Although it covers a vast area of 270,000 square km running up the border with Djibouti and Eritrea, Afar region is arid, thinly populated and almost bereft of large towns. According to July 2013 estimates of the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia, the total population of Afar is 1.65 million, of which less than 10% live in urban areas. The tiny capital of Assaita will be replaced by the purpose-built capital of Semere in the near future. Afar region is named for the pastoral people who comprise roughly 92% of its population(the remainder consists mostly of people from elsewhere in Ethiopia who have settled in the region). Geographically, Afar forms the most northeriy part of the Rift valley, and it is characterised by low- lying plains that receive less than 2oomm of rainfall annually. Me Awash River runs through Afar from south to north, draining into a set of desert lakes south of Assaita on the Djiboutian border. salt and various minerals are mined in the region.