Djibouti, officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a nation in the Horn of Africa that is bounded to the south by Somalia[b], to the southwest by Ethiopia, to the north by Eritrea, and to the east by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The country is 23,200 km2 (8,958 sq mi) in size.
The region was once a part of the Land of Punt, along with Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somaliland. Zeila, which is now part of Somaliland, was the medieval capital of the Adal and Ifat Sultanates. Following the signing of treaties by the ruling Dir Somali sultans with the French in the late 19th century, the colony of French Somaliland was established. Its railroad to Dire Dawa (and later Addis Ababa) enabled it to quickly replace Zeila as the port for southern Ethiopia and the Ogaden. In 1967, it was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas. Djiboutians voted for independence a decade later. This marked the official beginning of the Republic of Djibouti, which takes its name from the capital city. The new state joined the United Nations. At the beginning of the 1990s, disagreements regarding the representation of the government sparked armed conflict that resulted in a power-sharing agreement between the ruling party and the opposition in 2000.
With a population of over 920,000, Djibouti is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is a multiethnic nation. The country's official languages are French and Arabic, while Afar and Somali are its official languages. As the official religion and the one that has ruled the region for more than a millennium, 94% of people follow Islam. The Somalis and the Afar are the two most populous ethnic groups, with the Afar making up the majority of the population. They both speak a language from the Afroasiatic Cushitic family.
Djibouti is close to some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, which control access to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. It is the primary maritime port for both imports from Ethiopia and exports to Ethiopia, as well as a key center for transshipment, refueling, and other activities. The nation is home to a number of foreign military bases and is a growing commercial center. Djibouti City also serves as the headquarters of the regional body known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).