History of Djibouti City

Published on 1st May 2007

Djibouti city is the port and capital city of the Republic of Djibouti. The city lies on the southern shore of the Gulf of Tadjoura, which is an inlet of the Gulf of Aden. The city has a latitude and longitude of 11°36′N, 43°10′E. Built on three level areas (Djibouti, Serpent, Marabout) linked by jetties, the city has a mixture of old and modern architecture. Major ethnic groups in the city include the Afars, Issa Somalis, Arabs, Europeans and Asians.

With a population of approximately 400,000, it is the nation's only sizable town and its administrative center. Its significance results from the large transit trade it enjoys as a terminus of the railroad from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to the sea and its strategic position near the shipping lanes that carry the Suez Canal traffic.

Built in between 1886-1900, the city has an Arabic structural design and it is the core of the country in terms of the economy and the administration. Founded as a seaport in 1888 by the Catalan Eloi Pino, Djibouti became the capital of French Somaliland in 1892, replacing Tadjourah.  In 1949, it became a free port.

Activity at its port declined when the Suez Canal was closed (1967–75) after the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. During the Ethiopian civil war in 1977, the city’s rail lines were severely damaged by bombing but they were eventually repaired.

The major industry is the production of salt from the sea. Other industries include petroleum refining, textiles, and rail freighting. The city is an important regional bunkering and supply centre for the export trade in petroleum, and is the main export route for Ethiopian coffee. The economy of the city and country depends on the city's role as a storage, refueling and supply station, notably between Ethiopia and the Red Sea trade.

One of the biggest attraction places in Djibouti is the street ‘La Place du 27 juin’ named after the country’s independence, ‘La place Rimbaud’ renamed ‘Place Mahamoud-Harbi’, where you can find street peddlers. The city is also home to the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport. Other features of Djibouti City include beaches along its eastern shore and the large Central Market, the national stadium Stade du Ville, the Presidential Palace and Hamouli Mosque.



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