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Introduction Eritrea
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 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
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: 4.95%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 95.02% (2001)
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: 4,447,307 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.8% (male 998,404; female 993,349)
15-64 years: 51.9% (male 1,140,892; female 1,166,481)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 72,776; female 75,405) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 17.5 years
male: 17.3 years
female: 17.7 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.57% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 39.03 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 13.36 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 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 (2004 est.)
Sex ratio: 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: 0.97 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 75.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 67.94 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 83.03 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 52.7 years
male: 51.32 years
female: 54.12 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.67 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 2.7% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 60,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 6,300 (2003 est.)
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, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other Cushitic languages
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: 58.6%
male: 69.9%
female: 47.6% (2003 est.)
 
Government Eritrea
Country name: conventional long form: State of Eritrea
conventional short form: Eritrea
local long form: Hagere Ertra
former: Eritrea Autonomous Region 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; 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: Asmara (formerly Asmera)
Administrative divisions: 6 regions (zobatat, singular - zoba); Anseba, Debub, Debubawi K'eyih Bahri, Gash Barka, Ma'akel, Semenawi Keyih Bahri
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 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; 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: 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: 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 [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: Eritrean Islamic Jihad or EIJ [leader NA] (also including Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement or EIJM (also known as the Abu Sihel Movement) [leader NA]); Eritrean Islamic Salvation or EIS (also known as the Arafa Movement) [leader NA]; 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: ACP, AfDB, AU, 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: chief of mission: Ambassador GIRMA Asmerom
telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
consulate(s) general: Oakland (California)
FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304
chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
Diplomatic representation from the US: 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: 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 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. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master social problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills, and to open its economy to private enterprise so the diaspora's money and expertise can foster economic growth.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $3.3 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 12.4%
industry: 25.3%
services: 62.4% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 26.3% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line: 53% (1993/94)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12.3% (2003)
Labor force: NA (1999)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 80%, industry and services 20%
Unemployment rate: NA (2003 est.)
Budget: revenues: $235.7 million
expenditures: $375 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2003 est.)
Agriculture - products: sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, coffee, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
Industries: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles
Industrial production growth rate: NA
Electricity - production: 220.5 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 205.1 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh NA kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh NA kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 6,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports: NA (2001)
Oil - imports: NA (2001)
Current account balance: $-159 million (2003)
Exports: $56 million f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities: livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures (2000)
Exports - partners: Malaysia 65.1%, Italy 10.4%, France 4.4% (2003)
Imports: $600 million f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods (2000)
Imports - partners: US 39.7%, Italy 19.1%, Turkey 6.8%, Russia 5.4%, France 4.7% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $28 million (2003)
Debt - external: $311 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $77 million (1999)
Currency: nakfa (ERN)
Currency code: ERN
Exchange rates: nakfa (ERN) per US dollar - NA (2003), 13.9582 (2002), 11.3095 (2001), 9.5 (2000), 7.6 (1999)
Fiscal year: calendar year
 
Communications Eritrea
Telephones - main lines in use: 38,100 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular: NA
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate
domestic: very 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: 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 hosts: 1,047 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2001)
Internet users: 9,500 (2003)
 
Transportation Eritrea
Railways: total: 306 km
narrow gauge: 306 km 0.950-m gauge
note: railway is being rebuilt; 117 km open (2003)
Highways: total: 4,010 km
paved: 874 km
unpaved: 3,136 km (1999 est.)
Ports and harbors: Assab (Aseb), Massawa (Mits'iwa)
Merchant marine: total: 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 16,069 GRT/19,549 DWT
registered in other countries: 1 (2004 est.)
by type: bulk 1, cargo 1, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
Airports: 18 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 4
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: 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 (2004 est.)
 
Military Eritrea
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 16 months (2004)
Military manpower - fit for military service: NA (2004)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $77.9 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 11.8% (2003)
This page was last updated on 1 January 2003



This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005