Why Visit Djibouti?Djibouti is a sovereign country on the Horn of Africa, next to the
strategically important Gate of Tears (Bab el Mandeb) which guards access to the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean via
the Gulf of Aden. Twenty miles to the east, across the entrance to the Red Sea, lies the Republic of the
The country has many special features which make a visit
there very worthwhile. A French colony until 1977 when it gained independence from France, it still retains its
French links and cultural aspects. France provides economic and military support to this day.
The size of the US State of Massachusetts, it
has a coastal plain, backed by stony desert (where the French Foreign Legion trains). Behind the
coastal plain lie scattered plateaus and highland areas – especially the Goda Massif in the north
of the country. Its upland areas are cool and even wooded - there is a large National Park, called
The Day Forest.
It is bordered on the north by Eritrea, to
the west by Ethiopia (which is a major trading partner) and on the south by Somalia. Djibouti
embraces the Gulf of Tadjoura. This Gulf leads by way of the navigable Ghoubbet Pass into Lake
Ghoubbet (the Devil’s Cauldron).
One of the least
hospitable places in the world, nearby Lake Assal is a volcanic crater lakes surrounded by long
dormant volcanoes and lava terrain – a moonscape.
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The Lake is located in the Afar Depression, part of the Great
African Rift Valley, 153 meters below sea level - the lowest point on the African continent. Lake Assal's waters
are the most saline in the world, containing over 34 percent salt.
Djibouti is a democracy, and its land area of 9,000 square
miles is divided into five regions and eleven districts. The capital city is called Djibouti, after which the
country itself was named.
The tribal history of Djibouti is fascinating – see
everyculture.com for a detailed review.
All naturalists remark on the rare Djibouti Francolin – a partridge. This
bird lives in the juniper forests in the Goda Massif. There is a wide range of raptors, and in the month of
August there are remarkable concentrations of migrating birds.
Mammals include wild dogs, warthogs and, surprisingly, even
leopards. There are camel, goats, and herds of donkeys.