1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jibuti

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JIBUTI (Djibouti), the chief port and capital of French Somaliland, in 11° 35′ N., 43° 10′ E. Jibuti is situated at the entrance to and on the southern shore of the Gulf of Tajura about 150 m. S.W. of Aden. The town is built on a horseshoe-shaped peninsula partly consisting of mud flats, which are spanned by causeways. The chief buildings are the governor's palace, customs-house, post office, and the terminal station of the railway to Abyssinia. The houses in the European quarter are built of stone, are flat-roofed and provided with verandas. There is a good water supply, drawn from a reservoir about 2½ m. distant. The harbour is land-locked and capacious. Ocean steamers are able to enter it at all states of wind and tide. Adjoining the mainland is the native town, consisting mostly of roughly made wooden houses with well thatched roofs. In it is held a large market, chiefly for the disposal of live stock, camels, cattle, &c. The port is a regular calling-place and also a coaling station for the steamers of the Messageries Maritimes, and there is a local service to Aden. Trade is confined to coaling passing ships and to importing goods for and exporting goods from southern Abyssinia via Harrar, there being no local industries. (For statistics see Somaliland, French.) The inhabitants are of many races — Somali, Danakil, Gallas, Armenians, Jews, Arabs, Indians, besides Greeks, Italians, French and other Europeans. The population, which in 1900 when the railway was building was about 15,000, had fallen in 1907 to some 5000 or 6000, including 300 Europeans.

Jibuti was founded by the French in 1888 in consequence of its superiority to Obok both in respect to harbour accommodation and in nearness to Harrar. It has been the seat of the governor of the colony since May 1896. Order is maintained by a purely native police force. The port is not fortified.