- Area: 23,200 sq km / 9,000 sq mi
- Population: 942,333
- Infant mortality: 45.8 per 1000 births
- Life expectancy: 63.5
- Urbanisation: 77.8%
- Literacy: Unknown
Ablé immigrants from Arabia migrated to what is now Djibouti in about the 3rd century B.C. Their descendants are the Afars, one of the two main ethnic groups that make up Djibouti today. Somali Issas arrived thereafter. Islam came to the region in 825 AD.
Djibouti was acquired by France between 1843 and 1886 through treaties with the Somali sultans. Small, arid, and sparsely populated, it is important chiefly because of the capital city's port, the terminal of the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railway that carries 60% of Ethiopia's foreign trade.
Originally known as French Somaliland, the colony voted in 1958 and 1967 to remain under French rule. It was renamed the Territory of the Afars and Issas in 1967 and took the name of its capital city on June 27, 1977, when France transferred sovereignty to the new independent nation of Djibouti.
On Sept. 4, 1992, voters approved in referendum a new multiparty constitution. In 1991, conflict between the Afars and the Issa-dominated government erupted and the continued warfare has ravaged the country.
The dictatorial president, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had run the country since its independence, finally stepped aside in 1999, and Ismail Omar Guelleh was elected president. In March 2000, the main Afars rebel group signed a peace accord with the government. The fighting, severe drought, and the presence of tens of thousands of refugees from its war-torn neighbors, Ethiopia and Somalia, have severely strained Djibouti's agricultural capacity.
Djibouti is situated in the Horn of Africa on the Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.
The country's coastline stretches for 250 miles, with terrain consisting mainly of plateau, plains and highlands. It shares borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Djibouti has eight mountain ranges with peaks of over 1,000 metres (3,300 feet). The Grand Bara desert covers parts of southern Djibouti in the Arta, Ali Sabieh and Dikhil regions.
Most of Djibouti is part of the Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands ecoregion.
Djibouti's climate is significantly warmer and has significantly less seasonal variation than the world average. Mean daily maximum temperatures range from 32 to 41 °C.
Djibouti's climate ranges from arid in the northeastern coastal regions to semiarid in the central, northern, western and southern parts of the country. On the eastern seaboard, annual rainfall is less than 5 inches (131 mm); in the central highlands, precipitation is about 8 to 11 inches (200 to 300 mm). The hinterland is significantly less humid than the coastal regions. The coast has the mildest climates in Djibouti.
Djibouti's economy is largely concentrated in the service sector. Commercial activities revolve around the country's free trade policies and strategic location as a Red Sea transit point.
Due to limited rainfall, vegetables and fruits are the principal production crops, and other food items require importation. The GDP (purchasing power parity) in 2013 was estimated at $2.505 billion, with a real growth rate of 5% annually. Per capita income is around $2,874. The services sector constituted around 79.7% of the GDP, followed by industry at 17.3%, and agriculture at 3%.
As of 2013, the container terminal at the Port of Djibouti handles the bulk of the nation's trade. About 70% of the seaport's activity consists of imports to and exports from neighboring Ethiopia, which depends on the harbour as its main maritime outlet. The port also serves as an international refueling center and transshipment hub.
In 2012, the Djiboutian government in collaboration with DP World started construction of the Doraleh Container Terminal, a third major seaport intended to further develop the national transit capacity. A$396 million project, it has the capacity to accommodate 1.5 million twenty foot container units annually.
Investment funds have gone toward building telecommunications infrastructure and increasing disposable income by supporting small businesses. Owing to its growth potential, the fishing and agro-processing sector, which represents around 15% of GDP, has also enjoyed rising investment since 2008.
To expand the modest industrial sector, a 56 megawatt geothermal power plant slated to be completed by 2018 is being constructed with the help of OPEC, the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility. The facility is expected to solve the recurring electricity shortages, decrease the nation's reliance on Ethiopia for energy, reduce costly oil imports for diesel-generated electricity, and thereby buttress the GDP and lower debt.