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origin of the name "Yemen" is unknown. It likely derives from one of three
words: yamnat, which is a historic name for the region means the "southern
land"; yamin, which means "on the right side" which is in
reference to the rising sun; & yumn, which roughly translates to mean
"fertile" as the lands are quite fertile.
WARNING: Terrorist threats continue
in Yemen, please read this travel warning
The people of Yemen are and always have been isolated. This small mountainous country
is surrounded by water on two sides and desert on the other two, creating a culture
that has been almost entirely isolated over history. More than this isolation, the
interior mountains have divided the people amongst themselves, but they have also
given rise to numerous cultures and clans that are all unique.
Due to these mountains in Yemen, people are separated from each other and the outside
world. In this environment the people have learned to fend for themselves as they
turn to family and regional relations for protection and trust as they have a great
deal of distrust in outsiders. The people of Yemen tend to live off of the few resources
they have (dates and camel milk mostly) and rarely travel outside their small region
or mountain valley, which helps maintain their traditional cultures.
Over time the world has seemed to gain new technology and communication, but Yemen
remains much as they were hundreds of years ago. Only in the major cities like Sana'a
and Aden are there a fair number of computers, technology, and other modern-day
luxuries. However, even in these cities the architecture, construction, and most
aspects of life are still done how they were in the past as nearly every building
in the capital was built by hand.
The greatest outside influence in Yemen is Islam. Most people in Yemen are fairly
devout Muslims and interpret religious laws in a very conservative manner with strict
punishments for disobeying. Relationships between the sexes are very restricted
and no man can touch a woman unless they are married. These conservative measures
are also carried over to other aspects of daily life and their diet. While Islam
greatly alters the culture, it also unites the fragmented society with this similarity
in faith and lifestyle.
Today little has changed in Yemen as most people prefer to remain isolated, live
off the land, defend themselves locally, and are conservative Muslims. The largest
change in recent decades is the people's awareness that there is a national
government and that this government is trying to control them. Among many people,
the government is viewed as unnecessary and every action taken is fought by some
people, especially if the changes help or support any competing groups of people.
To many Yemenis, their government is seen as a foreign occupier messing with their
internal affairs and it is not needed or wanted. However, most people in some parts
of the country have managed to avoid the government and their rule over time as
little has changed in recent decades.
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