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Religion and Languages of YemenYemen had an average population density of 54 residents per km 2 in 2019, but the population is concentrated to the larger cities and to the fertile coastal regions. As a result of the unrest in the region, the population figures are uncertain. Since the 1990s, the country has received a large number of refugees from the countries on the Horn of Africa, mainly from Somalia. The UN Refugee Commissioner (NHCR) estimates the number of refugees in Yemen at 420,000, of which 170,000 come from other countries and 250,000 are people who have escaped the country's internal unrest.

Religion and Languages of Yemen

In 2019, 37 percent of the population lived in one of the country's cities, the largest of which are Sana (1.9 million residents, 2012) and Aden (760 900).

According to Countryaah, the indigenous population is Arab and represents about 95 percent of the country's population. They are Muslims, of which 45 percent are Shia and 55 percent Sunnis. Of the former Jewish population, only a small remnant group remains in the cities of Bayt Harash and Raydah. Indigenous peoples dominate Indians (from, among others, Gujarat, 2 percent) and Somalis (3-4 percent).


The official language is Arabic. The dialect differences are very large, especially in the northwestern mountain country. In Sokotra, sokotri is spoken and in eastern Hadramawt is spoken mehri, both belonging to the Southern Arabic language group.


An overwhelming majority of the population is Muslims. Of the ancient Jewish population, only a hundred people are left behind after a massive emigration to Israel. Estimates of the distribution between the two largest Muslim groups of Sunni Muslims of the Shafi'ite law school and Shia Muslims of the Zaydite branch vary between 50 percent to two-thirds of Shafi'ites and one-third of Zaydites. There are also a few thousand Ismailites (another branch of Shia).

In the 19th century, Muslim reformers emerged, as in other parts of the Muslim world, and in Yemen this led to a theological approach between Shafiism and Zaydism. During the 20th century, therefore, conflicts tended to be defined by ideological and tribal divides rather than between Sunni and Shia. In the 1980s, however, Sunnis emerged from Salafist groups that emphasize Sunni identity (often inspired by the Hanbalitic law school rather than the Shafi'ite). These were both non-militant and jihadist, and then al-QaedaSaudi and Yemeni branches merged In 2009, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had its base in Yemen. At the same time, among the Zaydites arose al-Shabab al-Muminin (Believer's youth) who then became the huthir movement (compare the huthirebells) and emphasizing zayditic identity.

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