Which Countries Border Djibouti?

Desert near the Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti border.
Desert near the Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti border.

Djibouti is a multi-ethnic nation which is located in Africa. The country is surrounded by Somalia to the southeastern side, Ethiopia to the south and west, and Eritrea to the north. The remainder of their boundary is created by the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea to the east. The country occupies an area of about 8,958 square miles. Djibouti has a population of 942,333 people and a population density of about 96.3 people per square miles. Djibouti has always been an active member of the Arab League and the African Union.

In Antiquity, Djibouti was part of the Aksum Kingdom which was near Zelia (present-day Somalia). During the late nineteenth century, it became part of the French Somaliland colony which was renamed the French Territory of Issas and Afars. The Djibouti citizens later voted for their independence and the country became a republic in 1977. The country is strategically located close to the busiest shipping lanes in the world which control the access to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Countries Bordering Djibouti

1) Eritrea

Eritrea is a one-party state which is located on the horn of Africa. Eritrea is surrounded by Sudan to the western side, Ethiopia to the south, and Djibouti to the southeast. The eastern and northeastern regions of the country have a shoreline alongside the Red Sea. Eritrea occupies an area of about 45,406 square miles, and this includes numerous Hanish Islands and the Dahlak Archipelago. The term ‘’Eritrea’’ is a Greek word for the Red Sea which the Italians adopted in 1890.

It is a multi-ethnic state with a population of over five million people and nine ethnic groups. Majority of the Eritreans speak the Afroasiatic languages either of Cushitic branches or Ethiopian Semitic languages. The most prominent ethnic group in the country is the Tigrinya which make up 55% of the population followed by the Tigre people (30%). The Nilo-Saharan speaking people are among the minority groups in the country. The majority of the Eritreans adhere to either Islam or Christianity.

Eritrea-Djibouti Border

The Eritrea-Djibouti border is one of the contested boundaries in Africa. When the French and the Italians signed the Franco-Italian Agreement in 1935, part of Djibouti was given to Eritrea. They also did not demarcate the boundary at the Ras Doumeira. They only agreed that the southern slopes belonged to France and the northern hills to the Italians. This situation worked during that time. However, the issue of sanction of the treaty and allocation of a considerable part of Djibouti to Eritrea has brought the agreement into question resulting in a conflict between the two states. The June 2008 clash was triggered by Djibouti when they claimed that the Eritrean military had penetrated into their territory and dug trenches. The tension intensified when war broke out on June 10, 2008, at the border.

2) Ethiopia

Ethiopia is an authoritarian regime state located at the horn of Africa. Ethiopia shares a border with Kenya to the south, South Sudan and Sudan to the western side, Somali and Djibouti to the east, and Eritrea to the northeast and north. Ethiopia is the world’s most populous landlocked state and the second most populated African state with over 102 million inhabitants. The country occupies an area of about 429,000 square miles and is the twenty-sixth largest country in the world.

Over 43.5% of the Ethiopians are Christians while 33.9% of the population are Muslims. A large population of the Jews’ called the Bete Israel lived in the country until the 1980s. Ethiopia is the site for Negash, the oldest Muslim settlement in the continent and the Abyssinia migration. It is a multilingual country with over eighty ethnolinguistic groups among them being the Tigrayans, Somali, Amhara, and the Oromo. The majority of the Ethiopians speak the Afroasiatic languages.

The Ethiopian government system has been a monarchy for a better part of their history. The Aksum kingdom ruled over this region during the first century CE before the Ethiopian empire took over in 1137. It is one of the two nations to retain their independence for a very long time during the nineteenth-century scramble for Africa. Ethiopia was also the first independent UN member from Africa. The monarchy rule ended in 1974 when the Derg defeated Haile Selassie. In 1991, the Derg's were overthrown by the EPDEF (Ethiopian People Revolutionary democratic front) which has been ruling to date.

Ethiopia-Djibouti Border

The official crossing point from Djibouti to Ethiopia is at the Galafi village. Galafi is about 122 miles from the capital city of Djibouti. Dewele serves as the official Ethiopian crossing point to Djibouti with a customs office. Lake Abbe and the 6,631 ft Mousa Ali are part of the Ethiopia-Djibouti border.

3) Somalia

Somalia is a sovereign country whose territories are on the horn of Africa. It is surrounded by Kenya to the southwestern side, the Indian Ocean and Guardaful channel to the eastern side, Aden Gulf to the north, Djibouti to the northwestern parts, and Ethiopia to the western side. Somalia has the longest shoreline in Africa and Guardaful Channel separates Somalia from the Soqotra. The Somali territory is made up of highlands, plains, and plateaus.

Somalia is the most homogenous state in Africa when it comes to linguistics, religion, ethnicity, and culture. It has an estimated population of over 14.3 million with 85% being ethnic Somalis. The ethnic minority groups reside in the southern part of the country. The official languages in the country are Arabic and Somali. The majority of Somali people are Muslims. Numerous powerful Somali empires like the Adal Sultanate and Ajuran Empire dominated this regional trade during the middle ages.

The Italian and the British gained control over the region during the late nineteenth century through numerous treaties and established the Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland. Italy gained control over southern, central, and northeastern parts of Somali after defeating the Sultanate of Hobyo and Majeerteen Sultanate. The Italian rule lasted until 1941 when they yielded to the English administration. The Italian Somaliland became a UN trusteeship under the Italians while the rest of the region remained a British protectorate. The Supreme Revolutionary Council established the Somali democratic republic in 1969. The Supreme Revolutionary Council ruled until the government collapsed in 1991 when the civil war broke. The current Somali constitution was passed in 2012, and it helped the country transform into a federation.

Somalia-Djibouti Border

There is only one official border crossing from Djibouti into Somalia. It is situated at the town of Loyada, 21 km (13 mi) from Djibouti City, the capital. The border was closed several times during the 1990s for political reasons during the Somali civil war, but was reopened in 2002.


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