Eritrea/Geography

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Eritrea is located in the Horn of Africa and is bordered on the northeast and east by the Red Sea, on the west and northwest by Sudan, on the south by Ethiopia, and on the southeast by Djibouti. The country has a high central plateau that varies from 1,800 to 3,000 meters (6,000-8,000 feet) above sea level. A coastal plain, western lowlands, and some 300 islands comprise the remainder of Eritrea's land mass. Eritrea has no year-round rivers.

The climate is temperate in the mountains and hot in the lowlands. Asmara, the capital, is about 3,000 meters (8,000 ft.) above sea level. Maximum temperature is 26° C (80° F). The weather is usually sunny and dry, with the short or belg rains occurring February-April and the big or meher rains beginning in late June and ending in mid-September.

Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan

Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E

Map references: Africa

Area:
total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:
total: 1,630 km
border countries: Djibouti 113 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km

Coastline: 2,234 km total; mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km

Maritime claims: NA

Climate: hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually); semiarid in western hills and lowlands; rainfall heaviest during June-September except in coastal desert

Terrain: 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:
lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil depression -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,018 m

Natural resources: gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 49%
forests and woodland: 6%
other: 32% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 280 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: frequent droughts and locust storms

Environment - current issues: deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species
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