Independence Day: November 30
Independence Day is a public holiday in Yemen.
Yemen marks the South Yemen declaration of independence from the United Kingdom on November 30 every year. While North Yemen had been independent since November 1, 1918, it wasn’t until November 30, 1967 that South Yemen achieved full independence.
History of Independence Day in Yemen
The territory of today’s Yemen was known by the Romans as Arabia Felix, or “Happy Arabia”. Its strategic geographic position made it highly coveted; whoever controlled it controlled the lucrative spice trade that passed through it.
North Yemen had long been under the political influence and control of imans from the Zaidi. Those imans were Muslims that followed the teachings of the fifth iman, Zayd ibn Ali, and were prevalent during the Ottoman occupation in the 11th century. In 1832, the British occupied the port of Aden due to its important location near the Gulf of Aden and established it as a British colony, while most of the territories of South Yemen had agreements of alliance and protection with the British Empire.
In 1918, North Yemen became independent from the Ottoman Empire, and it later became a republic in 1962. On November 30, 1967, the British withdrew from Aden and the area became known as South Yemen, with Aden as capital. These two republics of North and South Yemen lived separately, and sometimes at war, until finally they were united on May 22, 1990.
Yemen’s Independence Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
For most Yemenis this is a non-working day to attend prayers and be with the family. The president and government present celebratory speeches on this day, and there are official celebrations in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, that are televised nationwide. The streets are covered with Yemen’s flags, and there are military parades in the capital. Large celebratory gatherings of Yemenis throughout the country form in the streets of the main cities wearing the colors of the flag of Yemen: red, white, and black. Sometimes these gatherings end in protests and manifestations against the presence of Western non-Muslim nationals in the country.