Socotra Archipelago is an Island 380 kilometers (240miles) south of the Arabic Peninsula and appears to be an extension of the horn of Africa. The island has an area of 3900 square kilometers (1400 square miles). It is the largest of the four islands in Socotra and lies near a major shipping route between the Arabian sea and the Guardafui Channel.
The interior of Socotra is occupied by the Hajar Mountains, with coastal plains bordering it from the north while the broader plain stretches from the south. Socotra is home to over825 species of plants, 95% of its snail species and 90% of its reptile species do not occur anywhere else in the universe. Due to its universal importance and distance species of flora and fauna, it was designated a World Heritage by UNESCO in 2008.
History of Socotra Archipelago
Socotra’s name has been mentioned in a lot of legendary stories. However, the name Socotra means “island abode of bliss,” The name was believed to be given by the “Sanskrit.” The initial inhabitants were believed to be Christians before the religion disappeared in the 17th century. Socotra’s rule was later believed to be by the Mahar sultans of southern Yemen before the Portuguese attacked and took over the country between 1507 and 1511.
Later in 1834, the British tried to purchase the island but failed, and later the British offered protection for the entire sultanate, and the sultans accepted the offer. In 1967 the sultanate ended after the joining of Socotra to independent Southern Yemen.
Two powerful cyclones struck the island in 2015, damaging roads, homes, and infrastructure. This occurred when the island was engulfed in a civil war making the island rely on relief food from the Gulf Cooperation States. Its biggest contributor was the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which later set up a military base in 2016 as part of its support to the (STC) in southern Yemen.
In 202, Socotra became a battleground between the internationally recognized government in Aden when they were challenged by STC, which led to the civil war.
Flora and Fauna diversity in Socotra Archipelago
Socotra is considered a jewel of Bio diversity conversion in the Arabian sea with different flora and fauna. With its geological location at the horn of Africa, it has been named the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.” 90% of reptile species, 37% of Socotra’s plants, and 95% of land snails are unique in Socotra and cannot be found anywhere.
Socotra plays a huge role in the biodiversity conservation of its diverse marine and terrestrial group organisms. 307 (37%) of its plant species out of the total 825 are erotic. According to Birdlife International, Socotra plays a vital role in birdlife and is identified as one of the 22 bird areas. It also plays as a conservation home for endangered species on both land and water.
There is high Endemism, with 96% of snails representing 96 species and 90% of reptiles representing 34 species only found in Socotra. There is also diversification in marine life, with 730 species of coastal fish, 253 species of reef-building corals, and 300 species of lobsters, crabs, and shrimps on this diverse island.
UNESCO Recognition of Socotra Archipelago
In July 2008, the island was recognized as a world heritage by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The move was wildly unanimously welcomed by the European Union and requested the International Organization of Protecting Environment and UNESCO to classify Socotra Archipelago as one of the major environment heritages.