Demographics of Eritrea
The demographics of Eritrea describes the condition and overview of Eritrea's inhabitants. Demographic topics include basic education, health and population statistics, as well as identified ethnic and religious affiliations.
- 1 Ethnic groups
- 2 Languages
- 3 Religion
- 4 Population
- 5 Vital statistics
- 6 Demographic statistics
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Eritrean society is ethnically heterogeneous, with nine recognized ethnic groups. According to the CIA, the Tigrinya people make up about 55% of the population, with the Tigre people constituting around 30% of the population. These form the bulk of the country's predominantly Semitic-speaking groups. Most of the rest of the population belong to other Afro-Asiatic-speaking communities of the Cushitic branch.
The majority of the Tigrinya inhabit the highlands of Eritrea; however, migration to other parts of the country has occurred. Their language is called Tigrinya. They are the largest ethnic group in the country, constituting about 55% of the population. All speakers of Tigrinya in Eritrea are officially referred to as Biher-Tigrinya (or simply, Tigrinya). Some Muslims, however, are known as Jebertis, although they are not recognized as a separate ethnicity. The predominantly Biher-Tigrinya populated urban centers in Eritrea are the capital Asmara, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Adi Keyh, Adi Quala and Senafe, while there is a significant population of Biher-Tigrinya in other cities including Keren, and Massawa.
The Jeberti, some of whom do not consider themselves to be "Tigrinya" are Muslim and account for about 10% of the Tigrinya people there. The remaining 90% are Christians, so divided: 73% of the Eritrean Orthodox faith, 12% Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic (whose mass is held in Ge'ez as opposed to Latin), and 5% belonging to various Protestant and other Christian denominations, the majority of which belong to the (Lutheran) Evangelical Church of Eritrea.
The Tigre reside in the western lowlands in Eritrea and Sudan. They are a nomadic and pastoralist people, related to the Bihér-Tigrinya and to the Beja people. They are a predominantly Muslim nomadic people who inhabit the northern, western, and coastal lowlands of Eritrea, where they constitute 30% of local residents. Some also inhabit areas in eastern Sudan. 95% of the Tigre people adhere to the Islamic religion Sunni Islam, but there are a small amount of Christians among them as well (often referred to as the Mensaï in Eritrea). Their language is called Tigre.
The Rashaida represent about 2% of Eritrea's population. They reside in the northern coastal lowlands of Eritrea and the eastern coasts of Sudan. They are predominately Muslim and are the only ethnic group in Eritrea to have Arabic as their communal language. The Rashaida first came to Eritrea in the 19th century from the Arabian Coast.
According to the CIA, the Afar constitute under 5% of the nation's population. They live in the Debubawi Keyih Bahri Region of Eritrea, as well as the Afar Region in Ethiopia, and Djibouti. They speak the Afar language as a mother tongue, and are predominately Muslim. Afars in Eritrea number about 460,000 individuals, the smallest population out of the countries they reside in. In Djibouti, there are about 480,000 group members, and in Ethiopia, they number approximately 1,300,000.
The Saho represent 4% of Eritrea's population. They principally reside in the Debubawi Keyih Bahri Region and the Northern Red Sea Region of Eritrea. Some also live in adjacent parts of Ethiopia. Their language is called Saho. They are predominately Muslim, although a few Christians known as the Irob live in the Debub Region of Eritrea and the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
The Bilen in Eritrea represent around 2% of the country's population. They are primarily concentrated in the north-central areas, in and around the city of Keren, and south towards Asmara, the nation's capital. Many of them entered Eritrea from Ethiopia in the 16th century. The Bilen include adherents of both Islam and Christianity. They speak Bilen as a mother tongue. Christian adherents are mainly urban and have intermingled with the Tigrinya who live in the area. Muslim adherents are mainly rural and have interbred with the adjacent Tigre.
The Beja in Eritrea constitute under 5% of local residents. They mainly live along the north-western border with Sudan. Group members are predominately Muslim and communicate in Hedareb as a first language. The Beja also include the Beni-Amer people, who have retained their native Beja language alongside Hedareb.
According to the CIA, the Kunama constitute around 2% of Eritrea's population. They mainly live in the country's Gash Barka Region, as well as in adjacent parts of Ethiopia's Tigray Region. Many of them reside in the contested border village of Badme. Their language is called Kunama. Although some Kunama still practice traditional beliefs, most are converts to either Christianity (Roman Catholic and Protestant) or Islam.
The Nara represent under 5% of the nation's population. They principally reside along the south-western border with Sudan and Ethiopia. They are generally Muslim, with a few Christians and some practising their indigenous beliefs. Their language is called Nara.
Eritrea's population comprises nine ethnic groups, most of whom speak languages from the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. The Semitic languages in Eritrea are Tigre, Tigrinya, the newly recognized Dahlik, and Arabic (spoken natively by the Rashaida Arabs).
In addition, languages belonging to the Nilo-Saharan language family (Kunama and Nara) are spoken as a mother tongue by the Kunama and Nara Nilotic ethnic minorities that live in the north and northwestern part of the country.
|Singular||Masculine||እዚ ǝzi ... (እዚ ǝzi)||እቲ ǝti ... (እቲ ǝti)|
|Feminine||እዛ ǝza ... (እዚኣ ǝzi’a)||እታ ǝta ... (እቲኣ ǝti’a)|
|Plural||Masculine||እዞመ ǝzom ... (እዚኦም ǝzi’om)||እቶም ǝtom ... (እቲኦም ǝti’om)|
|Feminine||እዘን ǝzän ... (እዚኤን ǝzi’en)||እተነ ǝtän ... (እቲኤን ǝti’en)|
People in Eritrea practice various religions. According to the Pew Research Center (2010), 62.9% of the population are Christian, mostly followers of Oriental Orthodoxy, and to a lesser extent, Roman Catholicism, whilst 36.5% are Muslim. In general, most local residents who adhere to Christianity live in the Maekel and Debub regions, whereas those who follow Islam predominantly inhabit the Anseba, Northern Red Sea, Southern Red Sea and Gash-Barka regions. A few adherents of traditional faiths can also be found, particularly in the lowlands.
|Maekel Region, ዞባ ማእከል||1,053,254||94%||5%||1%|
|Debub Region, ዞባ ደቡብ||1,476,765||89%||11%||<1%|
|Gash-Barka Region, ዞባ ጋሽ ባርካ||1,103,742||36%||63%||1%|
|Anseba Region, ዞባ ዓንሰባ||893,587||39%||61%||<1%|
|Northern Red Sea Region,
Semienawi Keyih Bahri ዞባ ሰሜናዊ ቀይሕ ባሕሪ
|Southern Red Sea Region,
Debubawi Keyih Bahri ዞባ ደቡባዊ ቀይሕ ባሕሪ
According to the 2010 revision of the UN's World Population Prospects, the total population was 5,254,000 in 2010, compared to 1,141,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 41.6%, 55.9% was between 15 and 65 years of age, while 2.5% was 65 years or older.
|Total population (x 1000)||Population aged 0–14 (%)||Population aged 15–64 (%)||Population aged 65+ (%)|
UN population projections
Numbers are in thousands. UN medium variant projections 
- 2015 6,077
- 2020 6,848
- 2025 7,613
- 2030 8,394
- 2035 9,207
- 2040 10,032
- 2045 10,829
- 2050 11,567
Registration of vital events in Eritrea is incomplete. The Population Department of the United Nations prepared the following estimates:
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR*||CDR*||NC*||TFR*||IMR*|
|1950-1955||58 000||34 000||24 000||48.4||28.0||20.4||6.97||176|
|1955-1960||66 000||35 000||31 000||49.2||25.7||23.4||6.97||163|
|1960-1965||74 000||36 000||38 000||48.5||23.6||24.9||6.82||151|
|1965-1970||83 000||38 000||45 000||47.6||21.7||25.9||6.70||139|
|1970-1975||91 000||39 000||52 000||46.1||19.7||26.3||6.52||133|
|1975-1980||103 000||43 000||60 000||45.1||18.9||26.2||6.50||127|
|1980-1985||112 000||54 000||58 000||42.4||20.5||21.9||6.50||116|
|1985-1990||123 000||52 000||71 000||41.1||17.3||23.9||6.31||104|
|1990-1995||127 000||45 000||83 000||40.0||14.1||25.9||6.08||90|
|1995-2000||131 000||38 000||93 000||38.1||11.1||27.0||5.66||73|
|2000-2005||157 000||39 000||118 000||38.4||9.5||28.9||5.19||62|
|2005-2010||183 000||40 000||143 000||37.5||8.3||29.3||4.68||54|
|* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)|
Fertility and Births
Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):
|Year||CBR (Total)||TFR (Total)||CBR (Urban)||TFR (Urban)||CBR (Rural)||TFR (Rural)|
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. Population: 5,060,620 Age structure:
0–14 years: 42.9% (male 1,085,116/female 1,072,262)
15–64 years: 53.5% (male 1,332,349/female 1,355,494)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 88,068/female 95,186) (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.445% (2011 est.)
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15–64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Fertility rate: According to 2002 official survey, fertility rate was 4.8 with 3.5 in urban and 5.7 in rural.
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.8 years
male: 66.7 years
female: 70.9 years (2010 est.)
Planning Office, Ministry of Education, Asmara, Eritrea (1996): Tigrinya 50%, Tigre 31.0%, Saho 5.0%, Afar 5.0%, Hedareb (Beja) 2.5%, Rashaida 2.4%, Bilen 2.0%, Kunama 2.0%, and Nara 1.5%.
Languages: Afar, Arabic (spoken by the Rashaida), Beja (spoken by the Hedareb), Blin, Kunama, Nara, Saho, Tigre, Tigrinya, as a second language. English, Italian and Arabic are the foremost second languages.
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70%
female: 72% (2011 est.)
- CIA - Eritrea - Ethnic groups
- Alders, Anne. "the Rashaida". Retrieved 2006-06-07.
- Minahan, James (1998). Miniature empires: a historical dictionary of the newly independent states. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 76. ISBN 0-313-30610-9. "The majority of the Eritreans speak Semitic or Cushitic languages of the Afro-Asiatic language group. The Kunama, Baria, and other smaller groups in the north and northwest speak Nilotic languages."
- Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
- Tekle M. Woldemikael, "Language, Education, and Public Policy in Eritrea" in African Studies Review, vol. 46, p. 120, 2003.