Eritrea People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


6,147,398 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111


noun: Eritrean(s)

adjective: Eritrean

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


Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages


Sunni Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant

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.

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.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 83.9

youth dependency ratio: 75.6

elderly dependency ratio: 8.3

potential support ratio: 12.1 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 20.3 years

male: 19.7 years

female: 20.8 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 192

Population growth rate

0.98% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 101

Birth rate

27.41 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 38

Death rate

6.79 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

Net migration rate

-10.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 221

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


urban population: 42% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.67% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

998,000 ASMARA (capital) (2021)

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: 0.97 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

21.3 years (2010 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate

480 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Infant mortality rate

total: 42.39 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 49.3 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 35.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 35

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.51 years

male: 63.92 years

female: 69.18 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

Total fertility rate

3.65 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 34

Contraceptive prevalence rate

8.4% (2010)

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.)

Current Health Expenditure

4.1% (2018)

Physicians density

0.06 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

0.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)

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 (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.5% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 66

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

13,000 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 96

HIV/AIDS - deaths

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

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 183

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

39.4% (2010)

Education expenditures



definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 76.6%

male: 84.4%

female: 68.9% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 8 years

male: 8 years

female: 7 years (2015)

NOTE: The information regarding Eritrea on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Eritrea 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Eritrea 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.