.)
-$212 million (2007 est.)

Exchange Rates

Djiboutian francs (DJF) per US dollar - 177.71 (2007), 174.75 (2006), 177.72 (2005), 177.72 (2004), 177.72 (2003)

Inflation Rate

6% (2009 est.) 5%

Main Industries

Construction, agricultural processing

Agricultural Products

Fruits, vegetables; goats, sheep, camels, animal hides

Labor Force

351,700 (2007)

Main Occupations

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment Rate

59% (2007 est.)
note: data are for urban areas, 83% in rural areas

GDP (USD Parity)

$1.974 billion (2009 est.)
$1.88 billion (2008 est.)
$1.777 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$2,700 (2009 est.)
$2,700 (2008 est.)
$2,600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 30.9%

Below Poverty

42% (2007 est.)