Eritrea

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State of Eritrea

ሃገረ ኤርትራ  Hagere Ertra
دولة إرتريا  Dawlat Iritriyā
Emblem of Eritrea
Emblem
Anthem: Ertra, Ertra, Ertra
Eritrea, Eritrea, Eritrea
Location of Eritrea
Capital
and largest city
Asmara
Official languagesTigrinya[1]
Arabic[1]
English[1][2]
Ethnic groups
(2012[3])
55% Tigrinya
30% Tigre
4% Saho
2% Kunama
2% Rashaida
2% Bilen
5% othera
Demonym(s)Eritrean
GovernmentUnitary Single-party under an totalitarian dictatorship
• President
Isaias Afewerki
Independence
• From Italy
November 1941
• From United Kingdom under UN Mandate
1951
• from Ethiopia de facto
24 May 1991
• From Ethiopia de jure
24 May 1993
Area
• Total
117,600 km2 (45,400 sq mi) (101st)
• Water (%)
0.14%
Population
• 2012 estimate
6,086,495 (107th)
• 2008 census
5,291,370
• Density
51.8/km2 (134.2/sq mi) (154th)
GDP (PPP)2012 estimate
• Total
$4.397 billion[4]
• Per capita
$777[4]
GDP (nominal)2012 estimate
• Total
$3.108 billion[4]
• Per capita
$549[4]
HDI (2011)Steady 0.349
low · 177th
CurrencyNakfa (ERN)
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (not observed)
Driving sideright
Calling code291
ISO 3166 codeER
Internet TLD.er
  1. Afar, Beni-Amer, Nara.
  2. Working languages only.[5]
A map of Eritrea

Eritrea is a country on the eastern coast of Africa. Its official name is The State of Eritrea.

Geography[change | change source]

Eritrean highlands.

Eritrea is located on the coast of the Red Sea. It is north of the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Horn of Africa. Eritrea has borders with the countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. The land area of Eritrea is 101,000 km², and it is one of the smallest countries in Africa.[39]

History[change | change source]

Eritrea became an independent country on 24 May 1993.[39] It is one of the newest countries in the world.

Many different countries have ruled the land that is now called Eritrea. Between 1885 and 1941 it was a colony of Italy. Between 1941 and 1952, the United Nations put it under the protection of the United Kingdom. After 1952, Eritrea became a part of Ethiopia.[39] This was the reason for a long civil war between the Eritreans and the government of Ethiopia.

Eventually, in 1993, Eritrea became an independent country after a vote by its people.[39]

Eritreans[change | change source]

Eritreans
Flag of Eritrea.svg
Total population
Eritrean people around the world.svg
Eritrea: 3.6–6.7 million[40][41]
Eritrean diaspora: ≥600,000
Regions with significant populations
 Eritrea3.6–6.7 million[40][41]
 Ethiopia170,231[42]
 Sudan159,748 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Germany75,735[44]
 United States57,980[45][46]
 Sweden45,734[47]
  Switzerland36,359[48]
 Norway30,213[49]
 Canada25,255[50]
 United Kingdom19,031 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 United Arab Emirates17,916 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Italy13,592 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Australia11,152[51][52]
 Denmark5,703[53]
 Kuwait4,725 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Uganda3,529 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 South Sudan3,318 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Egypt2,368 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Netherlands2,150 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Kenya2,127 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Libya1,983 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Qatar1,854 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 South Africa1,604 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Bahrain1,550 (Eritrean-born)[43]
 Yemen1,009 (Eritrean-born)[43]
Languages
Tigrinya, Tigre, Kunama, Bilen, Nara, Saho, Afar, Beja, and other Languages of Eritrea
Religion
Christian 63% (Eritrean Orthodox, P'ent'ay, Catholic), Muslim 36%[54]
Related ethnic groups
Ethiopians, Djiboutians, Somalis

Eritreans are the native inhabitants of Eritrea, as well as the global diaspora of Eritreans displaced by the Eritrean War of Independence[55] and seeking refuge from human rights violations by the Eritrean government.[56] Eritreans constitute several component ethnic groups, many of which are closely related to ethnic groups in Ethiopia and other parts of the Horn of Africa.

The Eritrean national identity began to develop during the Scramble for Africa, when Italy claimed Eritrea as one of its colonies. This marked the establishment of Eritrea's present-day borders.[57] Following Italy's defeat in World War II and the subsequent British administration of Eritrea, the former colony was federated with Ethiopia in 1952.[58] Tensions increased through the 1950s between Eritreans wishing for independence and the Ethiopian government, culminating in the Eritrean War of Independence.[59]

Component Ethnicities[change | change source]

Tigrinya[change | change source]

The majority of the Tigrinya inhabit the highlands of Eritrea; however, migration to other parts of the country has occurred. Their language is called Tigrinya. They are the largest ethnic group in the country, constituting about 60% of the population.[3] The predominantly Tigrinya populated urban centers in Eritrea are the capital Asmara, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Adi Keyh, Adi Quala and Senafe, while there is a significant population of Tigrinya in other cities including Keren, and Massawa.

They are 96% Christians, (of which 90% are of the Eritrean Orthodox faith, 5% Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic (whose mass is held in Ge'ez as opposed to Latin), and 5% belonging to various Protestant and other Christian denominations, the majority of which belong to the (Lutheran) Evangelical Church of Eritrea).

Tigre[change | change source]

The Tigre reside in the western lowlands in Eritrea. Many also migrated to Sudan at the time of the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict and lived there since. They are a nomadic and pastoralist people, related to the Tigrinya and to the Beja people. They are a predominantly Muslim nomadic people who inhabit the northern, western, and coastal lowlands of Eritrea, where they constitute 30% of local residents.[3] Some also inhabit areas in eastern Sudan. 95% of the Tigre people adhere to the Islamic religion Sunni Islam, but there are a small number of Christians among them as well (often referred to as the Mensaï in Eritrea). Their language is called Tigre.

Jeberti[change | change source]

The Jeberti people in Eritrea trace descent from early Muslim adherents. The term Jeberti is also locally sometimes used to generically refer to all Islamic inhabitants of the highlands.[60] The Jeberti in Eritrea speak Arabic and Tigrinya.[61] They account for about 4% of the Tigrinya speakers in the nation.

Afar[change | change source]

According to the CIA, the Afar constitute under 5% of the nation's population.[62] They live in the Debubawi Keyih Bahri Region of Eritrea, as well as the Afar Region in Ethiopia, and Djibouti. They speak the Afar language as a mother tongue, and are predominantly Muslim. Afars in Eritrea number about 397,000 individuals, the smallest population out of the countries they reside in. In Djibouti, there are about 780,000 group members, and in Ethiopia, they number approximately 1,300,000.

Saho[change | change source]

The Saho represent 4% of Eritrea's population.[62] They principally reside in the Debubawi Keyih Bahri Region and the Northern Red Sea Region of Eritrea. Their language is called Saho. They are predominantly Muslim, although a few Christians known as the Irob live in the Debub Region of Eritrea and the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Bilen[change | change source]

The Bilen in Eritrea represent around 2% of the country's population.[62] They are primarily concentrated in the north-central areas, in and around the city of Keren, and south towards Asmara, the nation's capital. Many of them entered Eritrea from Kush (central Sudan) in the 8th century and settled at Merara, after which they went to Lalibela and Lasta. The Bilen then returned to Axum in Ethiopia's Tigray Province, and battled with the natives; in the resulting aftermath, the Bilen returned to their main base at Merara. The Bilen include adherents of both Islam and Christianity. They speak the Bilen as a mother tongue. Christian adherents are mainly urban and have intermingled with the Tigrinya who live in the area. Muslim adherents are mainly rural and have interbred with the adjacent Tigre.

Beja[change | change source]

The Beja in Eritrea, or Hedareb, constitute under 5% of local residents.[62] They mainly live along the north-western border with Sudan. Group members are predominantly Muslim and communicate in Hedareb as a first or second language. The Beja also include the Beni-Amer people, who have retained their native Beja language alongside Hedareb.

Kunama[change | change source]

According to the CIA, the Kunama constitute around 2% of Eritrea's population.[63] They mainly live in the country's Gash Barka Region, as well as in adjacent parts of Ethiopia's Tigray Region. Many of them reside in the contested border village of Badme. Their language is called Kunama. Although some Kunama still practice traditional beliefs, most are converts to either Christianity (Roman Catholic and Protestant) or Islam.

Nara[change | change source]

The Nara represent under 5% of the nation's population.[63] They principally reside along the south-western border with Sudan and Ethiopia. They are generally Muslim, with a few Christians and some practising their indigenous beliefs. Their language is called Nara.

Rashaida Arabs in Eritrean[change | change source]

The Rashaida are one of Eritrea's nine recognized ethnic groups. They represent around 2% of the population of Eritrea.[64] The Rashaida reside in the northern coastal lowlands of Eritrea and the northern eastern coasts of Sudan. They are predominantly Muslim and are the only ethnic group in Eritrea to have Arabic as their communal language, specifically the Hejazi dialect. The Rashaida first came to Eritrea in the 19th century from the Arabian Coast.[65]

Italians in Eritrea[change | change source]

A few monolingual Italian Eritreans remain. As of 2008, they were estimated at 900 people, down from around 38,000 residents at the end of World War II.

Eritrean diaspora[change | change source]

Government[change | change source]

Eritrea is known for being the most oppressive country in Africa, sometimes considered to be the "North Korea of Africa".[66] The nation has been accused of many human rights violations, severely limited freedoms, and many arbitrary (made-up) arrests.

Administrative divisions[change | change source]

Eritrea is divided into six administrative regions. These areas are then divided into 58 districts.

A map of Eritrea regions. 1.Northern Red Sea, 2.Anseba, 3.Gash-Barka, 4.Central(to right), 5.Southern, 6.Southern Red Sea
Regions of Eritrea
Region Area (km2) Population Capital
Central 1,300 1,053,254 Asmara
Anseba 23,200 893,587 Keren
Gash-Barka 33,200 1,103,742 Barentu
Southern 8,000 1,476,765 Mendefera
Northern Red Sea 27,800 897,454 Massawa
Southern Red Sea 27,600 398,073 Assab

Culture[change | change source]

The population of Eritrea is about 3.6 million.[39] About 0.5 million people live in Asmara. People from Eritrea are called Eritreans. Most of them speak Tigrinya or Tigre as their first language. The people usually use Tigrinya or Arabic for official business.

Eritrea has nine ethnic groups. These are the Afar people, the Bilen people, the Hedareb people, the Kunama, the Nara, the Rashaida, the Saho, the Tigre, and Tigray-Tigrinya.

The currency of Eritrea is called the Nakfa. Eritrea is a very poor country. Almost half of Eritrea's economy comes from Eritreans who live abroad. They send money home to their families. Most of the rest comes from farming.

Football and cycling are the most popular sports in Eritrea. In recent years, Eritrean athletes have also seen increasing success in the international arena.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

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