The Republic of Djibouti is located in the eastern portion of Africa. A small country, it spans just 8,958 square miles (23,200 square kilometers). It is about the same size as the state of Massachusetts. The country has French and Arabic as its official languages, and its capital city is also named Djibouti. As of July 2007, Djibouti’s population was estimated at less than 500,000 people.
Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The portion of the country that is not bordered by land is touched by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its landscape is mostly desert, though there are plateaus here and there, as well as highlands.
Djibouti was once colonized by France, and gained independence in 1977. Today, it is categorized as a semi-presidential republic. It has both a central government and a parliamentary system. The country is considered a one-party state and is said to be dominated by the People’s Rally for Progress. Its laws allow for opposing political parties, but the People’s Rally for Progress’ hold is said to be so complete that no other party stands a real chance of winning an election.
The main religion in Djibouti is Islam. Each town is marked with its own mosque. Islam is practiced by approximately 94 percent of the country's population. The remaining six percent is split among other religions, with Christianity being the most widely practiced secondary religion.
The people of Djibouti dress to stay comfortable in the country’s hot, dry weather. Men don cotton robes that go over their shoulders, resembling Roman togas. They also wear cloth that is wrapped around their bodies, extending down to their knees. Women are typically dressed in long skirts, and married women add to their traditional Djibouti attire by covering their heads with cloth. Sometimes, they even use cloth to cover their entire upper bodies.
Most of the people of Djibouti inhabit its capital city. Typically, they are involved in service-related work. The rest of its citizens are nomadic herders. The country's citizens have little access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as there is very little rainfall. As such, these food items have to be imported.
There are two main groups of people in Djibouti, the Afar and the Issa of Somali. However, they are not this country’s only residents. The country also provides a home to smaller numbers of Europeans and Arabs. There is even a small population of Ethiopians.