State of Eritrea

Political Status: Former Italian colony; became part of UN-sponsored Ethiopian–Eritrean Federation in September 1952; annexed as a province of Ethiopia in November 1962; declared independent on May 24, 1993, following secessionist referendum of April 23–25; new constitution approved by the Constitutional Assembly on May 23, 1997, but largely unimplemented as of mid-2005.

Area: 46,774 sq. mi. (121,144 sq. km.).

Population: 2,748,304 (1984C); 4,295,000 (2004E), including nonresidents.

Major Urban Centers (1990E): ASMARA (358,000).

Principal Languages: Tigrigna and Arabic.

Monetary Unit: A new currency–the nakfa–was introduced on July 15, 1997. For a transitional period the government agreed to exchange the nakfa on a one-to-one basis with the Ethiopian birr, previously the most commonly circulated currency. The introduction of the new currency was considered a factor in the outbreak of hostilities ...

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