Eritria Geography - History

Eritria Geography - History

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Eritria is located Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan.

The terrain dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains

Climate: Eritria is hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually); semiarid in western hills and lowlands; rainfall heaviest during June-September except on coastal desert.


Asmara ( / æ s ˈ m ɑː r ə / əs- MAHR -ə), or Asmera, (Tigrinya: ኣስመራ) is the capital and most populous city of Eritrea, in the country's Central Region. It sits at an elevation of 2,325 metres (7,628 ft), making it the sixth highest capital in the world by altitude. The city is located at the tip of an escarpment that is both the northwestern edge of the Eritrean Highlands and the Great Rift Valley in neighbouring Ethiopia. In 2017, the city was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved modernist architecture. [3] [4] Asmera was first settled in 800 BC with a population ranging from 100 to 1000. The city was then founded in the 12th century AD after four separate villages unified to live together peacefully after long periods of conflict. [5] Under Italian rule the city of Asmara was made capital of Eritrea in the last years of the 19th century.

Regions of Eritrea Map

Eritrea is divided into six administrative divisions called regions. These are: Anseba, Debub (South), Debubawi K'eyih Bahri (Southern Red Sea), Gash Barka, Ma'akel (Central), and Semenawi K'eyih Bahri (Northern Red Sea). They are further subdivided into sub-regions.

Debub is the most populous of these regions of Eritrea. The national capital of Asmara is located in the Ma'akel (Central) Region.


Eritrea is a land of extraordinary physical diversity. It is one of the few countries where visitors can truly experience &lsquofour seasons in a day&rsquo.

The eastern lowlands that stretch along the Red Sea for almost 1,000km (625 miles ) offer a stunning variety of scenes, from barren deserts to towering volcanic landscapes. Scattered off the coast and its myriad coral reefs are the 350 islands of the Dahlak Archipelago.

In the north is the border with North Sudan and in the south, Djibouti. The centre of the country comprises the precipitous highland plateau that appears to float in the clouds as you wind up the vertiginous slopes of the escarpment from the coast by road or even steam railway.

At nearly 2,500m (8,200ft) altitude, Asmara is the highest capital in Africa. Much of the southern highlands is agricultural and borders Ethiopia. To the west of Eritrea, the plateau fractures and tumbles into the western lowlands where a desert landscape stretches out across vast plains and meets the border with the north of Sudan.

Atlas of Eritrea

تقع إريتريا عل الشاطئ الغربي للبحر الأحمر في نقطة حاكمة عند مدخله الجنوبي وعلى مقربة من مضيق باب المندب ذي الأهمية الإستراتيجية البالغة؛ فهي تشبه مثلثا محصورا بين إثيوبيا والسودان وجيبوتي، وتبلغ مساحتها حوالي 120 كم2 تتنوع فيها التضاريس والمناخ وتمتلك شاطئًا يمتد ألف كيلومتر على البحر الأحمر، يمتد من "رأس قصار" على الحدود السودانية شمالا إلى باب المندب في "رأس أرجيتا" في جيبوتي جنوبًا، ويقع في هذا الساحل أهم موانئ البحر الأحمر وهما: "عصب" و"مصوع".

L'Eritrea (in Tigrigna Ērtrā) è uno stato che si trova nella parte settentrionale del Corno d'Africa, confinante con il Sudan ad ovest, con l'Etiopia a sud e con il Gibuti a sudest. L'est ed il nordest del paese hanno una lunga linea di costa sul Mar Rosso, direttamente di fronte all'Arabia Saudita e allo Yemen. Sono parte dell'Eritrea l'Arcipelago di Dahlak e alcune isole a ridosso delle isole Hanish.

The State of Eritrea is a country in northern East Africa bordered by ► Sudan in the west, ► Ethiopia in the south, and ► Djibouti in the southeast. The east and northeast of the country have an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from ► Saudi Arabia and ► Yemen. The Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands are part of Eritrea.

General maps

History maps

This section holds a short summary of the history of the area of present-day Eritrea, illustrated with maps, including historical maps of former countries and empires that included present-day Eritrea.

The Eritrean coast is was subject to the Empire of Ethiopia and its pre-decessors, like the Kingdom of Dʿmt and the Kingdom of Aksum, until the 16th century. This map shows the Kingdom of Aksum.
This map shows Aksum and surrounding countries. Aksum was dissolved in the 3rd century. In the 16th century Northern parts come under Ottoman control (from 1865 as part of the province of Egypt). The south eastern part was ruled by the Sultanate of Awsa.
In 1882 Italy takes over the port of Assab and extended its control over the area. In 1890 the Colony of Eritrea is a fact (See this map about the region in 1908>.
When Italy conquers Ethiopia in 1936, Eritrea is federated with it and Italian Somalia into Italian East Africa, shown on this map. In 1941 Eritrea is placed under British military administration after the Italian surrender in World War II. In 1952, a UN resolution federating Eritrea with Ethiopia comes into effect. Though the resolution ignores Eritrean pleas for independence it guarantees Eritreans some democratic rights and a measure of autonomy. But almost immediately after the federation goes into effect, however, these rights begin to be abridged or violated. The Eritrean parliament is unilaterally dissolved by Ethiopia in 1962 and the region is annexed. From that moment the Eritrean fight for independence is sparked, which led to the Eritrean War of Independence. After a referendum in 1993 Eritrea becomes independent. Eritrea in the Italian colonial empire in 1940

Old maps

This section holds copies of original general maps more than 70 years old.

Independent Eritrea

Following independence, Eritrea enjoyed a thriving economy but maintained poor relations with neighbouring countries—with the noteworthy exception of Ethiopia. Tension with Sudan throughout the 1990s centred on mutual allegations that each had attempted to destabilize the other. In late 1995 and 1996 Eritrea engaged in a brief but violent conflict with Yemen over the Ḥanīsh Islands, an archipelago in the Red Sea claimed by both countries but ultimately recognized as Yemeni.

Postindependence relations with Ethiopia, initially warm and supportive, became strained over trade issues and the question of Ethiopia’s access to Eritrea’s Red Sea ports. In 1998 relations deteriorated rapidly when a border dispute, centred around the hamlet of Badme, exploded into violence. Following two years of bloodshed, a peace was negotiated in December 2000, and the UN established a peacekeeping mission along the border in question. An international boundary commission agreed on a border demarcation in 2002, but Ethiopia rejected the decision and refused to leave the territory that the commission had recognized as Eritrean. Meanwhile, tension had been growing between the UN peacekeepers and the Eritrean government, which accused several UN workers of being spies. The UN withdrew its mission in 2008. In the same year, another boundary dispute, this one with Djibouti, escalated when Eritrea amassed troops along the Ras Doumeira border area. Fighting between Eritrean and Djiboutian soldiers led to the deaths of more than 30 people. Eritrea was embroiled in yet another regional conflict when it was accused of supporting insurgents in Somalia’s civil war. In December 2009 the UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions on Eritrea for its alleged involvement in that conflict as well as for not withdrawing its troops from Djibouti the body expanded its existing sanctions against Eritrea in 2011.

The postindependence conflicts shattered Eritrea’s earlier economic and political progress. Amid economic distress, loss of life, and a new flood of displaced persons, voices of discontent with the government leadership were raised in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Calls were made to promulgate the country’s constitution, which had been ratified in 1997, and to hold parliamentary and presidential elections, which had been postponed indefinitely. Opposition was hampered, however, by the closure of the national press in 2001 and a ban on the formation of new political parties. President Isaias and his party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice—the successor to the EPLF—remained firmly in power.

Conditions within Eritrea grew increasingly repressive, with personal rights and freedoms routinely violated. The government’s program of conscription into national service, typically for lengthy, indefinite periods of time, was compared to enslavement and was one of the reasons why large numbers of Eritreans undertook dangerous journeys to flee the country. The country came under fire by the UN Human Rights Council, which accused Isaias’s government of having committed human rights violations against the citizens of the country. Reports released in 2015 and 2016 detailed the alleged human rights violations, such as enslavement, rape, torture, and murder some violations were labeled as crimes against humanity. Isaias’s government rejected the findings of both reports. The only notable protest against the Isaias regime from within the country during this time was a short-lived and ultimately failed mutiny by a small group of soldiers in 2013.

In 2018, political change in neighbouring Ethiopia led to a rapid improvement in that country’s relations with Eritrea. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who had taken office in April that year, extended a significant olive branch to Eritrea when he announced on June 5 that Ethiopia would abide by the terms of the 2000 peace agreement that was meant to end its war with Eritrea and pledged to accept and implement the 2002 contentious border demarcation ruling. Ethiopia’s acceptance of the peace agreement and border resolution led to a succession of diplomatic actions between the two countries, including a meeting of Isaias and Abiy in early July that took place in Eritrea. The two leaders consented to reopening their borders and reestablishing communication and transportation ties. They also agreed to resume diplomatic and trade relations. The diplomatic progress made by delegates of both countries culminated with a historic joint statement, issued by Isaias and Abiy on July 9, 2018, declaring that the state of war that had existed between Eritrea and Ethiopia for 20 years had come to an end. The next week Isaias visited Ethiopia, overseeing the reopening of Eritrea’s embassy there.

Regional peace developments continued. Later in July Isaias and Somalian Pres. Mohamed Abdullahi agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties between their two countries and to work to foster peace and stability in the region. Then, in September, representatives of the governments of Djibouti and Eritrea agreed to restore ties after a decade. Eritrea’s newly improved relations with regional countries led to the United Nations Security Council agreeing in November 2018 to lift the sanctions it had imposed on Eritrea in 2009.

Isaias had used the unresolved border war with Ethiopia to justify the need for Eritrea’s draconian conscription practices, and it remained to be seen how the newfound peace with its neighbours would affect that as well as Eritrea’s human rights situation in general.

Eritrea Government, History, Population & Geography

Historical perspective: On 29 May 1991, ISAIAS Afworki, secretary general of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which then served as the country's legislative body, announced the formation of the Provisional Government in Eritrea (PGE) in preparation for the 23-25 April 1993 referendum on independence for the Autonomous Region of Eritrea the referendum resulted in a landslide vote for independence, which was proclaimed on 27 April 1993.

Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan

Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:
total: 1,630 km
border countries: Djibouti 113 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km

Coastline: 2,234 km total mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km

Climate: hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually) semiarid in western hills and lowlands rainfall heaviest during June-September except on coastal desert

Terrain: dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Kobar Sink -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,013 m

Natural resources: gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, probably oil and natural gas (petroleum geologists are prospecting for it), fish

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 48%
forests and woodland: 20%
other: 19% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 280 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: frequent droughts

Environment—current issues: deforestation desertification soil erosion overgrazing loss of infrastructure from civil warfare

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: strategic geopolitical position along world's busiest shipping lanes Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 27 April 1993

Population: 3,842,436 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 826,686 female 818,323)
15-64 years: 54% (male 1,026,922 female 1,042,156)
65 years and over: 3% (male 66,222 female 62,127) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.39% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 42.52 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 12.57 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 3.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)
note: it is estimated that between 200,000 and 350,000 Eritrean refugees were still living in Sudan in mid-1997

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 78.51 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 55.31 years
male: 53.19 years
female: 57.51 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.99 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean

Ethnic groups: ethnic Tigrinya 50%, Tigre and Kunama 40%, Afar 4%, Saho (Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%

Religions: Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant

Languages: Afar, Amharic, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, minor ethnic group languages

Country name:
conventional long form: State of Eritrea
conventional short form: Eritrea
local long form: Hagere Ertra
local short form: Ertra
former: Eritrea Autonomous Region in Ethiopia

Government type: transitional government
note: following a successful referendum on independence for the Autonomous Region of Eritrea on 23-25 April 1993, a National Assembly, composed entirely of the Peoples' Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, was established as a transitional legislature a Constitutional Commission was also established to draft a constitution ISAIAS Afworki was elected president by the transitional legislature

National capital: Asmara (formerly Asmera)

Administrative divisions: 8 provinces (singular—awraja) Akele Guzay, Barka, Denkel, Hamasen, Sahil, Semhar, Senhit, Seraye
note: in May 1995 the National Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the administrative structure of Eritrea, which had been established by former colonial powers, would consist of only six provinces when the new constitution, then being drafted, would go into effect some time in 1998 the new provinces, the names of which had not been recommended by the US Board on Geographic Names for recognition by the US government, pending acceptable definition of the boundaries, were: Anseba, Debub, Debubawi Keyih Bahri, Gash-Barka, Maakel, and Semanawi Keyih Bahri more recently, it has been reported that these provinces have been redesignated regions and renamed Southern Red Sea, Northern Red Sea, Anseba, Gash-Barka, Southern, and Central

Independence: 27 May 1993 (from Ethiopia formerly the Eritrea Autonomous Region)

National holiday: National Day (independence from Ethiopia), 24 May (1993)

Constitution: the transitional constitution, decreed on 19 May 1993, was replaced by a new constitution that was promulgated in May 1997

Suffrage: NA note—the transitional constitution of 19 May 1993 did not provide rules for suffrage, but it seems likely that the final version of the constitution, which may be promulgated some time in 1998, will follow the example set in the referendum of 1993 and extend suffrage to all persons 18 years of age or older

Executive branch:
chief of state: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993) note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993) note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: State Council is the collective executive authority
note: the president is head of the State Council and National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly election last held 8 June 1993 (next to be held NA)
election results: ISAIAS Afworki elected president percent of National Assembly vote - ISAIAS Afworki 95%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (150 seats term limits not established)
elections: in May 1997, following the adoption of the new constitution, 75 members of the PFDJ Central Committee (the old Central Committee of the EPLF), 60 members of the 527-member Constituent Assembly which had been established in 1997 to discuss and ratify the new constitution, and 15 representatives of Eritreans living abroad were formed into a Transitional National Assembly to serve as the country's legislative body until country-wide elections to a National Assembly are held in 1998 only 75 members will be elected to the National Assembly—the other 75 will be members of the Central Committee of the PFDJ

Judicial branch: Judiciary the Supreme Court 10 provincial courts 29 district courts

Political parties and leaders: People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, the only party recognized by the government [ISAIAS Afworki, PETROS Solomon]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Eritrean Islamic Jihad or EIJ Eritrean Liberation Front or ELF [ABDULLAH Muhammed] Eritrean Liberation Front-United Organization or ELF-UO [Mohammed Said NAWUD] Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionary Council or ELF-RC [Ahmed NASSER]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Semere RUSSOM
chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador-designate William CLARK
embassy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, Asmara
mailing address: P.O. Box 211, Asmara
telephone: [291] (1) 120004
FAX: [291] (1) 127584

Flag description: red isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) dividing the flag into two right triangles the upper triangle is green, the lower one is blue a gold wreath encircling a gold olive branch is centered on the hoist side of the red triangle

Economy—overview: With independence from Ethiopia on 27 April 1993, Eritrea faced the bitter economic problems of a small, desperately poor African country. The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with over 70% of the population involved in farming and herding. The small industrial sector consists mainly of light industries with outmoded technologies. Domestic output (GDP) is substantially augmented by worker remittances from abroad. Government revenues come from custom duties and taxes on income and sales. Road construction is a top domestic priority. Eritrea has inherited the entire coastline of Ethiopia and has long-term prospects for revenues from the development of offshore oil fields, offshore fishing, and tourism. Eritrea's economic future depends on its ability to master fundamental social and economic problems, e.g., overcoming illiteracy, promoting job creation, expanding technical training, attracting foreign investment, and streamlining the bureaucracy.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$2.2 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6.8% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$600 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 20%
services: 62% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 4% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $226 million
expenditures: $453 million, including capital expenditures of $88 million (1996 est.)

Industries: food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 73,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: NA kWh

Electricity—consumption per capita: NA kWh

Agriculture—products: sorghum, lentils, vegetables, maize, cotton, tobacco, coffee, sisal (for making rope) livestock (including goats) fish

total value: $71 million (1996 est.)
commodities: livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures
partners: Ethiopia 67%, Sudan 10%, Saudi Arabia 4%, US 3%, Italy, Yemen (1996)

total value: $499 million (1996 est.)
commodities: processed goods, machinery, petroleum products
partners: Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Italy, United Arab Emirates

Debt—external: $162 million (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 nafka = 100 cents

Exchange rates: nakfa per US$1 = 7.2 (March 1998 est.)
note: following independence from Ethiopia, Eritrea continued to use Ethiopian currency until late in 1997 when Eritrea issued its own currency, the nakfa, at approximately the same rate as the birr, i.e., 7.2 nakfa per US$1

Fiscal year: calendar year

Telephone system:
domestic: very inadequate about 4 telephones per 100 families, most of which are in Asmara government is seeking international tenders to improve the system
international: NA

Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave 0

Television broadcast stations: 1 (government controlled)

total: 307 km
narrow gauge: 307 km 0.950-m gauge (1995 est.)
note: nonoperational since 1978 except for about a 5 km stretch that was reopened in Massawa in 1994 rehabilitation of the remainder and of the rolling stock is under way links Ak'ordat and Asmara (formerly Asmera) with the port of Massawa (formerly Mits'iwa)

total: 4,010 km
paved: 874 km
unpaved: 3,136 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: Assab (Aseb), Massawa (Mits'iwa)

Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,516 GRT/5,747 DWT
ships by type: oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1 (1997 est.)

Airports: 20 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 18
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 3 (1997 est.)

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $40 million (1995)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Disputes—international: a dispute with Yemen over sovereignty of the Hanish Islands in the southern Red Sea has been submitted to arbitration under the auspices of the ICJ a decision on the Islands is expected in mid-1998

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Most Tigrinya are followers of the Orthodox (Coptic) Church, which dates to around the fourth century and is one of the oldest extant branches of Christianity. It represents the main indigenous religion among the Tigrinya. A small proportion (7 percent) of the Tigrinya are Muslims (Jeberti), who are often merchants and traders. There are also small numbers of Catholics and Protestants who were converted during the colonial period.

Religious Practitioners. In the Orthodox Church the priest (k'ashi) is the main religious practitioner. The Orthodox clergy are divided into two groups. Lay priests live in the villages and parishes on land belonging to the church and perform marriages and other services and ceremonies. Their role in the community gives them high social status. Monks living in monasteries maintain celibacy (Orthodox priests can marry) and have less daily interaction with their communities. Historically, monks were important socially and politically. They represented church authority and served other functions, such as passing judgment in legal matters concerning religious or family issues and bringing about reconciliation between individuals and groups. Among Muslims the local mufti is the main spiritual practitioner other Christian denominations are governed by their own clergy.

Ceremonies. There are numerous ceremonies in the Orthodox Church, many of which revolve around saint's days and other religious and seasonal holidays, as well as functions such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

Arts. The Coptic Church is known for artwork such as paintings and illuminated manuscripts. At a more local level the arts include traditional music and dance that is accompanied by instruments such as the Krar, a traditional guitar/harplike instrument, and drums. Many of the songs and dances have their origins in the church and are used during religious feasts and ceremonies as well as at weddings and other occasions. The Tigrinya also have traditional dress, decoration, artwork, crafts, poetry, and literature.

Death and Afterlife. The Orthodox Church shares beliefs about the afterlife with other branches of Christianity. There is a great deal of ceremony surrounding funerals. The funeral is held the day after a person's death. On the twelfth day the first memorial ceremony occurs (assur), followed by the second memorial service on the fortieth day (arba'a) and the third memorial after six months (menfeqh). The last memorial (amet) is held on the first anniversary of the death. One of these memorials is also chosen to be the "second funeral" (teshar), in which everyone who was part in the first funeral participates. Food and drink are served at all these ceremonies.

For other cultures in Eritrea, see List of Cultures by Country in Volume 10 and under specific culture names in Volume 9, Africa and the Middle East.

Key Facts & Information


  • Eritrea shares borders with Ethiopia and Sudan, including Djibouti.
  • Asmara is recognized for its Italian colonial buildings, like St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and art deco structures.
  • The Italian, Egyptian, and Turkish architecture in Massawa reflects the port city’s colorful history.
  • Notable buildings in Eritrea include St. Mariam Cathedral and the Imperial Palace.


  • The land that is now Eritrea was governed by various powers throughout the Red Sea area for most of history.
  • The Italians took control and made Eritrea a colony in 1885.
  • They attempted to use the land as a base to take over Ethiopia but they failed. lost the land to Great Britain after World War II and in 1952 the land was merged with Ethiopia into a single country.
  • The Eritreans desired their own country as they felt they would not be treated reasonably by the Ethiopians. They were rejected, however.
  • The Eritreans rebelled and fought for their freedom for thirty years.
  • They finally achieved their independence on May 24, 1993.
  • Eritrea is one of the newest countries in the world.
  • They still have hostilities with Ethiopia and a fight over the border separating the two countries.
  • The EPLF seized power, authorized a one-party state along nationalist lines, and banned further political activity.
  • There have been no elections in Eritrea and they have had only one president since independence, Isaias Afwerki.


  • Eritrea covers a total area estimated to be around 117,600 square km which is equivalent to 45,400 square miles making it the 99th largest nation on earth in terms of land coverage, slightly larger than Pennsylvania.
  • According to the study conducted by the World Bank in 2011, Eritrea’s population is approximated to be 4.475 million people. But as per January 1, 2017, the population was estimated to be about 5,393,998 individuals.
  • Eritrea encounters varying climatic conditions. A hot, dry desert strip along the Red Sea coast and cooler and wetter in the central highlands. Asmara has a pleasant climatic condition with a mean temperature of 16 degrees and an annual rainfall of 508 mm.
  • The largest mountain in Eritrea is Mount Emba Soria, whose height is estimated to be about 3,018 meters (9,902 ft.) above sea level, and the lowest point is known as the Denakil Depression, known to be among the Earth’s hottest destinations.


  • The capital city of Eritrea is Asmara, which is also referred to as the New Rome or Italy’s African City because it projects a unique Italian trace.
  • The word Asmara is defined as “made the united” according to the Tigriyan language from which it is derived.
  • Asmara covers a total area of 4,694 square miles with the total population calculated to be approximately 804,000 people.


  • There are several different languages that are spoken in Eritrea. But, there is no specific language that has been established in the constitution as the national language. This is because the constitution acknowledges all languages as equal. Tigrinya is the most basic language in Eritrea. Different languages spoken in Eritrea are Arabic, English, Saho, Bilen, and Tigre among others.
  • The common religions in Eritrea are Christianity and Islam, whereby Christianity is common in Asmara while Islam is common in the shore region as well as lowlands of Eritrea.
  • The type of government in Eritrea is a transitional government, a country where elections are always planned but none has ever happened.
  • The nationality of Eritrea is called Eritrean.
  • Eritrea’s national symbol is a camel.

Eritrea Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Eritrea across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Eritrea worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Eritrea which is a small country on the eastern coast of Africa. Its official name is The State of Eritrea and the capital city is Asmara (Asmera).

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Eritrea Facts
  • Eritrea
  • Hot Facts
  • Eritrea Timeline
  • Asmara
  • Identification
  • Caption Needed
  • Only President
  • Newest Countries
  • Eritreammy
  • All About Eritrea Andorra

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A glimpse at the prehistory of Eritrea

The prehistory of Eritrea is noticeably attention-grabbing and this could be owing to its Geo-strategic location, heterogeneous landscape and favorable habitat in the Horn of Africa.

With its more than 1200 kilometer long coastal territory in the Red Sea, the country’s topography is represented by the lowlands’ arid and semi-arid areas and highland escarpments with a fertile land and favorable environment. This part of the horn has been a magnet to life millions of years ago. For example, the land of the present day Eritrea attracted large mammals from the Arabian land about 27 million years ago. This time frame represents part of the African mammal evolutionary history, which is substantially unknown to science.

Being part of the extended African Rift valley — the Eritrean Danakil Depression was home to ancient humans, which is vital in understanding the cradle of humanity. It has a remarkable importance in understanding the evolution of our ancestors during the Plio-Pleistocene times (5 million — 11,000 years ago). The oldest and most conceivable evidence of human origin (based on stone tools) is known from the Eritrean Danakil Depression of the Engel Ela – Ramud Basin, a place which is about 30 km south of Buia and less than 500 km far from where Professor Donald Johanson found almost a complete fossil evidence of Australopithecus afarensis (known as “Lucy”) from Ethiopia 40 years ago.

The evidence of anatomically modern humans from the Eritrean Danakil Depression is coming from the site of Buia in the Northern Red Sea Region which is 31 km far from the Gulf of Zula. The stunning sedimentary deposits from this Basin preserve fossil evidence of anatomically modern humans and large mammalian fauna, which are dated back about 1.0 million years. Amongst the most prominent localities include Maebele, Dioli, Aalad, Aalad-Amo and Mulhuli-Amo. The discovery of the complete human skull (

1.0 million years old) from Aalad (also known as Homo-site) was a scientific breakthrough. To date, evidence of a complete skull of Homo between 1.4 million years to 650,000 years is scarce in Africa. This unique fossil finding from Buia filled the gap between Homo erectus (1.4 million) and Homo heidelbergensis (650,000 years). Later on, modern humans adapted to the coastal and maritime environment of the Red Sea about 125, 000 years ago. This shows our direct ancestors lived in the region millions of years back, thanks to the vivid and well documented evidence from the continental and coastal landscapes of the extended Eritrean Danakil Depression.

The later historic period is roughly represented by the evidence of rock art. Rock art is human-made markings placed on the natural stone and show humanity’s cultural, cognitive, and artistic beginnings. It further shows the emergence of human’s symbolic behavior before the advent of writing. Evidence of rock art is well documented across the country and the most prominent sites among these include Adi-Älewti, Iyago, Karibosa, Saro, Mai-äini and Quarura. The Eritrean rocks are represented by different color pigments and figures of animals, human and geometric styles and symbolize the evidence of society’s socio-economic and cultural way of life.

The ancient history of Eritrea is characterized by different dynamics of historic events. Amongst these include the emergence of complex agro-pastoral societies and the urban civilizations on the highlands and lowlands of Eritrea. Furthermore, Eritrea is the birthplace of ancient and socioculturally highly diversified civilizations in the region. The Medieval Period is among the most intricate slice of our historic records. This period encompasses the introduction and foundation of the leading religions in our region, Christianity around 4th and Islam 7th century AD.

The recent history of Eritrea is primarily linked to the unprecedented struggle for liberation, preceded by desolate and successive colonial times. This represents the dark and centuries-long clutches of colonialism and their colossal impacts. The gallant Eritrean people opposed the dominance and successive colonial oppression. This part of our history is labeled as Recent History, which is a history bounded by hardship, resistance, and solidarity throughout time.

Eritrea has experienced a rich and diverse history overwrought with intense periods of difficulty. Present-day Eritrea, with its diverse culture, is not by any means an overnight creation. In this regard, the process of the historical evolution of our society started over millions of years from the cradle of humanity shown by the fossil legacy of our ancestors.

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