Djibouti's two peoples groups and Afar
gradually migrated into the area from the 20th century
BC. During the 8th century AD, Arabs took over the trade
in the area, but from the 16th century, competition was
made by Portuguese. At the end of the 19th century, the
colony of French Somaliland was formed. In a disputed
referendum in 1967, the population there chose to remain
part of France.
The Afars are descended from a people who migrated
from the Arabian Peninsula during the twentieth century
BC and mainly settled in what is today northern and
southern Djibouti. Later, they were forced out of the
southern part as the Issa immigrated from the area of
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Djibouti, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
In the 8th century AD, Muslim missionaries brought
Islam to the area. Trade in the region was controlled
until the 16th century by Arabs, who then got
competition from Portuguese traders.
In the 1860s, France acquired the port city of Obock
in the Afarese area. The French began building the port
city of Djibouti in 1888 and in 1897 French Somaliland
became a French administrative unit. In 1917 a new
railway was completed between Addis Ababa in Ethiopia
and the city of Djibouti.
When Ethiopia was occupied by Italy in the 1930s and
during World War II, clashes occurred in the area
between France and Italy.
In 1957 Djibouti gained extensive autonomy, but above
all Issa demanded full independence. In a 1967
referendum, the tensions between Afar and Issa became
clear. A majority of the population voted for the area
to remain part of the French empire. It was officially
named the Afar and Issa people's territory. Critics
claimed that France had prevented members of the ISIS
from participating in the referendum and that the ruling
therefore did not represent the majority's opinion.
Djiboutian soldiers to the AU force
Djibouti becomes the third country to contribute troops to the AU
peacekeeping force in Somalia. About 100 Djiboutian soldiers arrive in Somalia
in the first round. They are followed shortly afterwards by another 800 men.
Hunger disaster threatens
After several years of drought, a number of countries in the Horn of Africa,
including Djibouti, suffer the worst famine disaster of 60 years. An estimated
120,000 Djibouti are at risk of starvation, and the need for emergency
assistance is urgent.
The President re-elected for the third time
President Ismael Omar Guelleh from RPP is re-elected for a third term. The
opposition boycott the election.
Two protesters killed
Thousands of people are demonstrating for a change of government. At least
two protesters are killed in confrontations with the police.
Opposition politicians are arrested
Police arrest six opposition politicians, two of whom were previously
journalists in the government-critical newspaper Le Renouveau Djiboutien. All
those arrested have criticized the government in the opposition radio channel La
Voix de Djibouti. They are charged with insurgency activities, and information
emerges that they are being tortured in prison. Following appeals in the Supreme
Court, the suspects are released but the charges against them remain.
New old conflict with Somaliland
Two diplomats from Somaliland are expelled from Djibouti. As before, the
conflict is about Somaliland starting to use the Berbera port in Somaliland
instead of Djibouti port for livestock exports.