The State of Eritrea is a country in northeast Africa. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the east. The northeast of the country has an extensive coastline with the Red Sea. Having achieved independence in 1993, Eritrea is currently one of the the youngest independent states.
|National motto: None|
|Official languages||Tigrignan and Arabic|
- % water
|Ranked 96th |
- Total (2002)
May 24, 1993
|Time zone||UTC +3|
|National anthem||Ertra, Ertra, Ertra[?]|
Eritrea had been ruled by many powers before it was colonised by the Italians in 1885. The Italians remained in power until they were defeated by Allied Forces in World War II (1941), and Eritrea became a British protectorate. After the war, the United Nations eventually decided that the area was to become part of a federation with Ethiopia. When Eritrean independence fighters rioted in the early 1960s, the land was annexed by Ethiopia, starting a 30-year long civil war.
This war ended in 1991, when Eritrean forces defeated the Ethiopian army. Two years later, after a referendum, independence was declared. In 1998, a border war with Ethiopia broke out, which was ended by a UN peacekeeping operation in late 2000 - peacekeeping forces are still present in Eritrea presently.
Because the Eritrean constitution is not yet in effect, the unicameral Eritrean parliament, the National Assembly, is entirely populated by members of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice[?] (PFDJ). This assembly of 150 seats, formed in 1993 shortly after independence, elected the current president Afworki Isaias[?].
Eritrea is divided into 6 regions:
Eritrea is located in the Horn of Africa and is bordered on the northeast and east by the Red Sea. Off the sandy and arid coastline, the Dahlak Islands[?] are situated, an archipelago with fishing grounds. The land to the south, in the highlands, is slightly less dry, and cooler. The highest point of the country, Soira[?], is located in the centre of Eritrea, at 3018 m above sea level.
Since independence from Ethiopia, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country. Like the economies of many African nations, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding.
The Ethiopian-Eritrea war severely hurt Eritrea's economy. GDP growth in 1999 fell to less than 1%, and GDP decreased by 8.2% in 2000. The May 2000 Ethiopian offensive into northern Eritrea caused some $600 million in property damage and loss, including losses of $225 million in livestock and 55,000 homes. The attack prevented planting of crops in Eritrea's most productive region, causing food production to drop by 62%.
Even during the war, Eritrea developed its transportation infrastructure, asphalting new roads, improving its ports, and repairing war damaged roads and bridges. Eritrea's economic future remains mixed. The cessation of Ethiopian trade, which mainly used Eritrean ports before the war, leaves Eritrea with a large economic hole to fill. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master fundamental social problems like illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills, and to convert the diaspora's money and expertise into economic growth.
Eritrea's two main ethnic groups are the Tigrigna, which forms about half of the population, and the Tigre and Kunama[?], which amount to circa 40%. The remainder includes Afar[?] and Saho[?]. The local Tigrignan and the wider Arabic language are the two predominant working languages for official purposes, but Amharic languages as well as English are also spoken.
The dominant religions are Christianity and Islam with each group representing roughly 50% of the population. The Christians consist primarily of the Eritrean Orthodox Church[?], the local Oriental Orthodox church, but small groups of Roman Catholics and Protestants also exist. The Muslims in Eritrea are Sunnis.