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Socotra

Socotra səkō´trə, sō– [key], island, 1,383 sq mi (3,582 sq km), S Yemen, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden. With three much smaller islands to the west it forms the Socotra Archipelago governorate. Socotra's mountainous interior rises to c.5,000 ft (1,520 m). Its unusual plants and animals, many of them unique to the island, make Socotra one of the most biologically diverse locations in the world. The inhabitants speak Socotri, a South Semitic language. Most farm, fish, or herd; exports include fish, ghee, aloes, and frankincense.

Known to the ancient Greeks, Socotra shared the political fortunes of S Arabia, though it remained predominantly Christian until the 17th cent. The Portuguese briefly occupied the island in the early 1500s, and it was occupied by the East India Company in 1834. In 1886 it became part of Britain's Aden protectorate and was used as a refueling station. In 1967, Socotra was joined to the newly formed nation of South Yemen, which merged with northern Yemen in 1990. The island was the site of a Soviet base in the 1970s and 80s.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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