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Flag of Eritrea


Eritrea is a small coastal state on the Red Sea with a population of 5.9 million. The official languages are Tigrinya, Arabic and English. In 1952, the UN established Eritrea as an autonomous region within the Ethiopian federation, ending British administration. A 30-year struggle for independence ended in a military victory in 1991. Eritreans voted for independence in a referendum two years later. Despite a peace agreement being signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 2000 their shared border remained heavily militarised and closed. However, in June 2018, Ethiopia's Prime Ministery Abiy offered to implement the peace agreement without preconditions. On 8 July 2018, the two countries put an end to previous conflict when their leaders embraced during the visit to Asmara by Prime Minister Abiy. Since then, international phone lines and other bilateral engagement have been restored. Both countries have reopened their embassies in the respective capitals. Eritrea's autocratic president, Isaias Afwerki, has led a notionally-socialist government since 1993. The government is accused of a range of human rights abuses.

Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than half the population being subject to food insecurity. Its large subsistence agriculture sector is vulnerable to recurrent drought. The country has considerable mineral wealth. Remittances are important to the economy. Australia's Fred Hollows Foundation has had a long relationship with Eritrea working to eliminate avoidable blindness caused by cataract and trachoma.

Australia's diplomatic representation to Eritrea is from the Australian embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

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Last Updated: 24 April 2019
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