The tiny African nation of Djibouti, strategically located as a gateway to the Suez Canal (one of the world’s busiest shipping routes) is the site of various foreign military bases. Controlling access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the port here provides the biggest source of income and employment in an otherwise barren country. The country was founded by France in the late nineteenth century, before as “French Somaliland”, then as “French Territory of the Afars and Issas. The Afar and the Issa-Somali are the two dominant ethnic groups, originally nomadic and pastoral populations that speak related languages, adhere to Islam, and share a way of life. Although they have opposed each other on many occasions, their shared history and cultural identity are being recorded in the poetry and songs of its people. In fact, Djibouti displays a rich, interwoven culture based on tribal traditions.
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