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Map of YemenFlag of YemenYemen / Geography /
Arabic: hadramawt
Other spellings: Hadhramaut; Hadhramout; Hadhramawt; Hadamut

Shibam, Yemen. Photo: Earl and Nazima Kowall/CORBIS
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From Shibam.

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Satellite view of Hadramawt valley, Yemen. East is bottom, west top of photo. Photo: NASA
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Stamp during the British proctorate of Aden, when Sey'un was the capital of the Kathiri sultanate.

Stamp during the British proctorate of Aden, when Shihr and Mukalla were a semi-autonomous sultanate.

The al-Muhajir tomb in Tarim, Yemen.
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From Tarim.

Region of Yemen, located in the eastern regions. It may be understood as the valley of Hadramawt, or Wadi Hadramawt, located in the mountaineous interior, or the larger lands stretching to the sea.
The Hadramawt governorate has an area of 167,000 km², ca. 1.2 million inhabitants, and the sea port of Mukalla as its administrative centre and largest city (190,000). Other large settlements include the sea port of Ash-Shihr (70,000); Say'un (55,000) in the Hadramawt valley. In this valley it is the smaller Shibam (16,000) which is most known, thanks to its "skyscraper" architecture.
There is today a Hadramawt governorate, covering lands smaller than the historical Hadramawt. Before the creation of modern Yemen, the lands of Hadramawt formed to sultanates: Qu'ayti and Kathiri.
Until the 3rd century CE, Hadramawt belonged to the lands of Shabwa. Some definitions make Hadramawt include the lands of the former Mahra sultanate, but these lands are neither geographically or culturally Hadramati.
Central in the region is the Hadramawt valley set in the Al-Jol pleateau. The valley is marked by its deeply sunk wadis. It is the home of a population of about 200,000.
Hadramawt borders historically to the Dhofar region of southern Oman, in the north to the empty lands of Rub al-Khali.
The communities of Hadramawt consists of densely built towns located to ancient wells.
The societies are centred around the tribe, and there is the Sayyid aristocracy, families that claim descendancy from Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
The economy is based upon agriculture of wheat and millet, dates and coconuts and some coffee. Sheep and goats are tended by Bedouins.
The climate of Hadramawt is hard, summer temperatures may climb up to 50ºC. Winter climate is moderate and pleasant.
The name is ancient, and its original meaning is not known. The last syllabus, "mawt" means "death" in Arabic, and there have been speculations linked to this.
The population of Hadramawt are Arabs speaking Arabic of the Hadrami dialect. Islam is the only religion, with a substantial amount of Zaydis. The distribution between Sunnis and Zaydis is not known.

The history of Hadramawt goes many thousand years back in time. Many scholars believe that the lands of Hazarmaveth from the Bible's Book of Genesis relates to Hadramawt.
9th century BCE:The oldest archaeological finds in the Hadramawt valley.
Around 750: The first mention of a Kingdom of Hadramawt, in Yemeni sources. The capital was Shabwa.
3rd century: Shabwa is mentioned in Greek sources, named Sabota.
1st century CE: Roman historian, Pliny, describes Shabwa as a city with no less than 60 temples inside its city walls.
Around 100: Hadramawt is conquered by the Himyarites.
3rd century: Shabwa is conquered by Sabaeans, then its population is driven out by the nomadic Kinda tribe. Shabwa's population seeks refuge in the Hadramawt valley.
7th century: Islam is introduced to Hadramawt, meeting fierce resistance for a long time.
746: The Ibadi branch of Islam is introduced to Hadramawt, becoming a strong force here.
951: Sayyid Ahmad al-Muhajir, a descendants of Muhammad, and 80 families in his group settle in Hadramawt. He introduced the Shafi'i branch of Sunni Islam to the region.
1488: The Kathiri tribe of San'a takes control of Hadramawt and establishes itself here, forming a sultanate in the eastern part of the valley. Their first capital was Tarim, this changed later to Say'un.
16th century: The al-Qu'ayti tribe sets up their sultanate in the western part of the Hadramawt valley, with Al-Qatn as their capital.
1809: Invasion of the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, destroying all important structures of the valley.
1830: War over Shibam between the Qu'ayti and the Kathiris, which for long had been under joint rule.
Early 19th century: Hadramis begin migrating to ports around the Indean Ocean, forming trade communities both along the African coast and as far away as Indonesia.
1888: A treaty of protection and influence is signed between the Qu'ayti sultan and the British.
1918: A treaty of protection and influence is signed between the Kathiri sultan and the British.
1934: The British intervenes in Hadrami matters, becoming formally advisors in the Hadramawt.
1967: Aden claims independence, forming the People's Republic of South Yemen, in which Hadramawt is a region. The sultans of Hadramawt take exile in Saudi Arabia.
1982: An asphalt road to the Hadramawt valley is completed, connecting directly with Mukalla and the coast.
1994: The civil war of Yemen begins, but hardly touch Hadramawt at all.

By Tore Kjeilen