Facts About : Eritrea

  • After independence from Italian colonial control in 1941 and 10 years of British administrative control, the UN established Eritrea as an autonomous region within the Ethiopian federation in 1952. Ethiopia's full annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a violent 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating government forces. Eritreans overwhelmingly approved independence in a 1993 referendum. ISAIAS Afworki has been Eritrea's only president since independence; his rule, particularly since 2001, has been highly autocratic and repressive. His government has created a highly militarized society by pursuing an unpopular program of mandatory conscription into national service, sometimes of indefinite length. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. A UN peacekeeping operation was established that monitored a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) created in April 2003 was tasked "to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902, and 1908) and applicable international law." The EEBC on 30 November 2007 remotely demarcated the border, assigning the town of Badme to Eritrea, despite Ethiopia's maintaining forces there from the time of the 1998-2000 war. Eritrea insisted that the UN terminate its peacekeeping mission on 31 July 2008. Eritrea has accepted the EEBC's "virtual demarcation" decision and repeatedly called on Ethiopia to remove its troops. Ethiopia has not accepted the demarcation decision, and neither party has entered into meaningful dialogue to resolve the impasse. Eritrea is subject to several UN Security Council Resolutions (from 2009, 2011, and 2012) imposing various military and economic sanctions, in view of evidence that it has supported armed opposition groups in the region.
  • Geography :: ERITREA

  • Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
    15 00 N, 39 00 E
    total: 117,600 sq km
    land: 101,000 sq km
    water: 16,600 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 101
    slightly larger than Pennsylvania
    Area comparison map: 
    total: 1,840 km
    border countries (3): Djibouti 125 km, Ethiopia 1,033 km, Sudan 682 km
    2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    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
    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
    lowest point: near Kulul within the Danakil Depression -75 m
    highest point: Soira 3,018 m
    gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
    agricultural land: 75.1%
    arable land 6.8%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 68.3%
    forest: 15.1%
    other: 9.8% (2011 est.)
    215.9 sq km (2003)
    6.3 cu km (2011)
    total: 0.58 cu km/yr (5%/0%/95%)
    per capita: 121.3 cu m/yr (2004)
    frequent droughts, rare earthquakes and volcanoes; locust swarms
    volcanism: Dubbi (elev. 1,625 m), which last erupted in 1861, was the country's only historically active volcano until Nabro (2,218 m) came to life on 12 June 2011
    deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare
    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
    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 and Society :: ERITREA

  • noun: Eritrean(s)
    adjective: Eritrean
    nine recognized ethnic groups: Tigrinya 55%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Kunama 2%, Rashaida 2%, Bilen 2%, other (Afar, Beni Amir, Nera) 5% (2010 est.)
    Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages
    Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
    6,527,689 (July 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    0-14 years: 40.25% (male 1,320,752/female 1,306,357)
    15-24 years: 20.43% (male 665,900/female 667,509)
    25-54 years: 31.86% (male 1,031,391/female 1,048,303)
    55-64 years: 3.73% (male 104,004/female 139,637)
    65 years and over: 3.74% (male 104,513/female 139,323) (2015 est.)
    population pyramid: 
    total dependency ratio: 83.2%
    youth dependency ratio: 78.4%
    elderly dependency ratio: 4.8%
    potential support ratio: 20.7% (2015 est.)
    total: 19.3 years
    male: 19 years
    female: 19.7 years (2015 est.)
    2.25% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    30 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 41
    7.52 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    urban population: 22.6% of total population (2015)
    rate of urbanization: 5.11% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    ASMARA (capital) 804,000 (2015)
    at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.75 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
    total: 37.53 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 42.59 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 32.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    total population: 63.81 years
    male: 61.65 years
    female: 66.03 years (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    4.02 children born/woman (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    3% of GDP (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    0.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)
    urban: 73.2% of population
    rural: 53.3% of population
    total: 57.8% of population
    urban: 26.8% of population
    rural: 46.7% of population
    total: 42.2% of population (2015 est.)
    urban: 44.5% of population
    rural: 7.3% of population
    total: 15.7% of population
    urban: 55.5% of population
    rural: 92.7% of population
    total: 84.3% of population (2015 est.)
    0.68% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    16,100 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    700 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    degree of risk: high
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever (2013)
    3.4% (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 188
    38.8% (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    2.1% of GDP (2006)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 73.8%
    male: 82.4%
    female: 65.5% (2015 est.)
  • Government :: ERITREA

  • 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
    authoritarian presidential regime
    name: Asmara (Asmera)
    geographic coordinates: 15 20 N, 38 56 E
    time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    6 regions (zobatat, singular - zoba); Anseba, Debub (South), Debubawi K'eyih Bahri (Southern Red Sea), Gash Barka, Ma'akel (Central), Semenawi Keyih Bahri (Northern Red Sea)
    24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)
    Independence Day, 24 May (1991)
    adopted 23 May 1997 (not fully implemented); note - in mid-2014, the president pledged that a new constitution would be drafted (2014)
    mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic religious law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    birthright citizenship: no, unless at least one parent is a citizen of Eritrea
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: 20 years
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both 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 appointed by the president
    elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); the only election was held on 8 June 1993, following independence from Ethiopia (next election postponed indefinitely)
    election results: ISAIAS Afworki elected president by the transitional National Assembly; percent of National Assembly vote - ISAIAS Afworki (PFDJ) 95%, other 5%
    description: unicameral National Assembly or Hagerawi Baito (150 seats; 75 members indirectly elected by the ruling party and 75 directly elected by simple majority vote; members serve 5-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 form 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 due to the war with Ethiopia
    highest court(s): High Court (consists of 20 judges and organized into civil, commercial, criminal, labor, administrative, and customary sections)
    judge selection and term of office: High Court judges appointed by the president
    subordinate courts: regional/zonal courts; community courts; special courts; sharia courts (for issues dealing with Muslim marriage, inheritance, and family); military courts
    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 never debated or voted on it
    Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrean Kunama or DMLEK
    Eritrean Democratic Alliance or EDA
    Eritrean Islamic Party for Justice and Development or EIPJD (includes the Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ), Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement (EIJM), Eritrean Islamic Salvation, and the Eritrean Islamic Foundation)
    Eritrean National Congress for Democratic Change or ENCDC
    Eritrean National Salvation Front or ENSF
    Eritrean People's Democratic Party or EPDP
    Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization or RSADO
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires BERHANE Gebrehiwet Solomon (since 15 March 2011)
    chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
    telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
    FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304
    consulate(s) general: San Francisco
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Louis MAZEL (since 10 July 2014)
    embassy: 179 Ala Street, Asmara
    mailing address: P. O. Box 211, Asmara
    telephone: [291] (1) 120004
    FAX: [291] (1) 127584
    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; green stands for the country's agriculture economy, red signifies the blood shed in the fight for freedom, and blue symbolizes the bounty of the sea; the wreath-olive branch symbol is similar to that on the first flag of Eritrea from 1952; the shape of the red triangle broadly mimics the shape of the country
    note: one of several flags where a prominent component of the design reflects the shape of the country; other such flags are those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, and Vanuatu
    camel; national colors: green, red, blue
    name: "Ertra, Ertra, Ertra" (Eritrea, Eritrea, Eritrea)
    lyrics/music: SOLOMON Tsehaye Beraki/Isaac Abraham MEHAREZGI and ARON Tekle Tesfatsion
    note: adopted 1993; upon independence from Ethiopia
  • Economy :: ERITREA

  • Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of resources and chronic drought, which have been exacerbated by 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, a large share of the population - nearly 80% - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the sector only produces a small share of the country's total output. Since the conclusion of the Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 2000, the government has expanded use of military and party-owned businesses to complete President ISAIAS's development agenda. The government has strictly controlled the use of foreign currency by limiting access and availability; new regulations in 2013 aimed at relaxing currency controls have had little economic effect. Few large private enterprises exist in Eritrea and most operate in conjunction with government partners, including a number of large international mining ventures that have recently begun production. While reliable statistics on food security are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the percentage of the labor force tied up in national service continue to interfere with agricultural production and economic development. Eritrea's harvests generally cannot meet the food needs of the country without supplemental grain purchases. Copper, potash, and gold production is likely to drive economic growth over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans. Eritrea's economic future will depend on market reform, international sanctions, global food prices, and success at addressing social problems such refugee emigration.
    $7.814 billion (2014 est.)
    $7.683 billion (2013 est.)
    $7.582 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 164
    $3.858 billion (2014 est.)
    1.7% (2014 est.)
    1.3% (2013 est.)
    7% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    $1,200 (2014 est.)
    $1,200 (2013 est.)
    $1,200 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 221
    7.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    8.9% of GDP (2013 est.)
    12.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    household consumption: 77.8%
    government consumption: 18.5%
    investment in fixed capital: 14.2%
    investment in inventories: 0%
    exports of goods and services: 9.7%
    imports of goods and services: -20.2%
    (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 11.6%
    industry: 28.1%
    services: 60.2% (2014 est.)
    sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
    food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement
    11% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    3.159 million (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    agriculture: 80%
    industry and services: 20% (2004 est.)
    8.6% (2013 est.)
    10% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    50% (2004 est.)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $1.144 billion
    expenditures: $1.638 billion (2014 est.)
    29.6% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    -12.8% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 209
    101.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    126% of GDP (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 13
    calendar year
    12.3% (2014 est.)
    13% (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    $1.991 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.483 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    $4.077 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $3.11 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    $4.025 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $2.868 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 125
    -$8 million (2014 est.)
    -$157.2 million (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    $573.5 million (2014 est.)
    $505.3 million (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    gold and other minerals, livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures
    $1.16 billion (2014 est.)
    $1.028 billion (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
    $220.4 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $193.1 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    $1.049 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.028 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    nakfa (ERN) per US dollar -
    15.38 (2014 est.)
    15.375 (2013 est.)
    15.375 (2012 est.)
    15.375 (2011 est.)
    15.375 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: ERITREA

  • 338 million kWh (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    284 million kWh (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 142
    140,800 kW (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    98.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 52
    0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    1.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 140
    3,500 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 170
    0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    3,500 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 127
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 139
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 189
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 134
    739,500 Mt (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
  • Communications :: ERITREA

  • total subscriptions: 64,000
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    total: 417,400
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    general assessment: inadequate; most fixed-line telephones are in Asmara; government is seeking international tenders to improve the system; cell phones in increasing use throughout the country
    domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership is less than 5 per 100 persons
    international: country code - 291 (2011)
    government controls broadcast media with private ownership prohibited; 1 state-owned TV station; state-owned radio operates 2 networks; purchases of satellite dishes and subscriptions to international broadcast media are permitted (2007)
    AM 2, FM NA, shortwave 2 (2000)
    2 (2006)
    total: 58,100
    percent of population: 0.91% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
  • Transportation :: ERITREA

  • 13 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 151
    total: 4
    over 3,047 m: 2
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2013)
    total: 9
    over 3,047 m: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
    914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
    1 (2013)
    total: 306 km
    narrow gauge: 306 km 0.950-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    total: 4,010 km
    paved: 874 km
    unpaved: 3,136 km (2000)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    total: 4
    by type: cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1 (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    major seaport(s): Assab, Massawa
  • Military :: ERITREA

  • Eritrean Armed Forces: Eritrean Ground Forces, Eritrean Navy, Eritrean Air Force (includes Air Defense Force) (2011)
    18-40 years of age for male and female voluntary and compulsory military service; 16-month conscript service obligation (2012)
    males age 16-49: 1,350,446
    females age 16-49: 1,362,575 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 896,096
    females age 16-49: 953,757 (2010 est.)
    male: 66,829
    female: 66,731 (2010 est.)
  • Transnational Issues :: ERITREA

  • 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; Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting eastern Sudanese rebel groups; in 2008, Eritrean troops moved across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and occupied Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea
    current situation: Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor domestically and, to a lesser extent, sex and labor trafficking abroad; the country’s national service program is often abused to keep conscripts indefinitely and to force them to perform labor outside the scope of their duties; each year large numbers of migrants, often fleeing national service, depart Eritrea in search of work in Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, and Yemen, where some are likely to become victims of forced labor; Eritrean children working in various economic sectors, including domestic service, workshops, and agriculture may be subjected to forced labor; some Eritrean refugees in Sudanese camps are held for ransom in the Sinai Peninsula, where they are forced to work and are abused
    tier rating: Tier 3 – Eritrea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the Eritrean Government does not operate with transparency and reported no data in 2013 regarding its efforts to combat human trafficking; no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of any traffickers were reported, and few efforts were made to identify or to refer any victims to protective services; authorities largely lacked an understanding of human trafficking, conflating it with all forms of transnational migration; the government continued to warn its citizens of the dangers of human trafficking; Eritrea is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2014)