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(ä`dən, ā`dən), city (1994 pop. 398,399), SW Yemen, on the Gulf of Aden near the southern entrance to the Red Sea. It is the chief port of Yemen. Aden consists of two peninsulas, Aden and Little Aden, and an intervening stretch of the mainland. Each peninsula has a high volcanic headland (Aden rises to 1,742 ft/531 m, and Little Aden to 1,147 ft/350 m), which is linked to the mainland by a flat, sandy isthmus. The bay between the peninsulas is an excellent harbor. Aden peninsula contains most of the city's population and is divided into a number of districts that were once towns. Wells near Sheikh Othman, on the mainland, supply the city with water. Little Aden peninsula has the city's main industrial district and is the site of a large oil refinery; the manufacture of soap, cigarettes, and salt is also important.

Aden, a free port since 1850, has been the chief entrepôt and trading center of S Arabia since ancient times. It enjoyed commercial importance until the discovery (late 15th cent.) of an all-water route around Africa to India. With the opening of the Suez Canal (1869), Aden regained its importance and again became a major trading center and also an important refueling stop; the harbor was deepened to accommodate the largest vessels able to use the canal. Aden's economy, which depends heavily on canal traffic, suffered from the closing of the canal during and after the 1956 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.


Aden's strategic location and its importance as a commercial center long made it a coveted conquest. Muslim Arabs held the region from the 7th to the 16th cent. The Portuguese failed in an attempt to capture it in 1513, but it fell in 1538 to the Ottoman Turks. At the end of the 18th cent. Aden's importance as a strategic post grew as a result of British policy to contain French expansion in the region. After the British capture of Aden in 1839, its administrative attachment to India, and the construction of the Suez Canal, Britain purchased areas on the mainland from local rulers and entered into protectionist agreements with them. The Perim, Kamaran, and Kuria Muria islands had been made part of Aden in the 1850s. Aden was formally made into a crown colony in 1937, and the surrounding region became known as the Aden Protectorate in 1937.

Aden was granted a legislative council in 1944 and later received other rights of self-government. In 1963 Aden was joined to the Federation of the Emirates of the South, which then became the Federation of South Arabia (see South Arabia, Federation ofSouth Arabia, Federation of,
federation, 1963–67, S Arabian peninsula, formed by the merger of the British colony of Aden with the Federation of the Emirates of the South, a British protectorate. The Federation of the Emirates of the South was formed (Feb.
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). With the establishment (1967) of the independent country of Southern Yemen, Aden became the capital along with Madinat ash Shab. In 1970 Aden became the country's sole capital. In 1990 Southern Yemen and Yemen united to form one country, Yemen. SanaSana,
or Sanaa
, city (1994 pop. 954,448), capital and largest city of Yemen. The city lies inland on a high plain (alt. 7,250 ft/2,210 m) and is connected to the Red Sea port of Hodeida by road.
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 became capital of the new nations, and Aden was designated its economic capital. The city was severely damaged during the 1994 Yemeni civil war.


See G. King, Imperial Outpost, Aden (1964); J. Paget, Last Post: Aden, 1964–67 (1969); R. F. Nyrop, Yemens: Country Studies (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. Population in 1964, 225,000. An important transit port on the coast of the Arabian Sea near the strait of Bab el Mandeb. Aden is an oil-refining center, handling approximately 8 million tons a year from the Persian Gulf area. Most of its trade deals with oil and oil products, farm products—grains, tobacco, cotton, and hides and skins—and fish. Textile manufacture, tanning, salt production, and ship repairing are of some importance. There is an international airport.

Aden, one of the ancient South Arabian states, was known to ancient Greek and Roman geographers as Adan or Asan. It was an important transit and trading center. In 1839 it was seized by England and became an English military naval (and later a military air force) base which the English colonizers used to widen their possessions in southwestern Arabia and to spread English influence in the Near and Middle East. The importance of Aden greatly increased after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. There were anti-British people’s demonstrations in Aden in 1947, 1954, and 1956–61. In 1963, Aden was included in the Federation of Southern Arabia. The English Army was forced out of Aden by the victory of the national liberation revolution on Nov. 30, 1967, and the city became part of the People’s Republic of Southern Yemen.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the main port and commercial capital of Yemen, on the N coast of the Gulf of Aden, an arm of the Indian Ocean at the entrance to the Red Sea: capital of South Yemen until 1990: formerly an important port of call on shipping routes to the East. Pop.: 584 000 (2005 est.)
2. a former British colony and protectorate on the S coast of the Arabian Peninsula: became part of South Yemen in 1967, now part of Yemen. Area: 195 sq. km (75 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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