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President Hassan Gouled Aptidon, a member of the Issa, became, and remains, the country's leader.

With an area of some 8,500 square miles (22,100 square kilometers), Djibouti has a population of about 510,000.

One traditional practice that is part of this belief system is anointing one's body with butter or ghee , a clarified butter used for cooking and other purposes.

There is also the annual celebration of a day of the dead called Rabena.

Besides the sea, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea border Djibouti.

The country's Red Sea coast stretches some 500 miles (800 kilometers).

For many, religious and community activities are governed by the sharia, the religious law of Islam as spelled out in that religion's holy book, the Koran.

Among the Afars, there are pre-Islamic beliefs in beings such as the sky-father god, Wak.

By 1894, France had merged its African colonies in the area into French Somaliland (present-day Djibouti).

Movements for independence began after World War II (after 1945) and the territory became independent, as Djibouti, on June 27, 1977.

The official languages of Djibouti are French and Arabic.

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