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Asmara (Asmera)
Agordat (Akordat)
Assab (Asseb)
Dahlak islands
Dekemhare (Decemhare)
Ghinda (Ginda)
Keren (Cheren)
Massawa (Massauwa)
Mendefera (Adi Ugri)
Nakfa (Nacfa)
Semenawi Bahri (Filfil)
Tessenei (Teseney)



The people of Eritrea


Population: 4,561,500 (2005 estimate)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44.8% (male 1,023,900; female 1,019,400
15-64 years: 51.9% (male 1,170,800; female 1,194,700)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 74,300; female 78,400)
(2005 estimate)


Eritrea population pyramid (age and sex distribution) for 2003 Eritrea Population Pyramid for 2003


Population growth rate: 2.51% (2005 estimate)

Birth rate: 38.62 births/1,000 population (2005 estimate)
Death rate: 13.53 deaths/1,000 population (2005 estimate)

Sex ratio:
At birth: 1.03 male/female
Under 15 years: 1.00 male/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male/female
65 years and over: 1.05 male/female
Total population: 0.99 male/female (2005 estimate)

Infant mortality rate: 74.87/1,000 live births
(2005 estimate)

Life expectancy at birth:
Total population: 58.0 years
Male: 61.0 years
Female: 59.5 years (2005 estimate)

Total fertility rate: 5.61 children born/woman
(2005 estimate)


Eritrea's nationalities


Eritrea's nine nationalities
Tigrinya *) 2,230,000 50% Central highlands of Maakel and Debub
Tigre **) 1,208,000 27% Western lowlands across the northern mountains to the coastal plains
Saho **) 242,000 5% Red sea coast (Foro) and the hinterland south of Asmara and Massawa and the highlands as far as Hazumo Valley
Afar **) 215,000 5% Also known as Dankils, along the southeastern Red Sea coast and on the Dahlak islands
Hedareb **) 202,000 4% Also known as T'badwe in western Barka (Tessenei) and Sahel
Kunama 144,000 3% Around Barentu
Bilen **) 112,000 2% In and around Keren
Nara **) 107,000 2% Also known as Baria, on the western slopes and Barka plains
Rashaida **) 40,000 1% Northern Red sea coast
Total 4,500,000 100%

*) predominantly Christian
**) predominantly Muslim

Jiberti Muslims regard themselves as an additional (tenth) nationality.

Another ethic group is the Tokharir, migrant Nigerians who have settled on the banks of the Gash river on their way to or from Mecca.

Eritrea's nine nationalities
Tigrinya woman - Eritrea Rashaida woman - Eritrea
Tigrinya woman Rashaida woman
Afar woman - Eritrea Tigre woman - Eritrea
Afar woman Tigre woman
Kunama woman - Eritrea Saho woman - Eritrea
Kunama woman Saho woman
Nara woman - Eritrea Hedareb woman - Eritrea
Nara woman Hedareb woman
Bilen woman - Eritrea One heart - one people
Bilen woman One heart



Eritrean women played a central role in liberating the nation in 1991 and in defending it when it came under renewed Ethiopian attack in 1998-2000. Because of the important role women played in the society and economy, the Eritrean government has sought to ensure their full and equal participation while eliminating the disadvantages that many of the women experience. The National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) with its 200,000 members is an umbrella organization upholding the rights of women throughout Eritrea and the Diaspora and securing women's participation in the Eritrean society.


"Victory to the masses"

Mass participation has become a vigorous aspect of Eritrean nation building. It was the success of the Eritrean liberation movement fighting against Ethiopian imperialism. Not only in the military field, but also in building an Eritrean "grass roots" politics of self-government. In absolute contrast with Sudan, with its still raging civil war, the warring clans of Somalia, shooting each other to pieces, and ethnic based liberation movements in Ethiopia, Eritrea's nine ethnic groups live in harmony and peace.

High levels of popular participation in the country's reconstruction and development are the hallmark of Eritrea's post-independence growth. at the same time, instances of crime or corruption have remained lower than anywhere else in the world. This speaks to the high levels of social cohesion and civic pride that under gird the social and economic development process.

The National Service, written into Eritrea's Constitution as an obligation of citizenship, requires all women and men over eighteen to undergo six months of military training and a year of work on national reconstruction. The value of the National Service Program is that it compensates for Eritrea's lack of capital and reduces Eritrea's dependence on foreign aid, while welding together Eritrea's diverse society. It also places women in a condition of heightened gender equality for eighteen months, as service in the EPLF had done during Eritrea's war of independence.


The Diaspora

With a million Eritreans in exile from a total population of 4 million, this presents the phenomenal scenario that one out of every five Eritreans lives abroad. Thousands of Eritreans have been forced into exile because of their opposition to Ethiopia's annexation of their country in 1962. Young people were sent away for fear of forced conscription into the Ethiopian army and to avert the daily cruelties of the 1961-91 Ethiopian occupation. Attacks on civilians suspected of supporting the ELF and EPLF also led to a vast exodus of refugees.

The majority of the exiles walked, some fore hundreds of miles to the Sudan, where half a million remain as refugees. Another 250.000 are scattered across the globe in Europe, Canada, the United States and closer to their home in Saudi Arabia (100.000), the Middle East, Kenya and Ethiopia (100.000). Eritreans abroad remain staunchly loyal to their motherland and their families. These exiles raised much of the financial support for the thirty-year liberation struggle, and faithfully continue to assist family members back home both monetarily and materially.


Eritrea - Diversity and unity

Eritrea - diversity and unity - young Eritrean women in traditional clothes.


Eritrea, in some respects, was the way I had dreamed all of Africa might be one fine day. Never in my life had I felt a greater sense of community on a national scale. Nor had I seen a place with such wide-open arms and so generous a heart.

Julia Stewart - Eccentric Graces

Perhaps Eritrea's greatest resource is its people. Though impoverished, the nation has from the outset showed self-reliance, vigor and independence. Eritrea is not about to become anyone's vassal and this attitude has elicited both passionate admiration and furious exasperation from visitors, aid workers and international organizations alike. Towards the traveler, Eritreans show exceptional politeness, hospitality and friendliness.

Lonely Planet, Ethiopia and Eritrea, second edition


Eritrean beauty - the wonderful people of Eritrea

Eritrean beauty - the wonderful people of Eritrea
the wonderful people of Eritrea - Anne Alders

The Beauty of Eritrea - Johan Gerrits

The Beauty of Eritrea - Johan Gerrits


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