Country Summary



After independence from Italian control and then UK oversight, the UN established Eritrea as an autonomous region within the Ethiopian federation in 1952. Ethiopian annexation sparked a 30-year conflict for independence that ended in 1991. Eritreans overwhelmingly approved independence in a 1993 referendum.



total: 117,600 sq km
land: 101,000 sq km
water: 16,600 sq km


hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually, heaviest June to September); semiarid in western hills and lowlands

Natural resources

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

People and Society


6,274,796 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Tigrinya 50%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Afar 4%, Kunama 4%, Bilen 3%, Hedareb/Beja 2%, Nara 2%, Rashaida 1% (2021 est.)


Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages


Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Sunni Muslim

Population growth rate

1.08% (2023 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


name: Asmara

Executive branch

chief of state: President ISAIAS Afwerki (since 24 May 1993); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government and is head of the State Council and National Assembly
head of government: President ISAIAS Afwerki (since 8 June 1993)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (Hagerawi Baito) (150 seats; 75 members directly elected by simple majority vote and 75 members indirectly elected by the ruling party; members serve 5-year terms)


Economic overview

largely agrarian economy with a significant mining sector; substantial fiscal surplus due to tight controls; high and vulnerable debts; increased Ethiopian trade and shared port usage decreasing prices; financial and economic data integrity challenges

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$9.702 billion (2017 est.)
$8.953 billion (2016 est.)
$8.791 billion (2015 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,600 (2017 est.)
$1,500 (2016 est.)
$1,500 (2015 est.)

Agricultural products

sorghum, milk, vegetables, barley, cereals, pulses nes, roots/tubers nes, wheat, millet, beef


food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement


$624.3 million (2017 est.)
$485.4 million (2016 est.)

Exports - partners

China 62%, South Korea 28.3% (2017)

Exports - commodities

zinc, copper, gold, clothing, stone grinders (2021)


$1.127 billion (2017 est.)
$1.048 billion (2016 est.)

Imports - partners

UAE 14.5%, China 13.2%, Saudi Arabia 13.2%, Italy 12.9%, Turkey 5.6%, South Africa 4.6% (2017)

Imports - commodities

machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods

Exchange rates

nakfa (ERN) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
15.075 (2021 est.)
15.075 (2020 est.)
15.075 (2019 est.)
15.075 (2018 est.)
15.075 (2017 est.)

Page last updated: Monday, September 25, 2023