Eritrea vs. Djibouti


After independence from Italian colonial control in 1941 and 10 years of British administrative control, the UN established Eritrea as an autonomous region within the Ethiopian federation in 1952. Ethiopia's full annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a violent 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating government forces. Eritreans overwhelmingly approved independence in a 1993 referendum. ISAIAS Afwerki has been Eritrea's only president since independence; his rule, particularly since 2001, has been highly autocratic and repressive. His government has created a highly militarized society by pursuing an unpopular program of mandatory conscription into national service – divided between military and civilian service – of indefinite length. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. A subsequent 2007 Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) demarcation was rejected by Ethiopia. More than a decade of a tense “no peace, no war” stalemate ended in 2018 after the newly elected Ethiopian prime minister accepted the EEBC’s 2007 ruling, and the two countries signed declarations of peace and friendship. Following the July 2018 peace agreement with Ethiopia, Eritrean leaders engaged in intensive diplomacy around the Horn of Africa, bolstering regional peace, security, and cooperation, as well as brokering rapprochements between governments and opposition groups. In November 2018, the UN Security Council lifted an arms embargo that had been imposed on Eritrea since 2009, after the UN Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group reported they had not found evidence of Eritrean support in recent years for Al-Shabaab. The country’s rapprochement with Ethiopia has led to a steady resumption of economic ties, with increased air transport, trade, tourism, and port activities, but the economy remains agriculture-dependent, and Eritrea is still one of Africa’s poorest nations. Despite the country's improved relations with its neighbors, ISAIAS has not let up on repression and conscription and militarization continue.
The region of present-day Djibouti was the site of the medieval Ifat and Adal Sultanates. In the late 19th century, treaties signed by the ruling Somali and Afar sultans with the French allowed the latter to establish the colony of French Somaliland. The designation continued in use until 1967, when the name was changed to the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas. Upon independence in 1977, the country was named after its capital city of Djibouti. Hassan Gouled APTIDON installed an authoritarian one-party state and proceeded to serve as president until 1999. Unrest among the Afar minority during the 1990s led to a civil war that ended in 2001 with a peace accord between Afar rebels and the Somali Issa-dominated government. In 1999, Djibouti's first multiparty presidential election resulted in the election of Ismail Omar GUELLEH as president; he was reelected to a second term in 2005 and extended his tenure in office via a constitutional amendment, which allowed him to serve a third term in 2011 and begin a fourth term in 2016. Djibouti occupies a strategic geographic location at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its ports handle 95% of Ethiopia’s trade. Djibouti’s ports also service transshipments between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The government holds longstanding ties to France, which maintains a military presence in the country, as does the US, Japan, Italy, Germany, Spain, and China.


Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, between Eritrea and Somalia
Geographic coordinates
15 00 N, 39 00 E
11 30 N, 43 00 E
Map references
total: 117,600 sq km
land: 101,000 sq km
water: 16,600 sq km
total: 23,200 sq km
land: 23,180 sq km
water: 20 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries
total: 1,840 km
border countries (3): Djibouti 125 km, Ethiopia 1033 km, Sudan 682 km
total: 528 km
border countries (3): Eritrea 125 km, Ethiopia 342 km, Somalia 61 km
2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)
314 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea: 12 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
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
desert; torrid, dry
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
coastal plain and plateau separated by central mountains
Elevation extremes
mean elevation: 853 m
lowest point: near Kulul within the Danakil Depression -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,018 m
mean elevation: 430 m
lowest point: Lac Assal -155 m
highest point: Moussa Ali 2,021 m
Natural resources
gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
potential geothermal power, gold, clay, granite, limestone, marble, salt, diatomite, gypsum, pumice, petroleum
Land use
agricultural land: 75.1% (2011 est.)
arable land: 6.8% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 68.3% (2011 est.)
forest: 15.1% (2011 est.)
other: 9.8% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 73.4% (2011 est.)
arable land: 0.1% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 73.3% (2011 est.)
forest: 0.2% (2011 est.)
other: 26.4% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land
210 sq km (2012)
10 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards

frequent droughts, rare earthquakes and volcanoes; locust swarms

volcanism: Dubbi (1,625 m), which last erupted in 1861, was the country's only historically active volcano until Nabro (2,218 m) came to life on 12 June 2011

earthquakes; droughts; occasional cyclonic disturbances from the Indian Ocean bring heavy rains and flash floods

volcanism: experiences limited volcanic activity; Ardoukoba (298 m) last erupted in 1978; Manda-Inakir, located along the Ethiopian border, is also historically active

Environment - current issues
deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing
inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution; limited arable land; deforestation (forests threatened by agriculture and the use of wood for fuel); desertification; endangered species
Environment - international agreements
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
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
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
strategic location near world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arabian oilfields; terminus of rail traffic into Ethiopia; mostly wasteland; Lac Assal (Lake Assal) is the lowest point in Africa and the saltiest lake in the world
Population distribution
density is highest in the center of the country in and around the cities of Asmara (capital) and Keren; smaller settlements exist in the north and south as shown in this population distribution map
most densely populated areas are in the east; the largest city is Djibouti, with a population over 600,000; no other city in the country has a total population over 50,000 as shown in this population distribution map


6,081,196 (July 2020 est.)
921,804 (July 2020 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 38.23% (male 1,169,456/female 1,155,460)
15-24 years: 20.56% (male 622,172/female 627,858)
25-54 years: 33.42% (male 997,693/female 1,034,550)
55-64 years: 3.8% (male 105,092/female 125,735)
65 years and over: 4% (male 99,231/female 143,949) (2020 est.)
0-14 years: 29.97% (male 138,701/female 137,588)
15-24 years: 20.32% (male 88,399/female 98,955)
25-54 years: 40.73% (male 156,016/female 219,406)
55-64 years: 5.01% (male 19,868/female 26,307)
65 years and over: 3.97% (male 16,245/female 20,319) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 20.3 years
male: 19.7 years
female: 20.8 years (2020 est.)
total: 24.9 years
male: 23 years
female: 26.4 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
0.93% (2020 est.)
2.07% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
27.9 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
22.7 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
6.9 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
7.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
-11.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
5.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.84 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 97 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.71 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.76 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 83.4 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 43.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 50.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 36.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
total: 41.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 47.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 35.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 66.2 years
male: 63.6 years
female: 68.8 years (2020 est.)
total population: 64.7 years
male: 62.1 years
female: 67.4 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
3.73 children born/woman (2020 est.)
2.19 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
0.7% (2019 est.)
0.9% (2019 est.)
noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean
noun: Djiboutian(s)
adjective: Djiboutian
Ethnic groups
Tigrinya 55%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Kunama 2%, Rashaida 2%, Bilen 2%, other (Afar, Beni Amir, Nera) 5% (2010 est.)

note: data represent Eritrea's nine recognized ethnic groups

Somali 60%, Afar 35%, other 5% (mostly Yemeni Arab, also French, Ethiopian, and Italian)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
14,000 (2019 est.)
6,800 (2019 est.)
Sunni Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Sunni Muslim 94% (nearly all Djiboutians), Christian 6% (mainly foreign-born residents)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
<500 (2019 est.)
<500 (2019 est.)
Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages
French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar
Major infectious diseases
degree of risk: high (2020)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
degree of risk: high (2020)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 59 years
male: 8 years
female: 7 years (2015)
total: 7 years
male: 7 years
female: 67 years (2011)
Education expenditures
4.5% of GDP (2010)
urban population: 41.3% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 3.86% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 78.1% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 1.67% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 73.2% of population
rural: 53.3% of population
total: 57.8% of population
unimproved: urban: 26.8% of population
rural: 46.7% of population
total: 42.2% of population (2015 est.)
improved: urban: 99.3% of population
rural: 59.1% of population
total: 90.3% of population
unimproved: urban: 0.7% of population
rural: 40.9% of population
total: 9.7% of population (2017 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 44.5% of population
rural: 7.3% of population
total: 15.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 55.5% of population
rural: 92.7% of population
total: 84.3% of population (2015 est.)
improved: urban: 84% of population
rural: 21.5% of population
total: 70.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 16% of population
rural: 78.5% of population
total: 29.9% of population (2017 est.)
Major cities - population
963,000 ASMARA (capital) (2020)
576,000 DJIBOUTI (capital) (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
480 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
248 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
39.4% (2010)
29.9% (2012)
Health expenditures
2.9% (2017)
3.3% (2017)
Physicians density
0.06 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
0.22 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density
0.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)
1.4 beds/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
5% (2016)
13.5% (2016)
Demographic profile

Eritrea is a persistently poor country that has made progress in some socioeconomic categories but not in others. Education and human capital formation are national priorities for facilitating economic development and eradicating poverty. To this end, Eritrea has made great strides in improving adult literacy – doubling the literacy rate over the last 20 years – in large part because of its successful adult education programs. The overall literacy rate was estimated to be almost 74% in 2015; more work needs to be done to raise female literacy and school attendance among nomadic and rural communities. Subsistence farming fails to meet the needs of Eritrea’s growing population because of repeated droughts, dwindling arable land, overgrazing, soil erosion, and a shortage of farmers due to conscription and displacement. The government’s emphasis on spending on defense over agriculture and its lack of foreign exchange to import food also contribute to food insecurity.

Eritrea has been a leading refugee source country since at least the 1960s, when its 30-year war for independence from Ethiopia began. Since gaining independence in 1993, Eritreans have continued migrating to Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Egypt, or Israel because of a lack of basic human rights or political freedom, educational and job opportunities, or to seek asylum because of militarization. Eritrea’s large diaspora has been a source of vital remittances, funding its war for independence and providing 30% of the country’s GDP annually since it became independent.

In the last few years, Eritreans have increasingly been trafficked and held hostage by Bedouins in the Sinai Desert, where they are victims of organ harvesting, rape, extortion, and torture. Some Eritrean trafficking victims are kidnapped after being smuggled to Sudan or Ethiopia, while others are kidnapped from within or around refugee camps or crossing Eritrea’s borders. Eritreans composed approximately 90% of the conservatively estimated 25,000-30,000 victims of Sinai trafficking from 2009-2013, according to a 2013 consultancy firm report.

Djibouti is a poor, predominantly urban country, characterized by high rates of illiteracy, unemployment, and childhood malnutrition. More than 75% of the population lives in cities and towns (predominantly in the capital, Djibouti). The rural population subsists primarily on nomadic herding. Prone to droughts and floods, the country has few natural resources and must import more than 80% of its food from neighboring countries or Europe. Health care, particularly outside the capital, is limited by poor infrastructure, shortages of equipment and supplies, and a lack of qualified personnel. More than a third of health care recipients are migrants because the services are still better than those available in their neighboring home countries. The nearly universal practice of female genital cutting reflects Djibouti’s lack of gender equality and is a major contributor to obstetrical complications and its high rates of maternal and infant mortality. A 1995 law prohibiting the practice has never been enforced.

Because of its political stability and its strategic location at the confluence of East Africa and the Gulf States along the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, Djibouti is a key transit point for migrants and asylum seekers heading for the Gulf States and beyond. Each year some hundred thousand people, mainly Ethiopians and some Somalis, journey through Djibouti, usually to the port of Obock, to attempt a dangerous sea crossing to Yemen. However, with the escalation of the ongoing Yemen conflict, Yemenis began fleeing to Djibouti in March 2015, with almost 20,000 arriving by August 2017. Most Yemenis remain unregistered and head for Djibouti City rather than seeking asylum at one of Djibouti’s three spartan refugee camps. Djibouti has been hosting refugees and asylum seekers, predominantly Somalis and lesser numbers of Ethiopians and Eritreans, at camps for 20 years, despite lacking potable water, food shortages, and unemployment.

Contraceptive prevalence rate
8.4% (2010)
19% (2012)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 83.9
youth dependency ratio: 75.6
elderly dependency ratio: 8.3
potential support ratio: 12.1 (2020 est.)
total dependency ratio: 50.6
youth dependency ratio: 43.6
elderly dependency ratio: 7.1
potential support ratio: 14.1 (2020 est.)


Country name
conventional long form: State of Eritrea
conventional short form: Eritrea
local long form: Hagere Ertra
local short form: Ertra
former: Eritrea Autonomous Region in Ethiopia
etymology: the country name derives from the ancient Greek appellation "Erythra Thalassa" meaning Red Sea, which is the major water body bordering the country
conventional long form: Republic of Djibouti
conventional short form: Djibouti
local long form: Republique de Djibouti/Jumhuriyat Jibuti
local short form: Djibouti/Jibuti
former: French Somaliland, French Territory of the Afars and Issas
etymology: the country name derives from the capital city of Djibouti
Government type
presidential republic
presidential republic
name: Asmara (Asmera)
geographic coordinates: 15 20 N, 38 56 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the name means "they [women] made them unite," which according to Tigrinya oral tradition refers to the women of the four clans in the Asmara area who persuaded their menfolk to unite and defeat their common enemy; the name has also been translated as "live in peace"
name: Djibouti
geographic coordinates: 11 35 N, 43 09 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the origin of the name is disputed; multiple descriptions, possibilities, and theories have been proposed
Administrative divisions
6 regions (zobatat, singular - zoba); Anseba, Debub (South), Debubawi K'eyih Bahri (Southern Red Sea), Gash Barka, Ma'akel (Central), Semenawi K'eyih Bahri (Northern Red Sea)
6 districts (cercles, singular - cercle); Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, Tadjourah
24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia)
27 June 1977 (from France)
National holiday
Independence Day, 24 May (1991)
Independence Day, 27 June (1977)
history: ratified by the Constituent Assembly 23 May 1997 (not fully implemented)
amendments: proposed by the president of Eritrea or by assent of at least one half of the National Assembly membership; passage requires at least an initial three-quarters majority vote by the Assembly and, after one year, final passage by at least four-fifths majority vote by the Assembly
history: approved by referendum 4 September 1992
amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by the National Assembly; Assembly consideration of proposals requires assent at least one third of the membership; passage requires a simple majority vote by the Assembly and approval by simple majority vote in a referendum; the president can opt to bypass a referendum if adopted by at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly; constitutional articles on the sovereignty of Djibouti, its republican form of government, and its pluralist form of democracy cannot by amended; amended 2006, 2008, 2010
Legal system
18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state: President ISAIAS Afwerki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government and is head of the State Council and National Assembly
head of government: President ISAIAS Afwerki (since 8 June 1993)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); the only election was held on 8 June 1993, following independence from Ethiopia (next election postponed indefinitely)
election results: ISAIAS Afwerki elected president by the transitional National Assembly; percent of National Assembly vote - ISAIAS  Afwerki (PFDJ) 95%, other 5%
chief of state: President Ismail Omar GUELLEH (since 8 May 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil MOHAMED (since 1 April 2013)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term; election last held on 8 April 2016 (next to be held by 2021); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Ismail Omar GUELLEH reelected president for a fourth term; percent of vote - Ismail Omar GUELLEH (RPP) 87%, Omar Elmi KHAIREH (CDU) 7.3%, other 5.6%
Legislative branch
description: unicameral National Assembly (Hagerawi Baito) (150 seats; 75 members indirectly elected by the ruling party and 75 directly elected by simple majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: in May 1997, following the adoption of the new constitution, 75 members of the PFDJ Central Committee (the old Central Committee of the EPLF), 60 members of the 527-member Constituent Assembly, which had been established in 1997 to discuss and ratify the new constitution, and 15 representatives of Eritreans living abroad were formed into a Transitional National Assembly to serve as the country's legislative body until countrywide elections to form a National Assembly were held; although only 75 of 150 members of the Transitional National Assembly were elected, the constitution stipulates that once past the transition stage, all members of the National Assembly will be elected by secret ballot of all eligible voters; National Assembly elections scheduled for December 2001 were postponed indefinitely due to the war with Ethiopia, and as of May 2019, there was no sitting legislative body
election results: NA
description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale, formerly the Chamber of Deputies (65 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 23 February 2018 (next to be held in February 2023)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 57, UDJ-PDD 7, CDU 1; composition - men 47, women 18, percent of women 26.7%
Judicial branch
highest courts: High Court (consists of 20 judges and organized into civil, commercial, criminal, labor, administrative, and customary sections)
judge selection and term of office: High Court judges appointed by the president
subordinate courts: regional/zonal courts; community courts; special courts; sharia courts (for issues dealing with Muslim marriage, inheritance, and family); military courts
highest courts: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of NA magistrates); Constitutional Council (consists of 6 magistrates)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court magistrates appointed by the president with the advice of the Superior Council of the Magistracy CSM, a 10-member body consisting of 4 judges, 3 members (non parliamentarians and judges) appointed by the president, and 3 appointed by the National Assembly president or speaker; magistrates appointed for life with retirement at age 65; Constitutional Council magistrate appointments - 2 by the president of the republic, 2 by the president of the National Assembly, and 2 by the CSM; magistrates appointed for 8-year, non-renewable terms
subordinate courts: High Court of Appeal; 5 Courts of First Instance; customary courts; State Court (replaced sharia courts in 2003)
Political parties and leaders
People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ [ISAIAS Afwerki] (the only party recognized by the government)
Center for United Democrats or CDU [Ahmed Mohamed YOUSSOUF, chairman]
Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Abdillahi HAMARITEH]
Djibouti Development Party or PDD [Mohamed Daoud CHEHEM]
Front for Restoration of Unity and Democracy (Front pour la Restauration de l'Unite Democratique) or FRUD [Ali Mohamed DAOUD]
Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development [Daher Ahmed FARAH]
Movement for Development and Liberty or MoDel [Ismail Ahmed WABERI]
National Democratic Party or PND [Aden Robleh AWALEH]
People's Rally for Progress or RPP [Ismail Omar GUELLEH] (governing party)
Peoples Social Democratic Party or PPSD [Hasna Moumin BAHDON]
Republican Alliance for Democracy or ARD [Aden Mohamed ABDOU, interim president]
Union for a Presidential Majority or UMP (coalition includes RPP, FRUD, PND, PPSD)
Union for Democracy and Justice or UDJ [Ilya Ismail GUEDI Hared]
International organization participation
Diplomatic representation in the US
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires BERHANE Gebrehiwet Solomon (since 15 March 2011)
chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304
Ambassador Mohamed Said DOUALEH (28 December 2016)
chancery: 1156 15th Street NW, Suite 515, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 331-0270
FAX: [1] (202) 331-0302
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Natalie E. BROWN (since September 2016)
telephone: [291] (1) 120004
embassy: 179 Ala Street, Asmara
mailing address: P.O. Box 211, Asmara
FAX: [291] (1) 127584
chief of mission: Ambassador Larry Edward ANDRE, Jr. (since 20 November 2017)
telephone: [253] 21 45 30 00
embassy: Lot 350-B, Haramouss B. P. 185
mailing address: B.P. 185, Djibouti
FAX: [253] 21 45 31 29
Flag description
red isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) dividing the flag into two right triangles; the upper triangle is green, the lower one is blue; a gold wreath encircling a gold olive branch is centered on the hoist side of the red triangle; green stands for the country's agriculture economy, red signifies the blood shed in the fight for freedom, and blue symbolizes the bounty of the sea; the wreath-olive branch symbol is similar to that on the first flag of Eritrea from 1952; the shape of the red triangle broadly mimics the shape of the country

note: one of several flags where a prominent component of the design reflects the shape of the country; other such flags are those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, and Vanuatu

two equal horizontal bands of light blue (top) and light green with a white isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bearing a red five-pointed star in the center; blue stands for sea and sky and the Issa Somali people; green symbolizes earth and the Afar people; white represents peace; the red star recalls the struggle for independence and stands for unity
National anthem
name: "Ertra, Ertra, Ertra" (Eritrea, Eritrea, Eritrea)
lyrics/music: SOLOMON Tsehaye Beraki/Isaac Abraham MEHAREZGI and ARON Tekle Tesfatsion

note: adopted 1993; upon independence from Ethiopia

name: "Jabuuti" (Djibouti)
lyrics/music: Aden ELMI/Abdi ROBLEH

note: adopted 1977

International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
National symbol(s)
camel; national colors: green, red, blue
red star; national colors: light blue, green, white, red
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Eritrea
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 20 years
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the mother must be a citizen of Djibouti
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


Economy - overview

Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of financial resources and chronic drought. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice. Like the economies of many African nations, a large share of the population - nearly 80% in Eritrea - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the sector only produces a small share of the country's total output. Mining accounts for the lion's share of output.

The government has strictly controlled the use of foreign currency by limiting access and availability; new regulations in 2013 aimed at relaxing currency controls have had little economic effect. Few large private enterprises exist in Eritrea and most operate in conjunction with government partners, including a number of large international mining ventures, which began production in 2013. In late 2015, the Government of Eritrea introduced a new currency, retaining the name nakfa, and restricted the amount of hard currency individuals could withdraw from banks per month. The changeover has resulted in exchange fluctuations and the scarcity of hard currency available in the market.

While reliable statistics on Eritrea are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the large percentage of the labor force tied up in military service continue to interfere with agricultural production and economic development. Eritrea's harvests generally cannot meet the food needs of the country without supplemental grain purchases. Copper, potash, and gold production are likely to continue to drive limited economic growth and government revenue over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans.

Djibouti's economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location as a deepwater port on the Red Sea. Three-fourths of Djibouti's inhabitants live in the capital city; the remainder are mostly nomadic herders. Scant rainfall and less than 4% arable land limits crop production to small quantities of fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported.

Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. Imports, exports, and reexports represent 70% of port activity at Djibouti's container terminal. Reexports consist primarily of coffee from landlocked neighbor Ethiopia. Djibouti has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An official unemployment rate of nearly 40% - with youth unemployment near 80% - continues to be a major problem. Inflation was a modest 3% in 2014-2017, due to low international food prices and a decline in electricity tariffs.

Djibouti’s reliance on diesel-generated electricity and imported food and water leave average consumers vulnerable to global price shocks, though in mid-2015 Djibouti passed new legislation to liberalize the energy sector. The government has emphasized infrastructure development for transportation and energy and Djibouti – with the help of foreign partners, particularly China – has begun to increase and modernize its port capacity. In 2017, Djibouti opened two of the largest projects in its history, the Doraleh Port and Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway, funded by China as part of the "Belt and Road Initiative," which will increase the country’s ability to capitalize on its strategic location.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$9.402 billion (2017 est.)
$8.953 billion (2016 est.)
$8.791 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$3.64 billion (2017 est.)
$3.411 billion (2016 est.)
$3.203 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
5% (2017 est.)
1.9% (2016 est.)
2.6% (2015 est.)
6.7% (2017 est.)
6.5% (2016 est.)
6.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$1,600 (2017 est.)
$1,500 (2016 est.)
$1,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$3,600 (2017 est.)
$3,400 (2016 est.)
$3,300 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 11.7% (2017 est.)
industry: 29.6% (2017 est.)
services: 58.7% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 2.4% (2017 est.)
industry: 17.3% (2017 est.)
services: 80.2% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
50% (2004 est.)
23% (2015 est.)

note: percent of population below $1.25 per day at purchasing power parity

Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 30.9% (2002)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
9% (2017 est.)
9% (2016 est.)
0.7% (2017 est.)
2.7% (2016 est.)
Labor force
2.71 million (2017 est.)
294,600 (2012)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 80%
industry: 20% (2004 est.)
agriculture: NA
industry: NA
services: NA
Unemployment rate
5.8% (2017 est.)
10% (2016 est.)
40% (2017 est.)
60% (2014 est.)
revenues: 2.029 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 2.601 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 717 million (2017 est.)
expenditures: 899.2 million (2017 est.)
food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement
construction, agricultural processing, shipping
Industrial production growth rate
5.4% (2017 est.)
2.7% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
fruits, vegetables; goats, sheep, camels, animal hides
$624.3 million (2017 est.)
$485.4 million (2016 est.)
$139.9 million (2017 est.)
Exports - commodities
gold and other minerals, livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small industry manufactures
reexports, hides and skins, scrap metal
Exports - partners
China 62%, South Korea 28.3% (2017)
Ethiopia 38.8%, Somalia 17.1%, Qatar 9.1%, Brazil 8.9%, Yemen 4.9%, US 4.6% (2017)
$1.127 billion (2017 est.)
$1.048 billion (2016 est.)
$726.4 million (2017 est.)
$705.2 million (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
foods, beverages, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, clothing
Imports - partners
UAE 14.5%, China 13.2%, Saudi Arabia 13.2%, Italy 12.9%, Turkey 5.6%, South Africa 4.6% (2017)
UAE 25%, France 15.2%, Saudi Arabia 11%, China 9.6%, Ethiopia 6.8%, Yemen 4.6% (2017)
Debt - external
$792.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$875.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.954 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.519 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
nakfa (ERN) per US dollar -
15.38 (2017 est.)
15.375 (2016 est.)
15.375 (2015 est.)
15.375 (2014 est.)
15.375 (2013 est.)
Djiboutian francs (DJF) per US dollar -
177.7 (2017 est.)
177.72 (2016 est.)
177.72 (2015 est.)
177.72 (2014 est.)
177.72 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
131.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
132.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
31.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
33.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$236.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$218.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$547.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$398.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$137 million (2017 est.)
-$105 million (2016 est.)
-$280 million (2017 est.)
-$178 million (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$5.813 billion (2017 est.)
$2.029 billion (2017 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate


11.3% (31 December 2017 est.)
11.45% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$5.787 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.223 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$673.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$659.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$3.084 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.734 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.475 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.361 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$3.084 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.734 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.475 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.361 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
34.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
35.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-9.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 80.9% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 24.3% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 6.4% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 10.9% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -22.5% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 56.5% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 29.2% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 41.8% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.3% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 38.6% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -66.4% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
5.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
6% of GDP (2016 est.)
6.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
22.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
38.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
19% of GDP (2015 est.)


Electricity - production
415.9 million kWh (2016 est.)
405.5 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
353.9 million kWh (2016 est.)
377.1 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Natural gas - production
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
160,700 kW (2016 est.)
130,300 kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
99% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources
1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
4,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
6,360 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
403 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
3,897 bbl/day (2015 est.)
6,692 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
597,100 Mt (2017 est.)
950,200 Mt (2017 est.)
Electricity access
population without electricity: 3 million (2019)
electrification - total population: 47% (2019)
electrification - urban areas: 95% (2019)
electrification - rural areas: 13% (2019)
population without electricity: 400,000 (2019)
electrification - total population: 42% (2019)
electrification - urban areas: 54% (2019)
electrification - rural areas: 1% (2019)


Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 116,882
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.94 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 34,671
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3.84 (2019 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 1,226,660
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20.36 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 371,992
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 41.2 (2019 est.)
Internet country code
Internet users
total: 78,215
percent of population: 1.31% (July 2018 est.)
total: 492,221
percent of population: 55.68% (July 2018 est.)
Telecommunication systems
general assessment: woefully inadequate service provided by state-owned telecom monopoly; most fixed-line telephones are in Asmara; cell phone use is limited by government control of SIM card issuance; no data service; only about 4% of households having computers with 2% Internet; untapped market ripe for competition; direct phone service between Eritrea and Ethiopia was restored in September 2018; government telco working on roll-out of 3G network; in 2019 11% mobile penetration (2020)
domestic: fixed-line subscribership is less than 2 per 100 person and mobile-cellular 20 per 100 (2019)
international: country code - 291 (2019)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
general assessment: telephone facilities in the city of Djibouti are adequate, as are the microwave radio relay connections to outlying areas of the country; Djibouti is one of the few remaining countries in which the national telco, Djibouti Telecom (DT), has a monopoly on all telecom services, including fixed lines, mobile, Internet and broadband; the lack of competition has meant that the market has not lived up to its potential; broadband's growth held back by the expense and mobile and Internet markets need foreign investment (2020)
domestic: 4 per 100 fixed-line and 41 per 100 mobile-cellular; Djibouti Telecom (DT) is the sole provider of telecommunications services and utilizes mostly a microwave radio relay network; fiber-optic cable is installed in the capital; rural areas connected via wireless local loop radio systems; mobile cellular coverage is primarily limited to the area in and around Djibouti city (2019)
international: country code - 253; landing points for the SEA-ME-WE-3 & 5, EASSy, Aden-Djibouti, Africa-1, DARE-1, EIG, MENA, Bridge International, PEACE Cable, and SEACOM fiber-optic submarine cable systems providing links to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and Africa; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean and 1 Arabsat) (2019)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
Broadband - fixed subscriptions
total: 600
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2017 est.)
total: 25,508
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2018 est.)
Broadcast media
government controls broadcast media with private ownership prohibited; 1 state-owned TV station; state-owned radio operates 2 networks; purchases of satellite dishes and subscriptions to international broadcast media are permitted (2019)
state-owned Radiodiffusion-Television de Djibouti operates the sole terrestrial TV station, as well as the only 2 domestic radio networks; no private TV or radio stations; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available (2019)


total: 306 km (2018)
narrow gauge: 306 km 0.950-m gauge (2018)
total: 97 km (Djibouti segment of the 756 km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway) (2017)
standard gauge: 97 km 1.435-m gauge (2017)
total: 16,000 km (2018)
paved: 1,600 km (2000)
unpaved: 14,400 km (2000)
total: 2,893 km (2013)
Ports and terminals
major seaport(s): Assab, Massawa
major seaport(s): Djibouti
Merchant marine
total: 9
by type: general cargo 4, oil tanker 1, other 4 (2019)
total: 20
by type: general cargo 1, other 19 (2019)
total: 13 (2020)
total: 13 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways
total: 4 (2019)
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
total: 3 (2017)
over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 9 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
total: 10 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2013)
under 914 m: 2 (2013)
National air transport system
number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 102,729 (2018)
number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 4
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
E3 (2016)
J2 (2016)


Military branches
Eritrean Defense Forces: Eritrean Ground Forces, Eritrean Navy, Eritrean Air Force (includes Air Defense Force) (2019)
Djibouti Armed Forces (FAD): Djibouti National Army (includes Navy, Djiboutian Air Force, National Gendarmerie); Djibouti Coast Guard (2019)
Military service age and obligation
18-40 years of age for male and female voluntary and compulsory military service; 18-month conscript service obligation (2019)
18 years of age for voluntary military service; 16-25 years of age for voluntary military training; no conscription (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but neither party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting eastern Sudanese rebel groups; in 2008, Eritrean troops moved across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and occupied Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea

Djibouti maintains economic ties and border accords with "Somaliland" leadership while maintaining some political ties to various factions in Somalia; Kuwait is chief investor in the 2008 restoration and upgrade of the Ethiopian-Djibouti rail link; in 2008, Eritrean troops moved across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and occupied Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea

Trafficking in persons
current situation: Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor domestically and, to a lesser extent, sex and labor trafficking abroad; the country’s national service program is often abused, with conscripts detained indefinitely and subjected to forced labor; Eritrean migrants, often fleeing national service, face strict exit control procedures and limited access to passports and visas, making them vulnerable to trafficking; Eritrean secondary school children are required to take part in public works projects during their summer breaks and must attend military and educational camp in their final year to obtain a high school graduation certificate and to gain access to higher education and some jobs; some Eritreans living in or near refugee camps, particularly in Sudan, are kidnapped by criminal groups and held for ransom in the Sinai Peninsula and Libya, where they are subjected to forced labor and abuse
tier rating: Tier 3 – Eritrea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government failed to investigate or prosecute any trafficking offenses or to identify or protect any victims; while the government continued to warn citizens of the dangers of human trafficking through awareness-raising events and poster campaigns, authorities lacked an understanding of the crime, conflating trafficking with transnational migration; Eritrea is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2015)
current situation: Djibouti is a transit, source, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; economic migrants from East Africa en route to Yemen and other Middle East locations are vulnerable to exploitation in Djibouti; some women and girls may be forced into domestic servitude or prostitution after reaching Djibouti City, the Ethiopia-Djibouti trucking corridor, or Obock – the main crossing point into Yemen; Djiboutian and foreign children may be forced to beg, to work as domestic servants, or to commit theft and other petty crimes
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Djibouti does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, Djibouti was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; one forced labor trafficker was convicted in 2014 but received a suspended sentence inadequate to deter trafficking; authorities did not investigate or prosecute any other forced labor crimes, any sex trafficking offenses, or any officials complicit in human trafficking, and remained limited in their ability to recognize or protect trafficking victims; official round-ups, detentions, and deportations of non-Djiboutian residents, including children without screening for trafficking victims remained routine; the government did not provide care to victims but supported local NGOs operating centers that assisted victims (2015)

Source: CIA Factbook