Flag description: 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 centre
Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia
Geographic coordinates: 11 30 N, 43 00 E
Climate: Nearly 90% of Djibouti is volcanic desert. Minor mountain ranges extend from the coastal plain to the Ethiopian highlands, where Moussa Ali, the highest point in the country, rises to 2,063 m (6,768 ft). The long coastline, some 800 km (500 mi) in length, is deeply indented by the Gulf of Tadjoura. Djibouti is one of the hottest places on Earth. A comparatively cool season lasts from November to April, but the annual average temperature is nearly 32 deg C (90 deg F). The average daily maximum temperature in July is 41 deg C (106 deg F). The average annual rainfall is less than 125 mm (5 in), and vegetation is sparse.
Independence: 27 June 1977 (from France)
Nationality: noun: Djiboutian(s) adjective: Djiboutian
Capital City: Djibouti
Population: 451,442 (July 2000 est.
Head of State: President Ismail Omar GUELLEH
Area: 22,000 sq km
Type of Government: republic
Currency: 1 Djiboutian franc (DF) = 100 centimes
Major peoples: Somali 60%, Afar 35%, Issas, French, Arab, Ethiopian, and Italian 5%
Religion: Muslim 94%, Christian 6%
Official Language: French
Principal Languages: French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar
Major Exports: re-exports, hides and skins, coffee (in transit)
History: France took possession of Djibouti (called French Somalia) in 1884. As the Territory of the Afars and the Issas, it remained part of the French republic until 1977, when it gained independence despite conflicting Ethiopian and Somali claims.
Since independence Djibouti tried to remain neutral in conflicts between and within Ethiopia and Somalia.
In 1981, Djibouti officially became a one-party state headed by a president directly elected for six years. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, Djibouti's first president, was re-elected in 1981 and 1987.
An Afar-based armed rebellion in the north that began in late 1991 soon gained control of much of the country. In 1992, Aptidon introduced a multiparty constitution that was approved by voters in September. The rebels, however, objected to the retention of a strong presidency, and civil strife continued despite French efforts to resolve the conflict.