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The city of Aden – Yemen

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Population estimates as of 2005.
  2. Location.
  3. History, politics and economy.
    1. The prehistory of the site.
    2. The coast of the Gulf of Aden.
    3. The late ninth and early tenth centuries.
    4. Business letters concerning Aden and its trading relations with India and Cairo.
  4. Conclusion.

The Yemeni port of Aden has long been one of the major entrepôts of the Middle East. With its starkly beautiful natural harbor nestled within an extinct volcano and its access to the highlands of Yemen and its products, the city called the ?Eye to Yemen? would already have been signi?cant. But given its location at the entrance to the Red Sea and its easy connections to the ports of East Africa, Aden has, for more than 3,000 years, attracted imperial attention. Whether it was the Sabaeans, Romans, Aksumites, Ayyubids, Ottomans, or British, this gateway to and from Arabia has always been open. Aden (Arabic, Adan) is located on the northern littoral of the Gulf of Aden near the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Close to the southwest tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the city lies on the narrow, fertile coastal strip backed by high mountains. Access to the highlands of Yemen is via Wadi Tuban and Taiz, and to the Hadramawt along the coast to the east. Sanaa is some 260 miles to the north. By sea, Aden is an ideal starting point for overseas journeys to India, given the west-east monsoon winds, or to East Africa, with the Somalia coast and Zanzibar easily accessible. Through the Bab al-Mandab awaits Egypt, Palestine, and the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal: the port authority likes to make the point that Aden lies an equal distance between Europe and the Far East. The city is located within a large crescent-shaped bay created by the crater of an extinct volcano. The arms of the crescent that enclose Bandar at-Tawahi (Aden Harbor or Crater Bay) are large hilly volcanic promontories, essentially islands, each with its own small harbors and bays but connected to the mainland by a narrow, sandy isthmus.

[...] By the late fourteenth century, for example, one quarter in the city was just for the Hindu Gujarati baniyan (merchants),while merchants from Aden lived in the ports of China, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, and Malibar. Slaves shipped from Mogadishu were sold in its slave markets: slave girls would be prepared with frankincense and perfumes, wrapped in ?ne linen, and then paraded through the market by their owners, with the Rasulid Wali taking ?rst pick for the sultan in Taiz. Horses were shipped in from Berbera for the annual horse fair; there was a government monopoly on horse sales,with the sultan getting ?rst pick and the rest usually sold for shipment to India. [...]

[...] In 1949 and 1950, in Operation on Eagles'Wings (also called Operation Magic Carpet), Jews from all over Yemen left their homes and assembled in Aden to ?y out to the new State of Israel. The Jewish Agency established camps for these emigrants; at one point there were more than 3,000 people housed in camps around the city waiting for ?ights. Over 50,000 Yemeni Jews ultimately left between June 1949 and September 1950. The exodus effectively ended the Jewish community in Aden, which dated back to the second century AD. [...]

[...] Gradually, two key groups emerged: the NLF, based more in the rural areas and led by rural commanders who pursued armed struggle, and the Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSY), based primarily in Aden city among the urban intellectuals. Late in 1963, the insurgency began, and the NLF attacked and killed the British high commissioner. In response, the British implemented a state of emergency. Between 1964 and 1967, the number of violent incidents in Aden jumped from 36 to 3,000, and the number of British and local casualties from 36 to 1,000.At one point Crater was taken over by rebels, and a commercial airplane with passengers on board was blown up. [...]

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