Population: 26 million
Most are Yemeni Arab; but also Afro-Arab and South Asians, with very few Europeans. 2.2 million people live in the capital city Sana’a.
Arabic is the main language as English is not widely known.
All Yemenis are considered Muslim, and conversion from Islam can lead to severe punishment, even death. Yemenis are 65% Sunni and 35% Shia), less than 1% are other religions.
Yemen is an ultraconservative Muslim country. Homosexual behavior is punishable by death, and it is forbidden to take pictures of women.
Yemen is the poorest nation in the Middle East. For underweight children it is ranked #3 in the world, with 43% of children under 5 underweight. Nearly half the population of Yemen is food insecure.
Infant mortality is almost 60 per 1,000 live births.
Even with the infant mortality rate, Yemen has the highest birthrate in Arabia, at about 4.45 children per woman. This is probably attributable to early marriages (the marriageable age for girls under Yemeni law is 9), and lack of education for women.
The literacy rate among women is only 30%, while 70% of men can read and write.
The land of the Queen of Sheba, Yemen is rich in natural resources. However years of war and mismanagement have reduced much of the country to poverty. Growing the narcotic ‘qat’ accounts for 40% of the national economy, and means much of the population spends much of their life mildly “spaced out”.
Islam is the official religion and the law is based on Sharia law. However, many areas are effectively ruled by local tribal leaders. The central government is fighting a Shiite rebellion in the north and an increasingly violent insurgency led by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Due to persistent attacks on foreigners and a number of kidnappings most foreigners have left Yemen. This has left the small number of Yemeni believers very isolated, but there are reports that many of these believers are growing in their faith and reaching out to others. However it is still very dangerous for any Yemeni to follow Christ inside Yemen.
Till 1989, North and South Yemen were separate nations. They are today united into the Republic of Yemen, which is Arabia’s only democratic republic.
North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement and brief civil war in 1994 was quickly subdued.
Fighting in the northwest between the government and the Huthis, a Zaydi Shia minority, began in 2004 and has since resulted in six rounds of fighting - the last ended in early 2010 with a cease-fire. However recent fighting puts this in jeopardy. In recent years, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has become very active in Yemen, leading to increasing instability, particularly for foreigners.
Yemen continues to face the challenges of limited natural freshwater resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; overgrazing and inadequate sanitation facilities especially in rural areas.
Yemen is a low-income country that is highly dependent on declining oil resources for revenue. Yemen continues to face difficult long-term challenges, including declining water resources, high unemployment, severe food scarcity, and a high population growth rate.
Long Term Opportunities
Yemen at the moment is a dangerous place. Therefore we do not encourage foreigners to go there unless they have been there before and have a strong invitation from someone in the country.
There are communities of Yemenis living as refugees or immigrants in most Western cities. So for those with a heart to minister to Yemenis we suggest to engage with those communities.
The earliest known rulers were the descendants of Qahtan (Joktan from the Bible and Koran).
Yemenis take much pride in their wedding traditions. An average wedding feast lasts 21 days.
Yemen prides itself as the only republic in the Arab peninsula. The rest are kingdoms and emirates ruled by one family and one ruler.
Frankincense and myrrh are two luxury items that Yemen was known for. Nowadays, it is crude oil and coffee.
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