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World - Middle East

Key facts about Yemen

graphic December 29, 1998
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT)

POPULATION: Yemen's population is estimated at 16 million, growing by 3.7 percent a year.

AREA: 536,869 square kilometers (207,286 square miles), bordered by Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

CAPITAL: Sanaa. Aden was designated the economic capital under a 1990 merger agreement between the Yemen Arab Republic (north) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (south).

ARMED FORCES: The armed forces did not integrate following the 1990 merger. A two-month civil war was fought in 1994 between southern separatist forces led by Vice President Ali Salem al-Baidh and government forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. It ended on July 7, 1994, when Saleh's forces captured Aden, the declared capital of a separatist state.

The London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies estimates Yemen's total armed forces at 42,000, perhaps 25,000 of whom are conscripts, with reserves of perhaps 40,000. The army has 37,000 men, the navy 1,500 and the air force 3,500.

ECONOMY: Yemen is one of the Arab world's poorest nations with per capita Gross Domestic Product of $280 a year. Inflation was reported at 5 percent at the end of 1997. Unemployment is about 35 percent..

MODERN HISTORY: Yemen has been plagued by revolutions, a civil war in North Yemen in the 1960s, border clashes between south and north in the 1970s and political assassinations and riots. The two parts of Yemen were previously under foreign occupation. Turkey withdrew from the north in 1918 and Britain from the south in 1967.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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