Yemenis - Orientation



Identification. The Yemenis are a Muslim and Arabic-speaking people who are mainly Arabs, although a small percentage of the population has African and Asian ancestry. Yemeni values have traditionally relied on a hierarchical, tribally organized, and sex-segregated society. In 1962, following the overthrow of a conservative monarchy that had been supported by members of the Zaydi Islamic sect, the Republic was established, marking Yemen's entry into the modern world.

Location. Yemen occupies the southern shore and the southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula. Its western boundary is the Red Sea. The country has a mountainous interior with a temperate or subtropical climate. The central highlands divide Yemen into a coastal plain called the Tihama, which has a tropical climate with sparse rainfall, and a desert region that stretches into the Empty Quarter. A midlands area consists of valleys (wadis) and foothills that slope down to the lowlands. Southwest monsoons influence Yemen's climate. The southern highlands receive the most rainfall, particularly where mountains provide less of a barrier to precipitation.

Demography. In the first national census that was conducted in 1975, the population of over 5 million included male laborers temporarily employed outside the country but excluded many Yemenis in the lowest servant groups. Population figures taken from various census reports between 1985 and 1989 range from more than 6 million to more than nine million. In the early 1990s the population of Yemen surpassed 10 million.

Linguistic Affiliation. Yemenis speak the dialect of Arabic spoken in the region or urban center from which they originate. Regional variations in the pronunciation of certain Arabic phonemes (especially the phoneme /q/) differentiates the speech of northerners from southerners, for example. The speech pattern of Tiharna residents is marked not only by dialectal variations but by characteristic accents, intonations, and inflections.

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