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Geography of Djibouti

Learn Information about the East African Nation of Djibouti


Djibouti Flag

The Djibouti flag has two equal horizontal bands of light blue (top) and light green with a white isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bearing a red five-pointed star in the center.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated September 08, 2011

Population: 757,074 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Djibouti
Bordering Countries: Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia
Area: 8,957 square miles (23,200 sq km)
Coastline: 1,958 miles (314 km)
Highest Point: Moussa Ali at 6,653 feet (2,028 m)
Lowest Point: Lac Assal at -508 feet (-155 m)

Djibouti is a country located on the eastern coast of Africa along the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It is bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia and it has a population of 757,074 (2011 estimate). Djibouti is known as being one of the least populous countries in Africa and it is also known for its strong ties to France.

History of Djibouti

The early history of Djibouti dates back thousands of years to various trading civilizations. European interest in the area began in the 1800's when the French began exploring the region and eventually formed a partnership with the sultans of Raheita, Tadjourah and Gobaad (U.S. Department of State). In 1862 France purchased the port of Obock and from 1884 to 1885 France expanded its territory. In 1892 France moved the capital of its territory from Obock to Djibouti and in 1896 Djibouti became French Somaliland.

Throughout the rest of the 1890s and into the early 1900s French Somaliland grew and became an important trading area. In the 1930s the border areas of French Somaliland were subject to fighting between the French and Italian. Until December 1942 the area was controlled by the Vichy government, at which time the area became part of a British blockade (U.S. Department of State). By the end of 1942 however, the French and Allied forces retook control of French Somaliland as a colony.

By 1957 the colony began to gain more independence and in 1958 French Somaliland became an overseas territory of France. In the 1960s though, movements for independence began to take place in the territory. In a referendum in 1967 however, 60% of the territory opted to remain as such (U.S. Department of State). Also in 1967 the name of French Somaliland was changed to the French Territory of Afars and Issas. On June 27, 1977 the area gained its independence when it became the Republic of Djibouti.

In 1991 Djibouti experienced a civil war between its government and an Afar rebel group (U.S. Department of State). The war ended in 1994 and since then Djibouti has regained its political and social stability and has maintained its ties to France.

Government of Djibouti

Today Djibouti is still considered a republic and it has a mixed legal system based on French civil laws and Islamic religious laws. The executive branch of Djibouti consists of a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister), while its legislative branch is made up of a unicameral Chamber of Deputies. The judicial branch of government in Djibouti consists of a Supreme Court and a Constitutional Court. Djibouti is divided into 6 districts (Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock and Tadjourah) for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Djibouti

The economy of Djibouti consists mainly of activities associated with trading. It has a strategic location on the Horn of Africa with coastlines along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It is also a free trade zone. In addition to trading activities, Djibouti's other major industries are construction and agriculture processing (CIA World Factbook). Agriculture also plays a role in Djibouti's economy but since much of the country is arid production is limited and most of the country's food is imported (CIA World Factbook). The main agricultural products of Djibouti are fruits and vegetables, as well as livestock like goats, sheep and camels (CIA World Factbook).

Geography and Climate of Djibouti

Djibouti is located in Eastern Africa between Eritrea and Somalia (map). It covers a total area of 8,957 square miles (23,200 sq km) and has a coastline of 1,958 miles (314 km). The country's topography varies and consists of a coastal plain and a plateau. These areas are separated by central mountain ranges. Djibouti's highest point, Moussa Ali, is located on its northwestern border with Eritrea and has an elevation of 6,653 feet (2,028 m). The lowest point in Djibouti is Lac Assal with an elevation of -508 feet (-155 m). Lac Assal is located in central Djibouti.

The climate of Djibouti is mostly desert and as such the country is very dry. Its capital and largest city, Djibouti is warm to hot throughout much of the year. The average January low temperature for that city is 73˚F (23˚C), while the average July high temperature is 106˚F (41˚C).

To learn more about Djibouti, visit the Geography and Maps page on Djibouti on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (16 August 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Djibouti. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/dj.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Djibouti: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107467.html

United States Department of State. (9 March 2011). Djibouti. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5482.htm

Wikipedia.com. (19 August 2011). Djibouti - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djibouti

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