General information: Eritrea was transferred to Ethiopia in 1952 and formed a federation with it. Ethiopia annexed Eritrea and made it a province 10 years later, sparking a thirty-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with the victory of Eritrean rebels over government forces. Independence was approved by an overwhelming number of votes in a referendum in 1993. The border armed conflict with Ethiopia that broke out in 1998 was ended with the assistance of the UN on December 12, 2000.
Location: East Africa, Red Sea coast between Djibouti and Sudan.
Geographic coordinates: 15° 00′ N. latitude, 39° 00′ E
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 121,320 km2; land surface area: 121,320 km2; water surface area: 0 km2
Comparative area: slightly larger than Pennsylvania.
Land borders: total: 1,630 km; with neighboring states: with Djibouti 113 km, with Ethiopia 912 km, with Sudan 605 km.
Coastline: total 2,234 km; mainland coast of the Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in the Red Sea 1,083 km.
Maritime claims: no data.
Climate: hot, dry strip of desert along the coast of the Red Sea; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of precipitation per year); semi-desert in western hills and lowlands; the greatest amount of precipitation falls in June – September (with the exception of the coastal desert).
Terrain: Defined by the Ethiopian highlands stretching from north to east, which declines to become coastal desert in the east, rolling hills in the northwest, and flat or slightly rugged plains in the southwest.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Denakil depression -75 m; highest point: Mount Soira 3,018 m.
Natural resources: gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possible oil and natural gas reserves, fish.
Land use: arable land: 12%; cultivated land: 1%; pastures: 49%; forests and plantations: 6%; others: 32% (1998 est.).
Irrigated land: 280 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: frequent droughts and locust infestations.
Current environmental issues: deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing by livestock; infrastructure destroyed during the civil war.
International agreements on environmental protection: member: Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species; signed but not ratified: no.
Note to the section “Geography”: strategic geopolitical position close to the world’s busiest shipping lanes; Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon gaining de jure independence on May 24, 1993.
Population: 4,298,269 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 42.85% (male 922,691; female 918,916); 15 to 64 years old: 53.87% (male 1,147,927; female 1,167,705); over 65: 3.28% (male 71,232; female 69,798) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 3.84% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 42.52 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 12.07 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 7.91 people /1000 people (2001 est.); note: According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about 150,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan have registered for voluntary repatriation since the resumption of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Sudan in January 2000.
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male/female; under 15: 1.01 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.98 male/female; over 65: 1.02 male/female; for the general population: 0.99 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 75.14 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 56.18 years; men: 53.73 years; women: 58.71 years (2001 est.).
Total fertility rate: 5.87 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adult population infected with HIV: 2.87% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Eritrean; adjective: Eritrean.
Ethnic groups: ethnic Tigrays 50%, Tigris and Kunama 40%, Afars 4%, Sakho (Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%.
Believers: Muslims, Coptic Christians, Catholics, Protestants.
Language(s): Afar, Amharic, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigray, other Cushitic languages.
Literacy: definition: no data; for the general population: 25%; men: no data; women: no data.
conventional long form: State of Eritrea;
conventional short form: Eritrea; local long form: Hagere Ertra; local short form: Ertra; former: Eritrean Autonomous Region of Ethiopia
State structure: transitional government; note: after the referendum on the independence of the Eritrean Autonomous Region on April 23-25, 1993, the National Assembly, composed entirely of members of the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), assumed the functions of an interim legislative power; a Constitutional Commission was also established to draft a constitution; by the provisional legislature, ISAIAS Alforqui was elected president; the constitution, adopted in August 1997, has not yet come into force, this should happen after the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 2001. See a2zgov.com to know more about Eritrea government and politics.
Capital: Asmara (formerly Asmara).
Administrative division: 8 provinces (awraja): Akalé Güzey, Barka, Denkel, Sahel, Semkhar, Senhit, Seraye, Hamasen; note: in May 1995, the National Assembly passed a resolution that the administrative division of Eritrea established by the former colonial government would be replaced by six provinces when the new constitution that was being drafted at the time came into force (expected to happen in 1997.); new provinces (their names were not recommended by the US Board of Geographic Names for recognition by the US government before an acceptable boundary definition): An-seba, Debub, Debubavi-Keikh-Bahri, Gash-Barka, Maakel, Semanavi-Keikh-Bahri; later it was announced that these provinces would be called regions and bear the following names: Anseba, South, South Red Sea, North Red Sea, Gash-Barka, Central.
Independence: in a referendum held April 23-25, 1993, the people voted for independence; from May 24, 1993 (until 1993 – as part of Ethiopia).
National holiday: Independence Day, 24 May (1993).
Constitution: The transitional constitution, adopted on May 19, 1993, was replaced by a new one on May 23, 1997, which, however, has not yet entered into force.
Legal system: Operates on the basis of interim legislation, which consists of pre-independence statutes of the Eritrean Popular Liberation Front, revised Ethiopian laws, customary law, and post-independence laws.
Suffrage: from the age of 18, universal.
head of state: President ISAIAS Alforqui (since 8 June 1993); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
head of government:
government: the State Council is a collective body of executive power; elections: president elected by the National Assembly; elections last held 8 June 1993 (next expected in December 2001); election results: ISAIAS Alforqui was elected president with 95% of the vote in the National Assembly.
Legislature: unicameral National Assembly (150 seats; term of office of members is indeterminate); elections: in May 1997, after the adoption of the new constitution, 75 members of the Central Committee of the PFDJ (formerly the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Eritrea), 60 of the 527 members of the Constitutional Assembly, which was convened in 1997 to discuss and adopt a new constitution, and 15 representatives of Eritreans living abroad made up the provisional National Assembly, which was to serve as the legislature until a general election to the National Assembly was held; only 75 members of the National Assembly will be elected, the remaining 75 seats will be taken by members of the PFDJ Central Committee; parliamentary elections are to be held in December 2001.
Judiciary: Supreme Court; 10 provincial courts; 29 district courts.
Political parties and leaders: Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the only party recognized by the state (ISAIAS Alforqui, PETROS Solomon [PETROS Solomon]); note – The National Assembly appointed a committee to draft a law on political parties.
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ); Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) (ABDULLAH Muhammed); Eritrean Liberation Front – Revolutionary Council (ELF-RC) (Ahmed HACCEP [Ahmed NASSER]); Eritrean Liberation Front-United Organization (ELF-UO) (Mohammed Said NAWD).
Participation in international organizations: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsigna-tory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: head of mission: Ambassador GIRMA Asmerom (GIRMA Asmerom); office: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009; phone:  (202) 319-1991; fax: [\] (202) 319-1304.
US Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador William D. CLARKE; embassy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, Asmara; postal address: R. O. Box 211, Asmara; phone:  (1) 120004; fax:  (1) 127584.
Flag description: a red isosceles triangle, the base of which is the left side of the flag, and the apex rests on the right side, separates two right-angled triangles, the upper one is green and the lower one is blue; the golden wreath surrounding the golden olive branch is on the left side of the red triangle.