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All About Djibouti

IN GENERAL

The Republic of Djibouti covers an area of ​​23,200 km and has 520 km of land borders shared with Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia as well as 372 km of coastline along the Strait of Bab El Mandeb, the Gulf of Tadjourah and the Gulf of Aden between the 11º00 ′ and 12º41 ′ parallels of north latitude and the 41º45 ′ and 43º15 ′ east longitude.

Independent since June 27, 1977, the Republic of Djibouti covers an area of ​​23,200 km² and has 520 km of land borders shared with Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia as well as 372 km of coastline along the Bab El Mandeb Strait, the Gulf of Tadjourah and the Gulf of Aden between the 11º00 ′ and 12º41 ′ parallels of north latitude and the 41º45 ′ and 43º15 ′ east longitude.

Located in the Horn of Africa, at the junction of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the Republic of Djibouti enjoys a strategic geographical position on one of the main sea routes in the world. It constitutes the natural outlet for the landlocked countries of the region.

The country is divided into five regions (Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Obock, Tadjourah). The city of Djibouti, which concentrates almost all of the economic and commercial life, enjoys a special status. It is divided into three municipalities (Ras Dika, Boulaos and Balbala) and alone hosts a little over 65% of the total population of the country.

The territory is organized around the notch of the Gulf of Tadjourah, 45 kilometers wide. The relief is very rugged and the altitude varies from 2020 meters at Mount Moussa Ali to –153 meters in the basin of Lake Assal.

The rivers are entirely made up of wadis drained towards the sea or towards the plains of the west. The only permanent aquatic environments are the Abbé and Assal lakes, the latter being a real brine with 370g of salt per liter of water. The island environment is represented by the madréporic islands of Moucha and Maskali off the coast of Djibouti-ville and the volcanic archipelago of Sept-Frères in the Strait of Bab-El-Mandeb.

The climate is arid tropical with two very distinct seasons. From October to April, it is the cool season with humid easterly winds and temperatures comparable to those of a Mediterranean summer.

June to August is the hot season with high temperatures and dry, scorching westerly winds. The months of May and September are the months of transition during which the reversals of the winds take place which causes flat calm, thus increasing the humidity.

The rainfall pattern is very irregular and the annual rainfall amounts vary greatly from year to year.

The Djiboutian coast is intact and the fish reserves are relatively well preserved. Specialists in scuba diving and underwater life, since Commander Cousteau, consider certain sites to be veritable botanical gardens.

The Seven Brothers are probably one of the most beautiful scuba diving sites in the world. In addition, this archipelago made up of arid volcanic islands represents a migration corridor for many birds from the European and Asian boreal regions.

The other archipelago, that of the Moucha and Maskali Islands, has several mangrove forests and fine sandy beaches.

GEOGRAPHY

The Republic of Djibouti is located halfway between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Its location, on the eastern coast of Africa, at the outlet of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, that is to say between Suez and the Far East, was – with the vicinity of the rich provinces of Abyssinia – the origin of its strategic importance.

Djibouti has both continental and maritime borders: 520 kilometres of land borders limit the territory to the north, west and south of Ethiopia, and to the south-east of Somalia. 370 km of coastline extends from Ras Doumeira in the north to the village of Loyada in the south. Its total area is around 23,200 km2.

GEOLOGY

The Republic of Djibouti is located at the centre of a collapse zone following the Red Sea, and which stretches between the plateaus of Ethiopia, Arabia and Somalia.

According to geologists, the region delimited by Lake Assal and Goubet-Al-Kharab, which belongs to the Afar depression, is only an emerged link for a brief moment in terrestrial history.

Afar Depression, Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden, narrow marine furrow, the whole forms a future ocean: the Eritrean Ocean. “It is only 25 million years old, say specialists, and 500 km wide, but in two hundred million years, it will undoubtedly be as vast as its big brother the Atlantic”.

This exceptional geological situation means that the territory of the Republic of Djibouti remains continuously exposed to earthquakes, of low intensity however, which are the manifestations of the very slow displacement (2 cm per year, on average) of the plates of Africa and of ‘Arabia.

The Lake Assal – Goubet zone, the point of convergence of three portions of the rift, where the earth’s crust does not exceed five kilometres in thickness (against several tens normally), is also a favourite zone for telluric phenomena.

Thus was formed, in November 1978, not far from Lake Assal, a volcano of about forty meters in height, which Haroun Tazieff, as soon as he arrived on the spot, would call “Ardoukoba”.

On this occasion, we were able to witness a sudden gap of one meter and twenty between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, while the main fault twelve kilometres long between Lake Assal and the cove of Goubet opened.

In living memory, this phenomenon of the spacing of terrestrial plates only occurred at the bottom of the oceans, hence the passionate interest that scientists around the world have granted, beyond the sumptuous telluric spectacle that constitutes the formation of a volcano, at this first visible manifestation of the birth of an ocean.

Without a doubt, the territory of Djibouti, on which the erosion of time has had very little influence, is an incomparable book of geology that can be read in the open.

Other volcanoes can be found all over the country, the best known of which remain those located between Goubet and Lake Assal.

Volcanoes, fumaroles, thermal springs, abound in this country made up of a series of closed basins, vast collapsed plains, surrounded by basaltic plateaus and chains: plain of Hanlé, Gagadé, Grand and Petit Barra. These plains are sometimes occupied by drying lakes, whose waters have a very high salinity (Lake Assal, Lake Abbé).

RELIEF

Mount Moussa Ali is located in the north of the country, which rises to 2,020 meters. Along the Gulf of Tadjourah, an important mountain range includes the Goda massif (1750m) with the primary Day forest and the Mablas massif (1380m), which are the only parts of the country with permanent vegetation cover.

North of Obock, bordered by Madreporic benches, the coast is low, sandy, and continues by a vast almost desert plain: it is the western shore of the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, or the gate of lamentations, junction of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean

The Goubet-Al-Kharab, a large bay which communicates with the sea through a gully 750 meters wide in the middle of which stands a small islet, is bordered by severe-looking cliffs.

The south of the country is formed by a series of parallel depressions, separated by tabular plateaus, giving rise to regular plains which favor nomadization: Hanlé plain, the largest (35 km long and 20 km wide), further south, the Gobaad plain east of Dikhil and the Gagadé plain, situated in a depression parallel to that of Hanlé, but further east.

Finally, quite to the west of this region, is the famous Lac Abbé with its alignments of limestone chimneys and where one meets many flamingos.

CLIMATE & HYDROGRAPHY

The Republic of Djibouti ranks among the countries with a hot semi-arid climate. With the exception of mountainous regions, there is a high heat rarely lower than 22 °. The temperature differences are small. The humidity on the coast and in Djibouti, in particular, is very high. The year is divided into two seasons:

The cool season, from October to April (average 25 °) with an east wind bringing some rains, and which corresponds to a Mediterranean summer.

The hot season, from May to September (average 35 °) where two dry winds blow: the Sabo from the south-west and the Khamsin from the north-west. The months of May and September are the months of transition during which the reversals of the winds take place which cause flat calm, thus increasing the humidity.

The climate of the interior presents notable differences with that of the coast.

In particular as soon as you rise, the temperature is more pleasant: this is the case in Arta, Randa, on Day. Sometimes it is even cool (temperatures of 10 ° have been recorded there).

The rainfall regime is most irregular: Annual rainfall amounts vary greatly from year to year. In general, it rarely rains in Djibouti, more frequently and more abundantly in the Goda and Mablas massifs. Sudden and brutal thunderstorms are very much feared.

The wadis turn for a few hours into furious torrents tearing everything in their path, then their course is regularized, and rainwater brings its benefits wherever it flows.

In a semi-desert country like Djibouti, where there is no permanent watercourse and where only the groundwater supplies the populations and livestock with water, the rains – even rare and parsimonious – are considered a true blessing of god.

Djibouti, a fairyland of underwater life: The coasts of the Republic of Djibouti are bordered by reefs of the classic fringing type. You can observe all the richness and diversity of a flora and fauna specific to the reefs of the vast Indo-Pacific area and the Red Sea.

The relative isolation of the reticle formed by the Gulf of Tadjourah has notably favoured the creation and development of a still imprecise number of so-called endemic species (which do not exist anywhere else).

On the shallow reef, in addition to the magnificent coral formations with delicate and colorful trees, we can observe the evolution of about twenty (at least) species of chaetodons and pomacanthes (butterfly fish and angel fish) with a particular abundance. duke fish (Pygoplites diacanthus), the most beautiful of coral fish.

The incessant round of troops of great surgeons, linked to the perpetual agitation of wrasses and schools of green and blue parrots in the midst of myriads of multicolored damselfish, contribute to the swarming effect that everyone can admire.

Sometimes a trevally adorned with gold spots, curious and brazen comes in front of the diver to observe him for a few moments before continuing his journey in this paradise which is his universe… An invitation to follow him.

On the white sand sits the extraordinary little golden ray spotted with azure under the peaceful eye of a grouper basking in the shade of a large Acropora table.

Frequently on the outer edge of the story marauds the great lord, the shark with a powerful and elegant swim. The diver is never worried except perhaps the hunter from whom the owner of the place can seek to steal the fruits of his fishing.

A big book would not be enough to describe the exuberance of life which swarms within the reefs of the Republic of Djibouti, which are already classified among the most beautiful gems of the tropical underwater world.

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