Located in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti has a land area of 23,200 Km2, making it one of the smallest countries in the region. According to the latest national data, the population is estimated at around 1 million[1], with the majority, nearly 78 percent, living in urban areas.[2] The youth population, below the age of 30, makes up 59 percent of the total population, and the number of children born per woman is almost three.[1] An average person born in Djibouti lives around 63 years, nine years less than the regional average of 72 years. Maternal mortality remains high at 229 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is much higher than the regional average of 156 per 100,000 live births.[4] Because of the volatile situation in neighbouring countries 29,214 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly originating from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen sought refuge in Djibouti.[3]


The persistent drought is one of the main drivers of humanitarian needs affecting around 245,000 people in Djibouti including more than 20,000 children under the age of five. In May 2018, Djibouti was hit by the tropical cyclone Sagar, which affected around 10,000 households (about 150,000 people) with about 2,000 households being severely damaged. This has resulted in a damage in the schools and other social infrastructure and reduced access to sanitation, safe drinking water and lack of access to hygiene items among poor households.[5]


Given the country’s geostrategic position, Djibouti is mainly dependent on the services sector, which represents 72 percent of GDP in 2017. Djibouti is also considered as a trade hub, with a high trade-to-GDP ratio reaching 108.5 in 2017; trade in services, particularly was estimated at 34.3 percent of GDP.[4] On the other hand, given the hot and dry climate in Djibouti, the agriculture sector represents only 2.2 percent of GDP,[4] making the country highly dependent on international market price by importing 90 percent of its food commodities.[6] After reaching 31.7 percent of GDP in 2015, the current account has declined to 14.3 percent of GDP in 2018. This large deficit is the result of a major increase in imports of investment goods and it has decreased due to the decrease in investment-related imports and the increase in exports of services.[7]


Driven by large investment projects in railway, ports and infrastructure, real GDP growth rate continued its rapid pace, with an increase from 1.6 percent in 2009 to 7.3 percent in 2011 and then recorded a growth of 6.7 percent in 2018.[7] These large investments in infrastructure has offered great opportunities for economic growth but has resulted in debt distress, where public and publicly guaranteed debt accounted for 104 percent of GDP at end 2018.[8]


Djibouti remains a low-income economy with high poverty and unemployment rates, with unemployment rate reaching 22.4 percent.[1] According to the Directorate of Statistics and Demographic Studies, the poverty rate in Djibouti is estimated at 35.8 percent while an estimated 21.1 percent of the population live in extreme poverty.[9]


Djibouti has a low adult literacy rate levelled at 52.8 percent in 2017,[1] compared to a regional average of 75.3 percent.[10] However, Djibouti has made significant strides in its enrolment rates. Gross primary enrolment has almost doubled between 2000 and 2017, increasing to 63.9 percent in 2017, up from 32.5 percent in 2000. At the same time, gross secondary enrolment rate rose from to 44.1 percent in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2000.[4]

This overview was last updated in February 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Direction de la Statistique et des etudes Demographiques. 2018. Annuaire Statistique edition 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 February 2019].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2017. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 February 2019].
[3] United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Djibouti Fact Sheet. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 February 2019].
[4] The World Bank. 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 February 2019].
[5] The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). December 2018. Djibouti humanitarian situation report. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 February 2019].
[6] World Food Programme (WFP). July 2018. Djibouti country brief. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 February 2019].
[7] International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2018. World Economic Outlook. October. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 February 2019].
[8] International Monetary Fund (IMF). December 19, 2018. IMF concludes the 2018 Article IV consultation mission in Djibouti.[ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 February 2019].
[9] Direction de la Statistique et des etudes Demographiques. June 2018. Results of the fourth Djiboutian households survey for social indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 February 2019].
[10] United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). 2018. UIS Institute for Statistics. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 February 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • The majority of the population in Djibouti is urban, with 77% of the total population living in urban areas in 2015.

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