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Yemen, Population

northern highlands, sheikhs, nomads, Europeans, desert

Most inhabitants of Yemen are ethnic Arabs, although there exist relatively small communities of Africans, South Asians, and Europeans. Thousands of refugees from the conflict in Somalia were residing in Yemen in the early 1990s. A significant minority of the population is organized into tribes, and for many Yemenis tribal identity is of primary importance. This is particularly true in the northern highlands, where the sheikhs of several individual tribes and two large tribal confederations, the Hashid and Bakil, can still mobilize large numbers in defense of tribal interests. Virtually all of the inhabitants of northern Yemen are sedentary, meaning they have fixed homes and do not move from place to place like nomads. A slightly smaller percentage is sedentary in the south. A small number of nomadic pastoralists can be found on the edge of the desert far to the east. Although Yemen has traditionally been characterized by a stratified social system marked by castelike groups at the top and bottom, this structure is breaking down as economic opportunities become available and new social ideas come to prevail.

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Article key phrases:

northern highlands, sheikhs, nomads, Europeans, desert, Somalia, population, economic opportunities, large numbers, conflict, edge, homes, east, structure, place, Hashid


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