The Socotra Archipelago
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 40°C.
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
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
Prepared by Rebecca Klaus on behalf of UNDP-GEF, 1999 ©