Yemen suffers from high population growth, unemployment running at 40%, rising food prices and acute levels of malnutrition.
Yemeni protesters are calling for a more responsive, inclusive government and improved economic conditions but - with oil production falling - the current economic trend is heading downwards.
Public demonstrations across the region are raising the stakes for change in Yemen.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh came to power in 1978, first as president of North Yemen and then, after unification with South Yemen in 1990, as leader of the newly united republic.
After 30 years in power, he faces widespread complaints of corruption and the concentration of power within his tribal sub-group, the Sanhan clan.
Large areas of the country are already in open revolt against his regime, with a breakaway movement in the south, attacks on the security services by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and a de-facto semi-autonomous area under the control of northern rebels.
When Saleh came into power Yemen (both combined) had a population of 8 million, women were averaging 8.7 children each, and a whopping 70 percent of the population was under the age of 25. But since then the infant death rate has dropped to only a fourth of what it was in 1980 and life expectancy has increased by 15 years, while the TFR has dropped to only 5.3. The predictable result is massive population growth. There are now 24 million Yemenis--a tripling over Saleh's rule, and 66 percent of them are under 25, and more than one in five is between the ages of 15-24. In a country with limited resources, the pressure for change has been building steam for a long time.