Capital : Djibouti
Size: 9 000 sq m Popn: 467 000
A small country by African standards, Djibouti's Assar population was converted to Islam by Arab settlers in the C9th. Wars between Islamic Afar states and Christian Ethiopia continued from the C13th to 17th.
In 1862, the French arrived, annexing Djibouti and the neighbouring area as the colony of French Somaliland. It was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and Issas in 1967.
Despite a majority vote to remain with France in 1958, the campaign for independence finally succeeded in 1977 with Hassan Gouled as president. The political parties combined to form the RPP in 1979 and elected a chamber of deputies. Friendship treaties were signed with Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan and Djibouti tried to assist the East African peace process.
Temporary closure of the Suez Canal, internal tribal animosities and severe droughts in 1984-5 have made financial assistance from fellow members necessary since Djibouti joined the Arab League. European Community aid helped retain stability and in 1987 Gouled won 98% of the vote when he stood for his final term. Although Amnesty International has charged the security forces with brutal treatment of political prisoners, Djibouti was elected to the UN Security Council for 1993-5.
It has a Sunni Muslim population of Afars, Issas, Arabs and Somalis, some Europeans (mostly French) and refugees from Eithiopia and Somalia. French and Arabic share the position of official language, Afar and Somali are spoken locally and some English is still used. There is a small Christian minority.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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