Topography of Yemen

Topography of Yemen Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

Yemen has a coastline of about 450km and its coastal plain ,averaging 48km in width, is a region of semi-desert. The vast mountain range of the southern Arabian Peninsula runs through the Yemen, with its highest peak, Hadur Shu'ayb at 3,760 metres.

Topographical variations in this region give rise to a wide range of climatic conditions, and its fertile highland plateaus are ideal for growing a wide variety of both tropical and temperate zone crops. These highland regions are interspersed with wadis -- river valleys which are dry in the summer months.

The northern region is rich and fertile, with regular rainfall provided by the effect of the mountains on the Indian Ocean monsoons. Crops include coffee, cotton, sorghum, corn, oats, barley, dates (pictured), almonds grapes and qat (a leaf which is widely chewed by Yemeni people). Farming activities also include the breeding of livestock, such as cattle, sheep and goats.

By contrast, only about 2% of the southern region is arable and most farming activity here is confined to the Hadramawt valley. Alluvial deposits along the hot coastal strip running from north to south, make some irrigated farming possible. In the northeastern region of the country, the mountains gradually merge with the Rub al-Khali desert and little agricultural activity beyond herding is possible.

Yemen was once rich in unique flora and fauna, but little remains of either, as a result of intense cultivation and hunting of wildlife. Indeed, many types of local flora are now endangered and most of the larger wild animals are facing total extinction.

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