Socotra
Overview
 
Socotra also spelt Soqotra, is a small archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 of four islands in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some 240 kilometres (149.1 mi) east of the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 and 380 kilometres (236.1 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

. The island is very isolated and through the process of speciation
Speciation
Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. The biologist Orator F. Cook seems to have been the first to coin the term 'speciation' for the splitting of lineages or 'cladogenesis,' as opposed to 'anagenesis' or 'phyletic evolution' occurring within lineages...

, a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth.

Socotra is part of the Republic of Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

.
Encyclopedia
Socotra also spelt Soqotra, is a small archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 of four islands in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some 240 kilometres (149.1 mi) east of the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 and 380 kilometres (236.1 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

. The island is very isolated and through the process of speciation
Speciation
Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. The biologist Orator F. Cook seems to have been the first to coin the term 'speciation' for the splitting of lineages or 'cladogenesis,' as opposed to 'anagenesis' or 'phyletic evolution' occurring within lineages...

, a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth.

Socotra is part of the Republic of Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

. It had long been a part of the 'Adan Governorate
'Adan Governorate
Adan is a governorate of Yemen, including the city of Aden. At the 2004 census it had a population of 589,419. The ancient capital, the port city of Crater, was located here....

, but in 2004 it became attached to the Hadhramaut Governorate
Hadhramaut Governorate
Hadhramaut or Hadramawt is a governorate of Yemen. Lying within the large historical region of Hadhramaut, it is the country's largest governorate.-Overview:...

, which is in much greater proximity to the island than 'Adan (although the nearest governorate is Al Mahrah
Al Mahrah Governorate
Al Mahrah or Mahra is a governorate of Yemen in the southern Arabian Peninsula. Situated in the area of the former Mahra Sultanate, its capital is Al Ghaydah....

).

History

There was initially an Oldoway (or Oldowan) culture in Socotra. Oldoway stone tools were found in the area around Hadibo by V.A. Zhukov, a member of the Russian Complex Expedition in 2008.

Socotra appears as Dioskouridou ("of Dioscurides") in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

, a 1st century AD Greek navigation aid. In the notes to his translation of the Periplus, G.W.B. Huntingford remarks that the name Socotra is not Greek in origin, but derives from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 dvipa sukhadhara ("island of bliss"). A recent discovery of texts in several languages, including a wooden tablet in Palmyrene dated to the 3rd century AD, indicate the diverse origins of those who used Socotra as a trading base in antiquity.

A local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 by Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

 in AD 52. In the 10th century, the Arab geographer Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani stated that in his time most of the inhabitants were Christians. Socotra is also mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo
The Travels of Marco Polo
Books of the Marvels of the World or Description of the World , also nicknamed Il Milione or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the...

, according to which "the inhabitants are baptised Christians and have an 'archbishop'" who, it is further explained, "has nothing to do with the Pope in Rome, but is subject to an archbishop who lives at Baghdad". They were Nestorians but also practised ancient magic rituals despite the warnings of their archbishop.

In 1507, a fleet commanded by Tristão da Cunha
Tristão da Cunha
Tristão da Cunha was a Portuguese explorer and naval commander. In 1514 he served as ambassador from king Manuel I of Portugal to Pope Leo X leading a luxurious embassy presenting in Rome the new conquests of Portugal...

 with Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque[p][n] was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, an admiral whose military and administrative activities as second governor of Portuguese India conquered and established the Portuguese colonial empire in the Indian Ocean...

 landed an occupying force at the then capital of Suq. Their objective was a Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 base to stop Arab commerce from the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 to the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, and to liberate the presumed friendly Christians from Islamic rule. Here they started to build a fortress. However, they were not welcomed as enthusiastically as they had expected and abandoned the island four years later, as it was not advantageous as a base. The island was also come across by Somali sailors.

The islands passed under the control of the Mahra
Mahra Sultanate
The Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra or sometimes the Mahra Sultanate of Ghayda and Socotra was a sultanate that included both the historical region of Mahra and the Indian Ocean island of Socotra in what is now eastern Yemen...

 sultans in 1511. Later, in January 1876, it became a British protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 along with the remainder of the Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra. For the British it was an important strategic stop-over. The P&O
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which dated from the early 19th century. Following its sale in March 2006 to Dubai Ports World for £3.9 billion, it became a subsidiary of DP World; however, the P&O...

 ship Aden sank after being wrecked on a reef near Socotra, in 1897, with the loss of 78 lives.

In October 1967, the Mahra sultanate was abolished. On 30 November 1967, Socotra became part of the People's Republic of South Yemen (later to become the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen
The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen — also referred to as South Yemen, Democratic Yemen or Yemen — was a socialist republic in the present-day southern and eastern Provinces of Yemen...

). Today it is part of the Republic of Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

.

Somali pirates have begun using Socotra as a refueling stop for hijacked maritime vessels.

Geography and climate

Socotra is one of the most isolated landforms on Earth of continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

al origin (i.e. not of volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 origin). The archipelago was once part of the supercontinent
Supercontinent
In geology, a supercontinent is a landmass comprising more than one continental core, or craton. The assembly of cratons and accreted terranes that form Eurasia qualifies as a supercontinent today.-History:...

 of Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

 and detached during the Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

, in the same set of rifting events that opened the Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden
The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide....

 to its northwest.

The archipelago consists of the main island of Socotra (3665 km² (1,415.1 sq mi)), the three smaller islands of Abd al Kuri
Abd al Kuri
Abd al Kuri is a rocky island about 65 miles southwest of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. It is part of the Socotra Archipelago and belongs to Yemen, although it is geographically closer to the Horn of Africa....

, Samhah
Samhah
Samhah is an inhabited island of the Socotra archipelago, between the main island of Socotra, and Somalia. Like the whole group, it belongs to Yemen, specifically to Hadhramaut Governorate. Somalia also claims this Island. It measures 40 km² in area, making it the smallest of the three...

 and Darsa and small rock outcrops like Ka'l Fir'awn and Sābūnīyah that are uninhabitable by humans but important for seabird
Seabird
Seabirds are birds that have adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent evolution, as the same environmental problems and feeding niches have resulted in similar adaptations...

s.

The main island has three geographical terrains: the narrow coastal plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s, a limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 permeated with karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

ic caves, and the Haghier Mountains. The mountains rise to 1503 metres (4,931.1 ft). The island is about 125 kilometres (77.7 mi) long and 45 kilometres (28 mi) north to south.

The climate of Socotra is classified in the Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 as BWh and BSh, meaning a tropical
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 desert climate
Desert climate
A desert climate , also known as an arid climate, is a climate that does not meet the criteria to be classified as a polar climate, and in which precipitation is too low to sustain any vegetation at all, or at most a very scanty scrub.An area that features this climate usually experiences less than...

 and semi-desert climate with a mean annual temperature over 18 °C (64 °F). Yearly rainfall is light, but is fairly spread throughout the year. Generally the higher inland areas receive more rain than the coastal lowlands, due to orographic lift
Orographic lift
Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down adiabatically, which can raise the relative humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions,...

 provided by the interior mountains. The monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 season brings strong winds and high seas.

Flora and fauna

Socotra is considered the jewel of biodiversity in the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

.
The long geological isolation of the Socotra archipelago and its fierce heat and drought have combined to create a unique and spectacular endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 flora
Flora
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

. Botanical field surveys led by the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants (part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a scientific centre for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Originally founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, today it occupies four sites across Scotland — Edinburgh,...

) indicate that 307 out of the 825 (37%) plant species on Socotra are endemic, i.e., they are found nowhere else on Earth. The entire flora of the Socotra Archipelago has been assessed for the IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , founded in 1963, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species...

, with 3 Critically Endangered and 27 Endangered plant species currently recognised.

One of the most striking of Socotra's plants is the dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari
Dracaena cinnabari
Dracaena cinnabari, the Socotra Dragon Tree or Dragon Blood Tree, is a Dragon Tree native to the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It is so called due to the red sap that the trees produce.-Taxonomy:...

), which is a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree. Its red sap was thought to be the dragon's blood
Dragon's blood
Dragon's blood is a bright red resin that is obtained from different species of a number of distinct plant genera: Croton, Dracaena, Daemonorops, Calamus rotang and Pterocarpus. The red resin was used in ancient times as varnish, medicine, incense, and dye...

 of the ancients, sought after as a medicine and a dye, and today used as paint and varnish. Also important in ancient times were Socotra's various endemic aloes, used medicinally, and for cosmetics. Other endemic plants include the giant succulent tree Dorstenia gigas, Moraceae, the cucumber tree Dendrosicyos socotranus, the rare Socotran pomegranate (Punica protopunica
Punica protopunica
Punica protopunica, commonly known as the Pomegranate Tree or Socotran Pomegranate, is a species of flowering plant in the Lythraceae family. It is endemic to the island of Socotra...

), Aloe perryi
Aloe perryi
Aloe perryi is a species of plant in the genus Aloe. It is endemic to Socotra in Yemen. Its natural habitat is rocky areas.-References:* Miller, A. 2004. . Downloaded 20 August 2007....

and Boswellia socotrana
Boswellia socotrana
Boswellia socotrana is a species of plant in the Burseraceae family. It is endemic to Socotra, Yemen. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland.-References:...

.

The island group also has a rich bird fauna, including several endemic species of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, such as the Socotra Starling
Socotra Starling
The Socotra Starling is a species of starling in the Sturnidae family.It is endemic to Yemen.Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, and...

 (Onychognathus frater), the Socotra Sunbird
Socotra Sunbird
The Socotra Sunbird is a species of bird in the Nectariniidae family. It is endemic to Socotra.Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, and subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland. It is threatened by habitat...

 (Nectarinia balfouri), Socotra Bunting
Socotra Bunting
The Socotra Bunting is a species of bird in the Emberizidae family. It is endemic to Yemen.Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland. It is threatened by habitat loss.-References:...

 (Emberiza socotrana), Island Cisticola
Island Cisticola
The Island Cisticola is a species of bird in the Cisticolidae family.It is endemic to Yemen.Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss.-Source:* BirdLife International 2005. . Downloaded...

 (Cisticola haesitatus), Socotra Sparrow
Socotra Sparrow
The Socotra Sparrow is a passerine bird endemic to the islands of Socotra, Samhah, and Darsah in the Indian Ocean, off the Horn of Africa...

 (Passer insularis) and Socotra Grosbeak
Socotra Grosbeak
The Socotra Grosbeak or Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak is a finch endemic to Socotra, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Yemen. R. socotranus is by some authorities held to be the only species of the then-monotypic genus Rhynchostruthus, including all other golden-winged grosbeaks...

 (Rhynchostruthus socotranus), many of which are endangered by non-native feral cats. There is even an endemic monotypic genus of birds, the Socotra Warbler
Socotra Warbler
The Socotra Warbler is a species of bird in the Cisticolidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Incana. It is endemic to Socotra....

 (Incana incana).

As with many isolated island systems, bat
Bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s are the only mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s native to Socotra. In contrast, the coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

s of Socotra are diverse, with many endemic species. There is concern that introduced species
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

, such as goats, may present a threat to the native flora of Socotra in the future.

UNESCO recognition

The island was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world natural heritage site in July 2008. The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 has supported such a move, calling on both UNESCO and International Organisation of Protecting Environment to classify the island archipelago among the environmental heritages.

People and economy

The inhabitants are of Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

, Somali
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...

, and South Asian
Ethnic groups of South Asia
The ethno-linguistic composition of the population of South Asia, that is the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka is highly diverse. The majority of the population fall within two large Linguistic groups, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian.These groups are further...

 origins. They follow Islam and speak Soqotri
Soqotri language
Soqotri, or Socotri, is the language of the native population of the island of Socotra, and Abd al Kuri and Samhah islands of the Socotra archipelago off the southern coast of the Republic of Yemen...

, a Semitic language
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

. Their primary occupations have been fishing, animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

, and the cultivation of dates
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

. Almost all inhabitants of Socotra, numbering nearly 50,000, live on the homonymous main island of the archipelago. The principal city, Hadibu (with a population of 8,545 at the census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 of 2004); the second largest town, Qulansiyah (population 3,862); and Qād̨ub (population 929) are all located on the north coast of the island of Socotra. Only a few hundred people live on the islands of 'Abd-al-Kūrī and Samha; the island of Darsa and the islet
Islet
An islet is a very small island.- Types :As suggested by its origin as islette, an Old French diminutive of "isle", use of the term implies small size, but little attention is given to drawing an upper limit on its applicability....

s of the archipelago are uninhabited.

The archipelago forms two districts
Districts of Yemen
||The governorates of Yemen are divided into 333 districts . The districts are subdivided into 2,210 sub-districts, and then into 38,284 villages...

 of the Hadhramaut Governorate
Hadhramaut Governorate
Hadhramaut or Hadramawt is a governorate of Yemen. Lying within the large historical region of Hadhramaut, it is the country's largest governorate.-Overview:...

:
  • the district of Hadibu (حديبو), with a population of 32,285 and a district seat at Hadibu, consists of the eastern two-thirds of the main island of Socotra;
  • the district of Qulansiyah wa 'Abd-al-Kūrī (قلنسيه وعبد الكوري), with a population of 10,557 and a district seat at Qulansiyah, consists of the minor islands (the island of 'Abd-al-Kūrī chief among them) and the western third of the main island.


Monsoons long made the archipelago inaccessible from June to September each year. However, in July 1999, a new airport opened Socotra to the outside world year round, with both Yemen Airways and Felix Airways
Felix Airways
-Destinations:Felix Airways serves the following destinations:*Djibouti**Djibouti - Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport*Oman**Salalah - Salalah Airport*Saudi Arabia**Abha - Abha Regional Airport**Dammam - King Fahd International Airport...

 providing flights once a week to Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

 and everyday to Sana'a
Sana'a
-Districts:*Al Wahdah District*As Sabain District*Assafi'yah District*At Tahrir District*Ath'thaorah District*Az'zal District*Bani Al Harith District*Ma'ain District*Old City District*Shu'aub District-Old City:...

. All flights stop at Riyan-Mukalla Airport (ICAO code "RIY"). Socotra Island Airport ("OYSQ") is located about 12 km (8 mi) west of the main city, Hadibu, and close to the third largest town in the archipelago, Qād̨ub. Diesel generator
Diesel generator
A diesel generator is the combination of a diesel engine with an electrical generator to generate electrical energy....

s make electricity widely available in Socotra, but even in Hadibu there is no electricity from 5:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. daily. An excellent paved road runs along the north shore from Qulansiyah to Hadibu and then to the DiHamri area; and another paved road, from the northern coast to the southern through the Dixsam Plateau. Public transport is limited in Socotra; taxis are available only as a kind of rent-a-car service of four-wheel-drive vehicles with drivers.

The former capital is located to the east of Hadibu. A small Yemeni Army barracks lies at the western end of Hadibu, and the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh
Ali Abdullah Saleh
Field Marshal Ali Abdullah Saleh is the first President of the Republic of Yemen. Saleh previously served as President of the Yemen Arab Republic from 1978 until 1990, at which time he assumed the office of chairman of the Presidential Council of a post-unification Yemen. He is the...

, has a residence there.

The Semitic language Soqotri
Soqotri language
Soqotri, or Socotri, is the language of the native population of the island of Socotra, and Abd al Kuri and Samhah islands of the Socotra archipelago off the southern coast of the Republic of Yemen...

, spoken originally only in Socotra, is related to such other Modern South Arabian languages on the Arabian mainland as Mehri
Mehri language
Mehri or Mahri is a Modern South Arabian language, a branch of the greater Semitic language family, and is spoken by minority populations in isolated areas of the eastern part of Yemen and western Oman. It is a remnant of the ancient indigenous language group spoken in the southern Arabian...

, Harsusi, Bathari
Bathari language
Bathari is an endangered Semitic language spoken in a small area of Yemen and Oman....

, Shehri, and Hobyot
Hobyót language
Hobyót is an endangered Semitic language spoken in a small area of Oman and neighboring Yemen....

. Soqotri is also spoken by minority populations in the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 and other Gulf states
Arab states of the Persian Gulf
"Arab states of the Persian Gulf" or "Arab Persian Gulf states" or "Persian Gulf Arab states" or "Arabic Persian Gulf states" or "Arab States of The Gulf", are terms that refer to the six Arab states of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, bordering the Persian Gulf....

.

Some residents raise cattle and goats. The chief export products of the island are dates
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

, ghee
Ghee
Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian cuisine....

, tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

, and fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

.

At the end of the 1990s, a United Nations Development Program was launched with the aim of providing a close survey of the island of Socotra.

The majority of male residents on Socotra are reported to be in the J* subclade of Y-DNA haplogroup J. Several of the female lineages on the island, notably those in mtDNA haplogroup N, are found nowhere else on earth.

Transport

Public transport on Socotra is limited to infrequent minibuses to Qulansiyah and to the villages on northeastern coast, car hire usually means hiring a 4WD car with driver.

Ships connect the only Socotra port – 5 km (3 mi) east of Hadibu – with the Yemeni coastal city of Al Mukalla
Al Mukalla
Al Mukalla is a main sea port and the capital city of the Hadramaut coastal region in Yemen in the southern part of Arabia on the Gulf of Aden close to the Arabian Sea...

. According to information from the ports, the journey takes 2–3 days and the service is used mostly for cargo.

Yemenia
Yemenia
Yemenia , also known as Yemen Airways is the national airline of Yemen, based in Sana'a. It operates scheduled domestic and international passenger flights to destinations in Africa and the Middle East, as well as to Asia and Europe, out of its hubs at Sana'a International Airport, and Aden...

 and Felix Airways
Felix Airways
-Destinations:Felix Airways serves the following destinations:*Djibouti**Djibouti - Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport*Oman**Salalah - Salalah Airport*Saudi Arabia**Abha - Abha Regional Airport**Dammam - King Fahd International Airport...

 fly from Socotra Airport
Socotra Airport
Socotra Airport is an airport in Socotra, Yemen . It is the only commercial airport that serves the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea and its capital town of Hadibo...

 to Sana'a
Sana'a
-Districts:*Al Wahdah District*As Sabain District*Assafi'yah District*At Tahrir District*Ath'thaorah District*Az'zal District*Bani Al Harith District*Ma'ain District*Old City District*Shu'aub District-Old City:...

 and Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

 via Al Mukalla (RIY — Riyan Airport). The Sana'a service operates daily, while Aden flights are on Mondays, as of December 2009.

External links

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