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Volume :7 Issue : 26 1981      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

POPULATION AND SETTLEMENT CHARACTERISTICS ACCORDING TO THE FIRST CENSUS IN THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF YEMEN

Auther : Dr. Abdel Karim Al-Iryani

 

         Demographic information and data about the Yemeni society were scanty and highly speculative throughout the last century.  The total population of Yemen was estimated by most of the travelers who visited Yemen since the beginning of this century – to range between 4 to 5 million inhabitants.  Dr. M.S. Al-Attar in his pioneering work entitled “Economic and Social Underdevelopment in Yemen” (1964), refuted the exaggerated figure of 9 million which was adopted by official circles and relied on the U.N. figure of 4 ½ million as the most reliable estimate of the population of Yemen in the sixties.  In the first Statistical Yearbook published by the Technical Bureau in 1971 the inhabitants of Yemen were estimated roughly by 6 million.

         The first official full-count census in Yemen was carried out in February 1975 under the supervision of the Central Planning Organ.  The initial phase entailed on overall renaissance of the administrative, social and tribal divisions, in addition to a preliminary enumeration of all types of human settlements and the approximate number of inhabitants in each.  Actual enumeration of the population, housing and socio-economic establishments took place in the second phase which started on the eve of February first and lasted for twenty successive days.  Both phases were supervised by two Arab experts delegated by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, which financed the enumeration process throughout all its phases.  Mass media and traditional means of proclamation were mobilized to instigate and encourage public support and cooperation.  Several difficulties were encountered, however, particularly due to the wide population dispersion in a vast number of settlements distributed over the rugged terrain of Yemen, the inaccessible locations of most settlement and the lack of qualified enumerators (all in all some 5540 were engaged).

         The findings of the census showed the total number of population in the vicinity of 6.5 million inhabitants, the number of houses 856059 and the number of enumerated families were 906059.  The final figure of the total population, however, underwent a great deal of controversy and skepticism and was considered by both officials and popular circles and underestimate.  The Central Planning Organ sought the assistance of a team of experts from the Institute of Geography at Zurich University to carry out a new count by random sampling and compare its findings with the final census returns.  The results were announced in 1978 bringing the total population of Yemen on the eve of February first 1975 to only 4.7 million, the number of houses to 887787 and the number of enumerated families to 951640.

         In its analysis of the first census in Yemen, this paper deals with the demographic characteristics, the pattern of population distribution as related to settlement hierarchy, the age structure, education and the labour potential in the human resources of Yemen.  The first census has shed lights on the maze of social-economic problems facing the Arab Republic of Yemen and brought to the attention of planners the primary obstacle in the future development of Yemen, namely: the scattered and sporadic nature of its population distribution since more than 87% of its total population lice in settlements with less than a thousand inhabitants in each.

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