Yemen is located in Southwest Asia at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is situated at the entrance to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean (via the Gulf of Aden) and is one of the most active and strategic shipping lanes in the world. Yemen has an area of 527,970 square kilometres (203,850 sq mi), including the islands of Perim at the southern end of the Red Sea and Socotra at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. Yemen’s land boundaries total 1,746 kilometres (1,085 mi). Yemen borders Saudi Arabia to the north (1,458 km/906 mi) and Oman to the northeast (288 km/179 mi).
Yemen occupies the southern end of the Arabian plateau.
The country’s mountainous interior is surrounded by narrow coastal plains to the west, south, and east and by upland desert to the north along the border with Saudi Arabia. The Tihamah is a nearly 419-kilometre (260 mi) long, semidesert coastal plain that runs along the Red Sea and is part of the Arabian Peninsula coastal fog desert ecoregion.
The interior mountains have elevations ranging from a few hundred meters to the country’s highest point, Jabal an Nabi Shuayb, which is 3,666 m (12,028 ft) above sea level. The mountains are young, jagged peaks that are known to rise from an elevation of a few hundred meters to well over 3,000. The mountains can be separated into a western and central highland. The western highlands have peaks reaching around 3,000 meters, with relatively fertile soil and sufficient and plentiful rainfall. The central highlands is more like a plateau of about 2,000-3,200 meters, with rolling hills, small knolls, and some very prominent peaks, but is still relatively more elevated. Less rainfall can be seen in this region, but the summer months give enough to sustain crops.
The highland regions are interspersed with wadis, or river valleys, that are dry in the summer months. (Yemen has no permanent rivers.) Most notable is the Wadi Hadhramaut in eastern Yemen, the upper portions of which contain alluvial soil and floodwaters and the lower portion of which is barren and largely uninhabited. Both the eastern plateau region and the desert in the north are hot and dry with little vegetation.
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