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Djibouti - Africa

World  (tags: Djibouti, africa, people, places, sites, travel )

- 2067 days ago -
Djibouti may be tiny, but it packs a lot of adventure within its boundaries for savvy travelers who know where to look. The nightlife in Djibouti City is surprisingly active, with great Ethiopian-style restaurants and lively dance clubs.


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Kit B (276)
Friday October 18, 2013, 12:20 pm
Map Credit:

First, I will say that someone needs to go to Djibouti and make a really good travel video. There are others but none that give a feel for the place or it's geography. This one I happened to find after posting this article, I can't say I thrilled with either one, all the videos are taken from cars while driving.


Djibouti may be tiny, but it packs a lot of adventure within its boundaries for savvy travelers who know where to look. The nightlife in Djibouti City is surprisingly active, with great Ethiopian-style restaurants and lively dance clubs. The day-tripper has exciting options as well. Take a hike through the lush and forested Goda Mountains. Snorkel, surf and sun on the Gulf of Tadjoura. Explore the hot springs and amazing geological formations of Lac Abb'. Did you know the producers of the original Planet of the Apes filmed the movie around Lac Abb' to take advantage of its strange, otherworldly ambiance'.
Here are some other things you may not know about the dynamic African nation Djibouti.

5 Facts You Might Not Know about Djibouti

1 Djibouti is situated at the exact point where the Red Sea flows into the Indian Ocean. The reefs here are made up of over 200 coral species. Because of the temperature differential between these two bodies of water, plankton growth is so rich that many classes of marine mammals find Djibouti's coast an ideal place to winter. Among species found in abundance here are beaked and pilot whales, dolphins and whale sharks. Whale sharks are the world's largest fish.

2 At 500 feet below sea level, Lake Assal is the lowest point on the African continent, and after Death Valley and the Sea of Galilee, the third lowest point on the Earth's surface. Lake Assal itself is the world's largest salt reserve.

3 Lac Abb' owes its unique geology to the fact that it occupies the spot where three tectonic plates collide. The famous rock chimneys that give Lac Abb' its moonscape ambiance are the result of interactions between bubbling, subterranean hot springs and fault lines. The lake derives its name from the hot springs' distinctive sulfur smell. 'Abb' means 'rotten' in the local tongue.

4 Djibouti was one of the first places on the African continent to embrace Islam. Arab traders introduced the religion there in the 9th century, while Mohammad himself was still living.

5 Djibouti is a staunch American ally, and the site of the only American military base in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

More things to know about Djibouti:

•Djibouti City -- The Lonely Planet Guide describes Djibouti City as "a ramshackle little port village, with peeling colonial and modern buildings ... Unashamed Qat-chewing men, sensuous women swathed in superb shawls, proud but desperate Somali refugees, gaunt faced beggars and stalwart foreign legionnaires in their knee-length socks all roam the streets". The appeal of Djibouti city is to walk or cycle around, take it all in and enjoy the scene. Read more...

•Lake Assal -- Lake Assal (Bahr al Assal) in Djibouti is Africa's lowest geographic point, it lies 515 feet (155m) below sea level. It's a fascinating salt water lake, with beaches literally made of pure salt. The Afar, a nomadic tribe, have been cutting slabs of salt from this lake for centuries and continue to do so today. Read more...

•Moucha and Maskali Islands -- Djibouti's location on the Red Sea means there are some excellent diving and swimming opportunities particularly around the islands of Maskali and Moucha in the Gulf of Tadjoura. Swimming/diving with Whale Sharks is best from October to January, and is one of the main reasons people come to visit Djibouti. There are ten bungalows you can stay at on Moucha island, and will often be included in your dive packet. Read more

•Goda Mountains -- Goda Mountains in northwest Djibouti are the country's highest point (5,740 ft). The mountains offer a little green respite from the rest of the country as well as cooler temperatures. They are partially protected by the Day Forest National Park.

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa. However, the history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam.

It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839-42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjourah, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock (1862).

Read more about the back ground and history of Djibouti:

Foods in Djibouti:

Food in Djibouti ranges from French haute cuisine found inside the more posh restaurants to the typically North African fare you are most likely to come across on the streets. Generally, there is a good range of dishes, and the traveler need have no problem in finding tasty and filling food on his/her visit there. Popular ingredients are lentils, fried meat (especially chicken) and unleavened bread. Red Sea fish, consumed baked, grilled or barbecued is usually delicious and is prepared in the local way, usually accompanied by a spicy sauce. As far as drinks go, being a teetotaler would be an ideal traveler profile in Djibouti.

Alcohol is not widely available, nor is drinking a social activity in this Islamic country. The Djibouti alternative to standard intoxication is a plant known as qat that is grown in the Highlands and acts as a mild stimulant.

Fried meat (preferably lamb and goat), lentils, unleavened bread, and fishes are popularly used in food preparation throughout Djibouti. Ingredients like pomegranate juice, saffron, and cinnamon are widely used as flavoring agents. It is believed that these flavorings were introduced by the Arabs. Similarly, chapatti or traditional wheat bread enjoyed by the people of Djibouti were adopted from the Indian cuisine. Djiboutians mastered some food techniques like roasting and marinating from the Portuguese. Various food preparations are made involving vegetables, fruits and spices like peppers, maize, bananas, tomatoes and pineapples.

The Djiboutians also practice some unusual customs like buying their own animal and slaughtering them during feasts. Lamb is a popular meat which is involved in lots of dishes that are served during all the special holidays like Eid al-Adha.

Popular Djibouti Food Recipes

•Skoudekharis: This is the national dish of Djibouti and it is prepared using lamb and rice. Skoudekharis is enjoyed on special occasions and at regular times too.

•Ambabuur or cambaboor: This is a type of sweet, fried and sour pancake which is accompanied with a runny yogurt. The pancakes are eaten after dipping in the runny yogurt.

•Garoobey: This is one of the staple dishes of Djibouti. The garoobey or oats porridge is prepared by soaking oats in milk and are flavored with cumin or cumin powder.

•Subag: This is a type of butter which is enjoyed widely throughout Djibouti with same fervor and interest. This butter is prepared over charcoal and left in ground to ferment.

•Injera: This is a unleavened bread which is served on all special occasions along with meat dishes.

Basic Economy. Djibouti is a poor but developing country that is dependent on the expanding port and services sector. The economy is unbalanced, with only rudimentary agriculture and a declining livestock economy, but most people still maintain herds and work in agriculture. Infrastructure and communications, except around the port and in the capital, are underdeveloped. Unemployment, poverty, and social insecurity are rampant, especially in the countryside and the working-class neighborhoods in Djibouti City. The government receives subsidies from Arab oil countries and France for balance of payments support and development projects. There is a growing banking and insurance sector, and the telecommunications sector is the best in the region. The currency used is the Djibouti franc.

Land Tenure and Property. Although the government holds most of the land, urban land can be owned privately. Nomadic pastoralists control their traditional pasture areas through customary rights.

Commercial Activities. Djibouti is a free-trade zone. Port activity and related services dwarf other commercial activities, but there is also a small tourist industry. The expenditures of the French army are substantial. Prostitution in Djibouti City is a big business.

Major Industries. The industrial sector employs thirty-five thousand people in a large mineral water bottling plant, leather tanning, construction, a pharmaceuticals factory, abattoirs, salt mining, and a petroleum refinery.

Trade. The transshipment trade through the port is the mainstay of the economy and creates at least 75 percent of the gross domestic product. It has greatly expanded since 1998, when Ethiopia decided to shift all of its import-export activities to Djibouti. Djibouti produces only 5 percent of its own food needs, making it a huge food importer from Ethiopia (grain and other staples) and Somalia (meat and dairy products). The costs of imports are covered by the profitable service sector (the port) and proceeds from contraband trade.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Issa and Gadabursi social organization was fairly egalitarian, although it has a patriarchal bias. There are positions of wider authority, such as that of the ugaz, a ritual-political clan leader. In the countryside, egalitarianism is still the norm, but there are many impoverished pastoralists as a result of drought, cattle disease, and conflict.

Among the Afar, traditional social stratification was much more hierarchical. The Afar were organized in sultanates and had "tribal" and clan rankings. The Afar distinguish between the more prestigious "red" clans (the Asahimara) and the "white" clans (the Asdohimara), although this division did not coincide with political authority in all regions. In the country as a whole, urbanization, modern state formation and political institutions, and trade have created an urban social stratification based on political power and wealth.

Read more:


Pat B (356)
Friday October 18, 2013, 2:02 pm
Yes, Kit, I agree with you, on seeing the sights from the car. I would prefer to bike, or walk instead.There were several stalls with items to look over if one wanted to shop. Seemed like a sleepy town. I'd mosey over to the Goda Mountains, or go to the hot springs. Maybe take in a little night life too.
Thanks for the tour, I always enjoy our virtual trips.Perhaps Ben has been here, or could go for us, or someone else?

Nicole W (646)
Friday October 18, 2013, 2:32 pm
always a pleasure to travel with you dear Kit

John De Avalon (36)
Friday October 18, 2013, 4:05 pm
Fascinating! Thank you for posting.

Kit B (276)
Friday October 18, 2013, 4:16 pm

There was one fly over video and those are often very good, this one just followed the highway, which is a bit boring.

Ben O (130)
Saturday October 19, 2013, 5:36 am
No Pat, I've never been there...surprise!

Wolfgang W (228)
Saturday October 19, 2013, 12:53 pm
Djibouti - Poussières d'Empire - Dust of the Empire ( in French)

you can see it also in our group:

Birgit W (160)
Saturday October 19, 2013, 3:19 pm
Thank you Kit

marie T (163)
Saturday October 19, 2013, 4:34 pm
Thank you Kit as long as I am travelling with you to Djibouti I am happy but would not fancy going on my own
The older I get the more cpmfort I like

fly bird (26)
Saturday October 19, 2013, 6:28 pm
Thanks for sharing !!

Colleen L (3)
Saturday October 19, 2013, 11:31 pm
Enjoyed the tour. Thanks Kit

Jonathan Harper (0)
Sunday October 20, 2013, 2:14 am

Marija Mohoric (25)
Sunday October 20, 2013, 3:49 am
noted, tks for the drive

Bob P (394)
Monday October 21, 2013, 6:45 am
Thanks Kit

Craig Pittman (52)
Tuesday October 22, 2013, 12:46 pm
Thanks for the profile of this country Kit.
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