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Djibouti Travel Guide

The country’s full name is the Republic of Djibouti, an area covering 23,000 square kilometres with around 650,000 folk living within its space. The residents are very hospitable people, made up of Afars, Somalis, French, Issas and Yemenis, who all speak either Arabic or French and are mainly Muslims with a small amount of Christians. The main commercial trade within Djibouti is oil and shipping, with major trading partners being in countries such as France, Ethiopia, Yemen and Thailand.

In the 16th century, Djibouti had Arab traders controlling the country but by 1862, the French arrived, and purchased the country for a negotiated price. In 1888, plans were underway to build Djibouti City on the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura, where the Somalis lived, soon to become French Somaliland. The city became the hub for Ethiopian business and the French-built railway, from Djibouti-Addis Ababa was a great success for Ethiopian trade. In 1949, though, the Issas were causing a storm, wanting a realliance of British, Italian and French Somaliland, a request which was overruled, causing many arrests, riots and evictions of Somalis, within the country’s capital, Djibouti. Eventually in 1967, to stop the rioting, the French eventually changed the settlement’s title to the 'French Territory of the Afars and Issas', but this was done a tad too late, and by the 1970’s, Djibouti’s past evictees had joined the Somali Coast Liberation Front, with bombing taking place soon after. By 1977, France gave way to independence, with the leader of the People's Progress Assembly, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, becoming president. Hassan remained president until 2000, when Ismael Omar Guelleh took over and strengthened Djibouti’s ties with France but by 2003, during the Second Gulf War, Djibouti, allowed a US presence into the country, with France feeling a bit snubbed at the prospects!

Visitors will find, when exploring the area, that attractions are far and few between, but within the country’s capital, in the Gulf of Tadjoura, where most of the population dwell, there is a large market and marina, taking visitors on boat tours around the area. There is also a tropical aquarium and the president’s palace, for visitors to browse round, with some beautiful white, sandy beaches to laze on, go snorkelling, diving and much more, in the nearby city of Doralé. Anyone wanting to have some outdoor fun can even hire a boat and go camping on the islands of Moucha and Maskali, close to the Gulf of Tadjoura. Other outdoor pursuits include walking tours, climbing and windsurfing on wheels, a sport enjoyed within the country’s parched plains. In the evening, the nightlife in Djibouti is cheap and cheerful, but watch out, as some bars are hot in promiscuity, providing smiles all around for unattached visitors! Hotels are also cheap, but to make sure there is air-conditioning within the rooms, visitors should pay that little bit extra, as they will need to escape the heat outside every now and again!

The easiest and cheapest way to get around is by bus, with all buses travelling to nearly every single town within Djibouti. There is also a daily boat service, which will take its passengers from the town of L'Escale to Obock and Tadjoura on the coast of the Gulf of Tadjoura. To actually get into the country, visitors will need to travel via airlines including Air France, Aeroflot, Corsair, Air Tanzania, Ethiopian Airlines and Djibouti Airlines but can also fly from Paris with the Corsair charter company. Wondering when’s the best time to go? Visitors should try to travel from November to April, when the temperature is hot but not as stiflingly hot as the rest of the year.

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Djibouti Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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