National Profiles > Regions > Western Asia > Yemen
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Region: Western Asia
2015 Population1: 25,633,798
Total Area (sq.miles): 203,850
Life Expectancy at Birth2: 64.7
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2016 US $)2: $2,490
Official Religion(s) or Church(es)3: Islam

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Religious Regulation Index (2014)4:
RAS3 State Regulation of Majority or All Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 26/253

[Further Detail]
Religious Minority Discrimination Index (2014)4:
RAS3 State Discrimination of Minority Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 22/253

[Further Detail]
State Funding of Religions (2014)4:
RAS3 State Funding of Religion, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 46/253

[Further Detail]
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions (2014)4:
RAS3 Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 20/253

[Further Detail]


Yemen, officially known as the Republic of Yemen, is an Arab country in Southwest Asia, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is the second largest country in the peninsula, occupying 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi). The coastline stretches for about 2,000 km (1,200 mi). It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to the south, and Oman to the east. Its capital and largest city is Sana'a. Yemen's territory includes more than 200 islands, the largest of these is Socotra. Yemen was home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba), a trading state that flourished for over a thousand years and probably also included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 275 AD, the region came under the rule of the later Jewish influenced Himyarite Kingdom. Christianity arrived in the 4th century AD whereas Judaism and local Paganism were already established. Islam spread quickly in the 7th century and Yemenite troops were crucial in the expansion of the early Islamic conquests. Administration of Yemen has long been notoriously difficult. Several dynasties emerged from the 9th to 16th century, the Rasulid being the strongest and most prosperous. The country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early 20th century. The Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was established after World War I in North Yemen before the creation of Yemen Arab Republic in 1962. South Yemen remained a British protectorate until 1967. The two Yemeni states united to form the modern republic of Yemen in 1990. Yemen is a developing country. Under the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen was described as a kleptocracy. According to the 2009 international corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Yemen ranked 164 out of 182 countries surveyed. In the absence of strong state institutions, elite politics in Yemen constituted a de facto form of collaborative governance, where competing tribal, regional, religious and political interests agreed to hold themselves in check through tacit acceptance of the balance it produced. The informal political settlement was held together by a power-sharing deal between three men: president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who controlled the ‘state'; major general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who controlled the largest share of the army; and sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, figurehead of the Islamist Islah party and Saudi Arabia's chosen broker of transnational patronage payments to various political players, including tribal sheikhs. The Saudi payments have been intended to facilitate the tribes autonomy from the Yemeni government and to give the Saudi government a mechanism with which to weigh in on Yemen's political decision making. Yemen has been in a state of political crisis since 2011. In January 2011, a series of street protests began against poverty, unemployment, corruption and president Saleh's plan to amend Yemen's constitution and eliminate presidential term limit, in effect making him president for life. He was also grooming his eldest son Ahmed Saleh, the commander of the Republican Guard, to succeed him. The United States considers Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to be the "most dangerous of all the franchises of Al-Qaeda". The U.S sought a controlled transition that would enable their counter-terrorism operations to continue, while Saudi Arabia's main concern was to maintain its influence in Yemen through some old regime figures and other tribal leaders who were part of the so-called "GCC initiative". Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power to his vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and was granted immunity from prosecution. A National Dialogue Conference was launched on 18 March 2012 to reach consensus on major issues facing the country's future. President Hadi's term was extended for another year. However, the transitional process was disrupted by conflicts between different factions in northern Yemen, as well as5



1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

2.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

3.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

4.  The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. Its goal is to create a set of measures that systematically gauge the intersection between government and religion. Specifically, it examines government religion policy. Round 3 of the RAS dataset measures the extent of government involvement in religion (GIR) or the lack thereof for 183 states on a yearly basis between 1990 and 2014. This constitutes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states. This dataset, featuring this and other international measures highlighted on the country pages, may be previewed and downloaded here. Used with permission.

5.  Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

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