Profile: Yemen

The following are key facts about the Republic of Yemen:

Population: Yemen's population is estimated at 16 million, growing by 3.7 percent a year. 

Area: 536,869 sq km (207,286 sq miles). Yemen is bordered by Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its land borders have been a source of trouble with its neighbors.

Capital: Sanaa. Aden was designated the economic capital under a 1990 merger agreement between the Yemen Arab Republic (north) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (south).

Armed Forces: The armed forces did not integrate following the 1990 merger. A two-month civil war was fought in 1994 between southern separatist forces led by Vice-President Ali Salem al-Baidh and government forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. It ended on July 7, 1994 when Saleh's forces captured Aden, the declared capital of a separatist state.

The London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies estimates Yemen's total armed forces at 42,000, perhaps 25,000 of whom are conscripts, with reserves of perhaps 40,000. The army has 37,000 men, the navy 1,500 and the air force 3,500. 

Economy: Yemen is one of the Arab world's poorest nations with per capita GDP of $280 a year. Inflation was reported at five percent at the end of 1997. Unemployment is around 35 percent.

A small oil producer, Yemen pumps around 390,000 barrels per day, of which 190,000 barrels come from the south. Up to 30 foreign oil companies are operating in the main oilfields. Yemen in 1995 concluded a joint venture gas project worth $3 billion with French oil group Total SA for the exploitation of the Marib gas field in the north.

Yemen's 1998 budget totaled 350.1 billion rials ($2.5 billion at the free market rate of about 140 rials to the dollar). It abolished the official exchange rate of 50 rials to the dollar in January 1996. The forecast deficit was 14 billion rials ($100 million).

Modern History: Yemen has been plagued by revolutions, a civil war in North Yemen in the 1960s, border clashes between south and north in the 1970s and political assassinations and riots. The two parts of Yemen were previously under foreign occupation. Turkey withdrew from the north in 1918 and Britain from the south in 1967.