Friday, April 22, 2011

Facts About Socotra - strangefacts

  • Measuring 1,200 square miles, Socotra (also Suqutra) Island is located in the Arabian Sea, about 500 miles from Aden and less than 200 miles from Somalia
  • The sparsely populated island has a mountainous interior and most of its population engages in farming or fishing; the most striking feature of this isolated place is its biodiversity and the great number of unique flora and fauna
  • The ruler of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra resided there under British rule during much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • The island became a part of South Yemen in 1967 and, with Yemeni unification in 1990, it became a part of the Republic of Yemen (ROY)
  • Given its location near the sea lanes, Socotra was long thought to be of strategic value by Western imperial powers
  • During the latter half of the Cold War, South Yemen allowed the Soviet Union to maintain a submarine base and other military facilities there; Russia continues to maintain a modest naval presence
  • During the late 1990s there were rumors about a deal between the United States and the ROY over military facilities on the island, but the complicated, if not strained, relations between the two countries, beginning with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Aden in 2000, squelched this talk
  • The considerable activities regarding Socotra now focus on its development as a tourist destination featuring and protecting its unique biodiversity
  • Socotra has been described as one of the most alien-looking place on Earth, and it’s not hard to see why
  • It is very isolated with a harsh, dry climate and as a result a third of its plant-life is found nowhere else, including the famous Dragon’s Blood Tree, a very-unnatural looking umbrella-shaped tree which produces red sap
  • There are also a large number of birds, spiders and other animals native to the island, and coral reefs around it which similarly have a large number of endemic (i.e. only found there) species
  • Socotra is considered the most biodiverse place in the Arabian sea, and is a World Heritage Site
  • There was initially an Oldoway (or Oldowan) culture in Socotra. Oldoway stone tools were found in the area around Hadibo by V.A. Zhukov, a member of the Russian Complex Expedition in 2008
  • Socotra is part of the Republic of Yemen. It has long been a part of the 'Adan Governorate, but in 2004 it became attached to the Hadhramaut Governorate, which is much closer to the island than 'Adan (although the closest governorate would be Al Mahrah)
  • A local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by Thomas in AD 52. In the 10th century, the Arab geographer Abu Mohammed Al-Hassan Al-Hamdani stated that in his time most of the inhabitants were Christians
  • In 1507, a fleet commanded by Tristão da Cunha with Afonso de Albuquerque landed an occupying force at the then capital of Suq, their objective was a Portuguese base to stop Arab commerce from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, and to liberate the presumed friendly Christians from Islamic rule
  • Here they started to build a fortress
  • However, they were not welcomed as enthusiastically as they had expected and abandoned the island four years later. The island was also come across by Somali sailors
  • Socotra is one of the most isolated landforms on Earth of continental origin (i.e. not of volcanic origin)
  • The archipelago was once part of the supercontinent of Gondwana and detached during the Miocene, in the same set of rifting events that opened the Gulf of Aden to its northwest
  • The main island has three geographical terrains: the narrow coastal plains, a limestone plateau permeated with karstic caves and the Haghier Mountains
  • The mountains of Socotra rise to 5000 feet (1,524 m). The island is a little over 80 miles (128.7 km) long east to west and typically 18–22 mi (29–35.4 ) north to south
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