[Country map of Eritrea]



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

Map references: Africa

total area: 121,320 sq km
land area: 121,320 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries: total 1,630 km, Djibouti 113 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km

Coastline: 1,151 km (land and island coastline is 2,234 km)

Maritime claims: NA

International disputes: none

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 on 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

Natural resources: gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, probably oil (petroleum geologists are prospecting for it), fish

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 2% (coffee)
meadows and pastures: 40%
forest and woodland: 5%
other: 50%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: famine; deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare
natural hazards: frequent droughts
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species; signed, but not ratified - Desertification

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 27 April 1993


Population: 3,578,709 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (female 763,416; male 774,922)
15-64 years: 54% (female 965,124; male 965,435)
65 years and over: 3% (female 52,950; male 56,862) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 9.04% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 44.34 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 15.67 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: NA migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)
note: repatriation of up to a half million Eritrean refugees in Sudan is now underway; 100,000 are expected to return during 1995

Infant mortality rate: 120.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 50 years
male: 48.28 years
female: 51.78 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.53 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean

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

Religions: Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant

Languages: Tigre and Kunama, Cushitic dialects, Tigre, Nora Bana, Arabic

Labor force: NA


conventional long form: State of Eritrea
conventional short form: Eritrea
local long form: none
local short form: none
former: Eritrea Autonomous Region in Ethiopia

Digraph: ER

Type: transitional government
note: on 29 May 1991 ISAIAS Afworke, secretary general of the Peoples' Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which then served and still serves as the country's legislative body, announced the formation of the Provisional Government in Eritrea (PGE) in preparation for the 23-25 April 1993 referendum on independence for the autonomous region of Eritrea; the result was a landslide vote for independence which was proclaimed on 27 April 1993

Capital: Asmara (formerly Asmera)

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Akole Guzay, Baraka, Danakil, Hamasen, Sahil, Samhar, Senhit, Seraye, Sahil

Independence: 27 May 1993 (from Ethiopia; formerly the Eritrea Autonomous Region)

National holiday: National Day (independence from Ethiopia), 24 May (1993)

Constitution: transitional "constitution" decreed 19 May 1993

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: NA

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President ISAIAS Afworke (since 22 May 1993)
cabinet: State Council; the collective executive authority
note: election to be held before 20 May 1997

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly: PFDJ Central Committee serves as the country's legislative body until country-wide elections are held (before 20 May 1997)

Judicial branch: Judiciary

Political parties and leaders: People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), ISAIAS Afworke, PETROS Solomon (the only party recognized by the government)

Other political or pressure groups: Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ); Islamic Militant Group; Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), ABDULLAH Muhammed; Eritrean Liberation Front - United Organization (ELF-UO), Mohammed Said NAWUD; Eritrean Liberation Front - Revolutionary Council (ELF-RC), Ahmed NASSER


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador AMDEMICHAEL Berhane Khasai
chancery: Suite 400, 910 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 429-1991
FAX: [1] (202) 429-9004

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert G. HOUDEK
embassy: 34 Zera Yacob St., Asmara
mailing address: P.O. Box 211, Asmara
telephone: [291] (1) 120004
FAX: [291] (1) 127584

Flag: 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


Overview: With independence from Ethiopia on 27 April 1993, Eritrea faces the bitter economic problems of a small, desperately poor African country. Most of the population will continue to depend on subsistence farming. Domestic output is substantially augmented by worker remittances from abroad. Government revenues come from custom duties and income and sales taxes. Eritrea has inherited the entire coastline of Ethiopia and has long-term prospects for revenues from the development of offshore oil, offshore fishing, and tourism. For the time being, Ethiopia will be largely dependent on Eritrean ports for its foreign trade.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1.8 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $500 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Exports: $NA
commodities: NA
partners: NA

Imports: $NA
commodities: NA
partners: NA

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: NA kW
production: NA kWh
consumption per capita: NA kWh

Industries: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles

Agriculture: products - sorghum, livestock (including goats), fish, lentils, vegetables, maize, cotton, tobacco, coffee, sisal (for making rope)

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: 1 birr (Br) = 100 cents; at present, Ethiopian currency used

Exchange rates: 1 birr (Br) per US$1 - 5.9500 (January 1995), 5.9500 (1994), 5.000 (fixed rate 1992-93); note - official rate pegged to US$

Fiscal year: NA


total: 307 km; note - nonoperational since 1978; links Ak'ordat and Asmara (formerly Asmera) with the port of Massawa (formerly Mits'iwa)
narrow gauge: 307 km 1.000-m gauge (1993 est.)

total: 3,845 km
paved: 807 km
unpaved: gravel 840 km; improved earth 402 km; unimproved earth 1,796 km

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

Merchant marine: none

total: 20
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 2
with unpaved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 6
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7


Telephone system: NA
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: NA

broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: NA
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF)

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP