Geography and Population

Eretria is bordered by Sudan to the north and west, Ethiopia to the south, Djibouti to the southeast and the Red Sea to the north and northeast. Eretria has an area of 117.600 km2. After a public vote for independence, Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993.

Eritrea is an ethnically heterogeneous country with a population of nearly 5 million inhabitants. The Tigrinya people represent 55% of the population, followed by the Tigre people at 30%. Most of the remaining residents are Afro-Asiatic-speaking peoples, such as the Saho, Hedareb, Afar, Bilen, and Rashaida, who represent 2% of the population and live in the northern coastal region. Eritrea is governed by a single party and is a presidential republic. It has a parliament comprising 150 members, 75 of whom constitute the central committee of the ruling party. The other 75 members are elected by constituencies.

The executive authorities are vested in the president, who is the chief of state, head of government and head of the State Council and National Assembly.

Economic Overview

Eritrea has a GDP worth 6.05 billion dollars. The GDP is expected to grow 3.7% in 2018. Since declaring formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has had a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.

Main Employment Sectors

Agriculture: As with the economies of many African nations, a large share of the population, nearly 80% in Eritrea, is engaged in subsistence agriculture, yet the sector produces only a small share of the country’s total output. Agriculture represents approximately 12.1% of Eritrea’s GDP and 44% of its commodity exports.

Drought, caused by inconsistent rainfall, hinders the crop yield of subsistence farming. The labour required to increase crop productivity and the growth of farms has been unavailable due to a mandatory conscription.

Animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, and camels constitute most of Eritrea’s livestock. 

Service: The service sector plays a significance role in the Eritrean economy, where it makes the largest contribution to the country’s GDP, nearly 58.5%. Finance, real estate and business services account for nearly 27.8% of the country’s GDP. The services sector is dominated by state institutions, such as the National Bank of Eritrea, the Commercial Bank of Eritrea, the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea, the Agricultural and Industrial Bank of Eritrea, the Eritrean Investment and Development Bank, and the National Insurance Corporation of Eritrea. 

Telecommunications services are provided inadequately by state-owned companies, and most fixed-line telephones are in the capital city Asmara. Cell phone use is only slowly increasing throughout the country, and cell phone subscribers represent less than 10% of the total population.

Although Eritrea has a beautiful coastline and historical sites that exhibit the country’s potential, the regime does not seem oriented towards using these areas, possibly from fear of opening to the outside world and threats to the existence of the regime.   

Infrastructure: One of the most significant advancements in infrastructure since independence has been the string of roadways that connect the capital to the two main ports of Massawa and Assab. The capital, Asmara, connects to the port of Massawa via the Asmara-Massawa Road, which continues to the southwest of the country via the Massawa-Assab Highway.

The port of Assab now maintains a naval base and together with the port of Massawa, handles 2.5 million tons of goods. New roads have also become linked with bordering countries, such as Sudan. In 2013, Eritrea completed a 100 km road connecting the Massawa port to the Sudanese border town of Garora, beginning a strategic alliance with Sudan.