Aden     عدن

Aden is one of the oldest ports along the Western Indian Ocean Littoral. It has cisterns dating from ca. 100 C. E., and has served as a vital port of Indian Ocean trade ever since. Derived from the root word "Eden", Aden is a shocking study in contrasts. Few ports of the Indian Ocean are as well-positioned to take advantage of passing trade, and the city itself sits on a striking physical landscape. Yet limited water supplies (rainfalls average under two inches per year), desperately hot temperatures (average highs in summer exceed 40 C with 80% humidity), and an arid hinterland have acted as a major brake on Aden's growth, hastening its contraction in the sixteenth century.

"But there is no doubt of the town's great antiquity, and a glance at its aspect suffices to explain why so many generations had chosen to build their homes and do their business there. What is now the old town of Crater at Aden is a magnificent natural fortress. A semicircle of sheer-sided mountains rise protectingly around it leaving but a few easily-defensible means of access from the land. Beyond the gates the narrow isthmus joining the peninsula to the mainland presents a further obstacle to an invader. In front of the protected town lies a small harbour, one of the very few on the south Arabian coast. The harbour too has its natural defence in the form of Sirah Island, a towering natural fortress guarding the entry and the shipping from marauders in the sea beyond. Modern Aden has sprawled out beyond the Crater; the former natural defences are now a hindrance to communication. The old harbour in Front Bay has been abandoned since the 1860s and the isthmus is an airport and a highway rather than a point of defence." R. J. Gavin, Aden Under British Rule 1839-1967, p. 2.

Historically, Aden has x.


Short Bibliography

Gavin, R. J. Aden Under British Rule, 1839-1967. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1975.

Hunter, Captain F. M. An Account of The British Settlement of Aden in Arabia. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968.

Lunt, James. The Barren Rocks of Aden. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1966.

Shihab, Hassan Saleh. "Aden in Pre-Turkish Times (1232-1538): The Arabian Entrepot of the Western Asian Seas", in Frank Broeze, ed., Gateways of Asia: Port Cities of Asia in the 13th-20th Centuries. London: Kegan Paul International, 1997, pp. 17-32.

King, G., and C. Tonghini, A Survey of the Islamic Sites near Aden and in the Abyan District of Yemen [School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (London 1996)].

Rougeulle, A. "Notes on pre- and early Islamic harbours of "a?ramawt (Yemen)," Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 31 (2001) 1-11.


Web Resources

Aden Gateway

Port of Aden History

Aden: A Historical Glimpse

American Institute for Yemeni Studies