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The Republic of Djibouti (Arabic: Djumhurijja Djibuti, French: République de Djibouti) lies on the Gulf of Tadjourah, which is located at the extreme western end of the Gulf of Aden. The north-east African country at the exit of the Red Sea has Somalia to the southeast, Ethiopia to the south and west and Eritrea to the northwest. The state nature of Djibouti is varied despite the small state area of 23 100 km² – which corresponds approximately to the size of the German federal state Hessen.
Two major landscapes can be distinguished. On the one hand there are the mountains located in the north of the country, which reach a height of up to 1 775 m, on the other hand there are desert and semi-desert plains, which are crossed by volcanic plateaus in the west and south. The highest mountain of the country is the Musa Ali with 2 010 m near the border to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The lowest point of the country – and thus the lowest in the whole of Africa – is the salty Assal Sea in the centre of the country, which is 157 m below sea level. Further deep depressions with salt lakes run parallel to the Red Sea. The country has no rivers that carry water all year round.
Since a referendum in 1992, Djibouti has been a presidential multi-party democracy according to the constitution, but the first multi-party election did not take place until 2003. The head of state with considerable powers is the president of the country, who is directly elected by the people for five years at a time (Ismale Omar Guelleh, since May 1999). Together with the cabinet, which is chaired by a prime minister (Abdulkader Kamil Mohamed, since April 2013), the president exercises executive power in the country. The legislature is the National Assembly, which has 65 members elected for a five-year term. Djibouti is divided into five regions and the capital.
Agriculture accounts for 4% of the country’s gross domestic product, industry for 16% and services for the remainder. The very high share of the service sector can be explained by the fact that the only direct railway line from Djibouti to neighbouring Addis Ababa in Ethiopia runs. The international seaport in Djibouti City thus becomes an important transit port for Ethiopian goods. The container port in Doraleh, the largest and most modern of its kind in East Africa, was inaugurated in 2009. A stable currency and a relatively calm domestic political situation have also prompted numerous banks and financial institutions to settle in the country.
Due to the climate and soil conditions, only about 2% of the country’s land area is suitable for cultivating crops. Cultivation is primarily for the population’s own needs. A little over 10% of the land can be used as grazing land with restrictions. Fishing, on the other hand, is successful in the species-rich waters of the sea. In addition, farms on the coast work on the extraction of sea salt.
Djibouti’s most important imported goods are food, animals, textiles, oil and machinery; hides and animal skins are exported. An international airport is located in Djibouti City. The currency is the Djibouti franc.