Djibouti Djibouti

Statistical Snapshot


Djibouti’s population is estimated at around 1 million[1], with 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 fertility rate is around three children per woman.[1] Average life expectancy is 67 years, lower than the regional average of 72 years. Maternal mortality rem ains high at 248 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to the regional average of 149 per 100,000 live births.[3] 


Djibouti ranks among the low human development countries (171 out of 189) according to the 2019 Human Development Report. Djibouti has a low adult literacy rate at 52.8 percent in 2017,[1] compared to a regional average of 75.3 percent, while the average mean years of schooling is 4 years.[4] However, Djibouti has made significant progress in its enrolment rates over the last two decades. Gross primary enrolment has more than doubled between 2000 and 2018, increasing from 32.5 percent to 70.3 percent. At the same time, gross secondary enrolment rose from 14 percent in 2000 to 51.5 percent in 2018.[3]


Because of the volatile situation in neighbouring countries, Djibouti hosts more than 27,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly originating from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen, as of early 2019.[5]


Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in the region with a total area of 23,200 square kilometres. Arable land makes up only 0.04 percent of the total land area and given Djibouti’s hot and dry climate, the agriculture sector represents only 2.3 percent of GDP in 2018.[3] Additionally, the size of the economy limits its ability to diversify production. Hence, Djibouti largely depends on foreign markets and imports 90 percent of its food commodities, which increases the country’s vulnerability to external shocks.[6] Trade-to-GDP ratio reached 117 in 2018, trade in services being estimated at 34.3 percent of GDP. Djibouti’s economy is mainly dependent on the services sector, which represented 79 percent of GDP in 2018.[3]



Driven by large investment projects in railway (such as the one connecting it with Addis Ababa), ports and infrastructure, real GDP grew from 1.6 percent in 2009 to 7.3 percent in 2011, to increase to 8.4 and 7.5 percent in 2018 and 2019, respectively. However, following the recent lockdown measures to avoid the spread of COVID–19, growth is projected to contract to 1 percent in 2020, the lowest level in the last two decades. The government has stepped up health and emergency spending on households and affected firms in response to the pandemic.[7] In 2021, GDP growth is projected to rebound to 8.5 percent.[8] Mainly due to loans for financing large infrastructure projects, Djibouti’s debt is estimated at 70 percent of GDP.[9]


Djibouti remains a low-income economy with an estimated GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) of $6.2 billion in 2019.[10] The gender gap in unemployment is negligible in Djibouti, with unemployment rate registering 10.3 percent for men compared to 10.4 percent for women.[1][11]

Persistent and chronic drought and occasional flash floods are the main drivers of humanitarian needs in Djibouti. Consecutive climate shocks also have a severe impact on the lives and livelihoods. 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, schools and other social infrastructure destroyed and access to sanitation, safe drinking water, and hygiene items among poor households further reduced.[12]


Consecutive climate shocks, persistent and chronic droughts and occasional flash floods are the main drivers of humanitarian needs in Djibouti, leading to severe water shortages and increasing the levels of malnutrition and food insecurity and consequently the disease outbreaks. Malnourishment prevalence is massive in rural areas, where 98 percent of the population suffer from inadequate and sufficiently varied diet, of whom 6,000 are children under age 5. According to the 2018-2022 IPC Chronic Food Insecurity Analysis, almost third of the total population suffer from food insecurity.[13]


Despite its sustained growth for the last two decades, the Directorate of Statistics and Demographic Studies estimates that 35 percent of the population lives in poverty in 2017, of whom 21 percent are in extreme poverty.[14] In rural areas, poverty incidence is much higher affecting 62 percent of the population.[13]



This overview was last updated in May 2020. 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. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[3] The World Bank. 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[4] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2019. Human Development Report 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[5] United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Djibouti Fact Sheet. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[6] World Food Programme (WFP). December 2019. Djibouti country brief. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[7] The World Bank. April 2020. Djibouti’s Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[8] International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2019. Djibouti: 2019 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Djibouti. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[9] International Labour Organization (ILO). 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[10] The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Mid-Year 2019. Djibouti humanitarian situation report. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
[11] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. September 2019. [ONLINE] Available at:
[12] Direction de la Statistique et des etudes Demographiques. June 2018. Results of the fourth Djiboutian households survey for social indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].

[13] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2020]
[14] International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2020. Policy Responses to COVID-19. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2020]

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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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