Djibouti Introduction - 2023


SOURCE: 2023 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Background

The region of present-day Djibouti was the site of the medieval Ifat and Adal Sultanates. In the late 19th century, treaties signed by the Afar sultans with the French allowed the latter to establish the colony of French Somaliland in 1862. The French signed additional treaties with the ethnic Somali in 1885.

Tension between the ethnic Afar and Somali populations increased over time, as the ethnic Somalis perceived that the French unfairly favored the Afar and gave them disproportionate influence in local governance. In 1958, the French held a referendum that provided residents of French Somaliland the option to either continue their association with France or to join neighboring Somalia as it established its independence. The ethnic Somali protested the vote, because French colonial leaders did not recognize many Somali as residents, which gave the Afar outsized influence in the decision to uphold ties with France. After a second referendum in 1967, the French changed the territory’s name to the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, in part to underscore their relationship with the ethnic Afar and downplay the significance of the ethnic Somalis. A final referendum in 1977 established Djibouti as an independent nation and granted ethnic Somalis Djiboutian nationality, formally resetting the balance of power between the majority ethnic Somalis and minority ethnic Afar residents. Upon independence, the country was named after its capital city of Djibouti. Hassan Gouled APTIDON, an ethnic Somali leader, installed an authoritarian one-party state and proceeded to serve as president until 1999. Unrest between the Afar minority and Somali majority culminated in a civil war during the 1990s that ended in 2001 with a peace accord between Afar rebels and the Somali Issa-dominated government. In 1999, Djibouti's first multiparty presidential election resulted in the election of Ismail Omar GUELLEH as president; he was reelected to a second term in 2005 and extended his tenure in office via a constitutional amendment, which allowed him to serve his third and fourth terms, and to begin a fifth term in 2021.

Djibouti occupies a strategic geographic location at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its ports handle 95% of Ethiopia’s trade. Djibouti’s ports also service transshipments between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The government holds longstanding ties to France, which maintains a military presence in the country, as does the US, Japan, Italy, Germany, Spain, and China.

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NOTE: The information regarding Djibouti on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Djibouti 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Djibouti 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.