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Eritrea

Background

Eritrea

The UN awarded Eritrea 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 in December 2000. Eritrea hosted a UN peacekeeping operation that monitored a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) on the border with Ethiopia. Eritrea's denial of fuel to the mission caused the UN to withdraw the mission and terminate its mandate 31 July 2008. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002. However, both parties have been unable to reach agreement on implementing the decision. On 30 November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission remotely demarcated the border by coordinates and dissolved itself, leaving Ethiopia still occupying several tracts of disputed territory, including the town of Badme. Eritrea accepted the EEBC's "virtual demarcation" decision and called on Ethiopia to remove its troops from the TSZ that it states is Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has not accepted the virtual demarcation decision. In 2009 the UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea after accusing it of backing anti-Ethiopian Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

About

WARNING: Travelers should exercise caution as the Eritrean government has placed restrictions on travel outside the capital city and heightened tensions exist along Eritrea's borders with Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Eritrea, , is in East Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan, with a long disputed border with Ethiopia.

Read more about Eritrea in our Eritrea travel guide »

A travel warning has been issued for Eritrea

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Eritrea

Full name
State of Eritrea
Capital
Asmara
Location

Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan

Geographic coordinates

15 00 N, 39 00 E

Area comparative

slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Border countries

Djibouti 109 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km

Coastline

2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)

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

Lowest point

near Kulul within the Danakil Depression -75 m

Highest point

Soira 3,018 m

Natural resources

gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish

Population

5,792,984 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

nine recognized ethnic groups Tigrinya 55%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Kunama 2%, Rashaida 2%, Bilen 2%, other (Afar, Beni Amir, Nera) 5% (2010 est.)

Religions

Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant

Languages

Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages

Government type

transitional government

Independence

24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)

National holiday

Independence Day, 24 May (1993)

Chief of state

President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government and is head of the State Council and National Assembly

Head of government

President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993)

Internet country code

.er

Internet users

200,000 (2008)

Airports

13 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Assab, Massawa

Other countries in the region