South Yemen is the common English name for the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (Arabic: جمهورية اليمن الديمقراطية الشعبية Jumhūriyat al-Yaman ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah ash-Sha'bīyah), which existed from 1967 to 1990 as a state in the Middle East in the southern and eastern provinces of the present-day Republic of Yemen, including the island of Socotra. It was also referred to as Democratic Yemen or Yemen (Aden).
South Yemen's origins can be traced to 1874 with the creation of the British colony of Aden and the Aden Protectorate, which consisted of two-thirds of the present-day Yemen. However, Aden became a province within the British Raj in 1937. After the collapse of Aden Protectorate, the state of emergency was declared in 1963 when the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) rebelled against British rule.
The Federation of South Arabia and the Protectorate of South Arabia merged to become South Yemen on 30 November 1967 and became a Marxist socialist republic in 1970 supported by the Soviet Union. Despite its efforts to bring stability into the region, it was involved in a brief civil war in 1986. With the collapse of communism, South Yemen was unified with the Yemen Arab Republic (commonly known as "North Yemen") on 22 May 1990, to form the present-day Yemen. After four years, however, South Yemen declared its secession from the north, which resulted in the north occupying south Yemen and the 1994 civil war. Another attempt to restore South Yemen continues on since 2017.
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen
جمهورية اليمن الديمقراطية الشعبية
Jumhūrīyat al-Yaman ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah ash-Sha'bīyah
Anthem: الجمهورية المتحدة (Arabic)
The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1989
and largest city
|Government||Federal Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic|
|Abdul Fattah Ismail|
|Ali Nasir Muhammad|
|Ali Salim al-Beidh|
• 1967–1969 (first)
• 1986–1990 (last)
|Muhammad Ali Haitham|
|Ali Nasir Muhammad|
|Yasin Said Numan|
|Legislature||Supreme People's Council|
|Historical era||Cold War|
• Independence declared
|30 November 1967|
|14 December 1967|
• Constitution adopted
|31 October 1978|
|22 May 1990|
|1990||360,133 km2 (139,048 sq mi)|
|Currency||South Yemeni dinar|
In 1838, Sultan Muhsin Bin Fadl of the state of Lahej ceded 194 km² (75 sq. miles) including Aden to the British. On 19 January 1839, the British East India Company landed Royal Marines at Aden to occupy the territory and stop attacks by pirates against British shipping to India. It then became an important trading hub between British India and the Red Sea, and following the opening of the Suez canal in 1869, it became a coaling station for ships en route to India. Aden was ruled as part of British India until 1937, when the city of Aden became the Colony of Aden. The Aden hinterland and Hadhramaut to the east formed the remainder of what would become South Yemen and was not administered directly by Aden but were tied to Britain by treaties of protection with local rulers of traditional polities that, together, became known as the Aden Protectorate. Economic development was largely centered in Aden, and while the city flourished, the states of the Aden Protectorate stagnated.
In 1963, Aden and much of the Protectorate were joined to form the Federation of South Arabia with the remaining states that declined to join, mainly in Hadhramaut, forming the separate Protectorate of South Arabia. Both of these polities were still tied to Britain with promises of total independence in 1968. Two nationalist groups, the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) and the National Liberation Front (NLF), began an armed struggle known as the Aden Emergency on 14 October 1963 against British control and, with the temporary closure of the Suez Canal in 1967, the British began to withdraw. One faction, NLF, was invited to the Geneva Talks to sign the independence agreement with the British. However, Britain - who during its occupation of Aden signed several treaties of protection with the local sheikhdoms and emirates of the Federation of South Arabia - excluded them in the talks and thus the agreement stated "...the handover of the territory of South Arabia to the (Yemeni) NLF...". Southern Yemen became independent as the People's Republic of Southern Yemen on 30 November 1967, and the National Liberation Front consolidated its control in the country.
In June 1969, a radical Marxist wing of the NLF gained power and on 1 December 1970, reorganized the country into the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). Subsequently, all political parties were amalgamated into the National Liberation Front, renamed the Yemeni Socialist Party, which became the only legal party. The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen established close ties with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. East Germany's constitution of 1968 even served as a kind of blueprint for the PDRY's first constitution.
The new government embarked on a programme of nationalisation, introduced central planning, put limits on housing ownership and rent, and implemented a land reform. By 1973, the GDP of South Yemen increased by 25 percent. And despite the conservative environment and resistance, women became legally equal to men, polygamy, child marriage and arranged marriage were all banned by law. Equal rights in divorce were also sanctioned. The Republic also secularised education and sharia law was replaced by a state legal code.
The major communist powers assisted in the building of the PDRY's armed forces. Strong support from Moscow resulted in Soviet naval forces gaining access to naval facilities in South Yemen.
Unlike the early decades of East Germany and West Germany, North Korea and South Korea, or North Vietnam and South Vietnam, North Yemen (YAR) and South Yemen (PDRY) remained relatively friendly, though relations were often strained. Fighting broke out in 1972, and a short-lived, small proxy border conflict was resolved with negotiations, where it was declared unification would eventually occur.
However, these plans were put on hold in 1979, as the PDRY funded Red rebels in the YAR, and war was only prevented by an Arab League intervention. The goal of unity was reaffirmed by the northern and southern heads of state during a summit meeting in Kuwait in March 1979.
In 1980, PDRY president Abdul Fattah Ismail resigned and went into exile in Moscow, having lost the confidence of his sponsors in the USSR. His successor, Ali Nasir Muhammad, took a less interventionist stance toward both North Yemen and neighbouring Oman.
On January 13, 1986, a violent struggle began in Aden between Ali Nasir's supporters and supporters of the returned Ismail, who wanted power back. Fighting, known as the South Yemen Civil War, lasted for more than a month and resulted in thousands of casualties, Ali Nasir's ouster, and Ismail's death. Some 60,000 people, including the deposed Ali Nasir, fled to the YAR. Ali Salim al-Beidh, an ally of Ismail who had succeeded in escaping the attack on pro-Ismail members of the Politburo, then became General Secretary of the Yemeni Socialist Party.
Against the background of the perestroika in the USSR, the main backer of the PDRY, political reforms were started in the late 1980s. Political prisoners were released, political parties were formed and the system of justice was reckoned to be more equitable than in the North. In May 1988, the YAR and PDRY governments came to an understanding that considerably reduced tensions including agreement to renew discussions concerning unification, to establish a joint oil exploration area along their undefined border, to demilitarize the border, and to allow Yemenis unrestricted border passage on the basis of only a national identification card. In 1990, the parties reached a full agreement on joint governing of Yemen, and the countries were effectively merged as Yemen.
Since 2007, some Southerners have been actively protesting for independence, in a movement known as 'Al Hirak' or the Southern Movement. During the Yemen Civil War 2015, in response to incursions by the Houthis and military forces loyal to deposed Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, members of the Southern Movement formed 'Popular Resistance' militias. Since the Battle of Aden, these armed groups have sought to defend the South against Houthi/Saleh attempts to take over the country and have taken the current state of civil war as opportunity to further their struggle for independence.
In late January 2018, separatists loyal to the Southern Transitional Council successfully seized control of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government headquarters in Aden in an apparent coup d'état against the Hadi government.
South Yemen's ethnic groups are Arabs (92.8%), Somalis (3.7%), Blacks 1.1%, Indians and Pakistanis (1%), and other (1.4%) (2000). The only recognized political party in South Yemen was the Yemeni Socialist Party, which ran the country and the economy along self-described Marxist lines, modeled on the Soviet Union.
The constitution prescribed universal suffrage.
In Aden, there was a structured judicial system with a supreme court.
Education was paid for through general taxation.
There was no housing crisis in South Yemen. Surplus housing built by the British meant that there were few homeless people in Aden, and people built their own houses out of adobe and mud in the rural areas.
South Yemen developed as a Marxist, mostly secular society ruled first by the National Liberation Front, which later morphed into the ruling Yemeni Socialist Party. The only avowedly Marxist nation in the Middle East, South Yemen received significant foreign aid and other assistance from the USSR and East Germany, which stationed several hundred officers of the Stasi in the country to train the nation's secret police and establish another arms trafficking route to Palestine. The East Germans didn't leave until 1990, when the Yemeni government declined to pay their salaries which had been terminated with the dissolution of the Stasi during German reunification.
In 1976, the South Yemen national football team participated in the Asia Cup, where the team lost to Iraq 1-0 and to Iran 8-0. They entered their only World Cup qualification campaign in 1986 and were knocked out in the first round by Bahrain. On September 2, 1965, South Yemen played their first international match against the United Arab Republic, to whom they lost 14-0. On November 5, 1989, South Yemen played its last international match against Guinea, to whom they lost 1-0. The team stopped playing when the North and South united in 1990 to form the modern state of Yemen.
In 1988, the South Yemen Olympic team made its debut in Seoul. Sending only eight athletes, the country won no medals. This was the only time the country went to the Olympics until unification in 1990.
Following independence, South Yemen was divided into six governorates (Arabic sg. muhafazah), with roughly natural boundaries, each given a name by numeral. From 1967 to 1978, they were named officially by numerals only; from 1979 to 1990, they were given new official names. The islands: Kamaran (until 1972, when it was seized by North Yemen), Perim (Meyun), Socotra, Abd-el-Kuri, Samha (inhabited), Darsah and others uninhabited from the Socotra archipelago were districts (mudiriyah) of the First/Aden Governorate being under Prime-Minister of the state supervision.
|Numeral||Name||Approximate Area (km.²)||Capital|
There was little industrial output, or mineral wealth exploitation, in South Yemen, until the mid-1980s, following the discovery of significant petroleum reserves in the central regions near Shibam and Mukalla. The main sources of income were agriculture, mostly fruit, cereal crops, cattle and sheep, fishing and later, oil exports.
The following airlines had operated from the PDRY:
This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.
The boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles followed four years after the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The boycott involved 14 Eastern Bloc countries and allies, led by the Soviet Union, which initiated the boycott on May 8, 1984. Boycotting countries organized another major event, called the Friendship Games, in July and August 1984. Although the boycott led by the Soviet Union affected a number of Olympic events that were normally dominated by the absent countries, 140 nations still took part in the games, which was a record at the time.Al-Wadiah War
The al-Wadiah War was a military conflict which broke out on 27 November 1969 between Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of South Yemen after PRSY forces seized the town of al-Wadiah on the PRSY-Saudi Arabian border. The conflict ended on 6 December when Saudi forces retook al-Wadiah.Corrective Move
The Corrective Move' (Arabic: الثورة التصحيحية), officially referred to as the "Glorious Corrective Move" and often referred to as the "Corrective Step", was the takeover of the National Liberation Front by Marxist faction led by Abdel Fattah Ismail in an internal coup on 22 June 1969. The leftist takeover later led to the creation of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), and South Yemen's transformation into a socialist state.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.List of ambassadors of the United States to Yemen
This is a list of Ambassadors of the United States to Yemen.
Prior to 1990, Yemen had consisted of two nations: North Yemen and South Yemen. The United States had diplomatic relations with North Yemen since 1946. Relations with South Yemen had been established in 1967 and broken in 1969.
On May 22, 1990, the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) united and formed a united Republic of Yemen. The existing U.S. embassy in San'a (North Yemen) became the embassy for the new republic. At that time there was no U.S. ambassador to South Yemen, so the then-current ambassador to North Yemen Charles Franklin Dunbar, continued to serve as the ambassador to the united Yemen until the end of his tour in 1991.
For U.S. ambassadors to North Yemen prior to 1990, see United States Ambassador to North Yemen.
For U.S. ambassadors to South Yemen prior to 1990, see United States Ambassador to South Yemen.Modern history of Yemen
The modern history of Yemen began with the withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire. In 1839 the British set up a protective area around the southern port of Aden and in 1918 the northern Kingdom of Yemen gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. North Yemen became a republic in 1962, but it was not until 1967 that the British Empire withdrew from what became South Yemen. In 1970, the southern government adopted a communist governmental system. The two countries were formally united as the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990.NDF Rebellion
The NDF Rebellion was an uprising in the Yemen Arab Republic by the National Democratic Front, under Yahya Shami, between 1978 and 1982. The rebellion began in 1978, following the death of Ahmad al-Ghashmi and the rise to power of Ali Abdullah Saleh. The NDF was supported in its rebellion by the PDRY and Libya. The NDF enjoyed various successes throughout the war, although it was weakened by the peace treaty between North and South Yemen following the 1979 border war.There were several attempts at ceasefires between the government and the NDF. Kuwait managed to facilitate the signing of a ceasefire between the government and the NDF on 26 November 1981, although hostilities re-erupted in December 1981. Later, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was able to mediate a ceasefire agreement on 3 April 1982, however hostilities began again later the same April, with the NDF capturing Juban. Government forces in turn attacked NDF positions in Juban in May 1982.
PDRY support for the NDF diminished under the Presidency of the less overtly militant Ali Nasir Muhammad, and PDRY support for the NDF finally ended in May 1982. The NDF was eventually defeated by a rejuvenated YAR Army in conjunction with the pro-government Islamic Front, allowing the YAR government to finally establish control over the North-South border region.North Yemen
North Yemen is a name given to the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen (1918–1962) and the Yemen Arab Republic (1962–1990), states that exercised sovereignty over the territory that is now the north-western part of the state of Yemen in southern Arabia.
Neither state ever designated itself as "North Yemen" and the term only came into general use when the Federation of South Arabia gained independence as the People's Republic of South Yemen in 1967 making such a distinction necessary. Prior to 1967, the North was known in short form simply as "Yemen." In 1970, South Yemen changed its name to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen thus eliminating any directional reference in either of the Yemens' official names but the existence of two Yemens preserved the North Yemen and South Yemen designations in popular parlance. Alternate forms were "Yemen (Sanaa)" for North Yemen and "Yemen (Aden)" for South Yemen after their respective capital cities.
The merger of the two Yemens in 1990 ended the term's association with an independent state but "North Yemen" continues to be used to refer to the area of the former Yemen Arab Republic and its history and, anachronistically, to pre-1967 polities and events (e.g. the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen or the North Yemen Civil War).South Yemen Civil War
The South Yemen Civil War, colloquially referred to as The Events of '86, or more simply as The Events, was a failed coup d'etat and armed conflict which took place in January 1986 in South Yemen. The civil war developed as a result of ideological and tribal tensions between two factions of the ruling Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), centred on Abdul Fattah Ismail and Ali Nasir Muhammad for the leadership of the YSP. The conflict quickly escalated into a costly civil war that lasted eleven days and resulted in thousands of casualties. Additionally, the conflict resulted in the demise of much of the Yemeni Socialist Party's most experienced leadership cadre, contributing to the country's eventual unification with North Yemen in 1990.South Yemen at the 1988 Summer Olympics
South Yemen competed as the Yemen Democratic Republic at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. It was the only time that the nation would compete at the Olympic Games. After unification with North Yemen, the nation would later return as Yemen at the 1992 Summer Olympics.South Yemen insurgency
The South Yemen insurgency is a term used by the Yemeni government to describe the protests and attacks on government forces in southern Yemen, ongoing since 27 April 2009, on South Yemen's independence day. Although the violence has been blamed on elements within the southern secessionist movement, leaders of the group maintain that their aims of independence are to be achieved through peaceful means, and claim that attacks are from ordinary citizens in response to the government's provocative actions. The insurgency comes amid the Shia insurgency in the country's north as led by the Houthi communities. Southern leaders led a brief, unsuccessful secession in 1994 following unification. Many of them are involved in the present secession movement. Southern separatist insurgents are active mainly in the area of former South Yemen, but also in Ad Dali' Governorate, which was not a part of the independent southern state. They are supported by the United Arab Emirates, even though the UAE is a member of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition working to support the Yemeni government under President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.South Yemen national football team
The South Yemen national football team (Arabic: منتخب اليمن الجنوبي الوطني لكرة القدم) was the national team of South Yemen between 1965 and 1989. The team took part in the Asian Cup finals in 1976, losing 0–8 to Iran and 0–1 to Iraq. They entered their only World Cup qualification campaign, for the 1986 FIFA World Cup, and were knocked out in the first round by Bahrain.
The team ceased to exist in 1990, when South Yemen united with North Yemen to form Yemen. See the article Yemen national football team for details after 1990.Southern Movement
The Southern Movement (Arabic: الحراك الجنوبي al-Ḥirāk al-Janūbiyy), sometimes known as the Southern Separatist Movement, or South Yemen Movement, and colloquially known as al-Hirak, is a political movement and paramilitary organization active in the south of Yemen since 2007, demanding secession from the Republic of Yemen and a return to the former independent state of South Yemen. At present, its political branch, the Southern Transitional Council led by Aidarus al-Zoubaidi, is the de facto leadership in all provinces of the south.United States Ambassador to South Yemen
The United States recognized the People's Republic of South Yemen in 1967 and moved to establish diplomatic relations. A U.S. embassy in Aden was established on December 7, 1967, with William L. Eagleton, Jr., as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
In June 1969, a radical Marxist wing of NLF gained power. The new regime severed diplomatic relations with the United States on October 24, 1969. An American ambassador had not yet been appointed for South Yemen and Eagleton was still serving as the chargé d'affaires when relations were severed. Two days later all diplomatic personnel were withdrawn from the country and the U.S. embassy was closed.
On December 1, 1970, the regime changed the name of the country to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.
The United States resumed diplomatic relations with the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen on April 30, 1990. On May 22, 1990, the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen united to form the Republic of Yemen.
For subsequent ambassadors to the Republic of Yemen, see United States Ambassador to Yemen.
For ambassadors to the Yemen Arab Republic, see United States Ambassador to North Yemen.Yemen at the Olympics
Yemen has only competed at the Summer Olympic Games, sending athletes to every edition since its first participation in 1992. Before the Yemeni unification in 1990, Yemenite athletes had competed at the Games as early as 1984, representing North Yemen (the Yemen Arab Republic; 1984 and 1988) or South Yemen (People's Democratic Republic of Yemen; 1988). Yemen has not yet won any Olympic medal.
The Yemen Olympic Committee was formed in 1971 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1981.Yemeni unification
Yemeni unification took place on May 22, 1990, when the area of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (also known as South Yemen) was united with the Yemen Arab Republic (also known as North Yemen), forming the Republic of Yemen (known as simply Yemen).Yemenite War of 1979
The Yemenite War of 1979 was a short military conflict between North and South Yemen. The war developed out of a breakdown in relations between the two countries after the president of North Yemen, Ahmad al-Ghashmi, was killed on 24 June 1978 and Salim Rubai Ali, a moderate Marxist who had been working on a proposed merger between the two Yemens, was murdered two days later. The hostility of the rhetoric from the new leadership of both countries escalated, leading to small scale border fighting, which then in turn escalated into a full blown war in February 1979. North Yemen appeared on the edge of a decisive defeat after a three-front invasion by South Yemeni combined arms formation, however this was prevented by a successful mediation in the form of the Kuwait Agreement of 1979, which resulted in Arab League forces being deployed to patrol the North-South border. An agreement to unite both countries was also signed, although was not implemented.Yemeni–Adenese clan violence
Yemeni–Adenese clan violence refers to sectarian violence in Yemen and Aden during 1956-60, resulting in some 1,000 deaths.