Socotra (Arabic: سُقُطْرَىSuquṭrā), also called Soqotra, located between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea, is the largest of four islands of the Socotra archipelago. The territory is located near major shipping routes and is officially part of Yemen, and had long been a subdivision of the Aden Governorate. In 2004, it became attached to the Hadhramaut Governorate, which is much closer to the island than Aden (although the nearest governorate was the Al Mahrah Governorate). In 2013, the archipelago became its own governorate, the Socotra Governorate.

The island of Socotra constitutes around 95% of the landmass of the Socotra archipelago. It lies some 240 kilometres (150 mi) east off of the coast of Somalia and 380 kilometres (240 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula.[2] While politically a part of Yemen (an Asian country), Socotra and the rest of its archipelago geographically are part of Africa[3], thus making Yemen a transcontinental country. The island is very isolated, home to a high number of endemic species; up to a third of its plant life is endemic. It has been described as "the most alien-looking place on Earth."[4] The island measures 132 kilometres (82 mi) in length and 49.7 kilometres (30.9 mi) in width.[5] In 2008 Socotra was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[6]

Native name:
Socotra satview
Landsat view over Socotra
Socotra Archipelago
LocationBetween the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea
Coordinates12°30′36″N 53°55′12″E / 12.51000°N 53.92000°ECoordinates: 12°30′36″N 53°55′12″E / 12.51000°N 53.92000°E
Total islands4
Major islandsSocotra, Abd al Kuri, Samhah, Darsah
Area3,796 km2 (1,466 sq mi)
Length132 km (82 mi)
Width50 km (31 mi)
Highest elevation1,503 m (4,931 ft)
Highest pointMashanig, Hajhir Mountains
DistrictsHadibu (east)
Qulansiyah wa 'Abd-al-Kūrī (west)
Capital and largest cityHadibu (pop. 8,545)
Pop. density11.3 /km2 (29.3 /sq mi)
Ethnic groupspredominantly Soqotris; minority South Arabians, Indians, and Bantu[1]
Official nameSocotra Archipelago
Designated2008 (32nd session)
Reference no.1263
State PartyYemen
RegionArab States


In the notes to his translation of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, G.W.B. Huntingford remarks that the name Suqotra is not Greek in origin, but from the Sanskrit dvīpa ("island") sukhadhara ("supporting, or providing bliss").[4] (Note that the natives are saying that the origin of the Island's name came from the old Arabic words where the Island was described as (Souq Al Qatra = {Drop Market} and Drop meaning as in liquid drop) in the old trading road. "Source from the native's story"


Topographic map of Socotra-en
Map of the Socotra archipelago

There was initially an Oldowan lithic culture in Socotra. Oldowan stone tools were found in the area around Hadibo by V.A. Zhukov, a member of the Russian Complex Expedition in 2008.[7][8][9]

Socotra appears as Dioskouridou ("of the Dioscuri"[10]) in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st-century AD Greek navigation aid. A recent discovery of texts in several languages, including a wooden tablet in Palmyrene dated to the 3rd century AD, indicate the diverse origins of those who used Socotra as a trading base in antiquity.[11]

In 2001 a group of Belgian speleologists of the Socotra Karst Project investigated a cave on the island of Socotra. There, they came across a large number of inscriptions, drawings and archaeological objects.[12][13] Further investigation showed that these had been left by sailors who visited the island between the 1st century BC and the 6th century AD. Most of the texts are written in the Indian Brāhmī script, but there are also inscriptions in South Arabian, Ethiopic, Greek, Palmyrene and Bactrian scripts and languages. This corpus of nearly 250 texts and drawings thus constitutes one of the main sources for the investigation of Indian Ocean trade networks in that time period.[14]

A local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by Thomas the Apostle in AD 52. In the 10th century, the Arab geographer Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani stated that in his time most of the inhabitants were Christians. Socotra is also mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo; Marco Polo did not pass anywhere near the island but recorded a report that "the inhabitants are baptised Christians and have an 'archbishop'" who, it is further explained, "has nothing to do with the Pope in Rome, but is subject to an archbishop who lives at Baghdad." They were Nestorians but also practised ancient magic rituals despite the warnings of their archbishop.[15]

In 1507, a Portuguese fleet commanded by Tristão da Cunha with Afonso de Albuquerque landed at the then capital of Suq and captured the port after a stiff battle. Their objective was to set a base in a strategic place on the route to India, and to liberate the presumed friendly Christians from Islamic rule. Tomás Fernandes started to build a fortress at Suq, the Forte de São Miguel de Socotorá. The infertility of the land led to famine and sickness in the garrison, however. Moreover, the lack of a proper harbour for wintering led to the loss of many moored Portuguese ships, the most important of which was the Santo António galleon under the command of captain Manuel Pais da Veiga.[16] Thus the Portuguese abandoned the island four years later, as it was not advantageous as a base.[17]

Bombay, Berar, Aden (1893)
1893 map of the Bombay Presidency including Aden Province and Socotra

The islands passed under the control of the Mahra sultans in 1511, and its inhabitants were Islamized during their rule.[18] In 1737, however, Captain de la Garde-Jazier, commander of a French naval expedition heading for Mocha, was surprised to find Christian tribes living in the interior of Socotra during a five-week stopover on the island. He reported in a letter home that the tribesmen, "due to lack of missionaries, had only retained a faint knowledge of Christianity."[19]

In 1834, the East India Company, in the expectation that the Mahra sultan of Qishn and Socotra, who resided at Qishn on the mainland, would accept an offer to sell the island, stationed a garrison on Socotra. Faced with the unexpected firm refusal of the sultan to sell, however, as well as the lack of good anchorages for a coaling station to be used by the new steamship line being put into service on the Suez-Bombay route, the British left in 1835. After the capture of Aden in 1839, the British lost all interest in acquiring Socotra.

In January 1876, in exchange for a payment of 3,000 thalers and a yearly subsidy, the sultan pledged "himself, his heirs and successors, never to cede, to sell, to mortgage, or otherwise give for occupation, save to the British Government, the Island of Socotra or any of its dependencies." Additionally, he pledged to give assistance to any European vessel that wrecked on the island and protect the crew, the passengers and the cargo, in exchange for a suitable reward.[20] In April 1886, the British government, concerned about reports that the German navy had been visiting various ports in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean for the purpose of securing a naval base, decided to conclude a protectorate treaty with the sultan in which he promised this time to "refrain from entering into any correspondence, agreement, or treaty with any foreign nation or power, except with the knowledge and sanction of the British Government", and give immediate notice to the British Resident at Aden of any attempt by another power to interfere with Socotra and its dependencies.[21] Apart from those obligations, this preemptive protectorate treaty, designed above all to seal off Socotra from competing colonial powers, left the sultan in control of the island. In 1897, the P&O ship Aden sank after being wrecked on a reef near Socotra, with the loss of 78 lives. As some of the cargo had been plundered by islanders, the sultan was reminded of his obligations under the agreement of 1876.[22]

In October 1967, in the wake of the departure of the British from Aden and southern Arabia, the Mahra Sultanate, as well as the other states of the former Aden Protectorate, were abolished. On 30 November of the same year, Socotra became part of South Yemen. The attitude of the South Yemeni government to the Soviet Union enabled the Soviet Navy to use the archipelago as a supply and supporting base for its operations in the Indian Ocean between 1971 and 1985.

Since Yemeni unification in 1990, it has been part of the Republic of Yemen.

In 2016 the United Arab Emirates increased supplies delivered to Socotra, which had been largely abandoned and forgotten during the ongoing conflict. In October 2016, the 31st cargo aircraft landed in Socotra Airport containing two tons of aid.[23][24] At that time, the UAE also established a military base on the island as part of the Saudi-led intervention.[23]

In 2017, some Yemeni political factions have accused the United Arab Emirates of looting, claiming that Emirati forces had ravaged the flora of the Island.[25]

On January 29, 2018, the local Southern Transitional Council leadership on the archipelago declared their support for the STC during Hadi infighting in and around Aden.[26]

On April 30, 2018, the United Arab Emirates, as part of the ongoing Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, landed troops on the island and took control of Socotra Airport and seaport.[27][23] On May 14, 2018, Saudi troops were also deployed on the island and a deal was brokered between the United Arab Emirates and Yemen for a joint military training exercise and the return of administrative control of Socotra airport and seaport under Yemeni control.[28][29][30]

Geography and climate

Socotra Cave 06
Halah Cave (Arabic: كهف حالة‎) in the east of the island is several hundred metres deep, with total darkness. Note the size of the stalagmites and stalactites compared to that of the 1.7 metres (5.6 ft) man with the torch.
Dixam canyon (6407166887)
Dixam canyon

Socotra is one of the most isolated landforms on Earth of continental origin (i.e. not of volcanic origin). The archipelago was once part of the supercontinent of Gondwana and detached during the Miocene epoch, in the same set of rifting events that opened the Gulf of Aden to its northwest.[31]

The archipelago consists of the main island of Socotra (3,665 km2 (1,415 sq mi)), the three smaller islands of Abd al Kuri, Samhah and Darsa, as well as small rock outcrops like Ka'l Fir'awn and Sābūnīyah that are uninhabitable by humans but important for seabirds.[32]

The main island has three geographical terrains: the narrow coastal plains, a limestone plateau with karst topography and the Hajhir Mountains.[33] The mountains rise to 1,503 metres (4,931 ft).[34] The island is about 125 kilometres (78 mi) long and 45 kilometres (28 mi) north to south.[35]

The climate of Socotra is classified in the Köppen climate classification as BWh and BSh, meaning a tropical, desert climate and semi-desert climate with a mean annual temperature over 25 °C or 77 °F. Yearly rainfall is light, but is fairly spread throughout the year. Due to orographic lift provided by the interior mountains, especially during the northeast monsoon from October to December, the highest inland areas can average as much as 800 millimetres (31.50 in) per year and receive over 250 millimetres (9.84 in) per month in November or December.[36] The southwest monsoon season from July to September brings strong winds and high seas. For many centuries, the sailors of Gujarat called the maritime route near Socotra as “Sikotro Sinh”, meaning the lion of Socotra, that constantly roars—referring to the high seas near Socotra.

In an extremely unusual occurrence, the western side of Socotra received more than 410 millimetres (16.14 in) of rain from Cyclone Chapala in November 2015.[37]

Flora and fauna

Socotra dragon tree
Endemic tree species Dracaena cinnabari
Cucumber Tree (Dendrosicyos)
An 1890s photograph of endemic tree species Dendrosicyos socotranus, the cucumber tree, by Henry Ogg Forbes

Socotra is considered the jewel of biodiversity in the Arabian Sea.[39] In the 1990s, a team of United Nations biologists conducted a survey of the archipelago’s flora and fauna. They counted nearly 700 endemic species, found nowhere else on earth; only New Zealand,[40] Hawaii, New Caledonia, and the Galápagos Islands have more impressive numbers.[41]

The long geological isolation of the Socotra archipelago and its fierce heat and drought have combined to create a unique and spectacular endemic flora. Botanical field surveys led by the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, indicate that 307 out of the 825 (37%) plant species on Socotra are endemic, i.e., they are found nowhere else on Earth.[42] The entire flora of the Socotra Archipelago has been assessed for the IUCN Red List, with 3 Critically Endangered and 27 Endangered plant species recognised in 2004.[42]

One of the most striking of Socotra's plants is the dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari), which is a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree. Its red sap was thought to be the dragon's blood of the ancients, sought after as a dye, and today used as paint and varnish.[42] Also important in ancient times were Socotra's various endemic aloes, used medicinally, and for cosmetics. Other endemic plants include the giant succulent tree Dorstenia gigas, the cucumber tree Dendrosicyos socotranus, the rare Socotran pomegranate (Punica protopunica), Aloe perryi, and Boswellia socotrana.[43]

The island group also has a rich fauna, including several endemic species of birds, such as the Socotra starling (Onychognathus frater), the Socotra sunbird (Nectarinia balfouri), Socotra bunting (Emberiza socotrana), Socotra cisticola (Cisticola haesitatus), Socotra sparrow (Passer insularis), Socotra golden-winged grosbeak (Rhynchostruthus socotranus), and a species in a monotypic genus, the Socotra warbler (Incana incana).[43] Many of the bird species are endangered by predation by non-native feral cats.[41] With only one endemic mammal, 6 endemic bird species and no amphibians, reptiles constitute the most relevant Socotran vertebrate fauna with 31 species. If one excludes the two recently introduced species, Hemidactylus robustus and Hemidactylus flaviviridis, all native species are endemic. There is a very high level of endemism at both species (29 of 31, 94%) and genus levels (5 of 12, 42%). At the species level, endemicity may be even higher, as phylogenetic studies have uncovered substantial hidden diversity.[44] The reptiles species include skinks, legless lizards, and one species of chameleon, Chamaeleo monachus. There are many endemic invertebrates, including several spiders (such as the tarantula Monocentropus balfouri) and three species of freshwater crabs (one Socotra and two Socotrapotamon).[45]

As with many isolated island systems, bats are the only mammals native to Socotra. In contrast, the coral reefs of Socotra are diverse, with many endemic species.[43] Socotra is also one of the homes of the butterfly Bicyclus anynana.[46]

Over the two thousand years of human settlement on the islands the environment has slowly but continuously changed, and according to Jonathan Kingdon, "the animals and plants that remain represent a degraded fraction of what once existed."[43] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea says the island had crocodiles and large lizards, and the present reptilian fauna appears to be greatly reduced. Until a few centuries ago, there were rivers and wetlands on the island, greater stocks of the endemic trees, and abundant pasture. The Portuguese recorded the presence of water buffaloes in the early 17th century. Now there are only sand gullies, and many native plants only survive where there is greater moisture or protection from livestock.[43] The remaining Socotra fauna is greatly threatened by goats and other introduced species.

The civil war in Yemen has caused deforestation in Socotra. In December 2018, UAE sent cooking gas to Socotra in order to curb deforestation caused by supply shortages caused by the civil war.[47]

UNESCO recognition

The island was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world natural heritage site in July 2008. The European Union has supported such a move, calling on both UNESCO and International Organisation of Protecting Environment to classify the island archipelago among the environmental heritages.[48]

Island of Poets

In addition to its unique natural heritage, Socotra is also a living bank of archaic linguistic vestiges that pre-date Arabic and include Arameic. The Semitic language Soqotri, spoken originally only in Socotra by Al-Mahrah people, is related to such other Modern South Arabian languages on the Arabian mainland as Mehri, Harsusi, Bathari, Shehri, and Hobyot, that became the subject of European academic study in the 19th-century.[49][50] There is an ancient tradition of poetry and a poetry competition is held annually on the island.[51]


Fish Market, Socotra Island (10421587795)
A fish market in Socotra

Most of the inhabitants are indigenous Soqotri people from Al-Mahrah tribe, who are of Southern Arabian descent from Al Mahrah Governorate,[1] and are said to be especially closely related with the Qara and Mahra groups of Southern Arabia.[52] There are also a small number of residents of Somali origin.[1] In addition, the island is inhabited by various black African people, who are believed to be descendants of runaway slaves.[52]

Almost all inhabitants of Socotra, numbering about 145,000, live on the main island of the archipelago.[39] The principal city, Hadibu (with a population of 8,545 at the census of 2004); the second largest town, Qalansiyah (population 3,862); and Qād̨ub (population 929) are all located on the north coast of the island of Socotra.[53] Only about 450 people live on 'Abd-al-Kūrī and 100 on Samha; the island of Darsa and the islets of the archipelago are uninhabited.[54]


The islanders followed indigenous religions until 52 AD, when, according to local beliefs, Thomas the Apostle was shipwrecked there on his way to evangelize India.[55] He then supposedly constructed a church out of his ship's wreckage and baptized many Socotrans.[55] After this, Christianity became the main religion of the island.[55] They followed Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, who was later excommunicated for heresies. The Socotrans remained loyal to his teachings and joined the Assyrian church.[55] During the 10th century, Arab geographer Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani recorded during his visits that most of the islanders were Christian. Explorer Marco Polo wrote in his travelogue:

I give you my word that the people of this island are the most expert enchanters in the world. It is true that the archbishop does not approve of these enchantments and rebukes them for the practice. But this has no effect, because they say that their forefathers did these things of old.[56]

Christianity in Socotra went into decline when the Mahra sultanate took power in the 16th century and became mostly Muslim by the time the Portuguese arrived later that century.[56] An 1884 edition of Nature, a science journal, writes that the disappearance of Christian churches and monuments can be accounted for by a Wahhabi excursion to the island in 1800.[57] Today the only remnants of Christianity are some cross engravings from the 1st century AD, a few Christian tombs, and some church ruins.[58]


The majority of male residents on Socotra are reported to be in the J* subclade of Y-DNA haplogroup J. Several of the female lineages on the island, notably those in mtDNA haplogroup N, are found nowhere else on Earth.[59]

Administrative divisions

Guardafui Channel map
Socotra, located in the Guardafui Channel.

The archipelago previously formed two districts of the Hadhramaut Governorate:

  • the district of Hadibu, with a population of 32,285 and a district seat at Hadibu, consists of the eastern two-thirds of the main island of Socotra;
  • the district of Qalansiyah wa 'Abd-al-Kūrī, with a population of 10,557 and a district seat at Qalansiyah, consists of the minor islands of the archipelago (the island of 'Abd-al-Kūrī chief among them) and the western third of the main island.

In 2013, however, the archipelago was removed from the Hadramaut Governorate and created a governorate (Socotra Governorate) in its own right, consisting of the two above-mentioned districts.


The primary occupations of the people of Socotra have traditionally been fishing, animal husbandry, and the cultivation of dates.

Monsoons long made the archipelago inaccessible from June to September each year. In July 1999, however, a new airport opened Socotra to the outside world all year round. There is regular service to and from Aden and Sana'a. All scheduled commercial flights make a technical stop at Riyan-Mukalla Airport. Socotra Airport is located about 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) west of the main city, Hadibu, and close to the third largest town in the archipelago, Qād̨ub.[60] Diesel generators make electricity widely available in Socotra. A paved road runs along the north shore from Qulansiyah to Hadibu and then to the DiHamri area; and another paved road, from the northern coast to the southern through the Dixsam Plateau.

The former capital is located to the east of Hadibu. A small Yemeni Army barracks lie at the western end of Hadibu, and the former President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, had a residence there. According to 2012 and 2014 sources analysed by the American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project, a naval infantry brigade was stationed on Socotra at the time.[61]

Some residents raise cattle and goats. The chief export products of the island are dates, ghee, tobacco, and fish.

At the end of the 1990s, a United Nations Development Program was launched with the aim of providing a close survey of the island of Socotra.[62] The project called Socotra Governance and Biodiversity Project have listed following goals from 2009:

  • Local governance support
  • Development and implementation of mainstreaming tools
  • Strengthening nongovernmental organizations' advocacy
  • Direction of biodiversity conservation benefits to the local people
  • Support to the fisheries sector and training of professionals

In February 2014, the Economist magazine reported that Socotra was being considered as a possible site for the Yemeni jihadist rehabilitation program.[63]


Public transport on Socotra is limited to a few minibuses; car hire usually means hiring a 4WD car with driver.[64][65]

Transport is a delicate matter on Socotra because, as much as modern transportation has its advantages, road construction has been considered detrimental to the island and its ecosystem. The most harm is being done by chemical pollution from road construction and road provoked habitat fragmentation.[66]

The only port on Socotra is 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) east of Hadibu. Ships connect the port with the Yemeni coastal city of Mukalla. According to information from the ports, the journey takes 2–3 days and the service is used mostly for cargo.

Yemenia and Felix Airways flew from Socotra Airport to Sana'a and Aden via Riyan Airport. As of March 2015, due to ongoing civil war involving Saudi Arabia's Air Force all flights to and from Socotra have been canceled.[67]

However, during the deployment of Emirati troops and aid to the Island, multiple flight connections were made between Abu Dhabi and Hadibu as part of Emirati effort to provide Socotra residents with access to free healthcare and provide work opportunities.[68]


The airport for Socotra was established in 1999. Prior to this modest airport, the Island could only be reached by a cargo ship. The ideal time to visit Socotra is from October to April; the remaining months usually entertain heavy monsoon rainfall, making it difficult to survive the weather for tourists (flights also usually get cancelled).[69] The Island lacks any well-established hotels, although there are a few guest houses for the travelers to stay during their short visits.[70] Due to the Yemeni Civil War that started in 2015, the tourism to Socotra Island has been affected. The Island received over 1000 tourists each year until 2014.[71]


Socotra -Dixam00


Socotra -Qlinsia01


Socotra -Nawjad01


Socotra -Ar'ar


See also

  • Masirah Island, another island with a rugged terrain off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula


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  45. ^ Apel, M. and Brandis, D. 2000. A new species of freshwater crab (Crustacea: Brachyura: Potamidae) from Socotra Island and description of Socotrapotamon n. gen. Fauna of Arabia 18: 133-144.
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Further reading

  • Agafonov, Vladimir (2007). "Temethel as the Brightest Element of Soqotran Folk Poetry". Folia Orientalia. 42/43 (2006/07): 241–249.
  • Agafonov, Vladimir (2013). Mehazelo – Cinderella of Socotra. ISBN 1482319225.
  • Biedermann, Zoltán (2006). Soqotra, Geschichte einer christlichen Insel im Indischen Ozean vom Altertum bis zur frühen Neuzeit. Maritime Asia 17 (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-05421-8.
  • Botting, Douglas (2006) [1958]. Island of the Dragon's Blood (2nd ed.). ISBN 978-1-904246-21-3.
  • Burdick, Alan (25 March 2007). "The Wonder Land of Socotra, Yemen". The New York Times.
  • Casson, Lionel (1989). The Periplus Maris Erythraei. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04060-5.
  • Cheung, Catherine; DeVantier, Lyndon (2006). Van Damme, Kay (ed.). Socotra: A Natural History of the Islands and their People. Odyssey Books & Guides. ISBN 962-217-770-0.
  • Doe, D. Brian (1970). Field, Henry; Laird, Edith M. (eds.). Socotra: An Archaeological Reconnaissance in 1967. Miami: Field Research Projects.
  • Doe, D. Brian (1992). Socotra: Island of Tranquility. London: Immel.
  • Elie, Serge D. (2004). "Hadiboh: From Peripheral Village to Emerging City". Chroniques Yemenites. 12.
  • Elie, Serge D. (November 2006). "Soqotra: South Arabia's Strategic Gateway and Symbolic Playground". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 33 (2): 131–160. doi:10.1080/13530190600953278. ISSN 1353-0194.
  • Elie, Serge D. (June 2007). The Waning of a Pastoralist Community: An Ethnographic Exploration of Soqotra as a Transitional Social Formation (D.Phil Dissertation thesis). University of Sussex.
  • Elie, Serge D. (2008). "The Waning of Soqotra's Pastoral Community: Political Incorporation as Social Transformation". Human Organization. 67 (3): 335–345.
  • Elie, Serge D. (2009). "State-Community Relations in Yemen: Soqotra's Historical Formation as a Sub-National Polity". History and Anthropology. 20 (4): 363–393. doi:10.1080/02757200903166459.
  • Elie, Serge D. (2010). "Soqotra: The Historical Formation of a Communal Polity". Chroniques Yéménites. 16: 31–55.
  • Elie, Serge D. (2012). "Fieldwork in Soqotra: The Formation of a Practitioner's Sensibility". Practicing Anthropology. 34 (2): 30–34.
  • Elie, Serge D. (2012). "Cultural Accommodation to State Incorporation: Language Replacement on Soqotra Island". Journal of Arabian Studies. 2 (1): 39–57. doi:10.1080/21534764.2012.686235.
  • Miller, A.G. & Morris, M. (2004) Ethnoflora of the Socotra Archipelago. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
  • Naumkin, V. V.; Sedov, A. V. (1993). "Monuments of Socotra". In Boussac, Marie-Françoise; and Salles, Jean-François (eds.). Athens, Aden, Arikamedu: Essays on the interrelations between India, Arabia and the Eastern Mediterranean. Delhi: Manohar. pp. 193–250. ISBN 81-7304-079-6.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  • Peutz, Nathalie (2018). Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503607156.
  • Schoff, Wilfred H. (1974) [1912]. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (2nd. ed.). New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation.
  • Zhukov, Valery A. (2014). The Results of Research of the Stone Age Sites in the Island of Socotra (Yemen) in 2008-2012 (in Russian). Moscow: Triada. ISBN 978-5-89282-591-7.

External links

  1. ^ "Yemen officials say Emiratis boost forces on Socotra island". The Washington Post.
Abd al-Kuri sparrow

The Abd al-Kuri sparrow (Passer hemileucus) is a passerine bird endemic to the small island of Abd al Kuri (also spelled several other ways) in the Socotra archipelago of the Indian Ocean, off the Horn of Africa. Though this species was originally described as a distinct species, it was considered conspecific with the Socotra sparrow. A study by Guy Kirwan showed significant differences from the Socotra sparrow, and that the two sparrows might even have different origins. On the evidence that it is morphologically distinct, BirdLife International (and hence the IUCN Red List) recognised it as a species, and it was listed in the IOC World Bird List from December 2009. It has a very restricted distribution, and a population of under 1,000 individuals, so despite not having any known threats it is considered a Vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List.

Emblem of Yemen

The national emblem of Yemen depicts a golden eagle with a scroll between its claws. On the scroll is written the name of the country in Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية‎ or Al-Jumhuriyyah Al-Yamaniyah ("The Yemeni Republic"). The chest of the eagle contains a shield that depicts a coffee plant and the Marib Dam, with seven blue wavy stripes below. The flagstaffs on the right and left of the eagle hold the Flag of Yemen.

Flag of Yemen

The Flag of Yemen (Arabic: علم اليمن‎) was adopted on May 22, 1990, the day that North Yemen and South Yemen were unified. The flag is essentially the Arab Liberation Flag of 1952, introduced after the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 in which Arab nationalism was a dominant theme. The Arab Liberation Flag served as the inspiration for the flags of both North and South Yemen prior to unification, as well as for the current flags of Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria.According to the official description, the red stands for unity and the bloodshed of martyrs, the white for a bright future, and the black for the dark past. The flag's design is also similar to that of the flag of the German Empire, albeit inverted. The flag is identical to the flag of Libya from 1969–1972.

Guardafui Channel

The Guardafui Channel is an oceanic strait off the tip of the Horn of Africa that lies between the Puntland region of Somalia and Socotra to the west of the Arabian Sea. It connects the Gulf of Aden to the north with the Somali sea to the south. Its namesake is Cape Guardafui, the very tip of the Horn of Africa. Notable places of interest include the Alula Lagoon.

Hadhramaut Governorate

Hadhramaut or Hadramawt (Arabic: حضرموت‎ Ḥaḍramawt) is a governorate of Yemen. Lying within the large historical region of Hadhramaut, it is the country's largest governorate.

The capital of Hadhramut is the city of Mukalla. Other cities in Hadhramaut include the historical towns of Shibam, Sena, Seiyun, Tarim, and Ash Shihr. It was badly hit by rainfall during the 2008 Yemen floods, which left thousands homeless and many buildings shattered.

The Socotra archipelago was transferred from the Adan Governorate to the Hadhramaut Governorate in 2004. It was subsequently separated to form the newly created Soqatra Governorate in December 2013.

Hidaybu District

Hidaybu District is one of two districts of the Socotra Governorate, Yemen. It occupies the eastern part of the main island of Socotra archipelago. It is named after its capital and the principal town of the archipelago, the town of Hidaybu (Hadibu). As of 2003, the district had a population of 34,011 people.

Hypericum scopulorum

Hypericum scopulorum is a species of flowering plant in the family Hypericaceae. It is endemic to Socotra, an island archipelago that is part of Yemen. It is a common plant in shrubland habitat, and it is a dominant species in some areas along with Cephalocroton and another local endemic, Helichrysum rosulatum.

LGBT rights in Yemen

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons in Yemen face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents.

List of diplomatic missions of Yemen

This is a list of diplomatic missions of Yemen, excluding honorary consulates.

Mahra Sultanate

The Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra (Arabic: الدولة المهرية للبر وسقطرى‎ Ad-Dawlah al-Mahreyah Llbar wa-Suquṭrah) or sometimes the Mahra Sultanate of Ghayda and Socotra (Arabic: سلطنة المهرة في الغيضة وسقطرى‎ Salṭanat al-Mahrah fī al-Ghayḍā’ wa-Suquṭrah) was a sultanate that included the historical region of Mahra and the Indian Ocean island of Socotra in what is now eastern Yemen. It was ruled by the Banu Afrar (Arabic: بنو عفرار‎ Banū ‘Afrār, also known as بن عفرير) dynasty and is sometimes called Mahra State in English.

In 1886, the Sultanate became a British protectorate and later joined the Aden Protectorate. The Sultanate was abolished in 1967 upon the founding of the People's Republic of South Yemen and is now part of the Republic of Yemen.The people of the Sultanate were essentially the Mehri people or speakers of the Mehri language, a modern South Arabian language. The Mehri share, with their regional neighbours on the island of Socotra and in Dhofar in Oman, cultural traditions like a modern South Arabian language, Arabic incursions, and frankincense agriculture. The region benefits from a coastal climate, distinct from the surrounding desert climate, with seasons dominated by the khareef or monsoon.

In 1967, with the departure of the British from the larger southern Arabian region, the Aden-based South Yemeni government divided the region formerly known as the thousand-year-old Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra, creating an Al Mahra Governorate, but moving Socotra to the Aden Governorate. In 2004, the Yemeni government moved Socotra back to its origin land Hadhramaut as know today as the Hadhramaut Governorate.

Polygamy in Yemen

As Yemen is a mostly-Muslim nation, polygamy is lawful. Polygamy is permissible in Islam up to four wives, as long as the husband devotes equal attention to each of them.

According to a poll in the country, 7% of married women are in polygamous unions, which is significantly less than most nations in the Muslim world. Additionally, women living in rural areas or mountainous settings are more likely to contract a polygamous marriage than women living in the coastal region or urban settings of the country. In the same fashion, it was reported that the majority of women living in polygamous unions tended to be less educated than those living in monogamous marriages.

Qulensya wa Abd al Kuri District

Qulensya Wa Abd Al Kuri District is one of two districts of the Socotra Governorate, Yemen. It occupies the western part of the main island of Socotra archipelago, and all other islands of the archipelago. It is named after its capital, Qulensya, on the north coast of Socotra island, and Abd al Kuri, the second largest island of the archipelago. As of 2003, the district had a population of 10,109 inhabitants.

Socotra Governorate

Socotra Archipelago (Arabic: أرخبيل سقطرى‎ ʾArḫabīl Suquṭrā) or Suqutra is officially one of the governorates of Yemen. It is composed of the archipelago of Socotra.

Socotra Swahili language

Socotra Swahili is an extinct variety of Swahili spoken on Socotra Island in Yemen. It was reported to be spoken by a fifth of the island (c. 2,000 people) in 1962.

Socotra buzzard

The Socotra buzzard (Buteo socotraensis) is a medium to large bird of prey that is sometimes considered a subspecies of the widespread common buzzard (Buteo buteo). As its name implies, it is native to the island of Socotra, Yemen. Although it is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, its population is considered to be stable.

Socotra cormorant

The Socotra cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis) is a threatened species of cormorant that is endemic to the Persian Gulf and the south-east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is also sometimes known as the Socotran cormorant or, more rarely, as the Socotra shag. Individuals occasionally migrate as far west as the Red Sea coast. Despite its name, it was only confirmed in 2005 that it breeds on the Socotra islands in the Indian Ocean.The Socotra cormorant is an almost entirely blackish bird with a total length of about 80 centimetres (31 in). In breeding condition, its forecrown has a purplish gloss and its upperparts have a slaty-green tinge, there are a few white plumes around the eye and neck and a few white streaks at the rump. Its legs and feet are black and its gular skin blackish. All these deviations from pure black are less marked outside the breeding season.

There is little information on this species' foraging or diet. Like all cormorants its dives for its food. Older reports suggest that it can stay submerged for up to 3 minutes, which is high for a cormorant and suggests that it would be capable of deep diving. However, there are also reports of foraging in flocks, and this is more usually seen in cormorants that feed in mid-water.

The birds are highly gregarious, with roosting flocks of 250,000 having been reported, and flocks of up to 25,000 at sea.

Some authors, such as Paul Johnsgard, place this species, along with a number of other related cormorants, in a genus Leucocarbo.

Since 2000, this species has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, on the grounds of its small number of breeding localities and ongoing rapid decline. The decline is caused by coastal development, disturbance and marine pollution near its nesting colonies; in 2000 it was estimated that the world population was about 110,000 breeding pairs or 330,000–500,000 individual birds. The only protected nesting colony in the Persian Gulf is one of about 30,000 pairs on the Bahraini Hawar Islands off the coast of Qatar, and this is a Ramsar Convention listed site. Of the remaining 13 colonies (9 different locations), the Hawar colony is the largest. In the northern part of its range alone, about 12 colonies are known to have disappeared since the 1960s. The birds may also be affected by oil pollution at sea. During the First Gulf War, images of badly oiled cormorants from the Gulf were regularly shown in the western media, and although the great cormorant is also found in the Persian Gulf, it is likely that many of these were Socotra cormorants.

In 2012, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) monitored wild birds throughout Abu Dhabi at nearly 60 sites and recorded 420 species from 60 families. Nearly 12,000 breeding pairs of the globally threatened Socotra Cormorant were recorded at five to six small islands in the Emirate.

The Socotra cormorant is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Socotra sparrow

The Socotra sparrow (Passer insularis) is a passerine bird endemic to the islands of Socotra, Samhah, and Darsah in the Indian Ocean, off the Horn of Africa. The taxonomy of this species and its relatives is complex, with some authorities, including BirdLife International, recognising this species and the very similar Abd al-Kuri sparrow, as well as several from mainland Africa, as separate, and others lumping all these species and the probably unrelated Iago sparrow.

United Arab Emirates takeover of Socotra

On 30 April 2018, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) deployed more than a hundred troops with artillery and armored vehicles to the Yemeni archipelago of Socotra in the Guardafui Channel without prior coordination with Yemen. The initial deployment consisted of UAE military aircraft carrying more than fifty UAE soldiers and two armored vehicles, followed by two more aircraft carrying more soldiers, tanks and other armored vehicles. Al Jazeera reported that shortly after landing, UAE forces dismissed Yemeni soldiers stationed at administrative installations such as Socotra Airport and seaports until further notice, and the flag of the United Arab Emirates was raised above official government buildings in Hadibu.Yemen's internationally-recognised government condemned the takeover as "an act of aggression"; however no military resistance to Emirati troops was reported.Two weeks later on 14 May, Saudi troops were also deployed to the archipelago and a deal was brokered between the United Arab Emirates and Yemen for a joint military training exercise and the return of administrative control of Socotra's airport and seaport to Yemen.

Yemen Scouts and Guides Association

The Yemen Scouts and Guides Association (Arabic: جمعية الكشافة والمرشدات اليمنية‎) is the national Scouting and Guiding organization of Yemen. Scouting in Yemen started in 1927. The Yemen Scouts and Guides Associations was established in 1987.

The Boy Scout branch serves 6,481 members (as of 2004) and is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement since 1980. The Girl Guide branch has 13,472 members (as of 2003) and became a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1990.

Climate data for Socotra
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.0
Average high °C (°F) 27.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.8
Average low °C (°F) 22.6
Record low °C (°F) 17.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 2.5
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 2.4 0.8 0.4 1.0 0.4 0.8 0.2 0.0 0.6 2.2 7.7 5.2 21.7
Average relative humidity (%) 70 68 67 66 62 60 58 57 62 69 72 73 65
Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst[38]
Arabian Sea
Guardafui Channel
Red Sea

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