Over many centuries the ancient land of Yemen proved irresistible to fortune seekers and hostile empires from far and wide. At first, from the port at Aden, the Himyarite, Minean and Sabian Kingdoms engaged in and monopolized the profitable spice trade; over time tales of potential riches spread, and invasions from Rome, Ethiopia and Persia followed. Later the Rassite (Zaydi) dynasty controlled the region until defeated by the Ottoman Turks, who then ruled from the mid-16th century until their empire collapsed in 1918.
Interest in the area by the British grew substantially during the mid 1800's, and the British East India Company seized the port of Aden as a trade route into India. British influence spread throughout the southern regions, and Aden became a crown colony (protectorate) in 1937.
Following World War II, Yemen became a member of both the Arab League and the United Nations.
Divided into two parts for decades; the Yemen Arab Republic (North) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South) the country finally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990.
Differences over power sharing and the pace of integration between north and south came to a head in 1994, resulting in a bloody civil war. Harmony between all factions remains a difficult, sometimes violent process, but countrywide democracy is a long-term goal.
The country was vaulted onto the worldwide stage on October 12, 2000, when 17 American sailors died after suicide bombers attacked the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole in the port of Aden. Since the attacks, Yemen has increased its cooperation with the U.S. by assisting in the implementation of anti-terrorism measures.
Most recently, with the rise of the Arab Spring, protests in Yemen were widespread in early 2011. Among the demands were a change in the economic conditions and corruption, as well as a call for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Small at first, the protests quickly transformed into a massive uprising, and an assassination attempt against Saleh. By late 2011, after signing an agreement, Saleh stepped down; however protests and conflict continued and still continue to this day.
Sana, an impressive walled city, and important Islamic site, was first settled in the 1st century; and from this historic capital, Yemen is boldly moving from its ancient ways into the modern world.
Due to widespread internal conflict, traveling to Yemen is strongly discouraged at this time, as there is a high level of threat to citizens and tourists alike.
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