Djibouti is a multiethnic country. The two largest ethnic groups are the Somali (60%) and the Afar (35%). The Somali clan component is mainly composed of the Issas, in addition to smaller numbers of Gadabuursi. Both are sub-clans of the larger Dir; the Issas form part of the Madoobe Dir, while the Gadabuursi are part of the Madaluug Dir. The remaining 5% of Djibouti's population primarily consists of Arabs, Ethiopians and Europeans (French and Italians). Most local residents are urban dwellers; the remainder are pastoralists.

In addition, Djibouti is a multilingual nation. According to Ethnologue, the majority of the population speaks Somali (297,000 speakers) or Afar (99,200 speakers) as a first language, which are the mother tongues of the Somali and Afar ethnic groups, respectively. Both languages belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic family. There are two official languages in Djibouti: Arabic (Afro-Asiatic) and French (Indo-European). Arabic is of social, cultural and religious importance. In formal settings, it consists of Modern Standard Arabic. Colloquially, about 36,000 local residents speak the Ta'izzi-Adeni Arabic dialect, also known as Djibouti Arabic. French was inherited from the colonial period and is the primary language of instruction. About 10,200 Djiboutians speak it as a first language. Immigrant languages include Omani Arabic (38,900 speakers), Amharic (1,400 speakers), Greek (1,000 speakers) and Hindi (600 speakers).