South Arabia is a historical region that consists of the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, mainly centered in what is now the Republic of Yemen, yet it has also historically included Najran, Jizan, and 'Asir, which are presently in Saudi Arabia, and the Dhofar of present-day Oman.
South Arabia is inhabited by people possessing distinctive linguistic and ethnic affinities, as well as traditions and culture, transcending recent political boundaries. It is roughly the same as Greater Yemen.
The frontiers of South Arabia as linguistically conceived would include the historic peoples speaking the related South Arabian languages as well as neighboring dialects of Arabic, and their descendants. Anciently, there was a South Arabian language, which was borrowed by Ethiopia.
Yemen or al-Yaman means "the right side". One etymology derives Yemen from yamin the "right side" as the south is on the right when facing the sunrise; yet this etymology is considered suspect. Another derives Yemen from yumn meaning "felicity" as the region is fertile; indeed the Romans called it Arabia Felix. Yaman derives from Yam, Yams, Yame, Yame or Miya, Miyah, Miah (water).
Three thousand years ago, several ancient states occupied the region of South Arabia, being M'ain, Qataban, Hadhramaut, and Saba. In these ancient times South Arabia claimed several notable features: the famous dam at Marib, the cosmopolitan incense trade, as well as the legendary Queen of Sheba. Two thousand years ago the Himyarites became the masters of South Arabia, dominating the region for several centuries. The Ethiopian Kingdom of Aksum invaded South Arabia first in the 3rd–4th centuries, then later in the 6th under King Kaleb who subjugated the region, c. 520. They were displaced by Persian forces of the Sassanid dynasty, c.575, who also arrived by sea. A half-century later, in the year 6 A.H. (628), the region converted to Islam.
Ancient kingdoms and appellations:
Pre-Islamic foreign occupiers: