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The name of the country is derived from the legendary ancestor Yaman, the son of Qahtan, or from the Arabic root ymn ("the right") since Yemen is located to the right of the Meccan sanctuary of Kaaba.
Some scholars compare the Arabic word yumna ("happy") with the Roman name for the southwest Arabia, Arabia Felix ("Happy Arabia").
Date palms are cultivated in small oases, and the population is semi nomadic.
There are salt deposits near Shabwa, Safir, and Harib.
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Cultivated patches are irrigated with rain and flood waters and from wells.
The Gulf of Aden coastal plain, which is five to ten miles (eight to sixteen kilometers) wide, is discontinuous.
Its ports, from Aden in the west to Sayhut and al-Ghayda in the east, are connected with the inland regions rather than with one another. The population is ethnically Arab, divided between Sunni Muslims of the Shafi'i school and Shi'a Muslims of the Zaydi school.
It is an area of fishing, commerce, and trade in the ports of al-Mukha (Mocha) and al-Hudayda as well as agriculture in oases (the main crops are millet, maize, sugarcane, watermelons, tobacco, and cotton) as well as livestock breeding.
Handicrafts are made in Zabid, Bayt al-Faqih, and other centers.