Hydrogeology of Djibouti
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Djibouti, located on the Gulf of Aden at the mouth of the Suez Canal, was in antiquity part of kingdoms with strong links to ancient Ethiopia and Egypt. Its proximity to the Arabian Peninsula meant Islam was adopted early. It was colonised by France in the late 19th century, and the construction of railroads to Ethiopia meant it became an important regional port. It won independence as the Republic of Djibouti in 1977. The independent country’s first president remained in power until 1999. In the 1990s the country experienced a civil war that ended in a power sharing agreement in 2000, since when there have been periodic episodes of civil unrest and a number of contested elections, but overall, it is perceived internationally as having relative political stability.
This, combined with Djibouti’s strategic location, have led to it being the site of a number of military bases for foreign personnel, including US troops, as well as continuingly important ports, which bring in the majority of national revenue, and therefore foreign relations are very important to the country’s economic stability. The Djibouti franc is pegged to the USD. The economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for 80% of GDP, with commercial activities focused on the country’s free trade policies and transport links. Industry, including fishing and fish processing, and growing salt production, accounts for around 17% of GDP. The desert environment limits agricultural production, which accounts for only 3% of GDP. Rural people traditionally relied on nomadic pastoralism, but rural populations are low: three quarters of people live in cities. Djibouti’s limited natural resources mean it relies heavily on energy and food imports. Despite the importance of services to the economy, there is very high unemployment. Nevertheless, relative political stability also means that the country hosts many refugees, from surrounding African countries and more recently from Yemen.
Djibouti is an arid country with very limited surface water resources. Over 90% of water supplies come from groundwater. In some areas, groundwater levels are known to be deep and/or groundwater is known to have high levels of mineralisation
Dr Kirsty Upton and Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, British Geological Survey, UK
Dr Imogen Bellwood-Howard, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Please cite this page as: Upton, Ó Dochartaigh and Bellwood-Howard, 2018.
Bibliographic reference: Upton K, Ó Dochartaigh BÉ and Bellwood-Howard, I. 2018. Africa Groundwater Atlas: Hydrogeology of Djibouti. British Geological Survey. Accessed [date you accessed the information]. http://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Hydrogeology_of_Djibouti
Terms and conditions
|Estimated Population in 2013*||872932|
|Rural Population (% of total) (2013)*||22.8%|
|Total Surface Area*||23,180 sq km|
|Agricultural Land (% of total area) (2012)*||73.4%|
|Border Countries||Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia.|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal (2013)*||19 Million cubic metres|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal for Agriculture (2013)*||15.8%|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal for Domestic Use (2013)*||84.2%|
|Annual Freshwater Withdrawal for Industry (2013)*||0%|
|Rural Population with Access to Improved Water Source (2012)*||65.5%|
|Urban Population with Access to Improved Water Source (2012)*||100%|
* Source: World Bank
These maps and graphs were developed from the CRU TS 3.21 dataset produced by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK. For more information see the climate resource page.
The geology map shows a simplified version of the geology at a national scale. More information is available in the report UN (1989) (see References section, below).
The hydrogeology map below shows a simplified version of the type and productivity of the main aquifers at a national scale (see the hydrogeology Map resource page for more details).
More information on the hydrogeology of Djibouti is available in the report United Nations (1989) (see References section, below).
For further information about transboundary aquifers, please see the Transboundary aquifers resources page.
References with more information on the geology and hydrogeology of Djibouti can be accessed through the Africa Groundwater Literature Archive.
United Nations. 1989. Groundwater in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa: Djibouti. United Nations Department of Technical Cooperation for Development.