LAND - The two Yemens are at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula, their borders meeting at the strategic Bab el Mandeb Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea. North Yemen has an area of 75,290 square miles, about the size of Nebraska, and a population of 5.5 million, of which 120,000 live in Sanaa, the capital. It is semi-desert along the Red Sea with a mountainous interior. South Yemen, with 111,074 square miles, about the size of Arizona, has a population of 1.8 million, with 300,000 living in Aden, the capital. Virtually the entire country is arid desert and mountains.
PEOPLE - The population of both countries is mostly Arab with Negroid people living in North Yemen's coastal areas. South Yemen is predominantly Sunni Moslem and north Yemen is divided between Shiite Moslems in the north and east and Sunni Moslems in the south and west.
HISTORY - Both Yemens were the sites of civilization in antiquity. North Yemen was the seat of the kingdom of Sheba. It came under the Ottoman empire in the 16th Century and a descendant of the Ottoman rulers was overthrown by republican forces in 1962. After several years of civil war and coups, Ibrahim Hamidi, who was assassinated last October, seized power in a military coup in 1974. South Yemen formed parts of ancient kingdoms from 1200 B.C. until the 6th Century A.D., when it came under Ethiopian and then Persian control. Britain occupied Aden and the surrounding area in 1839 and controlled the territory until granting independence in 1967.
GOVERNMENT - South Yemen, ruled by a three-man presidential council since 1969, calls itself the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and is the only Marxist state in the Arab world. North Yemen, an Islamic Arab republic, is ruled by a military command council. Neither has a functioning representative legislature.
ECONOMY - The two Yemens have standards of living that are among the world's lowest, ranked on a par with Haiti. North Yemen, once self-sufficient in food, has resorted to imports as a result of civil wars and droughts. Outside assistance and money sent home by 1 million North Yemenis who work abroad have provided an essential underpinning for the country. South Yemen has become a country of subsistence farmers and nomadic herders since tradesmen largely vanished with independence and the once-prosperous port of Aden lost much of its commerce and shipping after the 1967 Middle East war.