|Hagärä Ertra (Arabic)
|Form of government
||UTC + 3
|Telephone area code
The state of Eritrea, an independent country since
1993, is located in Northeast Africa on the Red Sea.
With an area of 121,144 km², the country is about a
third the size of Germany. Eritrea borders Sudan in the
north and west ,Ethiopia and Djibouti in the south and
the Red Sea in the east. The Dalak Archipelago, which
consists of around 200 islands and lies off the coast in
the Red Sea, also belongs to the state territory.
The coastline on the Red Sea is almost 1,000 km long
and between 30 and 50 km wide. In the north, the country
rises steeply to the highlands (1,500 to 2,500 m), which
is the northern part of the Ethiopian highlands and
occupies about a third of the country's area. The
highest peak in Eritrea is the Soira at 3,018 m. The
southern part of the country stretches along the Red
Sea. Here the volcanic Denakil Mountains rise behind the
coastline to altitudes of around 1,000 m. Between these
mountains and the highlands further to the west is the
Denakil Valley, which is up to 120 m below sea level and
has some salt lakes. The Denakil Valley is part of the
East African trench system and is considered one of the
hottest areas in the world.
The capital Asmara is located in the highlands at an
altitude of approx. 2,350 m on the border with Ethiopia.
The climate in Eritrea is partly dry, partly there is
a changeable tropical climate and differs depending on
the altitude. In the central highlands (approx.2,000 to
2,500 m above sea level) it is temperate, the average
temperatures are around 22 กใ C. Daily highs of 30 กใ C
can be reached in summer, low values around freezing
point in winter. There are two rainy seasons in the
highlands, which last from March to April and from June
to December. The average rainfall is around 500 mm
The temperatures along the coast are consistently
high all year round, with an annual average of 30 กใ C.
In the northern coastal area, the average rainfall is
around 200 mm annually, the majority falls in the months
of December to February. To the south, the precipitation
decreases to 50 mm per year. Almost no precipitation can
be measured in the Denakil Valley.
Flora and fauna
In the coastal areas with little rainfall,
semi-desert and thorn bush savannah with succulents,
acacias, aloe and myrrh prevail. Mangroves grow on the
coast itself. There is hardly any vegetation in the
Denakil Valley, only a few plants that are extremely
well adapted to the drought can survive here. In central
and northern Eritrea, dry forests with juniper, stone
yew, dump palms and tamarisk trees are found. On the
mountain slopes of the highlands there are stocks of the
deciduous Combretum forest and dense grass cover. The
coniferous stocks that were previously available were
decimated to a few residues for firewood extraction.
By deforestation and expansion of the settlement
area, the formerly rich animal world of Eritrea was
decimated by the restriction of a suitable habitat.
Various antelopes are numerous, such as the oryx
antelope, Dorkas gazelle and the kudu. In the country,
black baboons, vervet monkeys, cheetahs, leopards,
bat-eared dogs and jackals also occur. The rare species
include, for example, the Somali wild ass and the
Eritrea gemsbok. Especially in the coastal area the bird
life is very diverse, often you can find eg ibises,
ospreys, flamingos, herons, pelicans and spoonbills. The
Red Sea is very rich in various types of fish and
corals, some of which are endemic. Rare animals include
the up to 3 m long dugongs that belong to the manatees.
Around 4.56 million people live in Eritrea, although
there is no reliable data on the population, which is
growing rapidly (population growth 3.6%). The residents
essentially belong to nine ethnic groups, among which
the Tigrinians (Tigrinya, Tigrini) with around 50% and
the Tigre and Kunama, who belong to the nomadic peoples,
with around 31% the two largest groups. Other groups are
the Afar, Bilen, Hadareb, Nara, Rashaida and Saho. All
ethnic groups speak their own languages, mainly Tigrinya
(which belongs to the Semitic languages) and Arabic, but
also English are spoken as common languages. Apart from
a small religious group of animists, about half of
Eritrean residents are Muslim (Tigre, Afar) and the
other half are Christians (followers of the Eritrean
The country's population density is very low at
around 35 people per square kilometer. According to COUNTRYAAH, 17% of Eritreans live in cities, the largest city is the
capital Asmara with around 501,000 residents. The
standard of living in Eritrea is very low due to the
consequences of the decades-long war and recurring
droughts, a large part of the population lives in
extreme poverty. The health and education system is
poorly trained. The average life expectancy in Eritrea
is 52 years, still 41% of the residents (and more than
half of the women) are illiterate. The country is
dependent on foreign food deliveries.
The new constitution of the Republic of Eritrea was
promulgated in 1997, but has not yet come into force.
The provisional constitution of 1994 is valid. Isaias
Afewerki, who was elected by the then central committee
of the EPLF, has been president and head of government
since May 1993. He is also the commander-in-chief of the
The 150-member Transitional Parliament, of which 75
are members of the State Party PFDJ (People's Front for
Democracy and Justice), meets only at the President's
request. The 1997 constitution also provides for a
multi-party system. In the current transition phase, no
political parties apart from the PFDJ are permitted.
In addition to the Supreme Court, there are regional,
but also military and special courts.
The country is divided into six administrative
Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world.
When the country gained independence in 1993, its
industrial infrastructure was almost completely
destroyed by the war with Ethiopia. Another war with
Ethiopia, a subsequent multi-year drought and an
increasingly centralized economic policy have once again
done great damage to the economy. The ongoing copper and
gold production has brought the country an increasing
economic growth in recent years.
At present 80% of the workforce is employed in
agriculture, but barely a fifth of the gross domestic
product (GDP) is generated here. Agriculture is only
possible to a limited extent due to the prevailing
climatic conditions, most of the growing areas are in
the milder regions of the highlands. Among others,
millet, vegetables, corn, tobacco, legumes, cotton and
coffee are grown. Fishing is important for the food of
The industry is only moderately developed and
contributes almost a quarter to GDP. The most important
branches of industry are food processing companies and
the textile industry. Eritrea has mineral deposits off
the coast of mineral resources, and deposits of gold,
nickel, copper and chromium have also been found.
Sudan, Ethiopia and Japan are the most important
trading partners for the export of goods (especially
food and livestock, textiles, industrial goods). When it
comes to imports (mainly machinery, food, semi-finished
goods), Italy leads the United Arab Emirates, Germany
and Great Britain.
Tourism plays no role in Eritrea's economy.
Around 875 km of the approximately 4,000 km of road
are paved. International airports are located near the
capital Asmara and in Massau. Important ports of Eritrea
are Massawa and Assab.
The national currency is the nakfa.