Djibouti City is the capital and largest city in Djibouti. Two thirds of the country's population lives in this seaport, which is situated on the Gulf of Tadjoura on the western side of the Gulf of Aden. The city is the cultural and industrial center of Djibouti and has the status of both a city and a state. Local features include beautiful sandy beaches along its eastern shore (top). The landscape around the city, along with Djibouti's coastal lowlands, is desert or semi-desert. Image courtesy of NASA.
The country of Djibouti is named after its capital and largest settlement. The city is located in the eastern part of the country on the Horn of Africa, approximately 21 km (13 m) northwest of the Somali border.
The Port of Djibouti is strategically located at the crossroads of one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, linking Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa, and the Persian Gulf. The port serves as a key refueling and transit center, and is the principal maritime outlet for imports to and exports from neighboring Ethiopia.
A city street in Djibouti. Less than half of Djibouti’s road network is paved. Primary routes include northern and southern links to the capital. Some roads are calm enough to allow a safe crossing for goats.
This near-vertical photograph shows Lac Assal (Lake Assal) in Djibouti, the third lowest surface in the world (excluding the ocean basins) and the lowest point in Africa at 155 m (510 ft) below sea level. Lake Assal sits in a rift valley, a depression where the earth's crust has split and adjacent areas have moved with respect to one another. The lake is located in the Danakil Desert near the western end of the Gulf of Aden. Because Lac Assal has no outlet, it is ten times saltier than the ocean and is the most saline body of water in the world. The evaporation rate of Lake Assal is very high because summer temperatures sometimes reach 52°C (125°F), and are accompanied by strong dry winds. The surrounding plain (visible on the image to the right of the lake), once the lake floor, is a glistening expanse of salt. The region surrounding the lake is mostly a stony desert with isolated plateaus and highlands. Lava flows from an ancient volcano are visible just to the left near the shore of the lake. Image courtesy of NASA.
Lake Assal is a crater lake at the top of the Great Rift Valley, some 120 km west of Djibouti city. A saline lake, it lies 155 m below sea level in the Afar Triangle. It is the lowest depression on the African continent and is one the world's largest salt reserves.
Lake Abbe, also known as Lake Abhe Bad, is a salt lake on the border of Ethiopia and Djibouti. Lake Abbe is the center of the Afar Depression and is largely inaccessible. Stretching for 10 km (6 mi) it comprises a vast landscape of salt flats, covered in clusters of massive, steam-blasting limestone chimneys. Other than Mount Dama Ali, a small dormant volcano, the landscape is almost completely level.
Lake Abbe’s ethereal landscape of tall, steam-spewing limestone chimneys has been used in science fiction films to depict other worlds.
Camels have been used for transporting goods across deserts for thousands of years. Camels are the only desert animals that can carry heavy loads of goods and travel for a long period of time without food or water.
Djibouti's location adjacent to the Red Sea makes it an ideal base for exploration of the area's abundant sea life. The Gulf of Tadjoura and Seven Brothers Islands off Djibouti are home to soft coral reefs and an array of marine creatures.
The whale shark is gigantic but harmless. The largest living shark, it grows slowly to lengths of 9 m and more and can live to be over 100 years old. Djibouti's coastal waters (Red Sea and Gulf of Aden) are some of the easiest places in the world to see whale sharks as the gentle giants feed on plankton near the water’s surface.
Stingrays are a group of sea rays, related to sharks. Stingrays are common in coastal tropical and subtropical marine waters, such as those near Djibouti. The stingray uses its paired pectoral fins for locomotion.