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Country Profile

Capital City: Asmara (2,300 meters (7,500 ft.) above sea level; pop. 435 000)

Other Cities: Keren (57 000); Assab (28 000); Massawa (25 000); Afabet (25 000); Tessenie (25 000); Mendefera (25 000); Dekemhare (20 000); Adekeieh (15 000); Barentu (15 000); Ghinda (15 000).

Local Time: UTC +3h

Location: Eastern Africa, in the Horn of Africa bordering the Red Sea in northeast.
Area: 125,000 sq. km. (48,000 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Central highlands straddle escarpment associated with Rift Valley, dry coastal plains, and western lowlands.
Border countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan

Climate: Temperate in the mountains and hot in the lowlands, hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast;.

Transition government.
Independence: Eritrea officially celebrated its independence on May 24, 1993 (from Ethiopia)
Constitution: Ratified 24 May 1997, but not yet implemented.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Eritrean(s).
Population: about 4.3 million (about 1 million Eritreans in exile).
Ethnic Groups: Tigrinya 50%, Tigre 31.4%, Saho 5%, Afar 5%, Beja 2.5%, Bilen 2.1%, Kunama 2%, Nara 1.5%, and Rashaida .5%.
Religions: Christian 50% (mostly Orthodox), Muslim 48%, indigenous beliefs 2%
Languages: Tigrinya (Tigrigna), Arabic, English, Tigré (second major language) and other Cushitic languages.
Literacy: NA


Currency: Nakfa (ERN)

Natural resources: Gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish.

Agriculture products:
Sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, coffee, sisal; livestock, goats; fish.

Industries: Food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles.

Exports partners: Malaysia 65.1%, Italy 10.4%, France 4.4% (2003)

Imports partners: USA 39.7%, Italy 19.1%, Turkey 6.8%, Russia 5.4%, France 4.7% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Eritrea

The State of Eritrea - Ministry of Information

The State of Eritrea Ministry of Tourism

The Permanent Mission of the State of Eritrea to the United Nations

Eritrean Missions Abroad and Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Eritrea

Map of Eritrea

Map of Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia



Background:  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 on
12 December 2000.  Eritrea currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation
that will monitor the border region until an international commission
determines and demarcates the boundary between the two countries.

Geography Eritrea

Location:  Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti
and Sudan

Geographic coordinates:  15 00 N, 39 00 E

Map references:  Africa

Area:  total: 121,320 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 121,320 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:  total: 1,626 km border countries: Djibouti 109 km,
Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km

Coastline:  2,234 km total; mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in
Red Sea 1,083 km

Maritime claims:  territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate:  hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter
in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually); semiarid
in western hills and lowlands; rainfall heaviest during June-September
except in coastal desert

Terrain:  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:  lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil
depression -75 m highest point: Soira 3,018 m

Natural resources:  gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and
natural gas, fish

Land use:  arable land: 4% permanent crops: 0% other: 96% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  220 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  frequent droughts; locust swarms

Environment - current issues:  deforestation; desertification; soil
erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Desertification, Endangered Species signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:  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

Population:  4,465,651 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 42.9% (male 958,564; female 955,625) 15-64
years: 53.9% (male 1,192,454; female 1,213,313) 65 years and over: 3.2%
(male 73,017; female 72,678) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  3.8% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  42.25 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  11.82 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  7.61 migrant(s)/1,000 population note: UNHCR began
repatriating about 150,000 Eritrean refugees from Sudan in 2001 following
the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2000
(2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  73.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   59.13 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  5.8 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  2.87% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  NA

Nationality:  noun: Eritrean(s) adjective: Eritrean

Ethnic groups:  ethnic Tigrinya 50%, Tigre and Kunama 40%, Afar 4%, Saho
(Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%, other 3%

Religions:  Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant

Languages:  Afar, Amharic, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other
Cushitic languages

Literacy:  definition: NA total population: 25% male: NA% female: NA%

Government Eritrea

Country name:   State of Eritrea conventional short form:  in Ethiopia
local short form: Ertra

Government type:  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; Afworki ISAIAS 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 to take place in December 2001, but were
postponed; currently the sole legal party is the People's Front for
Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), though a draft political parties law is
under consideration

Capital:  Asmara (formerly Asmera)

Administrative divisions:  6 regions (regions, singular - region);
Central, Anelba, Southern Red Sea, Northern Red Sea, Southern, Gash-Barka

Independence:  24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 24 May (1993)

Constitution:  the transitional constitution, decreed on 19 May 1993,
was replaced by a new constitution adopted on 23 May 1997, but not
yet implemented

Legal system:  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:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Afworki ISAIAS (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:  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:  (next election date uncertain as the National Assembly
did not hold a presidential election in December 2001 as anticipated)
election results:  ISAIAS Afworki 95%

Legislative branch:  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 which 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 indefinately

Judicial branch:  High court, regional, subregional, and village courts;
also have military and special courts

Political parties and leaders:  People's Front for Democracy and Justice
or PFDJ, the only party recognized by the government [Afworki ISAIAS];
note - a National Assembly committee drafted a law on political parties
in January 2001, but the full National Assembly had not yet debated or
voted on it as of December 2001

Political pressure groups and leaders:  Eritrean Islamic Jihad or EIJ;
Eritrean Liberation Front or ELF [ABDULLAH Muhammed]; Eritrean Liberation
Front-Revolutionary Council or ELF-RC [Ahmed NASSER]; Eritrean Liberation
Front-United Organization or ELF-UO [Mohammed Said NAWD]; Eritrean Public
Forum or EPF [ARADOM Iyob]

International organization participation:  ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador GIRMA
Asmerom telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991 FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304 chancery:
1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Donald J. McCONNELL embassy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, Asmara mailing
address: P. O. Box 211, Asmara telephone: [291] (1) 120004 FAX: [291]
(1) 127584

Flag description:  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

Economy - overview:  Since independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 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 in 1999 fell to less than 1%,
and GDP decreased by 8.2% 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. Eritrea's economic
future remains mixed. The cessation of Ethiopian trade, which mainly used
Eritrean ports before the war, leaves Eritrea with a large economic hole
to fill. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master
fundamental social problems like illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills,
and to convert the diaspora's money and expertise into economic growth.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $3.2 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  7% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $740 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 17% industry: 29% services:
54% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  15% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  NA

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 80%, industry and services 20%

Unemployment rate:  NA%

Budget:  revenues: $206.4 million expenditures: $615.7 million, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries:  food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles

Industrial production growth rate:  NA%

Electricity - production:  210 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0%
(2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  195.3 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh NA kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh NA kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton,
tobacco, coffee, sisal; livestock, goats; fish

Exports:  $34.8 million (f.o.b., 2000)

Exports - commodities:  livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small

Exports - partners:  Sudan 27.2%, Ethiopia 26.5%, Japan 13.2%, UAE 7.3%,
Italy 5.3% (1998)

Imports:  $470.5 million (c.i.f., 2000)

Imports - commodities:  machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured

Imports - partners:  Italy 17.4%, UAE 16.2%, Germany 5.7%, UK 4.5%,
Korea 4.4% (1998)

Debt - external:  $281 million (2000 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $77 million (1999)

Currency:  nakfa (ERN)

Currency code:  ERN

Exchange rates:  nakfa (ERN) per US dollar - 9.5 (January 2000), 7.6
(January 1999), 7.2 (March 1998 est.)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Eritrea

Telephones - main lines in use:  30,000 (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  NA; note - mobile cellular service was
introduced in May 2001

Telephone system:  general assessment: inadequate domestic: very
inadequate; most telephones are in Asmara; government is seeking
international tenders to improve the system (2002) international: NA;
note - international connections exist

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 2, FM NA, shortwave 2 (2000)

Radios:  345,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  1 (2000)

Televisions:  1,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .er

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  5 (2001)

Internet users:  12,000 (2001)

Transportation Eritrea

Railways:  total: 317 km narrow gauge: 317 km 0.950-m gauge note: links
Ak'ordat and Asmara with the port of Massawa; nonoperational since 1978
except for about a 5 km stretch that was reopened in Massawa in 1994;
rehabilitation of the remainder and of the rolling stock is under way
(2001 est.)

Highways:  total: 3,850 km paved: 810 km unpaved: 3,040 km (2000)

Waterways:  none

Ports and harbors:  Assab (Aseb), Massawa (Mits'iwa)

Merchant marine:  total: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 19,100
GRT/23,399 DWT ships by type: bulk 1, cargo 2, liquefied gas 1, petroleum
tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:  21 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 4 over 3,047 m: 2 2,438 to 3,047 m:
2 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 17 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to
3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 7 under 914 m: 2 (2001)

Military Eritrea

Military branches:  Army, Navy, Air Force

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $138.3 million (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  19.8% (FY01)

Transnational Issues Eritrea

Disputes - international:  Eritrea and Ethiopia have expressed general
approval of the April 2002 arbitration commission ruling re-delimiting
the boundary, the focus of their 1998-2000 war; United Nations Mission
in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) will monitor activities within the 25-km
wide temporary security zone in Eritrea until demarcation and de-mining
are complete; Yemen has asserted traditional fishing rights to islands
ceded to Eritrea in ICJ ruling

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

Eritrea News

News Asmarino Com


Eritrean News Wire Eritrea

Arts & Culture

eritrean beauty

Destination Eritrea - Country Guides
The State of Eritrea Ministry of Tourism

Eritrea A-Z

Eritrea in Pictures

University of Asmara - UoA


History of Eritrea

History of Eritrea

Eritrea-Ethiopia Conflict Information Page

Eritrea: Special Report on 12 years of independence





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