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Located in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen shares borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. The long standing leader of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to resign by popular protests in 2012, but the situation remains unstable - with the already weak Yemeni State facing numerous challenges from sectarian and secessionary movements. Yemen has one of the worst child rights situations in the world - including the detention and even state-sanctioned execution of children. It also has serious problems with the forcible marriage of young girls and the treatment of women and girls more generally.
Yemen is located in the south-west of the Arabian Peninsula in south-west Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east. To the south lie the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which are bordered by Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea.
Population and language
The country has one of the highest population growth rates globally, with the population of 24.3 million expected to double in 23 years. Nearly 50 per cent of the population is under 15 years old. Yemen’s population is predominantly Arab, but it also includes Afro-Arabs, South Asians, and Europeans.
Arabic is the official language.
The modern Republic of Yemen was born in 1990 when traditionalist North Yemen and Marxist South Yemen merged after years of border wars and skirmishes. But the peace broke down in 1994 and a short civil war ended in defeat for separatist southerners and the survival of the unified Yemen.
Since the summer of 2009, hundreds have been killed and more than a quarter of a million people displaced by clashes between government troops and northern Houthi rebels belonging to the minority Shia Zaidi sect. The government declared a ceasefire with the northern rebels in February 2010.
Ali Abdallah Saleh, Yemen's longest-serving leader in recent times, was re-elected to another seven-year term in September 2006. That presidential race was the first time Mr Saleh had faced a serious challenge since coming to power 28 years earlier. Demonstrations have been raging since February, demanding that President Saleh steps down. He promised not to extend his presidency in 2013 or to hand over to his son but protesters say that he has made - and broken - similar promises in the past.
Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab region, though it is ranked 140 on the Human Development Index (HDI), which places it among medium human development countries.
Yemen is a country of deeply-rooted traditions, which have existed for thousands of years. Its natural resources are limited; water in particular is scarce. While the country enjoyed some oil wealth over the last 20 years, its exploited resources are declining. The population is young and predominantly rural (73 per cent).
Media and civil society
The Ministry of Information administers all broadcasting through the Public Corporation for Radio and Television. It controls most printing presses and funds some newspapers.
Officials have tried to curb reporting of unrest in the south, and 2009 saw an increasing number of arrests of journalists and the suspension of newspapers and websites on charges of "harming national unity". Against this background, most Yemeni journalists have tended to resort to self-censorship.
Human rights an children's rights
Human rights defenders in Yemen have been subjected to harassment, death threats, arbitrary detention, fabricated prosecutions and torture including corporal punishment. The Yemeni constitution states that freedom of speech and of the press is guaranteed within the confines of the law. However, human rights defenders and pro-democracy advocates have been the victims of this provision's ambiguity. Journalists, human rights defenders and academics are treated with suspicion and the Security Police have abducted human rights defenders at gun point and kept them in incommunicado.
Yemen ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the 1st of May 1991, acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography on 15 Dec 2004 and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict on 2 Mars 2007.
The main issues of concern for children are early marriages, social discrimination, high rate of infant and child mortality and child trafficking to neighbouring countries.
- BBC: Yemen Country Profile
- Frontline Defenders: Yemen Country Profile
- UNICEF: Yemen Country Profile
- World Bank: Yemen Country Profile
- UNDP: Yemen Country Profile
- US Library of Congress Yemen Country Profile, August 2008