Google+ Odd and Strange - World of Odd Stuff, Fun Facts and Bizarre Stories: The Lost Islands of Socotra, Yemen

25 December 2012

The Lost Islands of Socotra, Yemen

Socotra IslandSocotra is a collection of 4 islands cut away from the rest of the world about 6 million years ago. It is one of the most isolated places on earth. Socotra's long isolation and fierce climate has given birth to a unique variety of endemic flora, giving Socotra the distinction of being 'the most alien looking place on earth'.

Socotra Map

Socotra's enchanting islands lie about 240 km east of the Horn of Africa and 380 km south of the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. Socotra, the 'Galapagos of Indian Ocean', is the largest island in the Middle East and is known to the world as one of the best sites to witness biodiversity.
The name 'Socotra' comes from Sanskrit 'dvipa sukhadhara' meaning 'island of bliss'. I personally believe that it is the peace and the natural grace of the place that earned it such a name.
Socotra has a seriously harsh climate. The average temperature around the year is about 25 degrees Centigrade. Rains are very scanty and strong winds hit the island in monsoon.

Socotra's geography is also a major reason why it is such a fascinating place. Its little patch of land has a diverse geography. The landscape consists of features like plains, plateaus, sandy beaches and mountains as high as 1503 meters. The plateaus are full of caves, some of which go as deep as 7 km. There are sand dunes and amazing beaches which add to the awesomeness of the place.

Socotra PlantsSocotra Flower

Inspite of the scorching temperature, Socotra supports one of the world's most amazing plant life. For some people, it is the fierce heat itself and the lack of water that has helped Socotra's flora to evolve in such unique forms.
Socotra is home to a total of 825 plant species, out of which about one third are endemic i.e found nowhere on earth. Which makes Socotra one of the world's largest endemic plant populations.

Dragon Blood Tree, Socotra
Dragon Blood Tree
This is one of Socotra's most popular plant. It is named the Dragon's Blood Tree. It's unique quality doesn't lie in it's strange shape but the red sap it produces which is used to make crystals which are used for dyeing and for medicines.

Socotra Bunting
Socotra Bunting
Socotra Cormorant
Socotra Cormorant
Socotra Lizard
Socotra Lizard
Socotra also offers a diverse show of fauna, with birds mostly dominating the environment. Socotra has about 140 species of birds which make it a heaven for bird watchers. Out of the 140, 10 species are endemic. The most important birds found on Socotra are the Socotra warbler, Socotra sunbird, starling, bunting, sparrow and cisticola.
Socotra also has some small reptiles with mammals only present in the form bats and feral cats.
Socotra City
The misty Socotra city
The 4 islands of Socotra have a total population of about 70,000. The inhabitants are mostly of Arabian and African origin who speak a language called Socotri, the language itself being endemic. They are peaceful, joyful, and hospitable. For me, they all deserve a big thankful hug for conserving this amazing ecosystem for the rest of the world.

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