Over 3,000 years of history have left Yemen with a unique cultural heritage. Today, Yemen is the only multi-party democracy in the Arabian Peninsula. The smallest part of what was South Yemen's six provinces, or governates, is Aden, with a capital of the same name. This ancient town, lying on the north coast of the Gulf of Aden, was built upon a former volcano. Its shoreline is cut by enormous craters making a good natural harbour. Aden is divided into three areas: Crater, the old commercial quarter; At-Tawahi, the business section; and Ma'allah, the native harbour area. There are a number of interesting sights to see in Aden, including the 1st century cisterns of Tawila, an 8th and a 14th century mosque, and several small museums.
Founded as a terminus of the spice road of western Arabia, Aden came under Arab and Turkish control over the centuries. British interest in Aden as a strategic base started from Napoleon's conquest of Egypt and the threat to Britain's communications with India. The British established a garrison in Aden from 1800 and it became a permanent British stronghold and coaling facility for the shipping. Opposition to British presence led to a revolution in 1962 and the National Liberation Front overthrew the British backed Royalists, but the emergence of the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 delayed independence until 1970. But Yemen was divided by political and ethnic conflicts and the country split into two - North and South Yemen. It was not until 1990 when a reconciliation was reached and they reunited.
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