Geographical Regions of Yemen14.2N 46.5E
Yemen is in the Middle East, in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden (center), and Red Sea (partially visible at the left edge). It is west of Oman and south of Saudi Arabia. Until recently, Yemen’s northern border was undefined; the Arabian Desert prevented any human habitation there.
The country can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the Rub al Khali in the east. The Rub al Khali is much lower than the highlands areas, generally below 1,000 metres, and receives almost no rain. It is populated only by Bedouin herders of camels.
The Tihamah (“hot lands”) form a very arid and flat coastal plain. Despite the aridity, the presence of many lagoons makes this region very marshy and a suitable breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes. There are extensive crescent-shaped sand dunes. The evaporation in the Tihama is so great that streams from the highlands never reach the sea, but they do contribute to extensive groundwater reserves. Today, these are heavily exploited for agricultural use.
The Tihamah ends abruptly at the escarpment of the western highlands. This area, now heavily terraced to meet the demand for food, receives the highest rainfall in Arabia, rapidly increasing from 100 mm (4 inches) per year to about 760 mm (30 inches) in Ta’izz and over 1,000 mm (40 inches) in Ibb. There are perennial streams in the highlands but these never reach the sea because of high evaporation in the Tihama.
The central highlands are an extensive high plateau over 2,000 metres (6,560 feet) in elevation. This area is drier than the western highlands because of rain-shadow influences, but still receives sufficient rain in wet years for extensive cropping. The highest point in Yemen is Jabal an Nabi Shu’ayb, at 3,666 meters (12,028 ft).