Port of Djibouti
Review and History

The Port of Djibouti is the major port, capital, and only city in the Republic of Djibouti on the northeastern coast of Africa. It lies on the south shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura off the Gulf of Aden. With a hot dry climate, the city’s water comes from the underground Houmbouli River.

The city has the same status as the country’s regions. Its planned center is divided into the historic African and European quarters. The old native quarter is well-known for its camel market. The Port of Djibouti is linked to Addis Ababa by railway, and it is the location for the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport. The Port of Djibouti serves international trade, fishing, and ferry passengers. In 1991, the city was home to over 300 thousand people, and by the 21st Century, about 400 thousand people lived there.

Port History

The Port of Djibouti was created about 1888 by Leonce Lagarde, Somaliland’s first French governor. It became the capital of the French colony in 1892. The Port was linked by railroad to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1917. Covering about 65 hectares, the harbor has been dredged to from 12 to 20 meters.

Becoming a free port in 1949, the Port of Djibouti is important to the country’s economy as a storage depot and refueling and supply station for ocean-going vessels traveling the Red Sea.

When the Suez Canal was closed from 1967 to 1975, the Port of Djibouti’s trade volume was severely limited. In the late 1970s, guerilla attacks during the Ethiopian civil war further hampered the economy and port activity. Djibouti won its independence in 1977, the Port of Djibouti continued as capital. War and drought in the 1980s brought many refugees from Ethiopia, placing great strain on the city’s resources and infrastructure.

Today, the city is populated by Afars (Danakil), Arabs, Issa Somalis, Asians, and mostly French Europeans. One writer described the city as having identity problems. The capital is inhabited by a largely nomadic native people. Although it’s a true African city, it was designed after the pattern of European cities and settlements.

The Port of Djibouti is home to the United States’ only military base in sub-Saharan Africa. The country of Djibouti’s economy is based on service activities, and two-thirds of the countries citizens live in the city of Djibouti. Due to limited rainfall, most of the country’s food must be imported.

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