Coordinates: 12°48′N 45°02′E / 12.800°N
45.033°E / 12.800; 45.033
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Republic of Yemenجمهورية اليمن
الديمقراطية الشعبيةJumhūrīyat al-Yaman
Coat of arms
المتحدة (Arabic)al-Jumhūrīyah al-Muttaḥidâh"United
Republic"(Original lyrics) The People's Democratic
Republic of Yemen
Socialist state (1970–1990)
Satellite state of the Soviet Union
Capitaland largest cityAdenCommon languages
Modern South Arabian languages
Religion Sunni IslamGovernmentFederal Marxist–Leninist one-party
socialist republicGeneral Secretary • 1978–1980
Abdul Fattah Ismail• 1980–1986 Ali Nasir
Muhammad• 1986–1990 Ali Salim al-Beidh
President • 1967–1969 (first) Qahtan
al-Shaabi• 1986–1990 (last) Haidar al-Attas
Prime Minister • 1969 Faysal
al-Shaabi• 1969–1971 Muhammad Ali
Haitham• 1971–1985 Ali Nasir
Muhammad• 1985–1986 Haidar
al-Attas• 1986–1990 Yasin Said Numan
LegislatureSupreme People's CouncilHistorical eraCold
War• Independence declared 30 November 1967• UN
membership 14 December 1967• Constitution adopted 31 October
1978• Unification 22 May 1990
(139,048 sq mi)Population• 1990 2,585,484
CurrencySouth Yemeni dinarCalling code967
Federation of South Arabia
Protectorate of South Arabia
South Yemen, officially the People's Democratic
Republic of Yemen
(Arabic: جمهورية اليمن الديمقراطية
الشعبية Jumhūriyat al-Yaman ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah
ash-Sha'bīyah), was a country that existed from 1967 to 1990 as a
state in the
Middle East in the southern and eastern provinces of the
Republic of Yemen, including the island of Socotra. It was
also referred to as Democratic
South Yemen's origins can be traced to 1874 with the creation of the
British colony of
Aden and the
Aden Protectorate, which consisted of
two-thirds of the present-day Yemen. However,
Aden became a province
British Raj in 1937. After the collapse of Aden
Protectorate, the state of emergency was declared in 1963 when the
National Liberation Front (NLF) and the Front for the Liberation of
Yemen (FLOSY) rebelled against British rule.
Federation of South Arabia
Federation of South Arabia and the Protectorate of South Arabia
merged to become South
Yemen on 30 November 1967 and became a Marxist
socialist republic in 1970 supported by the Soviet Union. Despite its
efforts to bring stability into the region, it was involved in a brief
civil war in 1986. With the collapse of communism, South
unified with the
Republic (commonly known as "North Yemen")
on 22 May 1990, to form the present-day Yemen. After four years,
Yemen declared its secession from the north, which
resulted in the north occupying south
Yemen and the 1994 civil war.
Another attempt to restore South
Yemen continues on since 2017.
1.1 British rule
1.3 Disputes with North Yemen
1.4 Civil war
1.5 Reforms and attempts for unification
2 Reviving South Yemen
3 Politics and social life
7 See also
9 External links
Main article: History of Yemen
In 1838, Sultan Muhsin Bin Fadl of the state of Lahej ceded
194 km² (75 sq. miles) including
Aden to the British. On 19
January 1839, the
British East India Company
British East India Company landed
Royal Marines at
Aden to occupy the territory and stop attacks by pirates against
British shipping to India. It then became an important trading hub
India and the Red Sea, and following the opening of
Suez canal in 1869, it became a coaling station for ships en route
Aden was ruled as part of British
India until 1937, when the
Aden became the Colony of Aden. The
Aden hinterland and
Hadhramaut to the east formed the remainder of what would become South
Yemen and was not administered directly by
Aden but were tied to
Britain by treaties of protection with local rulers of traditional
polities that, together, became known as the
Economic development was largely centered in Aden, and while the city
flourished, the states of the
Aden Protectorate stagnated.
Aden and much of the Protectorate were joined to form the
Federation of South Arabia
Federation of South Arabia with the remaining states that declined to
join, mainly in Hadhramaut, forming the separate Protectorate of South
Arabia. Both of these polities were still tied to Britain with
promises of total independence in 1968.
Two nationalist groups, the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South
Yemen (FLOSY) and the National Liberation Front (NLF), began an armed
struggle known as the
Aden Emergency on 14 October 1963 against
British control and, with the temporary closure of the
Suez Canal in
1967, the British began to withdraw. One faction, NLF, was invited to
the Geneva Talks to sign the independence agreement with the British.
However, Britain - who during its occupation of
Aden signed several
treaties of protection with the local sheikhdoms and emirates of the
Federation of South Arabia
Federation of South Arabia - excluded them in the talks and thus the
agreement stated "...the handover of the territory of South Arabia to
the (Yemeni) NLF...". Southern
Yemen became independent as the
Republic of Southern
Yemen on 30 November 1967, and the
National Liberation Front consolidated its control in the country.
In June 1969, a radical
Marxist wing of the NLF gained power and on 1
December 1970, reorganized the country into the People's Democratic
Yemen (PDRY). Subsequently, all political parties were
amalgamated into the National Liberation Front, renamed the Yemeni
Socialist Party, which became the only legal party. The People's
Democratic Republic of Yemen
Democratic Republic of Yemen established close ties with the Soviet
Union, the People's
Republic of China, Cuba, and the Palestinian
Liberation Organization. East Germany's constitution of 1968 even
served as a kind of blueprint for the PDRY's first
The new government embarked on a programme of nationalisation,
introduced central planning, put limits on housing ownership and rent,
and implemented a land reform. By 1973, the
GDP of South Yemen
increased by 25 percent. And despite the conservative
environment and resistance, women became legally equal to men,
polygamy, child marriage and arranged marriage were all banned by law.
Equal rights in divorce were also sanctioned. The
secularised education and sharia law was replaced by a state legal
The major communist powers assisted in the building of the PDRY's
armed forces. Strong support from
Moscow resulted in Soviet naval
forces gaining access to naval facilities in South Yemen.
Disputes with North Yemen
@media all and (min-width:720px) .mw-parser-output
Yemen Border Conflict of 1972Part of the Cold
WarNorth & South YemenDate1972LocationNorth Yemen–South Yemen
Republic of China
National Democratic Front
LibyaCommanders and leaders
Ali Abdullah Saleh
Abdel Fattah IsmailStrength
24,000vteInternal conflictsin modern Yemen
Yemeni–Adenese clan violence
Yemen Civil War
1972 North and South
Yemenite War of 1979
Yemen Civil War
Yemeni Civil War (1994)
Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen
Houthi insurgency in Yemen
Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)
The Arabian peninsula in 1914
Unlike the early decades of
East Germany and West Germany, North Korea
and South Korea, or
North Vietnam and South Vietnam, North
Yemen (PDRY) remained relatively friendly, though relations
were often strained. Fighting broke out in 1972, and a short-lived,
small proxy border conflict was resolved with negotiations, where it
was declared unification would eventually occur.
However, these plans were put on hold in 1979, as the PDRY funded Red
rebels in the YAR, and war was only prevented by an
intervention. The goal of unity was reaffirmed by the northern and
southern heads of state during a summit meeting in
Kuwait in March
In 1980, PDRY president
Abdul Fattah Ismail
Abdul Fattah Ismail resigned and went into
exile in Moscow, having lost the confidence of his sponsors in the
USSR. His successor, Ali Nasir Muhammad, took a less
interventionist stance toward both North
Yemen and neighbouring Oman.
Main article: South
Yemen Civil War
On January 13, 1986, a violent struggle began in
Aden between Ali
Nasir's supporters and supporters of the returned Ismail, who wanted
power back. Fighting, known as the South
Yemen Civil War, lasted for
more than a month and resulted in thousands of casualties, Ali Nasir's
ouster, and Ismail's death. Some 60,000 people, including the deposed
Ali Nasir, fled to the YAR. Ali Salim al-Beidh, an ally of Ismail who
had succeeded in escaping the attack on pro-Ismail members of the
Politburo, then became General Secretary of the Yemeni Socialist
Reforms and attempts for unification
Main article: Yemeni unification
Against the background of the perestroika in the USSR, the main backer
of the PDRY, political reforms were started in the late 1980s.
Political prisoners were released, political parties were formed and
the system of justice was reckoned to be more equitable than in the
North. In May 1988, the YAR and PDRY governments came to an
understanding that considerably reduced tensions including agreement
to renew discussions concerning unification, to establish a joint oil
exploration area along their undefined border, to demilitarize the
border, and to allow Yemenis unrestricted border passage on the basis
of only a national identification card. In 1990, the parties reached a
full agreement on joint governing of Yemen, and the countries were
effectively merged as Yemen.
Reviving South Yemen
Main article: Southern Movement
Since 2007, some Southerners have been actively protesting for
independence, in a movement known as 'Al Hirak' or the Southern
Movement. During the
Yemen Civil War 2015, in response to incursions
Houthis and military forces loyal to deposed Yemeni president
Ali Abdullah Saleh, members of the
Southern Movement formed 'Popular
Resistance' militias. Since the Battle of Aden, these armed groups
have sought to defend the South against Houthi/Saleh attempts to take
over the country and have taken the current state of civil war as
opportunity to further their struggle for independence.
In late January 2018, separatists loyal to the Southern Transitional
Council successfully seized control of the Saudi-backed Yemeni
government headquarters in
Aden in an apparent coup d'état against
the Hadi government.
Politics and social life
South Yemen's ethnic groups are Arabs (92.8%), Somalis (3.7%),
Arab 1.1%, Indians and Pakistanis (1%), and other (1.4%) (2000).
The only recognized political party in South
Yemen was the Yemeni
Socialist Party, which ran the country and the economy along
Marxist lines, modeled on the Soviet
The constitution prescribed universal suffrage.
The Supreme People's Council was appointed by the General Command of
the National Liberation Front in 1971.
In Aden, there was a structured judicial system with a supreme court.
Education was paid for through general taxation.
There was no housing crisis in South Yemen. Surplus housing built by
the British meant that there were few homeless people in Aden, and
people built their own houses out of adobe and mud in the rural areas.
Yemen developed as a Marxist, mostly secular society
ruled first by the National Liberation Front, which later morphed into
the ruling Yemeni Socialist Party. The only avowedly
Marxist nation in
the Middle East, South
Yemen received significant foreign aid and
other assistance from the USSR and East Germany, which
stationed several hundred officers of the
Stasi in the country to
train the nation's secret police and establish another arms
trafficking route to Palestine. The East Germans didn't
leave until 1990, when the Yemeni government declined to pay their
salaries which had been terminated with the dissolution of the Stasi
during German reunification.
In 1976, the South
Yemen national football team participated in the
Asia Cup, where the team lost to Iraq 1-0 and to Iran 8-0. They
entered their only World Cup qualification campaign in 1986 and were
knocked out in the first round by Bahrain. On September 2, 1965, South
Yemen played their first international match against the United Arab
Republic, to whom they lost 14-0. On November 5, 1989, South Yemen
played its last international match against Guinea, to whom they lost
1-0. The team stopped playing when the North and South united in 1990
to form the modern state of Yemen.
In 1988, the South
Yemen Olympic team made its debut in Seoul. Sending
only eight athletes, the country won no medals. This was the only time
the country went to the Olympics until unification in 1990.
Following independence, South
Yemen was divided into six governorates
(Arabic sg. muhafazah), with roughly natural boundaries, each given a
name by numeral. From 1967 to 1978, they were named officially by
numerals only; from 1979 to 1990, they were given new official names.
Kamaran (until 1972, when it was seized by North Yemen),
Perim (Meyun), Socotra, Abd-el-Kuri, Samha (inhabited), Darsah and
others uninhabited from the
Socotra archipelago were districts
(mudiriyah) of the First/
Governorate being under Prime-Minister
of the state supervision.
Approximate Area (km.²)
There was little industrial output, or mineral wealth exploitation, in
South Yemen, until the mid-1980s, following the discovery of
significant petroleum reserves in the central regions near
Mukalla. The main sources of income were agriculture, mostly fruit,
cereal crops, cattle and sheep, fishing and later, oil exports.
The national budget was 13.43 million dinars in 1976, and the gross
national product was US$150 million. The total national debt was $52.4
The following airlines had operated from the PDRY:
Aden Airways (1949–1967). Ceased operations on 30 June
1967 at the time of British withdrawal from the Federation and the
Protectorate of South Arabia.
Alyemda – Democratic
Yemen Airlines (1961–1996). Joined Yemenia,
the airline of the former YAR
Yemen Airways (1989–1990)
List of leaders of South Yemen
History of Yemen
Republic of Yemen
^ Clark, Victoria. Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes, Yale
University Press: 2010, page 112-130.
^ Cigar, Norman (1985). "South
Yemen and the USSR: Prospects for the
Middle East Journal. 39 (4): 775–795.
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^ Müller, Miriam M. (2015). A Spectre is haunting Arabia - How the
Germans brought their
Marxism to Yemen. Bielefeld: Transcript.
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^ Bayat, Asef (2017). Revolution without Revolutionaries: Making Sense
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This article incorporates public domain material from the
CIA World Factbook website
Wikimedia Commons has media related to South Yemen.
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National anthem of Yemen (Second and
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BNF: cb11865894h (data)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2196 7032
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