Getting into Djibouti
I've flown in from Juba. Immigration at Djibouti Airport is fairly straightforward; there’s little queueing, though the official I’ve selected has to move booths three times before he can get his new-fangled technology to work. I’ve eschewed an e-visa as they were demanding 130 dollars online and I was told it was only 90 dollars on arrival. So, I’m delighted to be charged just 15 dollars for a transit visa, as it's a short stay
I’m in a five-star hotel, which charges five-star prices. The room is freezing cold and won’t warm up, (it’s still forty degrees outside), there’s no hot water, the fridge won’t work, and the bathroom looks as if it hasn’t been refurbished since the 1950’s.
Who Colonised Djibouti?
In antiquity this was the Land of Punt. The Djibouti area, along with other localities in the Horn region, was later the seat of the medieval Adal and Ifat Sultanates. it then became French Somaliland, established as a French colony in the late nineteenth century. Independence was achieved in 1977. Today, Wikipedia describes Djibouti as a ’unitary dominant presidential republic under an authoritarian dictatorship’. There’s one TV channel - state run.
Is Djibouti a Poor Country?
About 40 percent of the population live in poverty and over half of these people in extreme poverty. The arid land makes Djibouti a poor place for farming. In fact, just 0.04 percent of land in Djibouti is arable. There is therefore very little in the way of exports - the country makes a living through commerce, utilising its strategic position at the mouth of the Red Sea. Ships and planes from western powers vie to use the port and establish military bases. It also supplies vital port access to Ethiopia.
The population of this micro-nation is about one million. Two thirds of this number live in Djibouti City and 98% of them are Moslems.
Djiboutians love to chew the addictive narcotic khat leaf, imported from Ethiopia and Kenya.
Is Djibouti a Safe Country?
Lonely Planet says this is a safe country because of the considerable western military presence. The FCO talk about landmines on the border with Eritrea, bandits on the road and piracy, as well as petty crime. I didn't have any problems
What to See and Do In Djibouti?
- Spending time in Djibouti City
- Heading to Lac Abbe and the Planet of the Apes desert scenery
- Visiting Lac Assal for the salt pans and volcanoes
- And spending time on the beach for some Red Sea snorkelling.
The original plan was to drive overland to Somaliland, but the Djibouti authorities have announced, for some reason known only to them, that the border will not be opened until 4 pm each day. Which doesn’t allow long for my drive to Borama and overnight accommodation. So now I’m flying direct to Hargeisa. Djibouti Airport reminds me of my hotel bathroom. The departure lounge is accessed up two flights of spiral stairs.