Country Profile: Yemen
Yemen, officially the Republic of Yemen, is an Arab country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. Yemen has an estimated population of more than 23 million people and is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the North, the Red Sea to the West, the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to the South, and Oman to the east. Yemen is the only republic on the Arabian Peninsula.
While the national language is Arabic, Yemen is one of the main homelands of the South Semitic family of languages, which includes the non-Arabic language of the ancient Sabaean Kingdom. Its modern Yemeni descendants are closely related to the modern Semitic languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, only a small remnant of those languages exists in modern Yemen, notably on the island of Socotra and in the back hills of the Hadhramaut coastal region. Modern South Arabian languages spoken in Yemen include Mehri, with 70,643 speakers, Soqotri, with an estimated 43,000 speakers in the Socotra archipelago and 67,000 worldwide, Bathari (with an estimated total of only 200 speakers), and Hobyót language.
Foreign language in public schools is taught from grade seven on, though the quality of public school instruction is low. Private schools using a British or American system teach English and produce proficient speakers, but Arabic is the dominant language of regular communication. The number of English speakers in Yemen is small compared to other Arab countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Private schools have also started to teach French alongside Arabic and English.
A number of Red Sea islands, including the Hanish Islands, Kamaran and Perim, as well as Socotra in the Arabian Sea belong to Yemen. Many of the islands are volcanic; for example Jabal al-Tair had a volcanic eruption in 2007 and before that in 1883. Yemen is the world's 49th-largest country (after France). It is comparable in size to Thailand, and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of California. Until recently, Yemen's northern border was undefined because the Arabian Desert prevented any human habitation there. The country can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the Rub al Khali in the east.
In the future Yemen will look to continue to grow based on its uniqe culture and diverse population. As a nation, they are looking to move away from oil and other non-renewable forms of energy. Currently they have an extremely vast amount of oil and are one of the world's largest producers and exporters, but estimates show that by 2020, they may be completely dry from any oil whatsoever. This has propelled them to research other renewable energy forms such as wind and solar, to harvest the natural power of the sun that is present is so much of their desert climate.
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