COUNTRIES BRIEFS Newsletter ISSN 1563-4108

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The State of Eritrea is located in the "Horn of Africa" - Eastern Africa - bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan.

Remark: Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation. Ethiopia annexed the Autonomous Region in 1962. That was the beginning of the intensification of the guerilla war staged - in fact civil unrest was endemic since 1955 - by Eritrean nationalists against the federal army; a 36-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating federal forces.

Total area: 121,320 sq. km

Population: 4,362,254 (July 2003 est.); Population growth rate: 3.86% (2000)
1.28% (2003 est.)

Capital: Asmara

Neighboring countries:
Djibouti over 113 km, Ethiopia over 912 km, Sudan over 605 km

Coastline: 2,234 km (Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993 - mainland on Red Sea has 1,151 km of coastline, islands in Red Sea have 1,083 km of coastline)

Independence was overwhelmingly approved in 23-25 April 1993 referendum and declared de jure on 24 May 1993

Constitution: the transitional constitution, decreed on 19 May 1993, was replaced by a new constitution adopted on 23 May 1997, but not yet implemented

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

Agriculture productions: sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, coffee, sisal; livestock, goats; fish

Industrial productions: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles

The borders' war with Ethiopia (erupted in June 1998) ended December 12, 2000. A peace accord had been signed in Algiers - under the sponsorship of Algeria's Bouteflika, Togo's Eyadema (Acting OAU - Organization for African Unity' Chairman) and United Nations' Secretary General Koffi Annan.

The peace accord is just the beginning of a long process to mending relationship between the two brother-states. A lot remains to be done to restore confidence amongst the respective rulers of both countries.

One vivid example of the continuous "tension"and lack of confidence: Ethiopia turned down an offer from Eritrea to use its well equipped Assab's harbor for Import Export. Ethiopia prefers instead to use the railway link to the port of

Demarcation of the disputed 620-mile (1,000-km) border has been indefinitely postponed since Ethiopia rejected in 2003 decision by an independent boundary commission that the village of Badme should be part of Eritrea.

Eritrea has called for sanctions to force Ethiopia to accept the ruling, which was supposed to be "final and binding" under the terms of a peace deal that ended the 1998-2000 border conflict that killed some 70,000 people. Click here to visit United Nations Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea for the latest news about tha matter.

Due to the persisting tension with Ethiopia, and possible resumption of the war with Ethiopia, the ruling government of Eritrea is taking liberty with human and citizens' rights. It denied exit visas to citizens under 30, extended national military and public service from 18 months to an open-ended period for young people, jailed political critics and shut down the free press. Click here for a report by Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF).

Nevertheless, in spite of difficulties to reaching normal state to state relationship between the former enemies, one thing is sure: badly needed and scarce financial resources, can now found better usage (they have been used during two years - 1998 to 2000 - to import armaments) in investments for basic infrastructure - roads, bridges, hospitals, schools. Etc. These infrastructure
need urgently to be either established or restored. Indeed, Eritrea economic structure - already disrupted by 36 years (1955-1991) of intensive and destructive war for independence from Ethiopia - is presently in a very bad shape. The Catch-Up process started since the end of the war. GNP rose from -1% in 1999 to +7% in 2001. However, the developing momemtum had been lost since then. The economy is at standsill as shown by GNP evolution as exposed in the section below labelled "Some Figures".

Eritrea's economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. Therefore a strategic plan for rural development is the solution to speed up the developing to establishing a strong agriculture base; capable of providing abundant raw materials to industrial units; and exporting agricultural products to states around the Arabic Gulf.

There is in the tourism industry sector a huge potential to attract foreign investment. The coastal waters over which Eritrea has exclusive fishing rights constitute 52,000 square kilometers of probably the richest and for the most unexploited waters of the Red Sea. That represents a tremendous opportunity to develop:

      • Fishing industry.
      • Tourism.

The scenic and topographic diversity of the country as well as its history are assets to developing a strong tourists' destination. The coastline of pristine sandy beaches, the many islands and the clear water with abundant marine life makes development of recreational facilities a viable possibility.


1- D&B Export Guide To Eritrea
Digital Delivery by D&B
2- Eccentric Graces
Eritrea & Ethiopia Through The Eyes of A Teaveler / by Julia Stewart
3- Beyond Survival
The Economic Challenges of Agriculture And Development In Post Independent Eritrea
by Tesfa G. Gebremedhin
4- Blood, Land & Sex
Legal And Political Pluralism In Eritrea
by Lyda Favali
5- Demobilization In Sub-Saharan Africa
The Development And Security Impacts
by Kees Kigma
6- From Guerillas To Government
The Eritrean People's Liberation Front
by David Pool
7- More News On Eritrea
by Yahoo!

Click here for a "Strategic economic scheme for an African country"
Click here for a "Income Building Scheme" for a community

Click to contact Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum



US$ 251 million (2000); 1 billion (2001); 950 million (2002); 969 million (2003)
GNP-growth rate: -1 % (1999); 7% (2001); 2% (2002);
GNP-per capita: US$ 62 (2000); 222 (2003)

Click here for the difference between GNP and Parity Purchasing

GDP-composition by sector

  1. agriculture: 17%

  2. industry: 29%
  3. services: 54%

Exports: US$ 26 million (f.o.b., 2000); 20 million (f.o.b., 2001); 21.4 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Commodities: livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures
Exports - partners: Italy 36.9%, Germany 16.7%, France 10.3%, US 5.4%, Netherlands 5.2% (2002)

Imports: US$ 560 million (f.o.b., 2000); 500 million (c.i.f., 2001); 535 million (c.i.f., 2002)
Commodities: processed goods, machinery, petroleum products
Imports - partners: Italy 27.1%, US 15.7%, Germany 7.2%, Ukraine 5.8%, Turkey 5.5%, France 4.5%, Netherlands 4% (2002)

Remark: Imports and exports statistics are not up to date. It is impossible to get real figures with regards arms / military equipment importation.




A passport and visa are required. There is an airport departure tax, and residents of Eritrea generally must obtain an exit visa from Eritrean Immigration in advance of their departure. Entry information and further inquiries may be made at the nearest Eritrean embassy or consulate.

International vaccination certificates for yellow fever, hepatitis and cholera are required.

Eritrean Consulate

96 White Lion Street
London, N1 9PF
Tel: +(44) 171 7130096
Fax: +(44) 171 7130161
Embassy of Eritrea

1708 New Hampshire Avenue, NW,
Washington DC 20009
Tel: +(1) 202 3191991
Fax: +(1) 202 3191304
Click here
Eritrean Tour Service (ETS)
PO Box 889
61 Harnet Avenue
Tel: +(291) 1 124999
Fax: +(291) 1 126366
Embassy of Eritrea

75 Albert Street, Suite 610
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5E7
Tel: +(1) 613 2343989
Fax: +(1) 613 2346213


Eritrean airlines
operate domestic flights between Asmara and the city-port of Assab. Asmara airport is served by Ethiopian Airlines and Lufthansa with flights form London, Frankfurt, Rome, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, Sanaa and Addis Ababa.

An airport tax is levied for domestic departures.
Dekamere and the ports of Massawa and Assab are other major towns.

Eritrea Investment Center
P.O. Box 921
Tel.: +(291) 118822 / 118124
Fax: +(291) 1 124293
Asmara Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 856
Tel.: +(291 )121388
Fax: +(291) 120138
Ministry of Energy,
Mining and Water Resources

P.O. Box 5285
Tel.: +(291) 116872
Fax: +(291) 127652
Ministry of Marine Resources
P.O. Box 923
Tel.: +(291) 124271
Fax: +(291) 112185
Ministry of Trade and Industry
P.O. Box 1844
Tel.: +(291) 127806
Fax: +(291) 127048
Click here to review funding available to rebuild power generation system

Most hotels are government owned.

High class hotels include the Hamasien Hotel, Selam Hotel and Embasoria.

Tourist class hotels include the Ambassador, Expo and Bologna hotel. For more on accommodation contact one of the addresses below listed.

Currency can be exchanged at the Commercial Bank of Eritrea or at hotels. The US dollar is the most easily convertible currency

Ministry of Tourism
PO Box 1010
Tel: +(291) 1 126 997
Fax: +(291) 1 126949
Eritrean Tour Service (ETS)
PO Box 889
61 Harnet Avenue
Tel: +(291) 1 124999
Fax: +(291) 1 126366

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