May 17: Eritrea

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The flag of Eritrea

A map of Eritrea class=

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A locator map of Eritrea

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State of Eritrea


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Area: 121,100 sq km

Arid, temperate highland plateau and a strategic desert plain along the busy Red Sea Coast shipping lanes.

Population: 5,223,994    Annual Growth: 3.15%

Capital: Asmara

Urbanites: 21.6%

HDI Rank: 165 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)


Peoples: 19 (47% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: Tigrinya. Tigre, Arabic and English (especially for secondary and tertiary education) also widely used    Languages: 18 All languages


Largest Religion: Muslim

Religion               Pop %Ann Gr


Challenges for Prayer

Religious freedom remains a major issue. A 2002 government ruling banned all religious groups from meeting together and practicing their faith without official recognition, and it granted recognition only to Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran groups. The effects of this on all Eritreans are significant, especially so on Christians within non-approved groups. Some posit this as a reaction against the evangelical growth within the Orthodox Church and during the long war with Ethiopia. Pray for government acceptance of religious groups and for restoration of basic human rights and religious freedom to all Eritreans.

The Christian Church faces terrible ongoing persecution, both outside the recognized churches and, to some degree, within. Many leaders and lay members are in prison, and more are under house arrest; the government has seized many church assets. Christians are largely Orthodox, mostly from among the Tigrinya, with some from among the Kunama, Bilen or other peoples. Evangelicals are fewer, but are present to varying degrees within most denominations. Christians of all denominations have been refined and drawn together in fellowship through recent decades due to war, drought and government oppression. But the intense suffering of the Church in Eritrea is one of the untold stories of the past decade – a story of tragedy and ultimately, we pray, great spiritual harvest. Pray that Christians may remain fervent for Jesus amid hardship and make a significant impact on their nation and beyond.

     For an additional 5 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Eritrea.