Republic of Yemen
December 2-3

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Area 531,869 Mountainous south and south-western portion of the Arabian Peninsula and also the Indian Ocean island of Socotra.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 18,112,066 +3.81% 34 per sq. km.
2010 25,366,187 +3.32% 48 per sq. km.
2025 38,985,203 +2.66% 73 per sq. km.

Capital Sana'a 1,400,000. Other major city: Aden 630,000. Urbanites 24%.


Arab 95%. Over 1,700 clans and tribes. Also: Sudanese 300,000; Omani 120,000; Iraqi 70,000.

Immigrant and Refugee communities 4.3%. Somali 670,000; South Asian 76,000; Ethiopian 8,000; Eritrean 8,000.

Other 0.7%. Mahri 80,000; Soqotri 40,000.

Literacy 43% (only 23% for women). Official language Arabic. All languages 7. Languages with Scriptures 2Bi 2por.


Agricultural and pastoral economy – the only part of the Arabian Peninsula with a significant rainfall. Oil provides 95% of foreign earnings. The expulsion of over 1 million Yemeni workers from Saudi Arabia in the 1990 Gulf War was a major blow to the economy. The poorest state in the Middle East. HDI 0.449; 148th/174. Public debt 93% of GNP. Income/person $380 (1.2% of USA).


A turbulent history of wars and conquests. The North was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918 and then an isolated feudal theocracy until the 1962 Egyptian-engineered republican revolution. Aden (the South) was ruled by Britain until independence in 1967. A Marxist coup ousted the traditional rulers and imposed a leftist regime. The two countries united in 1990 with the north as the dominant partner. A southern secessionist revolt in 1994 led to a northern victory. A strong presidential government with a measure of democracy.


Islam is the official religion and the legal system is based on shari'a law. Sunni Islam 62% (in centre and south), Zaidi Shi'a 37% (in north-east), Ismaili 0.9%. Only freedom of religion for non-Muslims. Persecution index 5th in the world.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 99.94 18,099,388 +3.8%
Christian 0.05 9,056 +0.1%
Jewish 0.01 1,000 +3.0%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 1 0.00 0 +3.3%
Independent 2 0.00 1 +2.4%
Anglican 2 0.00 0 +15.5%
Catholic 1 0.03 6 +0.7%
Orthodox 2 0.02 3 +2.1%
Marginal 0 0.00 0  

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 4 1,100 5,500
Orthodox [2] O   1,000 3,000
Anglican A 4 120 200
Other denoms [4]   4 774 1,244
Total Christians [8]   12 2,994 9,944

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.


1 +5.5%


1 +4.0%


0 +2.7%

Challenges for Prayer

1 Yemen has been deeply impacted by wars over the last 4 decades – 3 civil wars, conflict with neighbouring states and also the effects of the Gulf War, Somalia's collapse into anarchy and the Ethiopian/Eritrean war. The treasured right of Yemenis to bear arms has fuelled tribal rivalries, while widespread corruption provokes kidnappings, crime and sabotage as forms of protest. There are over 50 million firearms in the country. Pray that the government may rule fairly and bring about national unity and peace.

2 Yemen was once famous for frankincense and myrrh, but now the growing of the narcotic qat has become the mainstay for rural Yemen. Over 80% of the adult population chew it and much of the agricultural land and irrigation water is committed to its cultivation. Nearly 40% of the national economy is involved in qat. The negative effects on productivity, social and family life are immense. Corruption in high places prevents developmental programmes from being effective. Less than half the population have access to any health services and nearly half of all children suffer from malnutrition.

3 Christianity was strong by 400AD, but was almost completely wiped out by the Muslim conquest in the 7th Century. The Queen of Sheba reigned in Yemen and sought wisdom from Solomon three millennia ago. May the modern people of Sheba seek after the wisdom from God as is promised in Isaiah 60:6.

4 It is illegal for non-Muslims to proselytize and for Muslims to become Christians. Yet through radio broadcasts, tactful faith-sharing and the Lord's intervention maybe 100 or so Yemenis have trusted in Christ. For Yemenis it is dangerous to openly become a believer in Jesus because of the many social pressures brought to bear on those who do. Pray that pressures may ease to give Yemenis the freedom to come to Christ and to meet for fellowship. Pray for the conversion of their families, for it is from them that the worst persecution comes.

5 Most Christians are expatriates. Many are Ethiopian refugees, among whom are several thriving evangelical congregations. Others are Westerners and South and East Asians in secular jobs or serving with some humanitarian NGOs that are permitted to minister in the country. A church in Aden has been restored to the Christians for worship and wider community service. Pray that expatriate believers may maintain their spiritual growth in the face of many attacks from the enemy of souls through discouragement, sickness, isolation from the wider Christian family, and constant threats to their presence in the land. A number have been kidnapped for brief periods in recent years.

6 There are a widening range of opportunities for expatriates to serve the Lord in business, education, health and development programmes. However corruption, official extortion, unrest, archaic laws and poor infrastructure drain time and resources. Pray for Asian, Western and other Christians to respond to God's call to this land and for them to have good opportunity to live and testify for Christ.

7 Yemen is one of the world's least evangelized countries. Pray for salvation to come to:

a) The Northern tribes – including the people of Sana'a, the capital, and the peoples of the northern mountains and north-eastern deserts. Many are semi-nomadic.

b) The Central Yemenis, the key cities being Taiz and Ibb.

c) The Tihama Arabs of the coastal plains. Many Gulf War returnees were settled in this region. The key city is Hodeida.

d) The Southern Yemenis of the cosmopolitan city of Aden and those of the Hadhramaut area (both Arab and Mahri).

e) The Soqotri islanders, who were nominally Christians until the 17th Century. There are no known Christians on this isolated Indian Ocean island.

f) Yemeni women – their lot is harsh, their opportunities for education and a life outside the home limited. How will they hear about Jesus and learn to live for Him?

g) The South Asians – many are traders and artisans in Aden. Most are Muslim or Hindu, some are Catholic Christians; also the 1,000 or so remaining Yemeni Jews.

h) The Somalis, many of whom are Yemeni residents, others refugees. A few have come to faith but most remain unevangelized.

8 Christian media for prayer:

a) Bible translation – there is need for Yemeni Arabic, Soqotri and Mahri Bibles.

b) Bible and literature distribution – this is not easy, but tactfully possible – many desire an opportunity to read the Bible.

c) The JESUS film – now available in several key languages, but opportunities to show the film or distribute the video are limited. Audio cassettes of Christian music, Scriptures, etc., are available.

d) Christian Radio. Broadcasts by FEBA-Seychelles (15 hrs/wk) and TWR-Cyprus (9 hrs/wk) in Arabic are clearly received. Many are regular listeners, and this has raised interest levels. Pray for lasting fruit and living fellowships of believers to result. FEBA also broadcasts 3.5 hrs/wk in Somali. Pray that SAT-7 may also be available. Many homes have satellite dishes, but only some can access existing broadcasts.

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