Djibouti is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Home to only 921,804 people, it is the least populous country on mainland Africa. There are two main ethnic groups that comprise Djibouti. They are the Somali and the Afar people. The Somali are the predominant majority, comprising over 60% of the population, while the Afar make up 35%.
The capital city, Djibouti City, is a vast, international city that houses more than 70% of the country’s entire population. The city was founded in 1888 by the French to serve as the capital of French Somaliland. Due to its international population, wealth, and strategic location, it has been called «French Hong Kong in the Red Sea» and the «Pearl of the Gulf of Tadjoura». It serves as a major port of both imports and exports for many of its neighboring countries. Djibouti City is strategically located along shipping lanes of both the Red Sea as well as the Indian Ocean, making it a very important refueling center. Djibouti City is one of the richest cities in Eastern Africa.
A vast majority of the people, around 94%, practice Islam. Islam entered Djibouti very early, when Muhammad sent a group of his followers here to escape persecution. Since that time, Islam has grown rapidly and has become the state religion of Djibouti. Even though the people of Djibouti have a technical right to convert, they will often face persecution from their family and community.
French and Arabic are the two official languages of the country, reflecting the strong influence of foreign cultures on this small country. But many of the people still speak their mother languages. It is estimated that only about 59,000 people speak Arabic and 17,000 speak French as their first language.
While the strong Muslim influence may seem like a hard obstacle to overcome, there are actually many open doors that make Djibouti ripe for the harvest. Due to its vast contact with foreigners, the people are very open and accepting of others and willing to listen to their ideas. This is especially true in Djibouti City, which is home to a large number of foreign military bases. This includes Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent US military base in Africa that is home to about 4,000 US servicemen and women. Please pray that one day, the number of those fighting for the Gospel of Christ in this country will surpass even that number!