Governorates of Yemen

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"Geopolitical Entities, Names, and Codes, Edition 2" (GENC), a U.S. standard that's supposed to correspond to ISO 3166-2, was issued on 2014-03-31. It gives Socotra the code YE-SU. ISO issued an update on 2015-11-27, so that GENC and ISO now agree.

Paraskevas Renesis notified me that Socotra governorate has been split from Hadramawt. I calculated the population of the two governorates by adding their constituent districts; the area is approximate. He also informed me of a plan to reorganize Yemen into a federal state comprising six regions and a federal city. The change may not happen, and there is certainly no schedule for it as yet. If it does, the new regions would stack up as in this table, based on the data in the main table below.

  • Region: except for Sana'a, which would be a federal city.
  • Population: 2004-12 census, final results (source [2]).


Newsletter II-2, an update to the ISO 3166-2 standard, is dated 2010-06-30. It assigns an ISO code to Raymah governorate, which was created in 2004.

The latest version of the FIPS standard is called "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" (GEC), published in 2010-04. It provides codes for two subdivisions that were missing them. GEC Update 17, dated 2014-09-30, shows a code for the new Socotra governorate. The new codes are shown in the main table below.

ISO 3166-2 has come out in a second edition, dated 2007-12-15. It gives a code for San`a' city, as shown below.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-4, dated 2002-12-10, lists the new governorates Al Dali' and Amran. FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 9, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, dated 2004-10-01, assigns FIPS codes to the two new governorates. It also changes the FIPS codes of the old governorates from which the new ones were formed.

Country overview: 

Short nameYEMEN
ISO codeYE
LanguageArabic (ar)
Time zone+3


In 1900, modern Yemen consisted of the Turkish vilayet of Yemen along the Red Sea, and a collection of territories on the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea which were in the British sphere. The border between them was delimited starting in 1902. This border remained in place through several changes in government, until 1990, when the two countries merged.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: al-Jamhuriya al-Yamaniya (formal)
  2. Danish: Yemen
  3. Dutch: Jemen, Republiek Jemen (formal)
  4. English: Republic of Yemen (formal)
  5. Finnish: Jemen
  6. French: Yémen m
  7. German: Jemen m
  8. Icelandic: Jemen
  9. Italian: Yemen m
  10. Norwegian: Jemen, Republikken Jemen (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Iémen, Iémene, Iêmen m (Brazil), Yémen, República f do Iémen m (formal)
  12. Russian: Йемен, Йеменская Республика (formal)
  13. Spanish: Yemen, República f Árabe del Yemen m (formal)
  14. Swedish: Jemen, Yemen
  15. Turkish: Yemen Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

from Arabic for right-hand, its position relative to Mecca as seen from Africa

Primary subdivisions: 

Yemen is divided into twenty-one governorates and one municipality.

Al Bayda'YE.BABAYM2014577,3699,2703,580Al BaydaSheba
Al Dali'YE.DLDAYM1830470,5644,0001,540Al Dali'Aden
Al HudaydahYE.HUHUYM08182,157,55213,2505,120Al HudaydahTahamah
Al JawfYE.JAJAYM2116443,79739,50015,250Al Hazm Al JawfSheba
Al MahrahYE.MRMRYM032888,59467,31025,990Al GhaydahHadramawt
Al MahwitYE.MWMWYM1027494,5572,330900Al MahwitTahamah
HadramawtYE.HAHDYM0419984,436163,68063,200Al MukallaHadramawt
San`a' [City]YE.SASAYM26131,747,834380150San`a'Sana'a
22 divisions19,684,603455,000175,680
  • Governorate: except for San`a' [City], which is a municipality.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: "Geopolitical Entities and Codes."
  • Cd: Governorate code from MOPHP.
  • Population: 2004-12 census, final results (source [2]).
  • Area: Area of Raymah is included in San`a'.
  • Proposed: Possible future region.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Yemen page.

The governorates are subdivided into 333 districts, which are subdivided into 2,210 sub-districts, and then into 38,284 villages (as of 2001).

Territorial extent: 

Yemen includes the islands of Socotra in the Arabian Sea, along with its neighbors, `Abd al Kuri and The Brothers (Samha and Darsa); in the Red Sea, Kamaran, the Hanish Islands, and others; and Perim in the strait of Bab el Mandeb. The Arabian Sea islands constitute Socotra governorate. Kamaran is in Al Hudaydah. When there were two Yemens, Kamaran and Perim belonged to South Yemen, but they have apparently been reassigned since then.

The UN LOCODE page  for Yemen lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Aden: probably from Akkadian edinnu: plain
  2. Hadramawt: possibly from Hebrew Hatsarmawet, Biblical person (Genesis 10:26)

Change history: 

In 1900, North Yemen was the vilayet of Yemen in the Ottoman Empire. Aden was a British possession, administered from Bombay. The rest of South Yemen, including Socotra, Perim, and Kamaran islands, was loosely under British protection in various forms.

  1. 1918-11: Yemen vilayet became independent as the Imamate of Yemen.
  2. 1932: Aden province split from Bombay presidency of India.
  3. 1934: Yemen and Saudi Arabia concluded Treaty of Taif, delimiting some of Yemen's northern boundary and assigning some disputed territory to Asir in Saudi Arabia.
  4. 1937-04-01: Aden split from India as a crown colony. The crown colony itself was only about 195 sq. km. Socotra, Perim, and Karaman were administered from Aden. The rest of the mainland was divided into the Eastern Aden Protectorate and the Western Aden Protectorate.
  5. 1958-03-08: Imamate of Yemen joined a loose federation with Egypt and Syria, which had recently merged as the United Arab Republic. The federation was called the United Arab States. Yemen pulled out in 1961.
  6. 1959-02-11: Federation of Arab Amirates formed from some of the sheikhdoms of Aden Protectorate.
  7. 1962: Following a coup, Imamate of Yemen became Yemen Arab Republic. At about this time, its divisions were Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Ibb, Rida', Sa`dah, San`a', and Ta`izz governorates.
  8. 1963-01: Name of Federation of Arab Amirates, now including more sheikhdoms (mostly from the Western Aden Protectorate) and Aden itself, changed to Federation of South Arabia. The remaining part of the Aden Protectorate became the South Arabian Protectorate.
  9. 1967-11-30: Britain pulled out of Aden. Kuriya Muriya Islands were transferred to Oman. People's Republic of Southern Yemen formed by merging Aden State and Protectorate of South Arabia. Its capital was Madinat ash Sha'b. It was divided into six governorates, identified by Roman numerals from I to VI, increasing from west to east. Roughly, governorate I corresponded to present-day `Adan and part of Lahij; governorate II to the rest of Lahij; III to Abyan; IV to Shabwah; V to Hadramawt; and VI to Al Mahrah. There was also a governorate named Thamud, adjacent to Hadramawt.
  10. ~1968: Capital of Southern Yemen moved from Madinat ash Sha'b to Aden. Twenty-two directorates were established as secondary subdivisions, under the six governorates.
  11. 1970-12-01: Name of People's Republic of Southern Yemen changed to People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. To avoid confusion, this was commonly known as South Yemen, and the Yemen Arab Republic as North Yemen. At about this time, North Yemen was divided into eight liwa (provinces), according to source [13].
8 provinces5,728,000200,000
  • Population: 1970 estimate.
  1. ~1973: In North Yemen, Rida' governorate split into Al Bayda' and Dhamar. Al-Mahwit governorate formed.
10 governorates4,519,593
  • Population: 1975-02-01
    census (source [12]).
  1. 1980-03: In South Yemen, Thamud governorate merged with Hadhramawt. (The population of Thamoud Muderiat was 40,647 in the 1973 census.) The divisions of South Yemen as a result were as follows, according to source [1].
6 governorates1,590,275336,869
  • Num: official designator for governorate.
  • Population: 1973-05-14 census (source [12]).
  • Area: approximate (desert borders undefined).
  1. ~1984: In North Yemen, Al Jawf, Al Mahwit, and Ma'rib governorates split from other governorates.
  2. 1990-05-22: The two Yemens merged to form Republic of Yemen.
  3. ~1994: San`a' city split from San`a' governorate.
  4. 1998-07-29: Amran governorate (HASC code YE.AM, ISO code YE-AM) was formed from parts of Al Mahwit, Hajjah, and San`a' governorates (sources [7-9]). Al-Dali' governorate (HASC code YE.DL, ISO code YE-DA) was formed from parts of Ibb, Lahij, and Ta`izz governorates. However, the corresponding update to the FIPS standard implies that the governorates that ceded territory were Al Bayda' (former FIPS code YM07), Al Jawf (YM09), Hajjah (YM12), Ibb (YM13), Lahij (YM06), and Ta`izz (YM17). The table below shows the subdivisions at that time.
Al Bayda'YE.BABAYM20YE01505,7519,2703,580Al Bayda
Al Dali'YE.DLDAYM184,0001,540Al Dali'
Al HudaydahYE.HUHUYM08YE021,754,49313,2505,120Al Hudaydah
Al JawfYE.JAJAYM21YE11169,44039,50015,250Al Hazm Al Jawf
Al MahrahYE.MRMRYM03YS06112,61567,31025,990Al Ghaydah
Al MahwitYE.MWMWYM10YE08402,9922,330900Al Mahwit
HadramawtYE.HDHDYM04YS05871,202167,28064,590Al Mukalla
San`a' [City]YE.SASA973,548380150San`a'
20 divisions15,831,757455,000175,680
  • Governorate: except for San`a' [City], which is a municipality.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Old: FIPS codes used before the union of North and South Yemen.
  • Population: 1994-12-16 census
  1. ~2000: Socotra and neighboring islands transferred from `Adan to Hadramawt.
  2. 2004-02: Raymah governorate split from San`a' (former HASC code YE.SN). (Sources [3-5]).
  3. 2013-12-18: Socotra governorate split from Hadramawt (former HASC code YE.HD), under Law No. 31 of 2013. Its districts are Hidaybu (Hadibo) and Qlansiah and `Abd al Kuri (Qulensya Wa Abd Al Kuri). (Sources [10-11]).

Other names of subdivisions: 

The Arabic definite article Al is sometimes omitted at the beginning of a name.

  1. `Adan: Aden (variant)
  2. Al Bayda': Albaidah, Al Baidha, Al-Baydha, Al Beida, Al-Beidah, Baidaa (variant)
  3. Al Dali': Ad Dali', Aldalee, Al Dhale’, al-Dhalea, Al-Dhaleh, Al-Dhalia, Dala'a, Dhala, Dhali' (variant)
  4. Al Hudaydah: Al Hodeida, Al-Hodeidah, Al Hudaidah, Hodeidah, Hudaidah (variant)
  5. Al Jawf: Al Jouf, Aljowf, Jawf (variant)
  6. Al Mahrah: Al Ghaydah (obsolete); Al-Mahara, Almaharah, al-Mahra, Mahra (variant)
  7. Al Mahwit: Almahweet, Mahweet (variant)
  8. Amran: 'Amran (variant)
  9. Hadramawt: Hadhramaut, Hadhramawt, Hadhramout, Hadramaut, Hadramout (variant)
  10. Hajjah: Hajja (variant)
  11. Lahij: Laheg, Lahej, Lahj (variant); Tuban (obsolete)
  12. Ma'rib: Mareb (variant)
  13. Raymah: Raima, Raimah (variant)
  14. Sa`dah: Sa'ada, Saadah, Sa'da, Sada'a, Saidah (variant)
  15. San`a': Sana'a (variant)
  16. San`a' [City]: Saná (Spanish); Amanat al Asimah (variant)
  17. Shabwah: 'Shabwa, Shibwah (variant)
  18. Socotra: Arkhabīl Suquţrá (variant)
  19. Ta`izz: Taez, Taiz (variant)
  20. Thamud: Thamoud Muderiat (variant)


  1. [1] Ismael, Tareq Y., and Jacqueline S. Ismael, The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen: Politics, Economics and Society. Frances Pinter, London, 1986.
  2. [2] Final Results  of the 2004 census (retrieved 2008-12-01).
  3. [3] Preliminary report of the 2004 census  shows a new governorate named Raymah (retrieved 2005-04-19).
  4. [4] Yemen Ministry of Public Health and Population  had a shapefile that showed that Raymah had been split from San`a' (retrieved 2008-12-01).
  5. [5] The Spring 2004 issue of the Yemen Economic Update, from the World Bank, said, "the Cabinet approved in January 2004, a draft law on setting up a new governorate at Al-Raima to be composed of five districts." ($File/YE-Spring2004.pdf: dead link, retrieved 2005-04-19). Other sources implied that the capital would be Jebin.
  6. [6] World Bank  source for the areas of the governorates says that they were measured from topographic maps using a GIS (retrieved 2008-12-01).
  7. [7] Yemen Gateway , an independent organization devoted to the study of Yemen, reported that a presidential decree was issued on 1998-07-29, creating two new governorates: Amran and Al-Dali'. The decree required the approval of parliament to take effect.
  8. [8] Yemen Times Press Review 1998-08-09 .
  9. [9] Yemen Times Press Review 1998-08-16 .
  10. [10] Law establishing Yemen's 22nd governorate issued , Saba Net online news service (retrieved 2013-12-25).
  11. [11] Yemen's Socotra granted province status , Al-Shorfa online news service (retrieved 2013-12-25).
  12. [12] 1979 Demographic Yearbook , 31st Ed. Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1980 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
  13. [13] Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, Chicago, 1984.
  14. [14] "Yemen to become federation of six regions ." BBC News (dated 2014-02-10, retrieved 2014-2-15)
  15. [15] "Yemen to become six-region federation, committee approves ." Yemen News Agency (SABA) (dated 2014-02-10, retrieved 2014-2-15)
  16. [16] Map of proposed regions  (retrieved 2014-2-15)
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