Geography of Yemen

When looking at a map of the world, Yemen will be located on the Arabian Peninsula. It is in the Southern tip of the subcontinent right below Saudi Arabia and to the west of Oman. It therefore only borders those two countries. Just to the west of the country’s border is the Red Sea and the southern border is on the Indian Ocean. The southwestern tip of the country is part of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Crossing that is the Eastern tip of Africa, specifically the nations of Eritrea and Djibouti. The Horn of Africa and Yemen are only about 200 miles away from each other.

The Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea surround the southern side of Yemen before getting to the Indian Ocean, so there are a lot of different boats and sea vessels going in and out of Yemen on a daily basis.

There is a little bit of everything inside of Yemen. There are mountains, deserts, islands, plains and seacoasts throughout the country. There are actually more than 100 islands that belong to the country, including the Kamaran Islands and Perim Islands in the Red Sea as well as Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden.

The west coast of Yemen is called Tihama, which is known as “hot lands” in Arabic. This region is very flat and consists of the southern tip of the country all the way north into Saudi Arabia, following along the Red Sea. This area isn’t very populated because of its sandy coastline.

The greatest population of Yemenis live in the west, which is where the mountains surround and there is a lot more fertile land. The Western Highlands levels off at a plateau known as the Central Highlands region. It is here that the capital city of Sanaa is located. West of the city are the Haraz Mountains.

The steep mountains of the Western highlands come off of the coastal cliffs. Some mountains are actually volcanoes and some of the peaks are more than 12,000 feet above sea level. The highest point of the Arabian Peninsula is known as Japal al-Nabi Shuayb. There is also the Central Highlands, which is the lower mountain range that ultimately descends into the Desert.

Most of eastern Yemen is the desert, where it slopes into the Arabian Desert (the second largest desert in the world). It is referred to as the Empty Quarter as very few people live here. There are the occasional nomads who herd animals through the area in the spring.

The Wadi Hadhramawt region is south of the desert and has very strong farming communities. The wadi is the largest on the Peninsula and helps to bring water into the rest of Yemen.