Yemen ( ( listen); Arabic: ٱلْيَمَن, translit. al-Yaman), officially known as the Republic of Yemen (Arabic: ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْيَمَنِيَّة, translit. al-Jumhūriyyah al-Yamaniyyah), is an Arab sovereign state in Western Asia at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is the second-largest country in the peninsula, occupying 527,970 square kilometres (203,850 square miles). The coastline stretches for about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles). It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Guardafui Channel to the south, and the Arabian Sea and Oman to the east. Although Yemen's constitutionally stated capital is the city of Sana'a, the city has been under Houthi rebel control since February 2015. Yemen's territory includes more than 200 islands; the largest of these is Socotra.
Yemen was the home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba), a trading state that flourished for over a thousand years and also included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 275 CE, the region came under the rule of the later Jewish-influenced Himyarite Kingdom. Christianity arrived in the fourth century. Islam spread quickly in the seventh century and Yemenite troops were crucial in the expansion of the early Islamic conquests. Administration of Yemen has long been notoriously difficult. Several dynasties emerged from the ninth to 16th centuries, the Rasulid dynasty being the strongest and most prosperous. The country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early twentieth century. The Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was established after World War I in North Yemen before the creation of the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962. South Yemen remained a British protectorate known as the Aden Protectorate until 1967 when it became an independent state and later, a Marxist state. The two Yemeni states united to form the modern republic of Yemen in 1990.
Yemen is a developing country, and the poorest country in the Middle East. Under the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen was described by critics as a kleptocracy. According to the 2009 international corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Yemen ranked 164 out of 182 countries surveyed. In the absence of strong state institutions, elite politics in Yemen constituted a de facto form of collaborative governance, where competing tribal, regional, religious, and political interests agreed to hold themselves in check through tacit acceptance of the balance it produced. The informal political settlement was held together by a power-sharing deal among three men: President Saleh, who controlled the state; major general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who controlled the largest share of the Republic of Yemen Armed Forces; and Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Ahmar, figurehead of the Islamist Islah party and Saudi Arabia's chosen broker of transnational patronage payments to various political players, including tribal sheikhs. The Saudi payments have been intended to facilitate the tribes' autonomy from the Yemeni government and to give the Saudi government a mechanism with which to weigh in on Yemen's political decision-making.
It is a member of the United Nations, Arab League, Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, G-77, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab Satellite Communications Organization, Arab Monetary Fund and the World Federation of Trade Unions.
From 2011, Yemen has been in a state of political crisis starting with street protests against poverty, unemployment, corruption, and president Saleh's plan to amend Yemen's constitution and eliminate the presidential term limit, in effect making him president for life. President Saleh stepped down and the powers of the presidency were transferred to Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was formally elected president on 21 February 2012 in a one-man election. The transitional process was part of the UN-backed Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative known as National Dialogue Conference. In September 2014, the Houthis took over Sana'a with the help of the ousted president Saleh, later declaring themselves in control of the country after a coup d'état; Saleh was shot dead by a sniper in Sana'a in December 2017. This resulted in a new civil war and a Saudi Arabian-led military intervention aimed at restoring Hadi's government.
The war has blocked food imports, leading to a famine that is affecting 17 million people. The lack of safe drinking water, caused by depleted aquifers and the destruction of the country's water infrastructure, has also caused the world's worst outbreak of cholera, with the number of suspected cases exceeding 994,751. Over 2,226 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April 2017. In 2016 the United Nations reported that Yemen is the country with the most people in need of humanitarian aid in the world with 21.2 million.