Eritrea, officially the State of Eritrea, is located in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is bordered by Djibouti, Ethiopia and Sudan with a long coastline along the Red Sea. The country includes many of the Hanish Islands and the Dahlak Archipelago.
Eritrea is an ethnically heterogeneous country with nine recognized ethnic groups. The Tigrinya people make up 55% of the population, followed by the Tigre people at 30%. Most of the remaining population belongs to Afroasiatic-speaking peoples, such as the Saho, Hedareb, Afar, Bilen, and Rashaida, who represent 2% of the population and live in the northern coastal region. Hadrami migrants have also settled in Eritrea in recent years. The Kunama and Nara are small ethnic minorities in the country.
There is also a small population of Italian Eritrean and Ethiopian Tigrayan people in the country, although neither is granted citizenship except through marriage.
Eritrea Religion, Economy and Politics
The religious communities within Eritrea are unique in that they are extremely evenly split. Roughly 2% of the population claim no religion, but the remaining 98% is split down the middle: 49% Christian and 49% Muslim, although the precise numbers are somewhat debated. Although there is no one official religion and Eritrea is officially a secular state, the state recognizes the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Eritrean Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, and Sunni Islam. In practice, no other religions are officially allowed to register. Regardless of their faith, Eritreans peacefully coexist and no religion is known for being extreme.
The Eritrean economy has been flourishing in recent years and was the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011, but a lot of their success has been from worker remittances abroad. The agricultural sector employs 80% of the population, but only accounts for 12% of the national GDP. Some of the main agricultural exports include barley, beans, and dairy products. There are significant mineral deposits in Eritrea, most of which are unexplored. The country has huge potential for mining gold, marble and granite and mining companies have been gaining licenses in the area in recent years. Industry and manufacturing of goods like tobacco, leather, and metal products make up an additional 34% of the GDP.
Eritrea Population History
The land that is now Eritrea was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 1500s until 1890 when Italy claimed it as a colony. British forces occupied the area in 1941, and the UN voted for Eritrea to be made a federal component of Ethiopia in 1952, which Ethiopia annexed 10 years later, beginning Eritrea's struggle for independence. Decades of guerrilla finally led to a vote for Eritrean liberation in 1993. Between the years of 1998-2000, Eritrea fought with Ethiopia over borders which left 70,000 people dead combined from both countries. War with Ethiopia finally ended in 2018.