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 Eritrea

Country Flag of Eritrea


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Introduction

Geography

People

Government

Economy

Communication

Transportation

Military

Transnational Issues

Country map of Eritrea

Eritrea

Introduction

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 border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 remains unresolved.

Geography

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

Area - comparative: slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:
total: 1,630 km
border countries: Djibouti 113 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: NA

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: 12%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 49%
forests and woodland: 6%
other: 32% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 280 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: frequent droughts and locust storms

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

Population: 4,135,933 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 888,573; female 883,939)
15-64 years: 54% (male 1,104,082; female 1,122,683)
65 years and over: 3% (male 69,518; female 67,138) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.86% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 42.71 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 12.3 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 8.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
note: according to the UNHCR, about 150,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan have registered for voluntary repatriation, following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Sudan in January 2000

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: 1.04 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 76.66 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 55.79 years
male: 53.36 years
female: 58.29 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.93 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean

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

Country name:
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

Data code: ER

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 August 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; those elections have been postponed indefinitely following the start of the border conflict with Ethiopia

Capital: Asmara (formerly Asmera)

Administrative divisions: 8 provinces (singular - awraja); Akale Guzay, Barka, Denkel, Hamasen, Sahil, Semhar, Senhit, Seraye
note: in May 1995 the National Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the administrative structure of Eritrea, which had been established by former colonial powers, would consist of only six provinces when the new constitution, then being drafted, became effective in 1997; the new provinces, the names of which had not been recommended by the US Board on Geographic Names for recognition by the US Government, pending acceptable definition of the boundaries, were: Anseba, Debub, Debubawi Keyih Bahri, Gash-Barka, Maakel, and Semanawi Keyih Bahri; more recently, it has been reported that these provinces have been redesignated regions and renamed Southern Red Sea, Northern Red Sea, Anseba, Gash-Barka, Southern, and Central

Independence: 23-25 April 1993 referendum was held with vote for independence as the outcome; 24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia; formerly the Eritrea Autonomous Region)

National holiday: National Day (independence from Ethiopia), 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: operates on the basis of transitional laws that incorporate pre-independence statutes of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, revised Ethiopian laws, customary laws, and post independence enacted laws

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
head of government: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: State Council is the collective executive authority
note: the president is head of the State Council and National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly; election last held 8 June 1993 (next to be held NA)
election results: ISAIAS Afworki elected president; % 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 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 country-wide elections to a National Assembly are held; only 75 members will be elected to the National Assembly - the other 75 will be members of the Central Committee of the PFDJ

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; 10 provincial courts; 29 district courts

Political parties and leaders: People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, the only party recognized by the government [ISAIAS Afworki, PETROS Solomon]

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]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

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

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William D. CLARKE
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

Economy - overview: With independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993, Eritrea faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country. The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. The small industrial sector consists mainly of light industries with outmoded technologies. Domestic output (GDP) is substantially augmented by worker remittances from abroad. Government revenues come from custom duties and taxes on income and sales. Road construction is a top domestic priority. In the long term, Eritrea may benefit from the development of offshore oil, offshore fishing, and tourism. Eritrea's economic future depends on its ability to master fundamental social and economic problems, e.g., by reducing illiteracy, promoting job creation, expanding technical training, attracting foreign investment, and streamlining the bureaucracy. The most immediate threat to the economy, however, is the possible expansion of the border conflict with Ethiopia, which broke out in May 1998. The hostilities have drained away substantial resources vital to Eritrea's economic development.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.9 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $750 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 20%
services: 62% (1995 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

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

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9% (1998 est.)

Labor force: NA

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

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget:
revenues: $283.9 million
expenditures: $351.6 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

Industries: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 177.6 million kWh (1997 est.)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1997 est.)

Electricity - consumption: 177.6 million kWh (1997 est.)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1997)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1997)

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

Exports: $52.9 million (f.o.b., 1997)

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

Exports - partners: Ethiopia 64%, Sudan 17%, Italy 5%, Saudi Arabia 2%, US, Yemen (1997)

Imports: $489.4 million (c.i.f., 1997)

Imports - commodities: processed goods, machinery, petroleum products

Imports - partners: Saudi Arabia 16%, Italy 14%, UAE 13%, Ethiopia 9%, Germany 6% (1997)

Debt - external: $76 million (1997 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $123.1 million (1997)

Currency: 1 nafka = 100 cents

Exchange rates: nakfa per US$1 = 9.5 (January 2000), 7.6 (January 1999), 7.2 (March 1998 est.)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 23,578 (2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1995)

Telephone system:
domestic: very inadequate; most telephones are in Asmara; government is seeking international tenders to improve the system
international: NA

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 1, shortwave 2 (2000)

Radios: 345,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (2000)

Televisions: 1,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (1999)

Transportation

Railways:
total: 317 km
narrow gauge: 317 km 0.950-m gauge (1999)
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

Highways:
total: 4,010 km
paved: 874 km
unpaved: 3,136 km (1996 est.)

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

Merchant marine:
total: 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 16,069 GRT/19,549 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, cargo 1, liquified gas 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off 1 (1999 est.)

Airports: 21 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 18
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 2 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $196 million (FY97)

Military expenditures - % of GDP: 28.6% (FY97)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: dispute over alignment of boundary with Ethiopia led to armed conflict in 1998, which is still unresolved despite arbitration efforts

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