AdenAden, Yemen, is a natural port, built on an old volcanic site and first used by the ancient Kingdom of Awsan between the 5th and 7th centuries B.C. The port's convenient position on the sea route between India and Europe has made Aden desirable to rulers who sought to possess it at various times throughout history.
Aden's last foreign rulers were the British, who invaded it on January 19, 1839 and left in 1967. It was the capital of the People's Democratic Republic of the Yemen until the uniting of North and South Yemen when it was declared a free trade zone.
Aden consists of a number of small towns: the port city, the industrial city known as Little Aden with its large oil refinery, and Madinat ash-Sha'b, the centre of government. Two suburbs, Khormaksar and Sheikh Othman, lie north of the old city, with the international airport situated between them.
Half-anna dhow, 1937
Aden's location also made it a popular exchange port for mail passing between places around the Indian Ocean and Europe. Mail is known to exist from June 15, 1839, although a regular postmaster was not appointed until 1857. Aden used postage stamps of British India, with no special identification, until it became a crown colony on April 1, 1937. At that point it received a series of pictorial stamps inscribed "Aden".
In 1939, a new issue of stamps included a portrait of King George VI, but the sultans in Seiyun and Hadhramaut (whose territories had been under British protection since the 1880s) objected to this, and so the British government issued separate stamps in 1942, but with the additional inscriptions Kathiri State of Seiyun and Qu'aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla (later Qu'aiti State in Hadhramaut), plus portraits of the respective sultans. All of these types were valid everywhere in Aden. The sultans were all overthrown in 1967.