The port city of Djibouti, on the shore of an inlet in the Gulf of Aden, is the country’s capital and home to two-thirds of its population.
The French began constructing the city in 1888 and made it capital of French Somaliland in 1892. Thanks to its rail connection to Addis Ababa it soon gained commercial importance as the main outlet for Ethiopian exports.
There was rioting in the city in 1967 after a referendum continued French rule in which opposition leaders and ethnic Somalis were excluded from voting.
The port acts as the main transhipment point for neighbouring land-locked African countries. It is linked by rail with Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and has bus services to major towns and cities in the country.
The port’s chief exports include coffee, hides and salt, while main industries are shipping and oil.
Places of Interest
Popular attractions are the central market, just south of the town centre, and the Aquarium Tropical de Djibouti which features marine wildlife from the Red Sea. There are boat trips to the nearby islands of Maskali and Moucha.