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Introducing Southern Yemen

Yemen’s south is the richest and most developed region of the country. It’s also the greenest and most fertile and has long been considered the breadbasket of Arabia. There is a huge amount of historical, cultural and geographic variety in this area. In the far south is the run-down, sweltering port of Aden, the former British colony and old capital of the south. Further north, and in complete contrast, are the lush and cool highland towns of Ibb, Jibla and Ta’izz, where rain falls year-round. Until recently this was the safest and easiest part of the country in which to travel, particularly for those reliant on public transport. During research for this book, this whole region remained off limits to travellers following the unrest of 2011, but as we went to press word started coming through that although Aden, a town with deep problems, remains closed to tourists, Ta'izz, Ibb and Jibla were reportedly about to re-open.

We have been unable to conduct on-the-ground research in Southern Yemen since late 2009/early 2010 and information contained here is a combination of that period, and remote updates conducted by phone and internet.