What will next census show?Yemen keeps growing and growing [Archives:2004/717/Community]

March 4 2004

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Keeping population statistics in Yemen are still a recent phenomena, as they have come into existence only in 1990s.
Estimates prior to the statistics have indicated that the Yemeni population was around 4.3 million inhabitants in 1950, reached 5.2 million in 1960, 6.3 million in the 1980s, and 12.2 million in 1988.
With the census conducted in 1994 the number has reached 15.8 million inhabitants.
The number is estimated to have grown to 16.5 million by the end of 1997.
From these numbers it could be deduced that Yemen has seen a giant leap in the number of inhabitants in the last quarter of the 20th century, because while the growth percentage between 1965 and 1975 ranged between 1.6 per cent and 2 per cent, in the period between 1988-1994 growth reached 3.7 per cent.
This increase is attributed to two facts, the first is the decrease in the mortality rate and the other is the increase in the fertility rate which reached 7.4 per cent recently.
And it is of no doubt that this demographic explosion would increase the pressure on economic resources especially that the food production increases at a small rate.
Following are the most significant demographic indicators since 1997;

Adminstration boundaries
Yemen is divided into 19 governarates in addition to the capital secretariat. Each governarate is subdivided again to a number of districts so that the total number of districts in the republic reaches 226 districts. There is also an inclination towards creating new districts totalling the number of districts in Yemen to 285.

Population distribution
Naturally the population distribution around the republic is not evenly and that is for economic and natural reasons. For example the most populated governarate in the republic is Taiz followed next by Sana'a then Ibb and Hudaida respectively.
These four governarates together include about half the population of the republic. Whereas governarate of al-Mahara, al-Jawf, Marib are considered of the least populated governarates in the country as their inhabitants form 3.9 per cent, 1.2 per cent and 1.2 per cent of the total population respectively.
As for the population in towns and villages it is characterised as small gatherings in different congregates. Perhaps this is because of the hard nature of the rural areas which comes against the settling of large masses in one area. An the same time statistics indicate that more than 70 per cent of the population lives in the rural area in towns of no more than 500 inhabitants in each.

Population density
The population density overall is of an average of 294 inhabitants per square kilometre. Yet this number varies from one governarate to another as it reaches 4385 inhabitants per sq. kilometre in the capital secretariat.
As for the governarate levels then it is Ibb that leads the line with 299 inhabitants / sq. km. Then comes Taiz of 196 inhabitants / sq. km, followed by al-Mahwait. It is known that these three governarates enjoy the highest rainfall average in Yemen.
Simultaneously Hadramout (176 / spq km), Marib (6 / sq. km), Shabwa (5 / sq. km), al-Jawf (4/ sq. km) and al-Mahara (2 / sq. km) are of the least populated in the republic.

Types of inhabitation
Three types of inhabitation could be found in Yemen
– Condensed inhabitation; where the population density is high in a small area such as in the mountain areas where 3/4th of the Yemeni population resides, and especially in the Southern region such as in Ibb, Taiz and this is attributed to the high rainfall rate and fertility of land.
– Scattered inhabitation, this is the kind in which small sized assemblies of people are found in remote distances from each other such as in the Eastern Plateau region and this is because of the low soil fertility and the high temperature as well and scarcity of rainfall. Exceptions of this is the valleys of al-Jawf, Hadramout, and Huraib which enjoy seasonal rainfalls.
– Line inhabitation, this is the one which is found along the sides of the main roads and valleys such as that in Tihama and some of the valleys in which fall into the Arabian Sea and along side the Red Sea such as the sea ports and fishermen villages.