Republic of Yemen
President: Ali Abdallah Saleh
Ali Abdallah Saleh, Yemen's longest-serving leader in recent times, was re-elected to another seven-year term in September 2006. That presidential race was the first time Mr Saleh had faced a serious challenge since coming to power 28 years earlier.
President Saleh has been in power for more than 30 yearsIn response to Yemeni demonstrations as well as protests which toppled the Tunisian and Egyptian leaders, Mr Saleh promised not to extend his presidency in 2013 or to hand over to his son.
He has made - and broken - similar promises in the past.
Mr Saleh became president of the new republic created by the merger of the two Yemens in 1990. He had led the Yemen Arab Republic - the northern part of present-day Yemen - since 1978 when he came to power in a military coup.
He won the first-ever direct presidential elections in 1999 with more than 96% of the vote. The main opposition party, which was barred from fielding a candidate, described the poll as a sham.
Until the "Arab Spring" protests of early 2011, Mr Saleh was backed by the main pillars of power in Yemen, the tribes and the army. However, once popular protests calling on him to step down had gathered pace, his traditional sources of support also began to show signs of ebbing away.
President Saleh's government has cooperated with the US in its "war on terror" and has settled border disputes with its neighbours, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
The government faces a range of security difficulties, including a military challenge from southern separatists, an increasing threat from al-Qaeda militants and a bloody conflict with Shia rebels in the north. Economically, the country faces chronic hunger, unemployment and corruption while oil and water resources are drying up.
Mr Saleh joined the army when he was 16 and rose through the ranks to become field marshal.
President Saleh has been in power for more than 30 years