Experiencing the Least-Connected Country on Earth

Eritrea still hasn't reported Gadhafi's death: activist
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2014 5:20 PM CDT
Experiencing the Least-Connected Country on Earth
In this Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010 file photo, Eritrea's President Isaias Afworki arrives for an African Union summit at Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, Libya.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

Eritrea, the United Nations says, is the planet's least-connected country. Less than 1% of its people have landlines; just 5.6% have cell phones. As for the Internet, less than 1% use it, and connections are almost all dial-up. "Even after waiting half an hour, you might not get to the page you want," an Eritrean-American journalist tells Businessweek. Few Eritreans knew of the Arab Spring, and the government "still hasn’t reported" on the death of Moammar Gadhafi, says an activist. In the country of six million, there are 146 fixed broadband connections.

The country is in the grips of a dictatorship that's been in place for 21 years; journalists see the country as Africa's North Korea, Caroline Winter writes. Press freedom in the country is the worst in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders. The government runs the country's only telecom, and prices for connectivity are vast relative to average income. And limited communications are just a part of the problem. This week, the UN slammed "widespread and systematic" human rights violations in the country, announcing an investigation into torture and other brutality, the BBC reports. (Read more Eritrea stories.)

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