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This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006


Map of Eritrea



Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Eritrea Top of Page
Background:
Definition Field Listing
Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation. Ethiopia's annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating governmental forces; independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. Eritrea currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation that is monitoring a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone on the border with Ethiopia. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002 but final demarcation is on hold due to Ethiopian objections.
   Geography    Eritrea Top of Page
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
15 00 N, 39 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Africa
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,626 km
border countries: Djibouti 109 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually, heaviest June to September); semiarid in western hills and lowlands
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil depression -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,018 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 4.78%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 95.19% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
210 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
frequent droughts; locust swarms
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
strategic geopolitical position along world's busiest shipping lanes; Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993
   People    Eritrea Top of Page
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4,786,994 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 44% (male 1,059,458/female 1,046,955)
15-64 years: 52.5% (male 1,244,153/female 1,268,189)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 82,112/female 86,127) (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 17.8 years
male: 17.6 years
female: 18 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.47% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
34.33 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.6 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 46.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.22 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 40.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 59.03 years
male: 57.44 years
female: 60.66 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.08 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.7% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
60,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6,300 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
Definition Field Listing
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria is a high risk in some locations (2005)
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
ethnic Tigrinya 50%, Tigre and Kunama 40%, Afar 4%, Saho (Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%, other 3%
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Afar, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other Cushitic languages
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58.6%
male: 69.9%
female: 47.6% (2003 est.)
   Government    Eritrea Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: State of Eritrea
conventional short form: Eritrea
local long form: Hagere Ertra
local short form: Ertra
former: Eritrea Autonomous Region in Ethiopia
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
transitional government
note: following a successful referendum on independence for the Autonomous Region of Eritrea on 23-25 April 1993, a National Assembly, composed entirely of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, was established as a transitional legislature; a Constitutional Commission was also established to draft a constitution; ISAIAS Afworki was elected president by the transitional legislature; the constitution, ratified in May 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; parliamentary elections had been scheduled in December 2001, but were postponed indefinitely; currently the sole legal party is the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ)
Capital:
Definition Field Listing
name: Asmara (Asmera)
geographic coordinates: 15 20 N, 38 53 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
6 regions (zobatat, singular - zoba); Anseba, Debub (Southern), Debubawi K'eyih Bahri (Southern Red Sea), Gash Barka, Ma'akel (Central), Semenawi Keyih Bahri (Northern Red Sea)
Independence:
Definition Field Listing
24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 24 May (1993)
Constitution:
Definition Field Listing
a transitional constitution, decreed on 19 May 1993, was replaced by a new constitution adopted on 23 May 1997, but not yet implemented
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
primary basis is the Ethiopian legal code of 1957, with revisions; new civil, commercial, and penal codes have not yet been promulgated; also relies on customary and post-independence-enacted laws and, for civil cases involving Muslims, Sharia law
Suffrage:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government and is head of the State Council and National Assembly
head of government: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government and is head of the State Council and National Assembly
cabinet: State Council is the collective executive authority; members appointed by the president
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 8 June 1993 (next election date uncertain as the National Assembly did not hold a presidential election in December 2001 as anticipated)
election results: ISAIAS Afworki elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - ISAIAS Afworki 95%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral National Assembly (150 seats; term limits not established)
elections: in May 1997, following the adoption of the new constitution, 75 members of the PFDJ Central Committee (the old Central Committee of the EPLF), 60 members of the 527-member Constituent Assembly, that had been established in 1997 to discuss and ratify the new constitution, and 15 representatives of Eritreans living abroad were formed into a Transitional National Assembly to serve as the country's legislative body until countrywide elections to a National Assembly were held; although only 75 of 150 members of the Transitional National Assembly were elected, the constitution stipulates that once past the transition stage, all members of the National Assembly will be elected by secret ballot of all eligible voters; National Assembly elections scheduled for December 2001 were postponed indefinitely
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
High Court - regional, subregional, and village courts; also have military and special courts
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, the only party recognized by the government [ISAIAS Afworki]; note - a National Assembly committee drafted a law on political parties in January 2001, but the full National Assembly has not yet debated or voted on it
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Eritrean Islamic Jihad or EIJ (also including Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement or EIJM (also known as the Abu Sihel Movement)); Eritrean Islamic Salvation or EIS (also known as the Arafa Movement); Eritrean Liberation Front or ELF [ABDULLAH Muhammed]; Eritrean National Alliance or ENA (a coalition including EIJ, EIS, ELF, and a number of ELF factions) [HERUY Tedla Biru]; Eritrean Public Forum or EPF [ARADOM Iyob]
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
ACP, AfDB, AU, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador GIRMA Asmerom
chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304
consulate(s) general: Oakland (California)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Scott H. DELISI
embassy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, Asmara
mailing address: P. O. Box 211, Asmara
telephone: [291] (1) 120004
FAX: [291] (1) 127584
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) dividing the flag into two right triangles; the upper triangle is green, the lower one is blue; a gold wreath encircling a gold olive branch is centered on the hoist side of the red triangle
   Economy    Eritrea Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country. Like the economies of many African nations, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. The Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 1998-2000 severely hurt Eritrea's economy. GDP growth fell to zero in 1999 and to -12.1% in 2000. The May 2000 Ethiopian offensive into northern Eritrea caused some $600 million in property damage and loss, including losses of $225 million in livestock and 55,000 homes. The attack prevented planting of crops in Eritrea's most productive region, causing food production to drop by 62%. Even during the war, Eritrea developed its transportation infrastructure, asphalting new roads, improving its ports, and repairing war-damaged roads and bridges. Since the war ended, the government has maintained a firm grip on the economy, expanding the use of the military and party-owned businesses to complete Eritrea's development agenda. Erratic rainfall and the delayed demobilization of agriculturalists from the military kept cereal production well below normal, holding down growth in 2002-05. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master social problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills, as well as the willingness to open its economy to private enterprise so that the diaspora's money and expertise can foster economic growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$4.471 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$1.244 billion (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1,000 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 10.2%
industry: 25.4%
services: 64.3% (2005 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 80%
industry and services: 20%
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA%
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
50% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15% (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
25.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $248.8 million
expenditures: $409.4 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, coffee, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, salt, cement, commercial ship repair
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA%
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
270.9 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
251.9 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4,600 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
-$291 million (2005 est.)
Exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$33.58 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures (2000)
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Italy 39.3%, US 14.9%, Belarus 7.3%, Germany 5.8%, UK 4.9% (2005)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$676.5 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods (2000)
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 22.2%, Italy 20.3%, France 15.9%, US 12.8%, Ireland 8.2% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$30 million (2005 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$311 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$77 million (1999)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
nakfa (ERN)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
nakfa (ERN) per US dollar - 14.5 (2005), 13.788 (2004), 13.878 (2003), 13.958 (2002), 11.31 (2001)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Eritrea Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
37,700 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
20,000 (2004)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: inadequate
domestic: inadequate; most telephones are in Asmara; government is seeking international tenders to improve the system (2002)
international: country code - 291; note - international connections exist
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 2, FM NA, shortwave 2 (2000)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
1 (2000)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.er
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1,047 (2005)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
50,000 (2005)
   Transportation    Eritrea Top of Page
Airports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 13
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Railways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 306 km
narrow gauge: 306 km 0.950-m gauge (2005)
Roadways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 4,010 km
paved: 874 km
unpaved: 3,136 km (1999)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 6 ships (1000 GRT or over) 19,506 GRT/23,649 DWT
by type: cargo 3, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1 (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Assab, Massawa
   Military    Eritrea Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 16 months (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 893,361
females age 18-49: 891,662 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 555,553
females age 18-49: 562,426 (2005)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 50,156
females age 18-49: 49,746 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$220.1 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.7% (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Eritrea Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but despite international intervention, mutual animosities, accusations, and armed posturing have prevented demarcation; Ethiopia refuses to withdraw to the delimited boundary until claimed technical errors made by the EEBC that ignored "human geography" are addressed, including the award of Badme, the focus of the 1998-2000 war; Eritrea insists that the EEBC decision be implemented immediately without modifications; in 2005 Eritrea began severely restricting the operations of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) monitoring the 25km-wide Temporary Security Zone in Eritrea since 2000; Sudan sustains over 110,000 Eritrean refugees and accuses Eritrea of supporting Sudanese rebel groups
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
IDPs: 59,000 (border war with Ethiopia from 1998-2000; most IDPs are near the central border region) (2005)

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006


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