Although the small country of Eritrea is rich in history, culture and natural resources, Eritrea just like its mother-country Ethiopia, remains one of the poorest countries in Africa today. Eritrea (meaning the red land) is a small country in the horn of Africa (the easternmost projection of the African continent) bordering the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the South, The People's Republic of Djibouti to the Southeast, and Sudan to the west. The State of Eritrea also borders the Red Sea in the east and northeast right across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Officially, the State of Eritrea covers a total land area of about 117,600sq.km (about 0.14% of which is covered by water) with a population of about 6.1 million people. The population growth rate of Eritrea hovers around 2.4%.
About 25% of the total population of Eritrea live in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Asmara the capital of Eritrea (Asmara contains about 800,000 people), Keren (Keren contains about 150,000 people), Teseney (contains about 70,000 people) and Mendefera (Mendefera also contains about 70,000 people). Despite its small size, the State of Eritrea remains one of most culturally rich multi-ethnic societies in Africa today with a beautiful blend of several ethnic and racial groups living together. Tigrinya the most dominant ethnic group makes up about 55% of the total population followed by the Tigre (make up 30% of the total population). The Sahos, The Kunamas, the Rashaidas and the Bilens together make up about 10% of the total population with the Afars, the Beni Amirs, and the Neras forming the remaining 5% of the total population.
Although there are several religious and denominational groups in Eritrea today, Christianity and Islam remain the two most dominant religious groups with about 62.5% of the total population being Christians (mostly Coptic Christians, Roman Catholics and Protestants). Sunni Muslims make up about 35.5% of the total population. Although Tigrinya, Arabic, and English remain the three "main" official languages spoken in Eritrea today, Tigre, Kunama, Afar, and other Cushitic languages are also spoken and written in Eritrea today.
Although the Independence of Eritrea (from Ethiopia) in 1993 brought about new hopes and aspirations in Eritrea, the State of Eritrea have seen very little to no improvements at all in almost all sectors of its economy. Eritrea is crippled by so many meaningless but restrictive economic and social policies driving investors away and bringing developmental processes to a halt in most parts. Although about 80% of the total population of Eritrea are into agriculture, agriculture contributes very little to the GDP of Eritrea. Like in most other African countries, most Eritrean farmers are into subsistence farming whereby they grow crops and rear animals just to feed themselves and their families.
The "costly" war with Ethiopia (a mother country) popularly known as the "Eritrean-Ethiopian war" from May 1998 to June 2000 severely crippled Eritrea's economy. GDP growth in 1999 fell to less than 1%, and GDP decreased by 8.2% in 2000. In May 2000, the war resulted in some $600 million in property damage and loss, including losses of $225 million in livestock and 55,000 homes. The war also destroyed the rail link between Asmara and Massawa, and prevented the planting of crops in Eritrea's most productive region, causing food production to drop by 62%. Just like in Ethiopia today, extreme poverty and hunger continue to threaten several innocent lives in Eritrea today. Instead of putting in place good policies to help better the living conditions of the poor Eritreans, the government of Eritrea continues spending millions upon millions of dollars expanding and maintaining the military and party–owned businesses while the average Eritreans continue to wallow in extreme poverty and hunger. The sole political party in Eritrea today "the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ)" continues to kill and destroy private businesses with huge taxes and "meaningless" but restrictive economy policies. The government strictly controls the use of foreign currency by limiting access and availability. Few private enterprises remain in Eritrea today. Eritrea's economy depends heavily on taxes paid by members of the diaspora.
Poor education (illiteracy) remains a major problem in Eritrea today. Eritrea has a literacy rate of about 67.8% for the total population with the female literacy rate hovering around 57.5%. In other words, just about 57.5% of the total population of females above the age 15 living in Eritrea today can read and write. Although this literacy rate is far better than in countries such as Burkina Faso, this literacy rate falls far below expectation in today's Africa especially in a poor war-torn country like Eritrea starting from scratch. The government of Eritrea today continues to ignore the education sector as if unimportant to economic and social developments. Instead of improving the quality of education in Eritrea today, the government of Eritrea continues spending millions upon millions of dollars on the military and party-owned businesses both home and abroad while the poor but innocent continue to die in silence.