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DJIBOUTI is a republic situated in northeast Africa bounded almost entirely by Ethiopia except in the southeast. It shares a border with Somalia, and in the northwest, where it shares a border with Eritrea. Its coastline is on the Gulf of Aden. The small republic of Djibouti achieved independence in 1977, formerly having been a French overseas territory.

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It is a hot, dry land with a coastal plain, plateaux, mountains, and a salt lake, Lac Assal, which, at 144 meters or 471 feet below sea level, is the second-lowest point on the Earth’s surface. Some of the mountains rise to over 1,500 meters or 4,922 feet.

The country has a desert-type climate with very little rainfall.

About half of the country’s small population are engaged in agriculture, although this is limited to oases or areas where water is available. Crops raised include fruits, vegetables, and dates. Less than a tenth of the land can be farmed even for grazing, so Eritrea has great difficulty supporting its modest population.

The economy is largely dependent on trade through Djibouti’s capital, which serves as a major port for landlocked Ethiopia. The capital is linked to Addis Ababa by a railway. Cattle, hides, and skins are the main exports. There are small deposits of copper, iron ore, and gypsum.

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Did you know about Djibouti?

The intense summertime heat in Djibouti once led travelers to call it “the Hell of Africa” and inspired the Somali proverb: “Before crossing this country, even the jackal writes his will.”

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