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Eritrea:
Geography

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Eritrea Page


Background
Definition
Eritrea was awarded 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 currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation that is monitoring a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) on the border with Ethiopia. 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 which it states is Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has not accepted the virtual demarcation decision.
Location
Definition
Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates
Definition
15 00 N, 39 00 E
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 1,626 km
border countries: Djibouti 109 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km
Coastline
Definition
2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate
Definition
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
Terrain
Definition
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
Definition
lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil depression -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,018 m
Natural resources
Definition
gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 4.78%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 95.19% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
210 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
6.3 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 0.3 cu km/yr (3%/0%/97%)
per capita: 68 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
frequent droughts; locust swarms
Environment - current issues
Definition
deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare
Environment - international agreements
Definition
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
Definition
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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