‘Adan, city, (ancient Adana) southern Yemen, a major port on the Red Sea. The economic capital of the Republic of Yemen, for 20 years ‘Adan was the capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and formerly constituted the British crown colony of ‘Adan, including the environs and the Kuria Muria and Perim islands. The city is located at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula on two small peninsulas of volcanic origin that rise to more than 300 m (1000 ft) in height. The eastern peninsula is known as ‘Adan and the western peninsula as Little ‘Adan. Its position near the entrance to the Red Sea has made the city one of the busiest fueling stations in the world, servicing most of the ships that pass through the Suez Canal. It is also a transshipment center for the region. A large oil refinery is located at Little ‘Adan. The principal sources of employment are the refinery and the port complex. International air service is provided at the ‘Adan Civil Airport, located at nearby Khormaksar.
An ancient trade center, the city of ‘Adan was under Egyptian control from the 3d century bc until it became a Roman colony in 24 bc. It fell successively under Ethiopian and Persian control and became associated with Yemen about the 7th century ad. It fell to the Turks in 1538 and was incorporated into the sultanate of Lahej in 1728. After British forces seized the city in 1839, it was administered as part of India until it became a crown colony in 1937. It was declared a free port in 1850, and coastal areas were annexed to the port in 1881 and 1888. During World War II the colony of ‘Adan was an important Allied air base.
In 1956 tension arose between Yemen (later the Yemen Arab Republic) and Great Britain over the ‘Adan Protectorate territory. Trade union and nationalist elements in the colony generally sided with Yemen, and strikes and riots resulted from British efforts to deal with border clashes by force. These groups also opposed an announcement by the British government on August 20, 1962, of a plan to merge the colony with the Federation of South Arabia, but the merger was effected in January 1963. In subsequent years ‘Adan was the focus of terrorist attacks by Arab nationalists attempting to expel the British from South Arabia. When the federation gained its independence on November 30, 1967, ‘Adan became part of the new state, known from 1970 to 1990 as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which merged with the Yemen Arab Republic on May 22, 1990, to form the new Republic of Yemen. Population (1984 estimate) 318,000.
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