Socotra Introduction to the Archipelago Life on the Islands Projects and Activities SCDP Coordination Unit Conservation Zoning Plan Conservation Fund Links & Resources
Overview Landscape and Climate Development Issues & Threats  


The Socotra Archipelago

Mountains by Ocean

The Socotra Archipelago forms part of the Republic of Yemen, and is located in the northwestern Indian Ocean, some 350km south of the Arabian peninsula. The archipelago consists of the main island of Socotra (3625 km2 ) and three smaller islands, Abd Al Kuri, Samha and Darsa, and other rock outcrops (Koal Pharawn and Sabunya). The long geological isolation of the island from neighboring Arabia and Africa, has resulted in very high levels of endemism, which make the archipelago a site of global importance for biodiversity conservation. The island has in fact been historically known for its unique and spectacular vegetation.

Landscape and Climate

Socotra is characterized by the Haghier Mountains, reaching 1525 m a.s.l., and located in the north-western part of the island. The eastern and central parts of the island receive some rain during fall and winter, while the western part of the island is arid. In spring, from March to May, temperatures usually rise above 40C. The climate is characterized by the seasonal Monsoon winds, blowing from the North-East during the period October-May and from South-West during the period June-September. From June to September the island is accessible only by plane, because of exceedingly strong monsoon winds, and access by sea is virtually impossible due to high seas and strong winds all around the island. During this time, fishing is impossible and many people move from the northern coast to the mountains to escape the winds, and to harvest their date palms.

Map of Socotra
                           Map prepared by Rebecca Klaus on behalf of UNDP-GEF, 1999 ©

Samha, Abd Al-Kuri, and Darsa Islands

The other 3 main islands of Socotra archipelago are situated to the west of the island of Socotra. The small island of Samha (10x5 km), home of about 100 people, is reached in 4 hours by boat from Qualansiya. Abd Al-Kuri is larger (25x5 km) with about 300 inhabitants and reachable in approximately 12 hours by boat. Both islands are barren with very little vegetation and drinking water is of poor quality. No schools or health facilities exist. The people of these islands depend on fishing and occasionally come to Socotra for medical help or trade, but in general they are extremely isolated. The island of Darsa is not inhabited. 3D Views of Socotra

3D Views of Socotra
3-D View of Islands
Prepared by Rebecca Klaus on behalf of UNDP-GEF, 1999 ©