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Djibouti, Land and Resources

Djibouti has an area of 23,200 sq km (8,960 sq mi). It extends 190 km (120 mi) from north to south and 225 km (140 mi) from east to west. The country is bordered by Eritrea to the north; Ethiopia to the north, west, and south; and Somalia to the southeast. To its east lies the Gulf of Aden, an arm of the Indian Ocean. The Gulf of Tadjoura extends over 100 km (60 mi) into Djibouti from the east coast. Plateaus and mountains rise above narrow coastal plains to the north and south of the gulf. The country’s highest point, Moussa Ali (2,063 m/6,768 ft), is on the northern border, at the junction of the Ethiopian and Eritrean boundaries. Western Djibouti is a desert lowland with depressions containing several salt lakes. The largest, Lake Abbe, lies on the Ethiopian border. Another, Lake ‘Asal, is the lowest point in Africa at 153 m (502 ft) below sea level. Djibouti has a potential for generating geothermal energy and limited deposits of gypsum, copper, and other ores, which are not exploited. Very little of the country’s land is arable, and there are no regularly flowing rivers or streams. Djibouti relies on an underground aquifer for fresh water.

The country has a climate that is hot and dry year-round, but it is especially hot and dry in the summer, when winds blow from the inland desert. In the capital, average daily temperatures range from 23° to 29°C (73° to 84°F) in January and from 31° to 41°C (87° to 106°F) in July. Annual rainfall ranges from 127 mm (5 in) in the capital to 380 mm (15 in) in the mountains. Djibouti lies in an earthquake zone along several major faults. The land is mostly rocky desert with scattered drought-tolerant grasses and shrubs. Wildlife includes jackals, hyenas, ostriches, and gazelles.

Djibouti’s volcanic desert soils are among the least hospitable in Africa. The soil is poor, and there are regular droughts. Less than half of the population has easy access to safe drinking water.


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