Useful Notes: Djibouti

Djibouti (Arabic: جيبوتي‎ Jībūtī, French: Djibouti, Somali: Jabuuti, Afar: Gabuuti), officially known as the Republic of Djibouti (Arabic: جمهورية جيبوتي Jumhūriyyat Jībūtī, French: République de Djibouti, Afar: Gabuutih Ummuuno, Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Jabuuti), is a little country near the Horn of Africa, right next to Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Actually, that’s the best way to describe its culture, because Djibouti is ethnically composed by Somalis and Afars, ethnic groups from the aforementioned countries. But most of all, the inhabitants of the country tend to consider themselves as brothers with Somalia (except for the European descendants, obviously).

The land was originally known as Obock, where Afars and Somalis shared the land. When the French came in the mid-1800s, the sultans in the area began to sign treaties with them, giving them each time more control until France’s influence was big enough to firmly establish a colony, the French Somaliland.

In 1958, when the independence of Somalia was imminent, a referendum was held to decided if the people wanted to go independent (and presumably join later with Somalia) or keep being a French protectorate. Since most of the European residents and the Afars were in favor of the French, they rigged the vote by expelling thousands of Somalis (who obviously wanted to join Somalia proper). In 1967, another referendum was due, and they did the same thing again and just to piss off the losers they renamed the colony French Territory of the Afars and the Issas (a take that against the Somalis, because the Issas were just a sub-clan of them). In 1977 came a third referendum, but the Somali population was big enough to avoid the rigging and ended gaining independence.

They didn’t join with Somalia, though. The president elected turned the country into a one party state, eventually triggering a civil war in 1991 that ended in 2001. Considering what happens with Somalia, maybe they should be glad of being an independent country; on the other hand, the country has had enough problems on its own.

It’s highly unlikely that you ever see a reference to Djibouti in the media; usually it’s treated just as a part of Somalia or as a non-entity. There was a mention of Djibouti in According to Jim, but it was mainly just so they could say “ye-booty”. On the other hand, it is the subject of an incredibly lame pickup line/meme in Model United Nations circles, namely, "I want to invade Djibouti with the aid of Greece", or "Swiggity Swooty I'm coming for Djibouti."

Incidentally, this area was one of the first places where Islam came to Africa. Accordingly, the country is highly Islamic (94%). The remaining is Christian.

The Djiboutian flag
The white isosceles triangle symbolizes peace; inside the triangle is a star, colored red for unity, and whose five points symbolize five areas inhabited by Somalis: British and Italian Somaliland (modern-day Somalia), French Somaliland (Djibouti), Ogaden (eastern Ethiopia) and North Eastern Province, Kenya; the blue upper half symbolizes both the sea and sky as well as the Issa clan of the Somali people; and the green lower half symbolizes both the earth and the Afar people.