Eritrea Population: 5,970,646


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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 Afwerki 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 – divided between military and civilian service – 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. More than a decade of a tense “no peace, no war” stalemate ended in 2018 after the newly elected Ethiopian Prime Minister accepted the EEBC’s 2007 ruling, and the two countries signed declarations of peace and friendship in July and September. Following the July 2018 peace agreement with Ethiopia, Eritrean leaders engaged in intensive diplomacy around the Horn of Africa, bolstering regional peace, security, and cooperation, as well as brokering rapprochements between governments and opposition groups. In November 2018, the UN Security Council lifted an arms embargo that had been imposed on Eritrea since 2009, after the UN Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group reported they had not found evidence of Eritrean support in recent years for Al-Shabaab.

    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
Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E
Area: total: 117,600 sq km
land: 101,000 sq km
water: 16,600 sq km

Size comparison: slightly larger than Pennsylvania
Land Boundaries: total: 1,840 km border countries (3): Djibouti 125 km, Ethiopia 1033 km, Sudan 682 km
Coastline: 2,234 km (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, heaviest June to September); semiarid in western hills and lowlands
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, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
Land use: agricultural land: 75.1% (2011 est.) arable land: 6.8% (2011 est.)
permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) permanent pasture: 68.3% (2011 est.) forest: 15.1% (2011 est.)
other: 9.8% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 210 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: frequent droughts, rare earthquakes and volcanoes; locust swarms volcanism: Dubbi (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
Current Environment Issues: deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing
International Environment Agreements: 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
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Nationality: noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean
Ethnic groups: Tigrinya 55%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Kunama 2%, Rashaida 2%, Bilen 2%, other (Afar, Beni Amir, Nera) 5% (2010 est.) note: data represent Eritrea's nine recognized ethnic groups
Languages: Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages
Religions: Sunni Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Population: 5,970,646 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.53% (male 1,186,749 /female 1,173,530)
15-24 years: 19.94% (male 592,365 /female 598,305)
25-54 years: 32.88% (male 965,405 /female 997,771)
55-64 years: 3.7% (male 96,967 /female 123,895)
65 years and over: 3.95% (male 97,816 /female 137,843) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 85 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 78.3 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 6.8 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 14.8 (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 19.9 years
male: 19.4 years
female: 20.4 years (2018 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.89% (2018 est.)
Birth rate: 29.1 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate: 7.1 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate: -13.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 40.1% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 3.86% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population: 896,000 ASMARA (capital) (2018)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.78 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth: 21.3 years (2010 est.) note: median age at first birth among women 25-29
Maternal mortality rate: 501 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 44.4 deaths/1,000 live births male: 51.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 65.6 years male: 63 years
female: 68.2 years (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.9 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 8.4% (2010)
Hospital bed density: 0.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Drinking water source: improved:
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.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 44.5% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 7.3% of population (2015 est.)
total: 15.7% of population (2015 est.)

urban: 55.5% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 92.7% of population (2015 est.)
total: 84.3% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.6% (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 14,000 (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: <500 (2017 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 5% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 39.4% (2010)
Education expenditures: n/a
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
total population: 73.8%
male: 82.4%
female: 65.5% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 5 years male: 6 years female: 5 years (2015)
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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
etymology: the country name derives from the ancient Greek appellation "Erythra Thalassa" meaning Red Sea, which is the major water body bordering the country
Government type: presidential republic
Capital: name: Asmara (Asmera)
geographic coordinates: 15 20 N, 38 56 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the name means "they [women] made them unite," which according to Tigrinya oral tradition refers to the women of the four clans in the Asmara area who persuaded their menfolk to unite and defeat their common enemy; the name has also been translated as "live in peace"
Administrative divisions: 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)
Independence: 24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)
National holiday: Independence Day, 24 May (1991)
Constitution: history: ratified by the Constituent Assembly 23 May 1997 (not fully implemented) amendments: proposed by the president of Eritrea or by assent of at least one-half of the National Assembly membership; passage requires at least an initial three-quarters majority vote by the Assembly and, after one year, final passage by at least four-fifths majority vote by the Assembly (2018)
Legal system: mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic religious law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President ISAIAS Afwerki (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 Afwerki (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 Afwerki elected president by the transitional National Assembly; percent of National Assembly vote - ISAIAS  Afwerki (PFDJ) 95%, other 5%
Legislative branch: description: unicameral National Assembly (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, and as of May 2019, there was no sitting legislative body

election results: NA
Judicial branch: highest courts: 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
Political parties and leaders: People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ [ISAIAS Afwerki] (the only party recognized by the government)
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS (observer), MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO
National symbol(s): camel;
national colors: green, red, blue
National anthem: 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
Diplomatic representation in the US: 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
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Natalie E. BROWN (since September 2016)
embassy: 179 Ala Street, Asmara
mailing address: P.O. Box 211, Asmara
telephone: [291] (1) 120004
FAX: [291] (1) 127584
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Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of financial resources and chronic drought. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice. Like the economies of many African nations, a large share of the population - nearly 80% in Eritrea - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the sector only produces a small share of the country's total output. Mining accounts for the lion's share of output. 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, which began production in 2013. In late 2015, the Government of Eritrea introduced a new currency, retaining the name nakfa, and restricted the amount of hard currency individuals could withdraw from banks per month. The changeover has resulted in exchange fluctuations and the scarcity of hard currency available in the market. While reliable statistics on Eritrea are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the large percentage of the labor force tied up in military 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 are likely to continue to drive limited economic growth and government revenue over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $9.402 billion (2017 est.) $8.953 billion (2016 est.) $8.791 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $5.813 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2017 est.) 1.9% (2016 est.) 2.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,600 (2017 est.) $1,500 (2016 est.) $1,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving: 5.5% of GDP (2017 est.) 6% of GDP (2016 est.) 6.8% of GDP (2015 est.) GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 80.9% (2017 est.) government consumption: 24.3% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 6.4% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 10.9% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -22.5% (2017 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 11.7% (2017 est.) industry: 29.6% (2017 est.) services: 58.7% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
Industries: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement
Industrial production growth rate: 5.4% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 2.71 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 80%
industry: 20% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.8% (2017 est.) 10% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line: 50% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: n/a
highest 10%: n/a
Budget: revenues: 2.029 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 2.601 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 34.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -9.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt: 131.2% of GDP (2017 est.) 132.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9% (2017 est.) 9% (2016 est.)
Current account balance: -$137 million (2017 est.) -$105 million (2016 est.)
Exports: $624.3 million (2017 est.) $485.4 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities: gold and other minerals, livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small industry manufactures
Exports - partners: China 62%, South Korea 28.3% (2017)
Imports: $1.127 billion (2017 est.) $1.048 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
Imports - partners: UAE 14.5%, China 13.2%, Saudi Arabia 13.2%, Italy 12.9%, Turkey 5.6%, South Africa 4.6% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $236.7 million (31 December 2017 est.) $218.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external: $792.7 million (31 December 2017 est.) $875.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates: nakfa (ERN) per US dollar - 15.38 (2017 est.) 15.375 (2016 est.) 15.375 (2015 est.) 15.375 (2014 est.) 15.375 (2013 est.)
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Electricity - production: 415.9 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 353.9 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 160,700 kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 99% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 4,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 3,897 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 597,100 Mt (2017 est.)
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Cellular Phones in use: total subscriptions: 506,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (July 2016 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: woefully inadequate service provided by state-owned telecom monopoly; most fixed-line telephones are in Asmara; cell phone use is limited by government control of SIM card issuance; no data service; only about 3% of households having computers with 2% Internet; untapped market ripe for competition; direct phone service between Eritrea and Ethiopia was restored in September 2018; government telco working on roll-out of 3G network (2018)

domestic: fixed-line subscribership is less than 1 per 100 person and mobile-cellular 9 per 100 (2018)

international: country code - 291
Broadcast media: 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 (2019)
Internet country code: .er
Internet users: total: 69,095
percent of population: 1.2% (July 2016 est.)
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Airports: 13 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 4
(2017) over 3,047 m: 2 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 9
(2013) over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
Heliports: 1 (2013)
Railways: total 306 km
narrow gauge: 306 km 0.950-m gauge (2018)
Roadways: total 16,000 km
(2018) paved: 1,600 km (2000)
unpaved: 14,400 km (2000)
Merchant marine: total 9

by type: general cargo 4, oil tanker 1, other 4 (2018)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Assab, Massawa
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Military branches: Eritrean Armed Forces: Eritrean Ground Forces, Eritrean Navy, Eritrean Air Force (includes Air Defense Force) (2019)
Military service age and obligation: 18-40 years of age for male and female voluntary and compulsory military service; 18-month conscript service obligation (2019)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: 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
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