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People & Culture

Yemen is a young country with nearly 50 percent of the population under the age of fifteen. Based on current growth rates the number of inhabitants is expected to double over the next 20 years. The last official census conducted in 2004 estimated the population at around 22 million.

The official language of the country is Arabic, while English is taught as a foreign language in public schools from grade seven onwards. Various dialects exist in certain parts of the country and in the Mahra area (the extreme east) where a non-Arabic language is spoken.

In contrast to other people of the Arabian Peninsula who have historically led a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, Yemeni people have tended to stay in one place. They generally live in small villages and towns scattered throughout the highlands and coastal regions. The Yemeni Jews have once formed a sizeable Jewish minority in Yemen with a distinctive culture. Today this community has reduced to only a few hundred individuals, following the Jewish exodus from Arab lands.

Substantial Yemeni communities exist in many countries of the world, including Yemen's immediate neighbours on the Arabian Peninsula, Indonesia, India, East Africa, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States.

There is a conspicuous tribal identity particularly in the northern regions of Yemen. Sheikhs are recognized as the tribal leaders in these areas and consider themselves responsible for resolving conflicts and public disputes between villagers.

A view upwards of houses in the historical city of Thula - Yemen


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