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Historically, Yemen has come into significance at times only to fade into general obscurity. In the 10th century BC, the Queen of Sheba ruled her civilization in what is now Yemen. Latter in biblical times, Frankincense and Myrrh, the most valuable commodity of that time, originated in Yemen. Also then most goods from India and China passed through Yemen on their way to the Mediterranean. Then three hundred years ago, Yemen had the world's monopoly on coffee which was produced from the prized Arabica coffee bean. Much of the coffee was shipped from the old port town of Al-Makha -- where we now get the name "Mocca". Later this bean was carried to South America and Indonesia. Since then little has been heard about Yemen in the western world.
In view of its topographical structure, the Republic of Yemen is divided into five regions:
The western mountain range represents a large area of the country. It is the range called Al-Sarat Mountains stretching longitudinally from the north to the south and transversally from the west to the east, which resembles the letter "L". These heights go down in different directions. They descend sharply westwards to the Red Sea, southwards to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, and eastwards and northwards to the interior desert areas. In the mountain heights, stretching from the north to the south, there are a number of basins (beds), of considerable agricultural importance with large populations, such as Sana'a basin, Yarim basin, Jahran flatland, Sa'da flatland, Alboun flatland, Aqwat Hadhramout bed and Si'aith bed in Mahara. The most prominent mountains in these heights are the mountains of Attaq, Bayhan, Mukairas, Al-Dhalie', Yafie', Sabra, Hadhour Alsheikh, Miswar and Prophet Shu'aib which at 3766m above sea level is the highest mountain in Arabia.
This area lies to the east and north of the mountainous heights going in parallel to the heights towards the Empty Quarter. The maximum height of this area is 1000m gradually descending. Such area is represented by the highlands in Sana'a, Al-Jouf, Shabwa, Hadhramout and Mahara. The out- skirts of this area in the north overlap with the Empty Quarter.
This area includes the coastal plains overlooking the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. They are connected to each other forming a coastal strip that extends from the Oman border south- westward to Bab Al-Mandab. This strip then changes its direction northward to the borders of Saudi Arabia, thus making it more than 2400km. long. The width of the plains ranges from 30 to 60 km.
This area consists of desert plains covered with gravel, sand and sandy dunes, Evolving in some parts desert plants and vast oases that were formed due to the collection of the seasonal water. The wandering nomads because of its pastoral land inhabit it.
This part of the country consists of islands scattered along the coast of Yemen. There are 120 islands, most of which are located in the Red Sea. The biggest islands are Kamaran, Greater Hannish, Minor Hannish, and the rest of Archipelago, Zaqar, Zubair, AL-Tayr and the strategic island of Meon at the Bab Al-Mandeb. In addition there are islands located in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, the largest of which is Soqotra.
Since Yemen is endowed with a varied topography, the climate, in general, also varies, although there are no major seasonal differences. We can say there are two long seasons: summer and winter during summer, the temperature and humidity are high in the coastal areas, while the climate is moderate during winter. From time to time the rainfall, due to the monsoon, moderates the temperature over the coastal areas in summer. In the mountain areas, the weather is moderate in summer and cold in winter during the night and in the early morning, but the bright sunrays raise the temperature during the day making the weather very moderate in these parts of the country.
The Republic of Yemen lies in the South of Arabia (The Arabian Peninsula), south-west of Asia, between latitudes 12 and 20 degrees to the north of the equator, and between longitudes 41and 54 degrees to the south of Greenwich, bordered on the north by Saudi Arabia, on the south by the Arab Sea and the Gulf of Aden, on the east by the Sultanate of Oman and on the west by the Red Sea.