Country Profile: Eritrea
Capital and largest cityAsmara
Area117, 600 sq km
Population4, 401, 009 (2005 est.)
Tigrinya and Arabic are the two most widely spoken languages in Eritrea, however English and Italian are also understood by many of the population, from the former colonial period. There are many other languages spoken in Eritrea, of which most derive from the Afro-Asiatic language family. Other languages spoken include Tigre, Dahlik, Afar, Beja, Blin, Saho, Kunama and Nara.
As in other countries in Africa, Eritrea's economy is mainly consisted of subsistence agriculture, accounting for around 80% of their produce. The Eritrean-Ethiopian War had a severely damaging effect on the country's economy. Despite this, Etritrea's infrastructure has been gradually improving, with the building of new roads and improving ports and bridges; most importantly the building of a new coastal motorway running for 500km across the country, as well as the improvement of the Eritrean Railway. Eritrea imports petroleum, and is currently looking for alternative, and more sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower.
Located in the Horn of Africa, Eritrea borders the Red Sea to the east, and is bisected by one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world, the Great Rift Valley. The Dahlak Archipelago is situated just off the coast of the country. The Afar Triangle is a likely meeting point of three tectonic plates, and the highest mountain in the country is 9, 902 ft above sea level. The country historically had a large number of elephants, but now that number is only thought to be around 100. These elephants have, uniquely, developed a symbiotic relationship with olive baboons. In 2006, Eritrea was the first country in the world to declare its whole coast to be an environmentally protected zone.
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