Djibouti is in the Horn peninsula on the Gulf of Aden. The country can be divided into three regions; the coastal plain and volcanic plateaus in the central and southern parts of the country and the mountain ranges in the north. Much of the country is wasteland with virtually no arable land.
- 1 Day Forest National Park — Djibouti's only national park
- 2 Lake Abbe on the Ethiopian border is a desolate, steaming lake surrounded by limestone chimneys and a lunar landscape used as the "Forbidden Zone" in Planet of the Apes.
- 3 Lake Assal is Africa's lowest point (157 m below sea level) and the saltiest lake outside Antarctica. Its shores are largely salt pans and nearby is Ardoukoba, which last erupted in 1978.
- 4 Moucha Island
|Currency||Djiboutian franc (DJF)|
|Population||956.9 thousand (2017)|
|Electricity||220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Type E)|
|Time zone||UTC+03:00, Africa/Djibouti|
|Emergencies||17 (police), 18 (fire department), 19 (emergency medical services)|
|edit on Wikidata|
Djibouti's location near the Suez Route, one of the world's most busiest shipping routes, has made the country important for international trade.
Djibouti's climate is very hot, humid and arid, especially in the summer. The summer heat is moderated, however, by a sustained breeze in the coastal city of Djibouti. From October to April, the temperature is cooler, with occasional rain. Cyclones from the Indian Ocean create heavy rains and flash flooding.
Most nationals can get a visa on arrival for 15,000 DJF or 90 USD (as of November 2018), valid for one month. Transit visas are valid for 10 days and are available on arrival at the airport to nationals of the European Union, Scandinavian countries and the USA for 10,000 Fdj. If you plan to enter by land you have to arrange for visas in advance. Visas can be obtained from neighbouring countries (e.g. embassy in Addis makes visa within a day). Where no Djibouti embassy exists, they can often be obtained from the French embassy. The types of visas include: Entry (visa de séjour); Tourist (visa de tourisme); Business (visa d’affaires); and Transit (visa de transit). Those travelling on Singaporean passports can get a visa free. It is possible to make e-visa, though there are many reports of rejections and delays without any explanations.
1 Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport (JIB IATA). connects Djibouti with Ethiopia, Eritrea, France, Kenya, Qatar, Somalia, Somaliland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Air France and Djibouti based Daallo Airlines operates flights to Dubai–International Airport and Hargeisa . The airport is 5 km (3.1 mi) south of the city.
There are roads from Djibouti to Assab (Eritrea) and going west into Ethiopia via Dikhil. Those using them should be aware that road conditions are generally poor and personal security might be at risk when travelling, particularly to Ethiopia. Visitors are advised to check transit regulations as political conditions in Ethiopia and Eritrea are changeable. There are no formal border posts with Eritrea. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for the interior. There is a new highway from Djibouti to Tadjoura. Traffic drives on the right. It is advisable to carry water and petrol on any expedition off main routes. An International Driving Permit is recommended, although not legally required. A temporary licence to drive is available from local authorities on presentation of a valid UK driving licence.
Passenger train services between Ethiopia and Djibouti City were restarted in December 2016. While the line mostly serves as a vital freight link from landlocked Ethiopia to the major port of Djibouti, it also has passenger service. Reportedly passenger trains reach a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph) and take 12 hours for the more than 700 km (430 mi) long journey from Addis Abeba that used to take three days by road.
Buses operate from Djibouti to most towns and villages throughout the country. Buses leave when they are full. A minibus service operates in Djibouti, stopping on demand. A fixed-fare system is used.
There are ferry services connecting Djibouti to Yemen. Djibouti City is one of the main ports of eastern Africa so it's a popular route.
- Taxis are available in Djibouti and from the airport to the town, as you exit the airport there is a big billboard displaying expected taxi fares, look for it; also in Ali-Sabieh, Dikhil, Dorale and Arta. Fares can increase by 50% after dark.
- Bicycling is a great way to get around the small capital.
- Ferry services sail daily from L'Escale (Djibouti) to Tadjoura and Obock. The journey takes about three hours.
You should avoid driving after dark outside the city of Djibouti. Vehicles do not always have working headlights and there may be livestock on the roads. Extra care must be taken in the occasionally chaotic traffic.
- Lake Assal. 150 m below sea level, Lake Assal is the third-lowest point on Earth. You'll need to hire a car or ask someone who lives in Djibouti to drive you there. Expect a rough ride: the roads outside the capital are destroyed by the truck traffic between Djibouti and Ethiopia. The road passes within sight of the Devil's Island, and some impressive views. Expect to be awestruck.
- Lake Abbe is one of the most desolate places on Earth and is dotted with limestone chimneys standing as high of 50 m. It was described as lunar, and Planet of the Apes was filmed here.
- Scuba diving — Despite the country's arid landscape, off the coast lie several reefs teeming with all sorts of life.
- Sea kayaking — Sea kayaking allows you to enjoy the Gulf of Tadjoura and Ghoubet Kharrib in an eco-friendly way, with the possibility of observing whale sharks and sea turtles.
- Whale shark tours — You can also go snorkelling or diving with whale sharks, although the chance of seeing them varies throughout the season (70-80% in Nov-Jan and close to zero during warmer months).
Exchange rates for Djiboutian franc
As of January 2023:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The currency of Djibouti is the Djiboutian franc, denoted by the symbol "Fdj" (ISO currency code: DJF). The Djiboutian franc is pegged to the US dollar. You can convert dollars to francs with local street money changers located in the Djiboutian market area. The street money changers are women who line the street waiting to convert foreign currencies to francs. Whilst generally honest brokers it is still advisable to have yours ready and check the exchange rate in advance. Most of them speak basic English.
Coins in Djibouti come in denominations of 1-, 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-, 50-, 100-, 250 and 500 Djiboutian francs. Banknotes in Djibouti come in denominations of 1,000-, 2,000-, 5,000 and 10,000 Djiboutian francs. There is also a 40 Djiboutian franc banknote, but is worth more as a numismatic piece than as a circulating piece.
Khat: A leafy stimulant popular with the locals. It is flown into the country each morning from Ethiopia and arrives by truck in Djibouti's Central Market at about 13:00. It is fairly inexpensive, but quality varies greatly, so shop with caution. Khat may not be taken out of Djibouti through the airport, and is illegal to possess in many other countries.
You can purchase general merchandise and food items at the larger department stores using US dollars. The tourist traps will see you coming a mile away and charge ridiculous conversion rates and tourist prices. If you have access to Camp Lemonnier, go to the disbursement office for the best rate.
The city of Djibouti has many places to eat, including tourist traps. Western food is often expensive cuisine, with local cuisine being much cheaper. For example, the Ethiopian Community Center offers a wide variety of local, tasty and reasonably priced dishes. Average price per meal outside tourist areas is US$4 including drink.
Natural hazards include earthquakes and droughts. Occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods.
Visitors should be aware of the risk of banditry outside the capital city.
Health insurance is advisable. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for any medical treatment. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for visitors over one year of age coming from infected areas. Cholera is also a serious risk and precautions are essential. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding if these precautions should include vaccination as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness. Typhoid immunization is usually advised.
Malaria risk, predominantly in the malignant falciparum form, exists year round. Resistance to chloroquine has been reported. Mefloquine, doxycycline or atovaquone/proguanil are recommended.
The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is over 3% or 1 in 33 adults. Protect yourself.
Tap water is not safe to drink unless it has been boiled or otherwise sterilized.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Djibouti during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
Casual wear is widely acceptable, but Djibouti is a Muslim country and certain codes of behaviour should be observed. Shorts are generally not appropriate outside of hotels, beaches or sport activities. Homosexuality is criminalised.
There is a 3G phone network in the country that runs on 900MHz. The maximum speed is 7mbps but expect it to be lower. You can get 1GB of data for about US$3. More info can be obtained here