The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:11 AM
The Republic of Djibouti is situated in the Horn of Africa on
Africa’s east coast, bordered to the north by Eritrea, to the west
by Ethiopia, to the south by Somalia, and to the east by the Gulf of
Aden. Djibouti covers 8,400 square miles (21,883 square kilometers)
and is about the size of Massachusetts. The country is shaped like a
“C” surrounding the Gulf of Tadjoura, an inlet off the Gulf of Aden.
Along with Eritrea and Yemen, Djibouti shares direct access to the
strategic Bab el Mandeb, the “Gate of Tears,” which controls
southern access to the Red Sea.
Djibouti’s capital, also called Djibouti, is a relative oasis in
an area of dry watersheds composed of harsh, stony desert and low,
barren hills. The capital is at sea level and mostly surrounded by
water, affording sea views from much of the city. In addition to
Djibouti City, Djibouti has five provincial capitals: Ali Sabieh and
Dikhil in the interior to the south and west, and Arta, Tadjoura and
Obock on the west and north coasts of the Gulf of Tadjoura.
The landscape beyond the capital, though largely barren, is quite
strange and impressive. Beyond the Gulf of Tadjoura via a narrow
strait is the Ghoubet, a deep body of blue water with two striking
volcanic islands. The coastline north of the Gulf of Tadjoura
juxtaposes palm-lined beaches with jagged hills. In the north a
large high desert region rises to Mount Moussa Ali, the highest
point in Djibouti (3,600 feet). Also to the north is the Forêt du
Day, a national park on Mount Goda. In this last vestige of a forest
that once covered the area are several rare plants and animals,
including monkeys and antelope. Lake Assal, a unique natural
phenomenon over 500 feet below sea level, is 80 miles west of
Djibouti City. A lake ten times saltier than the ocean, Lake Assal
is an ethereal blue and surrounded by picturesque volcanic hills. It
is the lowest body of water in Africa and the second lowest on
Earth. Farther into the countryside to the southwest lies Lake Abbe,
a large salt lake bisected by the Djibouti-Ethiopia border.
Djibouti’s location astride the East Africa, Red Sea, and Gulf of
Aden rift systems provides a unique environment for studying
volcanic, geothermal, and earthquake activity arising from the
meeting of three tectonic plates. Over 600 tremors occur every year,
virtually none of which are felt.
Djibouti has two seasons. During the May-to-September hot season,
daytime temperatures average over 100 ºF and often exceed 120 ºF.
The high temperatures are sometimes accompanied by hot, sandy winds
called “the Khamsin.” The beginning and ending months of the hot
season are also marked by high humidity, similar to that of a
Washington, D.C., summer. The cooler season, from October through
April, has clear skies, refreshingly cool breezes, somewhat lower
humidity, and temperatures in the 80s.
Because of its geographic location between the Ethiopian and
Yemeni escarpments, Djibouti gets little precipitation. Occasional
rains occur mostly in the hills in the interior, but the average
annual rainfall is only 5 to 10 inches. Rains most often come to
Djibouti City in the fall and spring; some years are rainless.
Because of a high water table and lack of drainage, the rare heavy
rain can cause flooding in and around the capital.
Population Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:12 AM
The majority of Djibouti’s 650,000 inhabitants live in the city
of Djibouti. Djibouti is inhabited predominantly by two cultural
groups — the Somali Issas and the Afars. Arabs make up about five
percent of the population. Of some 7,000 foreign residents, about
5,000 are French. In addition, Djibouti hosts about 20,000 refugees
and displaced persons from Ethiopia and Somalia.
Djibouti is a moderate Islamic society, and some 95 percent of
Djiboutians are Muslim. The remaining five percent are Christian.
Although often devout in their own religious practices, Djiboutians
are notable for the tolerance they show toward the religious and
social customs of others.
Despite their coastal location, Djiboutians are not historically
a seafaring people. Many Djiboutians are descended from a nomadic
pastoralist tradition, and goat and camel herds are still found in
the interior. The history of Djibouti’s nomadic peoples goes back
thousands of years. Archeological investigation in the west and
north confirm settlement of this zone by Oromo and other Cushitic
peoples now dwelling in Ethiopia. The Oromo are thought to have been
known to early Greek and Egyptian visitors to the Red Sea area about
the time of Christ. Because of their proximity to the Arabian
peninsula, the region’s Somali and Afar tribes became the first
Africans to adopt Islam. Islamic communities developed in the
lowlands of the Horn, and this area probably provided troops to the
many conflicts between the Islamic lowlands and the Christian
highlands of Ethiopia. Nearly all of the geographic names in
Djibouti are of Afar origin, suggesting a longtime Afar presence
here. Somali ethnic expansion into the Horn has been the subject of
many studies, but little is known about the confrontation between
the Afars and the Somali groups spreading north into Djibouti. The
arrival of foreigners — Turks, Egyptians, British, French, and
Italians — caused greater population movement into the interior.
Djiboutians are heir to a tradition of individuality,
independence, and hospitality. They are friendly toward Americans
and Europeans. Djibouti is one of the least crime-prone capitals of
Public Institutions Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:13 AM
On May 12, 1977, the people of the French Territory of the Afars
and the Issas overwhelmingly voted for independence. On June 27,
1977, the Republic of Djibouti became an independent state.
Power sharing between the Issas and the Afars, Djibouti’s two
major ethnic groups, has been formalized with a Somali Issa as
President and an Afar as Prime Minister. The National Assembly has
65 elected members, and ministers are often chosen from these
elected representatives. The Peoples’ Progress Assembly (RPP) rules
the country, but the government does not prohibit the creation of
registered political parties.
Because of a defense agreement made at the time of independence,
Djibouti hosts 3,200 French military personnel, including the
Foreign Legion. Djibouti has a national army as well as a small navy
and air force.
Djibouti uses the French-style legal system, with family and
civil codes, influenced by Shari’a (Islamic) law, and traditional
Somali and Afar customs. Crimes committed in the capital are dealt
with in accordance with French inspired law and judicial practice in
the regular courts. Civil actions may be brought in these courts or
in the traditional courts. In the rare cases when a U.S. citizen has
run afoul of the law, local law enforcement officials have been
quick to contact the Embassy.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:13 AM
The arts are somewhat limited although the French Cultural
Center, the community group IRIS, and other cultural groups sponsor
lectures, concerts, films and dramatic performances. One way of
getting a flavor of the local music and theater scene is to switch
on the local television station.
Those who want to delve a little deeper into the local languages,
the flora and fauna, the history, or the geology of the area will
want to look up CERD, a research institute. Within the city,
educational opportunities are limited, although it is possible to
attend Arabic, Somali, and French classes. Djibouti has one
university, Pole University, established in October 2000 offering
two-year degrees in literature, math, history, English, Arabic,
business administration, communications, computer science and
Djiboutian handicrafts are mostly limited to woven baskets and
mats. Art and artifacts from neighboring countries, particularly
Ethiopia and Yemen, are available in Djiboutian markets and stores.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:13 AM
Most of Djibouti’s commercial activity centers around the Port of
Djibouti, the airport, and the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railroad. The
railroad is the only line serving central and southeastern Ethiopia
and handles a small portion of Ethiopia’s import and export trade. A
newly improved road from Djibouti to Addis Ababa also facilitates
Ethiopian trade through the Port of Djibouti. Services and commerce,
bolstered by the substantial French presence in Djibouti, account
for most of the gross domestic product.
The new deepwater port offers new opportunities as a hub for
regional trade. New roads have been built to accommodate the
transport of increased goods. The related duty free zone also offers
new opportunities for employment and other economic boosts to the
Aside from its service industries, Djibouti has a small economic
base. Livestock, hides and skins are leading exports. The country is
mostly desert with little arable land, and agricultural production
is limited to several hundred acres. Fishing in the Gulf of Tadjoura
is at the artisanal level, although the government is building a
fishing port that is intended to greatly expand the fishing
industry. Djibouti imports most of its food from France, Kenya, and
Ethiopia. Djibouti has few industries and limited mineral deposits,
although some geothermal energy potential exists.
Automobiles Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:14 AM
Embassy personnel rely on their personal cars for transportation
in Djibouti. Djibouti allows Embassy employees to import one vehicle
duty free and imposes no restrictions on the make, color or age of
cars that may be imported. Right-hand drive cars are no longer
allowed to be imported into the country.
The Embassy handles the vehicle registration process. A U.S.
driver's license and diplomatic ID card are all that are needed by
official Americans to operate a vehicle. Local third party insurance
must be purchased. Comprehensive insurance, which is recommended, is
available locally but can be purchased less expensively through U.S.
Cars are occasionally available from departing Embassy employees
or other diplomatic personnel. Otherwise, locally purchased vehicles
are expensive and the selection is limited.
A majority of Embassy personnel own four-wheel drive vehicles,
although regular sedans are adequate for driving on Djibouti City’s
mostly paved roads. High ground clearance and four-wheel drive are
necessary for trips to beaches or into the interior. Four-wheel
drive is also useful for in-town driving after rains, which
generally cause some flooding of roads. Light colored vehicles are
recommended to deflect Djibouti’s intense sunlight.
Unleaded gasoline is available in Djibouti. Diesel fuel is less
expensive than gasoline; both are available in the capital, but only
diesel is available in the interior. Gasoline is not high octane, so
the performance of engines designed for premium gasoline may suffer.
Since 2004 there has been no importation of leaded gasoline into the
country. Unleaded is 91 octane. American embassy employees are
discouraged from shipping highly sophisticated vehicles that require
premium unleaded gasoline or have complicated U.S. electronic and
Djibouti’s salty and often humid air is highly corrosive, making
rustproofing and undercoating highly recommended. Off-road packages
or heavy-duty suspensions are also practical options. Traffic in
Djibouti moves on the right (American) side of the road.
Many Japanese makes (Toyota, Isuzu, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu,
and Suzuki), as well as Peugeot, have representatives in Djibouti.
No American manufacturers are represented. Competent mechanics can
be found, although quality of service varies and spare parts for
even the most common makes and models are not readily available.
Labor and parts are expensive. Embassy mechanics are available for
after-hours maintenance of personal vehicles at the vehicle owner’s
expense. Embassy mechanics are most familiar with Japanese and
American makes. Depending on the vehicle make, parts may have to be
provided by the vehicle’s owner.
Send in household effects shipments supplies such as belts,
filters, gaskets, hoses, windshield wipers, fuses, power-steering
and brake fluids, spark plugs, and a foot or electric tire pump.
Emergency equipment, such as spare tires, jacks, repair kits, and
tow ropes, is recommended for out-of-town trips. Jerry cans and
racks are useful for bringing gasoline and water on trips into the
With the Ambassador’s approval, Embassy personnel may sell their
vehicles at the end of their tours. Those who wish to do so
generally succeed in selling at a fair price. The purchaser pays all
customs duties, although the seller shares in the responsibility for
ensuring that duties are paid. Diesel vehicles are particularly
sought after on the resale market.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:15 AM
Inexpensive taxi service is available in Djibouti, but the
vehicles are often in poor repair and driven erratically. Embassy
personnel may use local taxis but should be aware that taxi drivers,
besides being careless, rarely carry vehicle insurance. The RSO does
not endorse their use. Use of local buses or minivans by official
Americans is prohibited by order of the Regional Security Officer.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:15 AM
Djibouti is linked to Europe by one Air France flight per week to
Paris and one Daallo flight per week to Paris. Flights are also
available to Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa (Ethiopia), Asmara, Nairobi, and
Slow but inexpensive rail travel is available between Djibouti
and Addis Ababa. Rail travel suffers from over-crowding, lack of
travel support infrastructure en route, the potential for banditry,
and more recently, the discovery and detonation of improvised
explosive devices. The Regional Security Officer strictly prohibits
use of the Djibouti/Ethiopia train by American personnel.
Paved roads in fair condition lead to the provincial capitals of
Tadjoura, Ali Sabieh, and Dikhil. Otherwise, most overt land travel
within the interior requires four-wheel drive. Road travel into
Ethiopia is sometimes possible with advance planning and
preparation. Driving into Somalia is greatly restricted.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:16
Telephone service in Djibouti is generally reliable, and the
sound quality is good. Telephone service is available to all Embassy
housing. Service fees vary, depending on options such as multiple
extensions, restrictions on access to international lines, and
itemized billing. There have been some billing issues, and a few
Americans have opted to rely only on cell phones.
Upon their arrival in Djibouti, many Americans arrange with a
U.S. company to provide “callback” phone service to their homes.
This service provides access to U.S. phone lines for international
calls, reducing the cost of a call to the U.S. from about
$0.50-$2.00 per minute.
Telegraphic service is available and is generally reliable. The
Embassy does not have a telex.
Internet Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:18 AM
Users of personal computers in Djibouti are able to gain access
to the Internet for email and other purposes. DjibNet has a monopoly
on all internet access, and offers only dial-up. Connections are
usually slow and the per minute cost is expensive.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:17 AM
Mail service is provided to the Embassy via the diplomatic pouch
and international mail. Djibouti is not an APO post. Embassy
personnel rely on the pouch for most of their correspondence.
Embassy Djibouti’s pouch address (for personal mail) is:
Name 2150 Djibouti Place Dulles, VA 20189–2150
for official mail:
Name Department of State 2150 Djibouti Place Washington, DC
Letters and packages may be sent from the U.S. via the diplomatic
pouch. Packages up to 50 pounds in weight and 17 inches x 18 inches
x 32 inches in size are acceptable.
Only letter mail and limited categories of package mail — video
or audio cassettes, prescriptions, and mail-order returns — may be
sent from Djibouti through the pouch.
Pouch mail must have appropriate U.S. postage and generally takes
two to three weeks to reach its destination. U.S. postage stamps are
not available from the embassy so bring a supply of stamps to post
or order on-line. The Embassy’s mail clerk can assist in determining
correct U.S. postage for outgoing mail.
International mail service is generally reliable for letter mail,
less so for package mail. Letters sent between Djibouti and either
Europe or the U. S. generally take one to two weeks to reach their
destinations. As most residences in Djibouti do not have complete
street addresses, international mail should be sent to the Embassy’s
Name Ambassade Americaine B.P. 185 Djibouti, Republique de
Radio and TV Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:18 AM
Djiboutian television broadcasts several hours nightly.
Broadcasts vary among four languages: French, Arabic, Somali, and
Afar. Programming typically consists of the news followed by a film,
televised play, or nature program. Television is broadcast on the
MESECAM (not the French SECAM) system, so a compatible or
multi-system television is needed. An external antenna, available
locally, may be needed for better reception.
GSO provides an Armed Forces Network (AFN) box and satellite dish
free of charge to official Americans which allows them to receive
CNN International, sports and other cable programming. A local cable
company, Djibnet, provides French, Arabic and English programming
for a fee (box rental and monthly billing).
Djiboutian radio broadcasts on AM and FM in French, Arabic, Afar,
and Somali. Programming is a mix of Western, Arabic, and African
music, as well as news and information. Shortwave radio reception of
BBC, VOA, and other programming is possible but is greatly enhanced
by using an external antenna. These are available locally or can be
purchased from Radio Shack or similar stores in the U.S.
Televisions, radios, and shortwave radios can be purchased
locally, but selection is limited and costs far exceed U.S. prices.
The Community Liaison Officer (CLO) runs a small DVD/video
lending library at the embassy. American televisions and DVD/video
players are compatible.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
7/19/2005 11:20 AM
French-language newspapers, books, and magazines are readily
available, though prices are high. The International Herald Tribune
and international editions of Time and Newsweek are generally
available, although they may be a week or more old. Most personnel
receive reading material through the pouch, making it two or more
weeks out of date. Some specialty magazies are also sold at the PX
at the camp.
The CLO operates a small lending library of paperback books. The
U.S. Liaison Office makes its occasional shipments of books
available to the Embassy.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:22 AM
The Embassy health unit provides routine medical care and
immunizations for American personnel and dependents. By agreement
with the Embassy, a French military hospital makes its facilities
available to mission members in need of emergency medical care. It
does not have sophisticated emergency or cardiac care facilities,
but patients with cardiac problems may be stabilized at the hospital
before medevac. The French hospital maintains a blood supply, and
the Embassy health unit keeps records for a walking blood bank among
mission members. There are a number of local doctors who are used by
Americans in Djibouti, among whom are a pediatrician and the post
medical advisor who both speak English. Adequate prenatal care,
including sonograms, is available, but expectant mothers normally go
by Medevac to the U.S. to give birth. The local government hospital
is not used by Americans as it lacks adequate equipment, supplies,
medicine, nursing care, and sanitation. Emergency medical care for
the mission's employees can be obtained at Camp Lemonier, the U.S.
military camp located next to the international airport.
The regional medical officer, based in Sanaa, Yemen, visits
occasionally. Medevacs are generally directed to the Medevac Center
at the U.S. Embassy London.
Basic dental care is available but expensive and most personnel
defer nonemergency dental treatment while in Djibouti. Significant
dental problems may require dentavacs. Have dental checkups and
cleanings performed before arriving at post.
A private ophthalmologist provides basic eye exams. Eyeglasses
are available but very expensive and the choice is limited.
Djibouti’s pharmacies are adequately stocked with European
versions of medicines and supplies, although the drugs may be past
the marked expiration date.
Community Health Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:24 AM
Djiboutian public health controls are limited. Tap water is
treated but is not drunk because it is brackish. Garbage control is
not equal to the amount of trash generated. Sewage is dumped
untreated into the waters surrounding Djibouti City. There are few
Malaria, diarrhea, polio, tuberculosis, measles, mumps, AIDS,
other venereal diseases, dengue fever, and cholera are persistent
health problems among the local Djiboutian population. With proper
immunizations, commonsense precautions, and good hygiene, Americans
are at minimal risk from these maladies. Poisonous snakes and
scorpions exist. These are rarely seen in the capital but may be
encountered in the interior, especially to the north. Normal
precautions should be exercised while swimming, snorkeling, or
diving, as some of Djibouti’s marine animals are venomous. Special
care also needs to be taken to prevent obvious dangers from the
strong sun and the heat.
Djibouti has many stray dogs and cats but is rabies free. Pets
are required to have current rabies shots, health records and
tattoos on permanent departure from post.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 7/19/2005 11:24 AM
Malaria suppressants should be taken while at post. Depending on
the kind of prophylaxis taken (daily malarin, weekly mefloquin,
daily doxycyclin, etc.) begin taking one week (mefloquine) or two
days (doxy or malarone) before arrival and up to four weeks after
departing post. Malarone is taken only for one week after leaving
post. Check with your physician before departing for post.
Mosquitoes are rarely a problem during the hot summer months; during
the rest of the year, long clothing and/or insect repellant should
be worn in the evenings.
Tap water is safe for bathing, washing vegetables, and brushing
teeth, but should not be consumed. Housing for embassy officers and
their families is equipped with a water distiller in the kitchen,
which provides water for drinking and cooking. Soak unpeelable local
produce in a chlorine bleach solution. Meat should not be consumed
raw or rare. Domestic workers should have preemployment physicals
and should be instructed and monitored to ensure good hygiene
All immunizations should be up to date before arrival in
Djibouti. This is especially true of the yellow fever vaccine, which
is difficult to obtain in Djibouti.
During the summer heat, strenuous outdoor activities should be
avoided. Newcomers, especially those arriving in the summer, may
find the climate enervating and should plan on additional rest.
Water intake should be increased to avoid dehydration. Cuts and
insect bites should be treated and kept clean to avoid infections.
Adequate amounts of prescription medicines and medical supplies
should be brought to post or ordered via the internet, especially by
those uncomfortable with substituting European brands for American
ones. Sunblock and ultraviolet ray-filtering sunglasses are
important precautions. Bring extra eyeglasses and prescription
sunglasses. Contact lens wearers should bring eyeglasses to wear
when the sandy summer winds blow.
Be sure that private medical insurance will cover outpatient
treatment abroad, as this is not covered by the U.S. Government.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 7/19/2005
Other than a part-time CLO, the Embassy does not have established
positions for eligible family members. Very few jobs are available
on the local economy, especially for those without specialized
skills and strong French or Somali language abilities. Some
opportunities exist to provide private English-language tutoring on
a volunteer or paid basis. A work permit issued by the Djibouti
Department of Labor is required for most employment by non-Djiboutians
outside the U.S. Embassy.
American Embassy - Djibouti
Post City Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:39 AM
Djibouti, capital of and largest city in the Republic of
Djibouti, is situated on the Gulf of Tadjourah. It is built upon
coral islands joined by landfill and causeways, and the sea is
visible from much of the city. The population of Djibouti City is
estimated at 375,000.
Because of its location as a crossroad on the Horn of Africa,
Djibouti offers an interesting blend of Arabic, Somali, Ethiopian,
Indian, and European cultures. Much of the architecture in Djibouti
City is French colonial with a strong Arab influence. In comparison
with the rest of the country, Djibouti City has a large number of
shade trees and flowering shrubs, especially in the older areas of
the city. Local markets are colorful, though neither large nor
clean. Because Djibouti is a port city, a range of foods and
products from Europe, Africa, and Asia are available. Prices,
however, are very high.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:39 AM
A Consulate General was established in Djibouti on April 30,
1977, and was elevated to Embassy status upon Djibouti’s
independence on June 27, 1977. The U.S. Government-owned Embassy
compound underwent two major renovations in 1993 and 1995. It
encompasses the Chancery, USLO administrative annex, consular
building, health unit, Ambassador’s residence, public
diplomacy/protocol/economic annex, and USAID building. The compound
is located on the Gulf of Tadjoura about five minutes from downtown
Djibouti. The Embassy also leases a warehouse compound located about
15 minutes from the Chancery. The Embassy is open from 8:00 am to
4:30 pm, Sunday through Thursday. The Embassy’s street address and
telephone numbers are:
Ambassade Américaine Plateau du Serpent Blvd. Maréchal Joffre
Djibouti, République de Djibouti Telephone: (253) 35-39-95 Fax:
Djibouti is a small embassy. The mission staff includes the
Ambassador, DCM, Front Office OMS, DCM OMS, Management Officer, RSO,
ARSO, Political/Economic Officer, Consular Officer, Public Diplomacy
Officer, GSO, Information Programs Officer, Information Management
Specialist, U.S. Military Liaison Officer, and USAID.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:40 AM
Employees and their families may be placed in one of several
hotels if their housing is not ready on arrival.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:40 AM
The Ambassador’s residence is located on the government-owned
Embassy compound. The compound is one of the lushest spots in
Djibouti, with grassy areas, hibiscus, bougainvillea, and many large
shade trees. The compound also includes a lighted tennis court and a
swimming pool renovated in 1996, both of which are open to the
The Ambassador’s residence is a one-story, colonial-style
structure that was enlarged and modernized in 1984 and partially
renovated in 2004. It has a large entrance hall; a moderately sized
living room; a dining room that can seat up to 16; a large modern
kitchen; an enclosed sunroom; a master suite with bedroom, bathroom,
and study; and two additional bedrooms and bathrooms. The house has
a wrap-around covered terrace, a tiled patio, a large yard, and a
All other personnel are housed in leased, single-family and
duplex houses located near each other in residential areas five to
15 minutes from the Embassy. Housing is comfortable, with
living/dining areas, European style kitchens, two to five bedrooms,
two or more baths, and a patio or balcony, and often a rooftop deck.
Houses are enclosed by walls and some have small gardens. Specific
housing information is sent in the TMTWO once quarters are assigned
by the housing board.
Furnishings Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:41 AM
All housing is provided with adequate furnishings.
The Ambassador’s residence was recently renovated and is
furnished in 18th-century style in representational areas. The
private areas are less formally furnished. The residence is supplied
with complete sets of silver and silver-plated flatware; official
dinnerware and glassware; silver coffee service, candelabra, trays,
and other serving pieces; kitchenware and a range of appliances; and
The DCM’s house is large and spacious for entertaining. The DCM’s
house is not supplied with representational items.
All other housing is equipped with furniture for the living room,
dining room, master bedroom, den, spare bedroom, and patio (table
and chairs). Master bedrooms have queen-size beds; guest rooms have
twin or queen-size beds. Lamps, some area rugs, curtains, and
consumables storage shelves are provided as needed. Houses are fully
air-conditioned and contain a washer, dryer, vacuum, refrigerator,
freezer, gas range, microwave, water distiller, and a small number
of transformers. No houses have separate quarters for domestic
Houses have space for smaller items of personal furniture, but
large or bulky items should be placed in storage. Continual use of
air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help reduce the impact of
Djibouti’s hot climate on personal effects, but caution is advised
before sending climate-sensitive items such as delicate rugs,
overstuffed furniture, expensive artwork, and sensitive musical
instruments. HHE shipments could suffer humidity damage while in
transit and while in temporary storage, especially during the hot
Employees should bring irons, hair dryers, wastebaskets, clothes
hampers, mops, brooms, buckets, linens, battery-powered clocks,
outdoor lounge chairs, televisions, DVDs/VCRs, and stereo equipment.
Those with personal computers may wish to bring a computer table.
Suggestions on bringing kitchen appliances and electrical adaptors
are included in the next section. Housing has cement walls and tile
floors, so employees may wish to bring small area rugs, throw
pillows, pictures, and other decorative items to personalize their
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:41 AM
All houses have hot and cold running water, although washing
machines are not hooked up to water heaters. Water service is
reliable during the cooler months, although water pressure can be
low during hours of peak use. City water is sometimes unreliable
during the hot summer months. All houses are equipped with water
distillers which provide potable water.
Electrical service is generally reliable, although outages are
more frequent during the hot summer months. Electrical current in
Djibouti is 220v, 50 cycles. Outlets are in the French style, with
two round holes and a round grounding prong. A limited supply of
stepdown transformers is available from the Embassy. Surge
protectors are highly recommended for computers and other sensitive
equipment. Plug adaptors are available on the local economy.
Cooking gas is provided by the Embassy. Corkscrews are difficult
to find on the economy so pack one or two in air freight. Bring your
own toaster/toaster oven, salad spinner, blender, bread machine,
mixer, food processor, ice cream maker, and other small appliances.
Dual-voltage or 220v appliances work best and are the most
A small supply of US 110V light bulbs can be handy for using
lamps when the plug is already being used by a transformer for
another 110V accessory.
Food Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:42 AM
Employees assigned to Djibouti are authorized a consumables
allowance. Consider sending the following items, which are either
locally not available or of poor quality: uniquely American items
(peanut butter, grape jelly, chocolate chips, cake and brownie
mixes, cranberries, pumpkin pie mix, other holiday foods, pancake
mix and syrup, chocolate syrup), canned soups, crackers, cookies,
snacks, napkins, paper towels, Kleenex, toilet paper, aluminum foil,
plastic wrap, trash bags, wheat or rye flour, yeast, Mexican foods,
toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, pet foods and supplies,
baby supplies (diapers, cereals, formula, jarred food), kosher
foods, and dietary items. Not available at all locally are brown
sugar, shortening, corn meal, food storage containers, sealing
storage bags, koolaide or other drink mixes. Available but expensive
are nuts and cereal. Also bring hair products and coloring kits if
partial to particular American brands. Ship items used for at-home
entertaining, as this is a major pastime in Djibouti. Consider
reserving some of the consumables allowance and placing a
supplemental order after arrival. There is no commissary at post but
there is a small PX at the U.S. military camp with limited choices
of snack foods, drinks, health and beauty aids, and electronics.
Djibouti produces almost no food, and virtually everything but
seafood and small amounts of produce is imported. As a result, food
prices are very high. Djibouti has several supermarkets that, while
not comparable to U.S. supermarkets, nonetheless carry selections of
packaged goods, meat, produce, personal hygiene products, paper
goods, baby supplies, and cleaning products. Choices are limited,
quality varies, prices are high, and items are not always in stock.
Most brands are French. Items that are easily available in the local
grocery stores include rice, pasta, canned vegetables, and European
cookies and candies.
Long-life and powdered milk are generally available, as are a
broad selection of cheeses and butter from France. A limited
selection of frozen foods — ice cream, convenience foods, meats,
vegetables and fruit — is available. Fresh fruits and vegetables are
imported from Kenya, Ethiopia, France, and South Africa. Depending
upon the season, fresh mangoes, papayas, pineapples, apples, citrus
fruits, grapes, watermelon, carrots, leaf lettuce, tomatoes,
potatoes, green beans, zucchini, onions, beets, cabbage, mushrooms,
cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower, legumes, garlic and spices are
available. Several varieties of fruits and vegetables are generally
available at any time. Fruits and vegetables are available from the
supermarkets and from produce stands located throughout the city.
In addition to the supermarkets, Djibouti has a small number of
reputable butchers. Various cuts of beef and pork are available.
Lamb and veal cuts are often available. Frozen whole chickens are
available, although fresh chickens and chicken parts are hard to
find. Fresh and frozen seafood is available, and local seafood
(fish, crab, lobster, shrimp) is delicious and relatively
inexpensive. Djibouti has several bakeries that produce breads and
pastries. Local baguettes are widely available and inexpensive. Many
of the markets sell rotisserie chickens that are both delicious and
Imported alcohol, beer, wine, soft drinks, and bottled water are
available from supermarkets and from one store that sells to
diplomatic personnel at duty free prices. Locally bottled tonic,
Coke, Sprite, and several flavors of Fanta are good and inexpensive.
Clothing Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:42 AM
Bring washable, lightweight clothes. Summer clothing is
appropriate year-round, and cotton or cotton blends are the most
practical. Informality is the rule in Djibouti. Dry-cleaning is
available, but quality varies and prices are high. Although it is an
Islamic society, Djibouti is tolerant of Western styles of dress.
Clothes fade and wear out quickly in Djibouti due to frequent
washings, strong sunlight, and the salinity of the water. Bring an
adequate supply of frequently worn items and have catalogs sent to
post to help in supplementing your wardrobe. Because of Djibouti’s
rocky terrain, shoes also wear out quickly. Bring plenty of
swimsuits, beachwear, beach shoes, and sun hats.
Availability of ready-made clothing is limited, and good-quality
clothing is hard to find and expensive. Djibouti has reasonably
priced tailors and fabrics. The quality of both varies and rapid
service is not always available. Those who sew should bring a
machine and the necessary supplies.
Bring some cooler weather clothing — jackets, sweaters,
long-sleeved shirts, and pants — for vacation or business travel in
Europe, Kenya, or Ethiopia.
Men Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:42 AM
Cotton or dress slacks and short sleeve open-neck shirts are
standard business attire. Open toe shoes are not appropriate. Bring
one or two suits for the occasional meeting or semiformal event when
a suit is required. Formal wear is useful but not required for
formal occasions (French-hosted soirees, Lions Club and Rotary Club
annual balls and the Marine Corps Ball in Addis Ababa). Cotton
shorts, pants, and shirts are appropriate for casual wear at
restaurants, shopping in town and recreational activities, as are
sneakers, boat shoes, and sandals. Most social functions and
internal Embassy events are informal.
Women Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:43 AM
Cotton dresses, skirts, or pants are standard business attire.
Djiboutians do not expect Western women to conform to Islamic
customs regarding women’s dress. Djiboutian women combine an Arab
sense of modesty with an African flair for bright colors. Sandals
and flat shoes are common in both business and social settings;
stockings are seldom worn. Bring a small number of cocktail dresses
for occasional semiformal events. Formal wear is useful but not
required for formal occasions (see advice above). Most social
functions and internal Embassy events are informal. Shorts and tank
tops are acceptable for beach and certain outdoor athletic
Children Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:44 AM
Children’s clothing should be cotton and informal. Allow for
heavy wear and tear and frequent changes due to Djibouti’s heat and
dust. Boys commonly wear shorts or cotton pants and short-sleeved
shirts. Girls wear sleeveless dresses, short-sleeved or sleeveless
shirts, shorts, and cotton pants. Bring plenty of children's socks.
Children’s shoes are sometimes available locally but are quite
expensive. Order additional clothes and shoes from mail-order
catalogs or on-line.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:44 AM
Most toiletries, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, U.S.
tobacco products, sun block, batteries, film, over-the-counter
medicines, and home medical supplies should be brought or sent to
post. Many items are available, but U.S. brands are rare, selection
is limited, prices are high, and supplies are not always reliable.
Some personnel prefer not to substitute European products with
non-English packaging for the American products they are familiar
Common household items, such as tools, clothes hangers, desk
supplies, and shower curtains, should be shipped to post. Local
availability and quality vary, and prices are high. Paper products
should be shipped to post as well, including party and seasonal
decorations, wrapping paper, cards, paper towels, napkins, toilet
paper, Kleenex, food wraps, paper plates, storage bags and serving
size storage boxes, ice cube trays, and a Kool-aid jug. Recreational
items such as sports equipment, barbeque grills, beach chairs, sun
umbrellas, and coolers should also be brought to post. Charcoal is
generally available locally, but locally produced charcoal is a
product of burning the dieing Djiboutian rainforest, and
ecologically minded people might prefer to bring charcoal from the
A limited selection of dog and cat foods is generally available,
although prices are high and periodic shortages do occur. Basic cat
litter is generally available and, depending on brand, expensive.
Pet food and cat litter can also be ordered on the internet.
Basic Services Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:45 AM
Many community services are available at varying quality and
prices. Most shops and services are closed all day on Fridays and
from noon to 4:30 p.m. other days. Tailors are competent and
reasonably priced. Drycleaning is available but expensive and
quality can vary. Barbers and beauty shops are competent, and prices
are comparable to those in the U.S. Repair services for vehicles or
equipment are less reliable. Technicians are not highly skilled or
reliable and are unfamiliar with American products. Ship simple,
durable items and, if possible, bring spare parts. Parts can be hard
to find, and those for American products are generally not
Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:45 AM
Domestic help is available but not highly trained. Domestic
employees are usually found by recommendation of other Americans,
and many domestic employees find employment from one American family
to the next. Most Djiboutians speak French but little or no English.
Domestic employees often require training and close supervision.
Many Embassy employees hire a maid or a maid/nanny. Trained cooks
are scarce, but maids can often be trained to prepare meals.
Gardeners are often hired to take care of small garden areas, wash
cars and remove trash. Embassy personnel pay full-time maids from
$200 to $250 per month, gardeners from $100 to $200 per month, and
cooks from $350 to $400 per month. Salaries are negotiable, and many
French and Djiboutian employers pay their domestic employees less.
Embassy personnel do not normally hire drivers.
Domestic employees rarely live in. Those who work full-time may
be provided one or more meals by their employers, but this is
negotiable. A pre-employment medical evaluation of domestic
employees is recommended, and good hygiene should be stressed.
Domestic employees will also need to have a background clearance
from the RSO.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:45 AM
Djibouti is a Moslem society. In accordance with Islamic custom,
the Embassy weekend falls on Friday and Saturday. The following
denominations maintain places of worship in Djibouti: Roman Catholic
(French and, occasionally, English and Italian), Protestant (French
and, once a month, English), Greek Orthodox (Greek), Ethiopian
Orthodox (Amharic), and Moslem (Arabic and Somali). No Jewish
services are held.
Embassy employees and their families can also attend worship
services at Camp Lemonier.
Education Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:47 AM
French-speaking education is available in French- or
Djiboutian-run schools from kindergarten through high school. All
curricula follow the French system, and no English-language schools
exist. Children who speak French may enroll in the French
Government-supported schools. A local Catholic school provides
intensive French training in addition to regular classwork.
Djiboutian public schools are crowded and underfunded and have not
been used by Embassy children. Because adequate English-language
schools are not available, the away-from-post education allowance is
sufficient to cover the costs of boarding school and periodic school
to post travel. Post families have the option to home-school their
children. Calvert and other home-school materials and supplies can
be sent through pouch mail. French language and other French school
subject instructors can be hired with help from the CLO.
Special Educational Opportunities
The Embassy offers a French-language program for employees and
adult dependents, with classes given at three levels through the
local Alliance Francaise. Private tutoring in French can be arranged
at personal expense. Private classes or tutoring in other local
languages — Arabic, Somali, Amharic, Afar — are also available.
Tennis, golf, scuba diving, swimming, karate, judo, and
boat-piloting classes are available, primarily in French at private
clubs. Courses in watercolors and oil painting, sewing, crafts, and
aerobics are frequently organized by French spouses. Djibouti has
only one two-year university.
Private day-care is available in French-language facilities, but
most Embassy families prefer to hire nannies and care for their
children at home.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:47 AM
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:47 AM
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:58 AM
Pole University, Djibouti's sole institution of higher education,
was established in October 2000. The university offers higher
education in two 2-year degrees -- General (majoring in literature,
math, history, English, and Arabic) and Specialized (focusing on
national job market needs in areas such as business administration,
communications, computer science, and marketing.) About 2,000
students attend the university.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:59 AM
A lighted tennis court and a small swimming pool suitable for
relaxing or recreational lap swimming are both located on the
Embassy compound. The USAID building contains a weight room.
Djibouti’s beautiful, clear waters provide excellent
opportunities for water sports. Bring beach chairs and umbrellas.
Djibouti has several beaches, reachable by four-wheel drive, that
offer good swimming and snorkeling. The closest beach is 45 minutes
from Djibouti City and has several rustic beachfront restaurants.
Several islands offshore also have good beaches and swimming. The
Embassy has private use of one sandy beach on an offshore island
with shallow water and a shelter for shade and storage. The coral
reefs off Djibouti’s coast offer outstanding diving. Diver
certification classes are available in French and English. Bring
snorkeling and diving equipment. Equipment may also be rented
locally. Djibouti’s waters also offer excellent deep-sea fishing.
Bring your own rods, reels, and tackle.
A number of private sporting clubs exist, although prices are
high and some facilities are marginal. The Sheraton Hotel offers
memberships to its attractive waterfront swimming pool and also has
a tennis court that can be used for a fee. Intrepid golfers should
bring their clubs, as a golf course on the outskirts of Djibouti
City offers nine holes with oiled-sand greens, golf instruction,
beautiful vistas, and the occasional camel hazard.
There is a commercial bowling alley with eight lanes. During the
cooler months, sandsurfing (windsurfing on flat expanses of desert)
is a unique and enjoyable form of recreation. Djibouti City’s mostly
flat terrain lends itself to bicycling, although caution must be
used on roads with potholes or heavy traffic which increases the
possibility of accidents. Exercise caution -- incidents have
occurred where children, mainly teenagers, have been known to throw
rocks at bicyclists on certain roads outside of the city. This sort
of behavior is generally related to delinquency and not terrorism or
anti-Americanism. Bicycle rentals are not available, so bring bikes
(mountain bikes are good choices) and helmets. Djiboutians enjoy
soccer and basketball and are pleased to have Americans join their
teams or challenge them to a game.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 7/20/2005 2:59 AM
Excursions into Djibouti’s interior are prudently done in
four-wheel-drive convoys of at least two cars. Djibouti’s most
famous natural attraction is Lake Assal. Set among hills, Lake Assal
is a beautiful body of water that is ten times saltier than the
ocean and over 500 feet below sea level. It is two hours from
Djibouti City via a newly paved road. Farther into the interior is
Lake Abbe, a large salt lake on the Ethiopian border in an area of
interesting geologic formations. The trip to Lake Abbe requires an
overnight stay at rustic accommodations in Dikhil or camping in the
desert. There are many opportunities to explore the varied aspects
of Djibouti’s desert landscape, using Djibouti City or the towns of
Dikhil or Ali Sabieh as bases.
The islands of Moucha and Meskali are popular destinations for
their beaches. A boat must be rented to get there. The tented camp
hotel of Lagon Bleu opened in 2004. Arrangements to stay there are
made through Atta Travel in Djibouti city. They offer watersports
(diving, waterskiing) a sand beach, and an outdoor bar.
Across the Gulf of Tadjoura to the north of Djibouti City is the
town of Tadjoura. The drive along the north coast of the Gulf is
mostly paved and often beautiful — blue water and palm trees on one
side of the road and craggy hills on the other. Tadjoura has a
simple waterfront hotel and restaurant that offers boat trips to an
unspoiled beach with excellent swimming and snorkeling. Tadjoura is
also a good base from which to explore the Forêt du Day and the
wooded area near the village of Dittilou, both of which provide a
respite from the dry, barren landscape found elsewhere in Djibouti.
The Forêt du Day is what remains of an ancient forest high in the
Djiboutian hills and offers twisted cypress trees, beautiful vistas,
and occasional sightings of monkeys and other wildlife. The forest
is reached via an arduous, twisting hillside path that requires a
guide, four-wheel drive, high ground clearance, and strong nerves.
The area near Dittilou is more easily reached from Tadjoura, but the
trip still requires four-wheel drive. Dittilou has rustic
accommodations that include meals and guided tours of the
surrounding misty wooded hills and waterfalls. Outings by camel
caravan can also be arranged at Dittilou.
Camping is possible in the desert, on beaches, or in the forest.
Bring all camping supplies to post. Cots are recommended for camping
and are essential in the desert, where scorpions emerge overnight.
Mosquito netting is also prudent.
Djibouti’s natural attractions and exotic volcanic landscape
offer many opportunities for hikers and photographers, especially
during the cooler months. Ask for permission (it may cost a few
coins) before photographing people. Bird-watchers find Djibouti’s
coastline interesting, as it lies along the north-south migratory
routes of many birds.
Entertainment Last Updated: 7/20/2005 3:01 AM
The French Cultural Center sponsors regular French-language film
series, concerts, theater productions, and other cultural
activities. A commercial movie theater shows recent films dubbed
into French but the roof caved in a few years ago, and hasn't been
reparied. It is not regularly patronized by the Embassy community.
The CLO operates a small video/DVD library. The USLO office also has
a movie collection and are usually generous with sharing them.
Among Americans Last Updated: 7/20/2005 3:01 AM Most socializing
is private and informal, usually in the form of dinners or
International Contacts Last Updated: 7/20/2005 3:02 AM
Djiboutians enjoy meeting Americans but not all are comfortable
speaking English. French language ability is helpful for business
and socializing in the community. Djiboutian social customs,
including widespread khat chewing, sometimes restrict opportunities
for interaction. The Lions and Rotary Clubs (Rotaract is an offshoot
geared to young adults) are represented in Djibouti and provide
opportunities to meet members of the international community.
English language clubs meet almost every night of the week, and
are a great way to meet a cross-section of the Djiboutian
population. They eagerly welcome Americans to join them so they can
practice their language skills.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 7/20/2005 3:02 AM
Diplomatic social events are frequent and usually attended not
only by the Ambassador and DCM but also by other Embassy personnel.
Diplomatic events usually take the form of cocktails or dinners and
are either casual or informal. Americans are occasionally invited
into Djiboutian homes.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:16 AM
Upon arrival, diplomatic calls are made by the Chief of Mission
to other Ambassadors and to ministers and officials with whom the
Embassy customarily does business. The DCM also calls on his or her
counterparts, and other officers are encouraged to call on
appropriate Djiboutian officials and diplomatic contacts soon after
their arrival. It is not unusual for relatively junior Embassy
officers to engage in discussions with high-ranking Djiboutian
officials. Printed business cards are useful. Cards can be printed
by the Embassy Management section, on the local economy, or in the
U.S. for better quality.
At smaller social functions, it is customary to greet each person
individually on arrival, and also to formally say goodbye to each
individual before exiting. At larger events, the host, their spouse
and other dignitaries should be afforded these courtesies. Americans
may be perceived as rude if they offer just a general greeting to
the group or only to the host as is often acceptable in the U.S.
Special Information Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:17 AM
Employees with personal computers should consider shipping a
lightweight computer table, as Embassy-issued residential desks are
not designed for computer use. Surge protectors for computers or
other sensitive electronics are also strongly recommended.
Some parking is available across the street from the Embassy
compound. All residences have space for at least one vehicle inside
their gates, and most have carports to shield cars from the
Djiboutian sun. On-street parking is available throughout Djibouti
City. Most people tip locals to watch their parked vehicles while
shopping and dining in the town.
The Embassy arranges home-to-work transportation for newly
arrived and departing employees whose personal vehicles are in
transit. Employees must reimburse the Embassy for mileage.
Post Orientation Program
All newly arrived employees call on the Ambassador and DCM
shortly after their arrival. New employees also receive briefings on
administrative, security, housing, cultural, political,
recreational, and health matters from the appropriate Embassy
sections. The CLO and sponsors play an active role in orienting new
arrivals and in showing them Djibouti’s shopping, social,
recreational, and cultural possibilities.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:19 AM
No American carriers serve Djibouti. Personnel generally arrive
via Paris on Air France. Alternate routings through Nairobi, Dubai,
or Addis Ababa are possible but require overnight stays.
Refer to the TMTWO and contact the GSO via e-mail for the latest
shipping information. Airfreight usually arrives and gets cleared
within one week. Household effects, vehicles, and consumables are
sent to Djibouti by sea and should be containerized. Surface
shipments may take up to four months to arrive, partly because of
consolidation delays at Baltimore. Shipments from the U.S. to
Djibouti are generally sent via the European Logistical Support
Office (ELSO) Antwerp. Shipments should be consigned to the American
Embassy Djibouti and marked as follows:
American Ambassador (Employee’s Name) Ambassade Américaine
Plateau du Serpent Blvd. Maréchal Joffre B.P. 185 Djibouti,
République de Djibouti
Once shipments arrive in Djibouti, an additional one to two weeks
are needed for customs clearance. Hand carry the following
information: inventory or packing list for each shipment; estimated
value of each shipment; and vehicle year, make, model, vehicle
identification number, and value.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:20 AM
Djibouti does not distinguish between categories of Embassy
personnel for customs purposes. The Djiboutian Government allows
each direct-hire Embassy employee duty-free entry of personal
effects and one automobile. Local duty-free purchase of reasonable
quantities of alcoholic and some nonalcoholic beverages is
No restrictions are placed on the age, color, or make of
automobiles that may be brought into Djibouti. Right-hand drive
vehicles are no longer allowed in-country. The Embassy assists in
registering vehicles. A valid U.S. drivers license and the locally
obtained diplomatic identity card are sufficient for driving in
Djibouti. Third-party car insurance is mandatory and is available
locally for approximately $250 per year. Comprehensive insurance is
more cheaply purchased from a U.S. insurer.
Passage Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:20 AM
The Embassy meets and assists arriving official personnel at the
airport. A visa is required for entry into Djibouti and should be
obtained prior to arrival. All travelers should have up-to-date shot
cards as well. In an emergency, a holder of a diplomatic passport
can usually obtain a temporary visa at the airport. The Embassy will
assist in obtaining a renewable one-year visa after arrival. All
personnel and family members should bring at least ten small photos
for obtaining visas and diplomatic identity cards. Several local
photo shops process passport photos while you wait. The embassy does
not provide photo ID service except for the embassy ID card which
must be worn while in the embassy.
Pets Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:23 AM
Djibouti does not quarantine pets despite the absence of rabies.
Pets must have valid inoculations against rabies and recent
certificates of good health. Given Djibouti’s warm climate, it is
prudent to travel with pets to ensure that they are cared for
properly and removed promptly from the tarmac upon arrival.
Veterinary care is available, and although there is only one vet for
household pets, he is very is very caring and competent. There are
no kennel facilities.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/20/2005 5:23 AM
Firearms and ammunition must not be sent without prior written
permission from the Chief of Mission and the Government of Djibouti.
Hunting is strictly prohibited in Djibouti.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
7/20/2005 5:24 AM
The unit of currency is the Djiboutian franc. The exchange rate
is pegged to the U.S. dollar at 177 Djiboutian francs to the dollar.
Djibouti does not restrict the movement of money into or out of the
country, although it is often difficult to obtain or sell Djiboutian
francs outside Djibouti.
Djibouti has a functioning banking system operated largely by
French banks, although official American Embassy staff do not
maintain local bank accounts. Limited check-cashing facilities are
available at the Embassy for Embassy employees and their spouses.
Long-distance banking with the State Department Federal Credit Union
can be done online. Credit card acceptance is very limited in
Djibouti. Hotels used by the Embassy accept MasterCard, American
Express and Visa cards; some restaurants and the two French grocery
stores also accept credit cards. Prices are usually converted to
Euros before processing which can add considerably to the total.
There are no functioning ATM machines in Djibouti.
Djibouti uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 7/20/2005
Vehicles and personal effects may be sold upon departure with the
permission of the Ambassador and in compliance with U.S.
regulations. Vehicles and property may be sold duty free to other
persons with duty-free privileges. If items are sold outside the
duty-free community, the seller must obtain certification that the
buyer has paid the appropriate Djiboutian taxes.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 3/21/2004 3:53 AM
Background Notes on Djibouti. Department of State Publication.
U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC 20402.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003 (Chapter on
Djibouti). Committees on Foreign Relations and International
Relations of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Schraeder, Peter J. “Ethnic Politics in Djibouti: From ‘Eye of
the Hurricane’to 'Boiling Cauldron.” African Affairs 92 (1993).
Tholomier, Robert. “Djibouti, New Nation on Africa’s Horn:”
National Geographic Magazine. October 1978.
Thompson, Virginia and Richard Adloff. Djibouti: Pawn of the Horn
of Africa (traps.). Scarecrow Press: Metuchen, NJ, 1981.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 3/17/2004 11:53 PM
Offices and stores are closed and many services are interrupted
during local holidays, although the airport remains open. Services
are also reduced during Ramadan, when it is often difficult to get
appointments with local officials. Since most of Djibouti’s holidays
vary according to the lunar calendar, send travel plans as soon as
possible so that the Embassy can advise if a planned arrival
coincides with a local holiday. The Embassy is closed on U.S.
Government holidays and the following local holidays:
Eid A1 Fitre*(end of Ramadan) (2 days) Eid Al Adha* (2 days)
Labor Day May 1 Islamic New Year* (1 day) Independence Day June
Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed* (1 day) Ascension of the
Prophet Mohammed* (1 day)
*The dates of these holidays vary according to the lunar