source : World Fact Book 2008 (October 2008)


   Introduction    Eritrea
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 (TSZ) on the border with Ethiopia. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002. However, both parties have been unable to reach agreement on implementing the decision. On 30 November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission remotely demarcated the border by coordinates and dissolved itself, leaving Ethiopia still occupying several tracts of disputed territory, including the town of Badme. Eritrea accepted the EEBC's "virtual demarcation" decision and called on Ethiopia to remove its troops from the TSZ which it states is Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has not accepted the virtual demarcation decision.
   Geography    Eritrea
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
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
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
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
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)
Total renewable water resources:
Definition Field Listing 6.3 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
Definition Field Listing total: 0.3 cu km/yr (3%/0%/97%)
per capita: 68 cu m/yr (2000)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
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
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 5,502,026 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing 0-14 years: 43% (male 1,188,496/female 1,178,520)
15-64 years: 53.4% (male 1,437,653/female 1,502,449)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 89,634/female 105,274) (2008 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing total: 18.3 years
male: 17.9 years
female: 18.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing 2.631% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 34.94 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 8.63 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order total: 44.34 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 50.09 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 38.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order total population: 61.38 years
male: 59.35 years
female: 63.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 4.84 children born/woman (2008 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 (2008)
Definition Field Listing noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing Tigrinya 50%, Tigre and Kunama 40%, Afar 4%, Saho (Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%, other 3%
Definition Field Listing Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Definition Field Listing Afar, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other Cushitic languages
Definition Field Listing definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58.6%
male: 69.9%
female: 47.6% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
Definition Field Listing total: 5 years
male: 6 years
female: 4 years (2004)
Education expenditures:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 2.4% of GDP (2006)
   Government    Eritrea
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 were scheduled in December 2001, but were postponed indefinitely; currently the sole legal party is the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ)
Definition Field Listing name: Asmara (Asmera)
geographic coordinates: 15 20 N, 38 56 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)
Definition Field Listing 24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing Independence Day, 24 May (1993)
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; government also issues unilateral proclamations setting laws and policies; also relies on customary and post-independence-enacted laws and, for civil cases involving Muslims, Islamic law; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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)
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); the most recent and only election 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%, other 5%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing unicameral National Assembly (150 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
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 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 [ISAIAS Afworki] (the only party recognized by the government); note - a National Assembly committee drafted a law on political parties in January 2001, but the full National Assembly has yet to debate or vote on it
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing Eritrean Democratic Party (EDP) [HAGOS, Mesfin]; Eritrean Islamic Jihad or EIJ (includes 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), IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, LAS (observer), MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing chief of mission: Ambassador GHIRMAI Ghebremariam
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 Ronald MCMULLEN
embassy: 179 Alaa 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
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country, accentuated by the recent implementation of restrictive economic policies. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). 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. The government strictly controls the use of foreign currency, limiting access and availability. Few private enterprises remain in Eritrea. Eritrea's economy is heavily dependent on taxes paid by members of the diaspora. Erratic rainfall and the delayed demobilization of agriculturalists from the military continue to interfere with agricultural production, and Eritrea's recent harvests have not been able to meet the food needs of the country. The government continues to place its hope for additional revenue on the development of several international mining projects. Despite difficulties for international companies in working with the Eritrean government, a Canadian mining company signed a contract with the GSE in 2007 and plans to begin mineral extraction in 2010. Eritrea also anticipates opening a free trade zone at the port of Massawa in 2008. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master social problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills, and more importantly, on the government's willingness to support a true market economy.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order $3.619 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing $1.316 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 1.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order $800 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing agriculture: 17.5%
industry: 23.2%
services: 59.3% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order NA
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing agriculture: 80%
industry and services: 20% (2004 est.)
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 17% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 19.1% of GDP (2007 est.)
Definition Field Listing revenues: $234.6 million
expenditures: $471.4 million (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
Definition Field Listing food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 274 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 228 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 5,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 54.59 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 4,924 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order -$205 million (2007 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order $12 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing Italy 34.4%, China 16.2%, Sudan 15.2%, France 9.4%, Saudi Arabia 5.2%, Australia 4.4% (2007)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order $573 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing Saudi Arabia 19.1%, Italy 15.1%, China 11.1%, Turkey 8.3%, Germany 7.2%, Ukraine 5.1% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing $355.2 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order $23 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order $311 million (2000 est.)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing nakfa (ERN)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing nakfa (ERN) per US dollar - 15.5 (2007), 15.4 (2006), 14.5 (2005), 13.788 (2004), 13.878 (2003)
note: the official exchange rate is 15 nakfa to the dollar
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing calendar year
   Communications    Eritrea
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 37,500 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 70,000 (2007)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing general assessment: inadequate; combined fixed-line and mobile cellular subscribership is only about 2 per 100 persons
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 2 (2006)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing .er
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 1,446 (2007)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 120,000 (2007)
   Transportation    Eritrea
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 18 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing total: 4
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing total: 14
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Definition Field Listing 1 (2007)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order total: 306 km
narrow gauge: 306 km 0.950-m gauge (2006)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order total: 4,010 km
paved: 874 km
unpaved: 3,136 km (2000)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order total: 5 ships (1000 GRT or over) 12,529 GRT/15,023 DWT
by type: cargo 2, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1 (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing Assab, Massawa
   Military    Eritrea
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing Eritrean Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing 18-40 years of age for male and female voluntary and compulsory military service; 16-month conscript service obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing males age 16-49: 1,108,836
females age 16-49: 1,096,120 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing males age 16-49: 715,531
females age 16-49: 731,511 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
Definition Field Listing male: 60,490
female: 60,639 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order 6.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Eritrea
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision but, neither party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; UN Peacekeeping Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which has monitored the 25-km-wide Temporary Security Zone in Eritrea since 2000, is extended for six months in 2007 despite Eritrean restrictions on its operations and reduced force of 17,000; Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting eastern Sudanese rebel groups
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing IDPs: 32,000 (border war with Ethiopia from 1998-2000; most IDPs are near the central border region) (2007)

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Countries of the World - Detailed information about Eritrea -
Source : CIA's World Fact Book 2008

Since 2003, January 19