Djibouti is characterized by an arid climate, limited natural resources and high vulnerability to natural disasters, including drought and floods.
According to the constitution, the executive power of the government is vested in the president, who is directly elected for a six-year term and may serve for no more than two terms. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the president. The legislative power is held by the Assemblé nationale (National Assembly), consisting of sixty-five members elected for five-year terms.
Djibouti had been a French colony since 1862.
The legal system is based on French civil law, traditional practices, and Islamic law.
The economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location and status as a free trade zone in northeast Africa.
The country is politically stable and hosts an international military presence. It is a hub for naval forces combating piracy in one of the world's busiest shipping routes, where the Red Sea joins the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
The 2010 UNDP Human Development Index ranked Djibouti 147th out of 169 countries in terms of per capita income. Agricultural production covers only 10 percent of the national needs. Djibouti remains highly dependent on imports (90 percent) for food and vulnerable to global price fluctuations.
About 41 percent of the population live in extreme poverty surviving on less than US$ 2 a day.
Infant and maternal mortality rates are still among the highest in the world. The leading causes of death and hospitalization among children are diarrhea, acute respiratory infections (ARI), and nutritional problems.
As a consequence of armed conflict, insecurity, violence, poverty and natural disasters in the East and Horn of Africa region, Djibouti has become an important country of passage for migratory movements.
The combination of drought conditions and increased insecurity in Somalia have led to some 800 Somali refugees arriving in Djibouti every month.