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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Yemen

WARNING: Terrorist threats continue in Yemen, please read this travel warning before going!

Geography

Yemeni Geography - Village in the mountains
Village in the mountains

Yemen holds the far southern reach of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. This country has a somewhat undefined desert border with Saudi Arabia in the north and also shares a border with Oman to the east. Yemen also borders the Red Sea to the west and the Gulf of Aden to the south.

After a brief Red Sea coastal plain, the land in Yemen quickly rises up to form the southern range of mountains that stretch into Saudi Arabia. From these mountains there are a number of rivers that run east until they dry up in the desert, which consists of most of the eastern part of Yemen. This desert is known as the "Empty Quarter" or known to locals as the Rub al Khali. There are also some highlands along Yemen's southern coast, but here again it is dry and inhospitable.

Weather

Yemeni Geography - Trees on Socotra
Trees on Socotra

Yemen's major weather variations are based on elevation as the country is fairly mountainous. Summers along the coasts tend to be hot as the west regularly hits 115° F (46° C) and is humid, but the southern coast only generally averages about 90° F (32° C) during this time. In the mountains though temperatures are much more comfortable as Sana'a averages about 70° F (21 °C) during the summer months of May to August and gets a fair amount of rain. Winters in the mountains significantly cool as evenings can reach the freezing point some night, but there is little precipitation. The coasts are again hotter during this time, but do cool a great deal from their summer temperatures. Average temperatures along the coasts tend to be about 75-80° F (24-26° C), with again humidity in the west and a dry heat in the east. No part of the country gets much rain, but the mountains in the west do get some downpours each year.

Wildlife

Yemeni Wildlife - Oryx
Oryx

Yemen is quite mountainous, dry, and deserted so the wildlife is limited in scope. Among the mammals in the country are oryx, gazelles, wolves, mongooses, goats, and more, primarily smaller mammals like rodents. The sea life inland is very limited as there are few lakes or rivers in Yemen, however just off the long coasts are thousands of species. These waters include nearly every type of fish from large sharks and tuna to corals, shellfish, and sardines.

The bird life is very impressive during the right seasons as many birds migrate from East Africa to Asia and Europe through the country. These birds include ostriches, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, flamingos, hawks, eagles, and more. There are few amphibians due to the dry climate, but reptiles live well here and include lizards, snakes, and sea turtles. There are also a number of insects and other animals, like scorpions present.

This page was last updated: March, 2013