Eritrea Travel Information

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Facts About Eritrea

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 two and a half year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices on 12 December 2000.
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 May 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; parliamentary elections have now been scheduled to take place in December 2001.
Capital: Asmara (formerly Asmera)
Currency: 1 nafka = 100 cents

Geography of Eritrea

Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E
Area:
total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km
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 of Eritrea

Eritrea's population comprises nine ethnic groups, most of which speak Semitic or Cushitic languages. The Tigrinya and Tigre make up four-fifths of the population and speak different, but related and somewhat mutually intelligible, Semitic languages. In general, most of the Christians live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional beliefs live in the lowland regions. Tigrinya and Arabic are the most frequently used languages for commercial and official transactions, but English is widely spoken and is the language used for secondary and university education.

Population: 4,561,599 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  42.85% (male 922,691; female 918,916)
15-64 years:  53.87% (male 1,147,927; female 1,167,705)
65 years and over:  3.28%
Population growth rate: 3.84% 
Birth rate: 42.52 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 12.07 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 7.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
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.
Infant mortality rate: 75.14 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  56.18 years
male:  53.73 years
female:  58.71 years 
Total fertility rate: 5.87 children born/woman 
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: 25% of total population

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Eritrea > Map Economy History