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The UN awarded Eritrea to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation. Ethiopia's annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating governmental forces; independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. Eritrea hosted a UN peacekeeping operation that monitored a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) on the border with Ethiopia. Eritrea's denial of fuel to the mission caused the UN to withdraw the mission and terminate its mandate 31 July 2008. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002. However, both parties have been unable to reach agreement on implementing the decision. On 30 November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission remotely demarcated the border by coordinates and dissolved itself, leaving Ethiopia still occupying several tracts of disputed territory, including the town of Badme. Eritrea accepted the EEBC's "virtual demarcation" decision and called on Ethiopia to remove its troops from the TSZ that it states is Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has not accepted the virtual demarcation decision. In 2009 the UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea after accusing it of backing anti-Ethiopian Islamist insurgents in Somalia.


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Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan

Geographic coordinates
15 00 N, 39 00 E

Map references

Area World Ranking: 101
Total 117,600 sq km
Land 101,000 sq km
Water 16,600 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries
Total 1,626 km
Border countries
Djibouti 109 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km

2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm

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

Dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains

Elevation extremes
Lowest point
Near Kulul within the Danakil Depression -75 m
Highest point Soira 3,018 m

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

Land use
Arable land 4.78%
Permanent crops 0.03%
Other 95.19% (2005)

Irrigated land
210 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
6.3 cu km (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 0.3 cu km/yr (3%/0%/97%)
Per capita 68 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Frequent droughts, rare earthquakes and volcanoes; locust swarms
Dubbi (elev. 1,625 m), which last erupted in 1861, was the country's only historically active volcano until Nabro (2,218 m) came to life on 12 June 2011

Environment - current issues
Deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Strategic geopolitical position along world's busiest shipping lanes; Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993


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  Eritrea (Asmara):

  GPS points from Eritrea (Asmara)

Arresa Eritrea (general)

Asbolu Shet' Eritrea (general)

Jemata Ahimed Mesgid Eritrea (general)

Pozzo Tulich Eritrea (general)

Canale Nord Di Massaua Eritrea (general)

Acca Eritrea (general)

Uoccherti Eritrea (general)

Nacta Eritrea (general)
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