- For the city of the same name, see Djibouti (city).
|Currency||Djiboutian franc (DJF)|
|Population||486,530 (July 2006 est.)|
|Time zone||UTC +3|
Djibouti is in the Horn peninsula, bordered by Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia to the west and south, and Somalia to the southeast. The Gulf of Aden lies to the east. The country can be divided into three regions; the coastal plain and volcanic plateaus in the central and southern parts of the country and the mountain ranges in the north. Much of the country is vast wasteland with virtually no arable land.
- Lake Abhe on the Ethiopian border is a desolate, steaming lake surrounded by limestone chimneys and a lunar-esque landscape used as the "Forbidden Zone" in Planet of the Apes
- Lake Assal is Africa's lowest point (157m below sea level) and the saltiest lake outside Antarctica. Its shores are largely salt pans and nearby is Ardoukoba, which last erupted in 1978.
- Maskali Island
- Moucha Island
Djibouti's climate is very hot, humid and arid, especially in the summer. The summer heat is moderated, however, by a sustained breeze in the coastal city of Djibouti. From October to April, the temperature is cooler, with occasional rain. Cyclones from the Indian Ocean create heavy rains and flash flooding.
Visas are required by most nationals. Those travelling on French and Singaporean passports can get a visa on arrival for 5,000 DJF, valid for one month. Transit visas are valid for 10 days and are available on arrival at the airport to nationals of the European Union, Scandinavian countries and the USA for 10.000 FDJ (about US$55). If you plan to enter by land you have to arrange for visas in advance. Visas can be obtained from neighbouring countries and where no Djibouti embassy exists, they can often be obtained from the French embassy. The types of visas include: Entry (visa de séjour); Tourist (visa de tourisme); Business (visa d’affaires); and Transit (visa de transit).
Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport (JIB) connects Djibouti with Dubai It also has flights to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Puntland, Somaliland, Tanzania, Egypt, Madagascar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen. Air France and Djibouti-based Daallo Airlines (D3) ) operates flights to Paris, and Daallo also flies to Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. The airport is 5km (3 miles) south of the city.
There are roads from Djibouti to Assab (Eritrea) and going west into Ethiopia via Dikhil. Travelers using them should be aware that road conditions are generally poor and personal security might be at risk when traveling – particularly to Ethiopia. Visitors are advised to check transit regulations as political conditions in Ethiopia and Eritrea are changeable. Currently, there are no problems with traveling to Eritrea and no formal border posts. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for the interior. There is a new highway from Djibouti to Tadjoura. Traffic drives on the right. It is advisable to carry water and petrol on any expedition off main routes. An International Driving Permit is recommended, although not legally required. A temporary license to drive is available from local authorities on presentation of a valid British or Northern Ireland driving license.
Buses operate from Djibouti to most towns and villages throughout the country. Buses leave when they are full. A minibus service operates in Djibouti, stopping on demand. A flat-fare system is used.
There are ferry services connecting Djibouti to Yemen. Djibouti City is one of the main ports of eastern Africa so it's well trafficked.
Taxis are available in Djibouti and from the airport to the town; also in Ali-Sabieh, Dikhil, Dorale and Arta. Fares can increase by 50 percent after dark.
As you exit the airport, there is a big billboard displaying expected taxi fares. Look for it.
Bicycling is a great way to get around the small capital.
Although French and Arabic are the official languages, Somali and Afar are widely spoken. English may be spoken at tourist facilities, but is not widely spoken by locals or taxi drivers.
- Lac Assal. 150m below sea level, Lake Assal is the third-lowest point on Earth. You'll need to hire a car or ask someone who lives in Djibouti to drive you there. Expect a rough ride: the roads outside the capital are destroyed by the truck traffic between Djibouti and Ethiopia. The road passes within sight of the Devil's Island, and some impressive views. Expect to be awestruck.
- Lac Abbe is one of the most desolate places on Earth and is dotted with limestone chimneys standing as high of 50 metres. It was described as lunar, and Planet of the Apes was filmed here.
- Scuba Diving—despite the country's arid landscape, underwater off the coast lie several reefs teaming with all sorts of life.
Khat: A leafy stimulant popular with the locals. The herb is flown into the country each morning from Ethiopia and arrives by truck in Djibouti's Central Market at about 1PM It is fairly inexpensive, but quality varies greatly, so shop with caution. Khat may not be taken out of Djibouti through the airport.
The currency of Djibouti is the Djiboutian Franc (DJF). The Djiboutian Franc is pegged to the US dollar. You can convert dollars to francs with local street money changers located in the Djiboutian market area. The street money changers are ladies who line the street waiting to convert USD to DJF. They are generally honest brokers. Have your calculator ready and make sure to ask in advance what the conversion rate is, if they quote you anything less than 175 go to another broker. Most all of them speak a little English.
You can purchase general merchandise and food items at the larger department stores using USD. The tourist traps will obviously see you coming a mile away and hit you with ridiculous conversion rates as well as their tourist prices. If you have access to Camp Lemonnier, go to the disbursement office for the best rate.
- Melting Pot (Restaurant), Heron (heron, Bernard street), ☎ . 11am-11pm. Restaurant Melting Pot Djibouti, is located few hundred m from the port. Here you can find camel meat, steaks, sushi,lobster,fish...and fresh beers. Check our website for more informations 4$-30$.
The city of Djibouti has many places to eat to include tourist traps. If you are interested in western cuisine, be prepared for sticker shock. If you are interested in good local cuisine, then you and your pocket book will be happier for the experience. For example, the Ethiopian Community Center offers a wide variety of local flares which are very tasty (safe) and reasonably priced. Best to avoid places that the tourists hang out at, and you will be happier for the experience. Average price per meal outside of a tourist trap: $4 including drink.
Natural hazards include earthquakes and droughts. Occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods.
Visitors should be aware of the risk of banditry if traveling outside the capital city.
Health insurance is advisable. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for any medical treatment. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over one year of age coming from infected areas. Cholera is also a serious risk and precautions are essential. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding if these precautions should include vaccination as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness. Typhoid immunization is usually advised. Malaria risk, predominantly in the malignant falciparum form, exists year round. Resistance to chloroquine has been reported. Mefloquine, doxycycline or atovaquone/proguanil are recommended.
The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is currently over 3% or 1 in 33 adults. Protect yourself.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Foreigners, travellers, etc are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Djibouti during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
Casual wear is widely acceptable, but visitors are reminded that Djibouti is a Muslim country and certain codes of behavior should be observed. Shorts are generally not appropriate outside of hotels, beaches, or sport activities.
The 13th French Foreign Legion Demi-Brigadeis (13ème DBLE), permanently stationed in Djibouti, consists of about 800 men. They can be contacted by the following address:
adresse postale 13ème DBLE - Djibouti Quartier MONCLAR SP 85030 00815 ARMEES
There is also a 2,000 person plus U.S. military presence in Djibouti, located at Camp Lemonier across the runway from the international airport.