Eritrea

 

Eritrea was awarded 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 currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation that is monitoring a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) on the border with Ethiopia. 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 which it states is Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has not accepted the virtual demarcation decision.

 

Geography:
Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E
People:
Population: 6,086,495 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.1% (male 1,256,384/female 1,244,569) 15-64 years: 54.3% (male 1,580,535/female 1,641,911)

65 years and over: 3.6% (male 96,627/female 119,458) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 18.9 years

male: 18.5 years

female: 19.2 years (2008 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: State of Eritrea

conventional short form: Eritrea

local long form: HagereErtra

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; the constitution, ratified in May 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; parliamentary elections were scheduled in December 2001, but were postponed indefinitely; currently the sole legal party is the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 54,200 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 185,300 (2009)
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate

domestic: inadequate; most telephones are in Asmara; government is seeking international tenders to improve the system (2002)

international: country code – 291; note – international connections exist

Transportation:
Airports: 13 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 4

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2012)

Military:
Military branches:  Eritrean Armed Forces: Eritrean Ground Forces, Eritrean Navy, Eritrean Air Force (includes Air Defence Force) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18-40 years of age for male and female voluntary and compulsory military service; 16-month conscript service obligation (2006)

Economy:

Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country, accentuated by the recent implementation of restrictive economic policies. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). 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 in 1998-2000 severely hurt Eritrea’s economy. GDP growth fell to zero in 1999 and to -12.1% 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.

Transnational Issues:

Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) delimitation decision but, neither party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; UN Peacekeeping Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which has monitored the 25-km-wide Temporary Security Zone in Eritrea since 2000, is extended for six months in 2007 despite Eritrean restrictions on its operations and reduced force of 17,000; Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting eastern Sudanese rebel groups