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Djibouti (also called Djibouti City and in many early English texts and on many early maps, Jibuti; Arabic: مدينة جيبوتي, French: Ville de Djibouti, Somali: Magaalada Jabuuti, Afar: Magaala Gabuuti) is the eponymous capital and largest city of Djibouti. It is located in the coastal Djibouti Region on the Gulf of Tadjoura.
Djibouti has a population of around 600,000 inhabitants, which counts for 54% of the country’s population. The settlement was founded in 1888 by the French, on land leased from the ruling Somali and Afar Sultans. During the ensuing period, it served as the capital of French Somaliland and its successor the French Territory of the Afars and Issas.
Djibouti City is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Djibouti. Its contemporary population is estimated at 624,000, which is about 70% of the population of the entire nation. Located on the Horn of Africa, Djibouti was an important trade center for both the Arabian Peninsula and Eastern Africa. It also had links to the East African city states. About 95% of the city’s population is Muslim.
Zelia, a port city east of present day Djibouti in what is now Somalia, was the first settlement in the region. Dating back to the first century C.E., it developed as a site of the silver and slave trade and was inhabited by both the indigenous Afar people and by immigrants from Arabia. By the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries there were frequent power struggles between the Christian Abyssinians (Ethiopians) and Muslim sultanates in the region. By the seventeenth century the Afar and Issa people were the majority of residents in the city. Throughout the nineteenth century, Arab traders paid tribute to Afar and Issa chiefs to use the interior for their caravans.
Trade in the Horn of Africa attracted Europeans. In 1881 France established a trading company in the port city of Obock; however, the surrounding mountains of Obock made it difficult for the French to construct a railroad to Ethiopia. In 1885, shortly after the Partition of Africa, the French signed a treaty with Issa chiefs that enabled Léonce Lagarde, the French representative, to establish a permanent presence in the region. They created the colony of French Somaliland in 1888 and established Djibouti City as the base of operations. Djibouti City became the capital of French Somaliland in 1892.
Djibouti City grew rapidly after Governor Léonce Lagarde signed a treaty with Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia to establish trade with his nation in 1897. The French constructed a railroad and a deep-water port, which also drew people to Djibouti City. By 1900 an estimated 15,000 people resided there. An increase in the volume of trade in Djibouti City was sparked when the railroad reached Addis Ababa in 1917.
After invading Ethiopia in 1935 Italy constructed a port at Assab, a city in present-day Eritrea. The development of that port shifted trade away from Djibouti City. After France fell to Germany during the second year of World War II, the Vichy government of France seized control of French Somaliland in 1940. In 1942 British troops instituted a blockade on Djibouti City’s port, forcing the Vichy French to surrender. The British occupied the city until 1943.
Following World War II France granted French Somaliland representation in the French National Assembly. In 1958 the colony voted against independence and remained associated with France. Despite nationalist riots that left many dead and injured, a second referendum on independence in 1967 also failed.
Hassan Gouled Aptidon, an Issa and president of the Ligue Populaire Africaine pour l’Indépendance (LPAI), the leading nationalist organization, initiated a third referendum for independence in 1977. This one passed and independent Republic of Djibouti emerged on June 27, 1977 with Djibouti City as its capital. Aptidon was declared the first president of the new republic and ruled Djibouti as a single party state. In 1999 Aptidon resigned the presidency and his nephew, Ismail Omar Guellah, quickly assumed the office. Guellah won a second term in a one-candidate race in 2005, and in 2011 he won a third term in office.
Known as the Pearl of the Gulf of Tadjoura due to its location, Djibouti is strategically positioned near the world’s busiest shipping lanes and acts as a refueling and transshipment center. The Port of Djibouti is the principal maritime port for imports to and exports from neighboring Ethiopia. Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport is the main domestic airport, connecting the capital to various major global destinations. Djibouti has the second-largest economy of any city in the Horn of Africa after Addis Ababa.
Djibouti is the capital and largest settlement in Djibouti, situated in the Horn of Africa. The city is located in eastern Djibouti, approximately 21 kilometres (13 miles) northwest of the Somaliland border. It is a seaport with the only sheltered harbour on the western side of the Gulf of Tadjoura. The wadi of Ambouli, flows through the city, separating the older parts of the city from the Balbala district. The landscape around the city, along with Djibouti’s coastal lowlands, is either desert or semi-desert. The city’s sandy beaches include Siesta Beach and Heron Beach.
Djibouti is rich in plant species partly because of its diversity of habitats, including beaches, mangroves and semi-arid lands. The most prevalent plant communities are the African foxtail grass, Urochondra, Panicum turgidum and Acacia tortilis.
Djibouti is subject to earthquakes because of its location on the Somali Plate and Red Sea Rift. The geological instability has produced numerous faults, which cause earthquakes but most of them are too small to be felt.
Djibouti’s urban area is partitioned into 31 districts, which include Heron, Gabode, Haramous and Makka Al Moukarama. Balbala suburb has been officially part of the city since 1987, and is divided into 18 districts.
- Financial Center
- Guelleh Batal
- Makka Al Moukarama
- Cheik Moussa
- Cheik Osman
- Balbala Caadi
- Balbala 6
- Wahle Daba
- Gar Gaar
- Ayanleh Souleiman: Professional athlete
- Lula Ali Ismaïl: Djiboutian-Canadian film director
- Aïcha Mohamed Robleh: Writer
- Jamal Abdi Dirieh: Athlete
- Fadumo Ahmed Dhimbiil: Musician
- Moumin Guelleh: Athlete
- Abdourahman Waberi: Novelist
- Mohamed Ali Fourchette: Musician
- Yacin Elmi Bouh: Politician
- Xabiiba Balbalaaf: Musician
- Dileita Mohamed Dileita: Former Prime Minister of Djibouti
- Abdi Waiss Mouhyadin: Athlete
- Choukri Djibah: Politician and Women’s equality activist