Population of Eritrea 2017


Current population of Eritrea is 5,918,919 people (July 2017 est.).


noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean

Ethnic Groups

nine recognized ethnic groups: Tigrinya 55%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Kunama 2%, Rashaida 2%, Bilen 2%, other (Afar, Beni Amir, Nera) 5% (2010 est.)


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


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 andjob 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: 40.17% (male 1,195,210/female 1,182,603)
15-24 years: 19.57% (male 576,315/female 582,143)
25-54 years: 32.63% (male 950,121/female 981,163)
55-64 years: 3.7% (male 94,767/female 124,528)
65 years and over: 3.92% (male 97,530/female 134,539) (2017 est.)

Dependency Ratios

total dependency ratio: 85
youth dependency ratio: 78.3
elderly dependency ratio: 6.8
potential support ratio: 14.8 (2015 est.)

Median Age

total: 19.4 years
male: 19 years
female: 19.9 years (2016 est.)

Population Growth Rate

0.9% (2017 est.)

Birth Rate

29.6 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)

Death Rate

7.2 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)

Net Migration Rate

-13.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)

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


urban population: 23.6% of total population (2017)
rate of urbanization: 4.72% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major Urban Areas – Population:

ASMARA (capital) 804,000 (2015)

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: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.74 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Mother’s Mean Age at First Birth

21.3 years

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2010 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate

501 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate

total: 45.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 38.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth

total population: 64.9 years
male: 62.4 years
female: 67.5 years (2016 est.)

Total Fertility Rate

3.99 children born/woman (2017 est.)

Contraceptive Prevalence Rate

8.4% (2010)

Health Expenditures

3.3% of GDP (2014)

Hospital Bed Density

0.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking Water Source

urban: 73.2% of population
rural: 53.3% of population
total: 57.8% of population

urban: 26.8% of population
rural: 46.7% of population
total: 42.2% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation Facility Access

urban: 44.5% of population
rural: 7.3% of population
total: 15.7% of population

urban: 55.5% of population
rural: 92.7% of population
total: 84.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS – Adult Prevalence Rate

0.6% (2016 est.)

HIV/AIDS – People Living with HIV/AIDS

15,000 (2016 est.)

HIV/AIDS – Deaths

<1000 (2016 est.)

Major Infectious Disease

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever (2016)

Obesity – Adult Prevalence Rate

3.4% (2014)

Children Under the Age of 5 Years Underweight

38.8% (2010)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.8%
male: 82.4%
female: 65.5% (2015 est.)

School Life Expectancy (Primary to Tertiary Education)

total: 5 years
male: 6 years
female: 5 years (2014)