Eritrea 1999Eritrea

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Qatar Airways

Eritrea - Introduction 1999
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Background: On 29 May 1991, ISAIAS Afworki, secretary general of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which then served 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 from Ethiopia. The referendum resulted in a landslide vote for independence, which became effective on 24 May 1993.

Eritrea - Geography 1999
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Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan

Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E

Map referenceAfrica

Total: 121,320 km²
Land: 121,320 km²
Water: 0 km²
Comparative: slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries
Total: 1,630 km
Border countries: (3) 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 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

Extremes lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil depression -75 m
Extremes highest point: Soira 3,018 m

Natural resources: gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, probably oil and natural gas (currently under exploration), fish
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 12%
Permanent crops: 1%
Permanent pastures: 48%

Irrigated land

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards


Eritrea - People 1999
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Growth rate: 3.88% (1999 est.)
Below poverty line: NA%

Noun: Eritrean(s)
Adjective: Eritrean

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

Languages: Afar, Amharic, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, minor ethnic group languages

Religions: Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 3.88% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 42.56 births/1000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 12.32 deaths/1000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 8.53 migrant(s)/1000 population (1999 est.)
Note: it is estimated that approximately 315,000 Eritrean refugees were still living in Sudan by the end of 1997 according to the UNHCR

Population distribution


Major urban areas


Air pollutants

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: 1.05 male(s)/female
Total population: 1 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 76.84 deaths/1000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 55.74 years
Male: 53.61 years
Female: 57.95 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.96 children born/woman (1999 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Literacy: NA

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Eritrea - Government 1999
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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

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

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

Dependent areas

Independence: 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 that was promulgated in May 1997

Legal system: NA

International law organization participation


Suffrage: NA; note_it seems likely that the final version of the constitution would follow the example set in the referendum of 1993 and extend suffrage to all persons 18 years of age or older

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; percent 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: the Supreme Court; 10 provincial courts; 29 district courts

Political parties and leaders

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

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador SEMERE Russom
In the us chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,009
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador William CLARK
From the us embassy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, Asmara
From the us mailing address: P.O. Box 211, Asmara
From the us telephone: [291] (1) 120,004
From the us FAX: [291] (1) 127,584

Flag descriptionflag of Eritrea: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Eritrea - Economy 1999
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Economy overview: With independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993, Eritrea faced the bitter economic problem of a small, desperately poor African country. The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with over 70% 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. Eritrea has long-term prospects for revenues 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., overcoming 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 armed conflict with Ethiopia.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 5% (1998 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 18%
Industry: 20%
Services: 62% (1995 est.)

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

Industries: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Labor force: NA
Labor force

Unemployment rate: NA%

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: NA%

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $226 million
Expenditures: $453 million, including capital expenditures of $88 million (1996 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $95 million (1996 est.)
Commodities: livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures
Partners: Ethiopia 67%, Sudan 10%, US 8%, Italy 4%, Saudi Arabia, Yemen (1996)

Imports: $514 million (1996 est.)
Commodities: processed goods, machinery, petroleum products
Partners: Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Italy, United Arab Emirates (1996)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $46 million (1996 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: nakfa per US$1 = 7.6 (January 1999), 7.2 (March 1998 est.)
Note: following independence from Ethiopia, Eritrea continued to use Ethiopian currency until November 1997 when Eritrea issued its own currency, the nakfa, at approximately the same rate as the birr, i.e., 7.2 nakfa per US$1

Eritrea - Energy 1999
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Electricity access

Electricity production: NA kWh
By source fossil fuel: NA%
By source hydro: NA%
By source nuclear: NA%
By source other: NA%

Electricity consumption: NA kWh

Electricity exports: NA kWh

Electricity imports: NA kWh

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Eritrea - Communication 1999
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system
Domestic: very inadequate; about 4 telephones per 100 families, most of which are in Asmara; government is seeking international tenders to improve the system
International: NA

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Eritrea - Military 1999
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $196 million (1997)
Percent of gdp: 28.6% (1997)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Eritrea - Transportation 1999
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 20 (1998 est.)
With paved runways total: 2
With paved runways over 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1 (1998 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 18
With unpaved runways over 3047 m: 2
With unpaved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 2
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 5
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 6
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 3 (1998 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 2
Over 3047 m: 1
2438 to 3047 m: 1 (1998 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 18
Over 3047 m: 2
2438 to 3047 m: 2
15-24 to 2437 m: 5
914 to 1523 m: 6
Under 914 m: 3 (1998 est.)



Total: 307 km
Narrow gauge: 307 km 0.950-m gauge (1995 est.)
Note: 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; links Ak'ordat and Asmara (formerly Asmera) with the port of Massawa (formerly Mits'iwa)



Merchant marine
Total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,947 GRT/5,747 DWT
Ships by type: oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1 (1998 est.)

Ports and terminals

Eritrea - Transnational issues 1999
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Disputes international: dispute over alignment of boundary with Ethiopia led to armed conflict in 1998, which is still unresolved despite arbitration efforts; Hanish Islands dispute with Yemen resolved by arbitral tribunal in October 1998

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs

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