Socotra, Yemen – Country Information
Yemen boasts hugely varied landscapes, from magnificent mountains to lush fruit-growing valleys to semi-arid plains and wide sandy beaches. The towns and cities hide souks and spice markets, mosques and ancient city walls.
The remote and exotic island of Socotra is located between the coasts of Yemen and Somalia in the Indian ocean. The island is a little over 80 miles long east to west and typically 18-22 miles north to south. Biologically, the Socotran Archipelago is well-known for its assemblage of endemic and unusual species. There are 850 recorded plant species, of which approximately 230 to 260 (about 30 percent) are endemic. Some of the plants on Socotra represent the last surviving members of their genus. The limestone plateau and the Haggier Mountains are the richest areas for endemic plant species, but endemics are found throughout the island in every type of vegetation.
The human population of Socotra is estimated to be between 20,000 and 80,000 with lowest densities on the dry, rocky central plateau areas.
The climate of the region is strongly influenced by both the southwest (April-October) and northeast (November-March) monsoons. The southwest monsoons bring extremely strong, hot and dry winds from Africa. There is little precipitation and extreme desiccation during these months. The winter monsoon begins in November and lasts until March. Mean annual rainfall varies from about 150 mm on the coastal plains to more than 1,000 mm in the mountains. Rainfall is sporadic, and there are some years when no rain falls.
Nocturnal dew is far more important to the water supply than monsoonal rain, especially in the high altitude mountain belt. The mountainous cloud zone provides ground water and running water for the entire island. The dew and mist is channeled into small brooks and rivulets that support aquatic fauna and may flow the entire way from the mountains to the sea in winter. Mean average temperatures range from 27º to 37ºC maximum and 17º to 26ºC minimum along the coastal plain. It is substantially cooler in the Haggier Mountains.