Eritrea

Eritrea

Overview
Eritrea officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

. It is bordered by Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 in the west, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 in the south, and Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 in the southeast. The northeast and east of the country has an extensive coastline on the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, directly across from Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

. The Dahlak Archipelago
Dahlak Archipelago
The Dahlak Archipelago is an island group located in the Red Sea near Massawa, Eritrea. It consists of two large and 124 small islands. The pearl fisheries of the archipelago have been famous since Roman times and still produce a substantial number of pearls. Only four of the islands are...

 and several of the Hanish Islands
Hanish Islands
The Hanish Islands are an island group in the Red Sea. Most of them are a part of Yemen, but before 1998–1999 they were claimed by Eritrea as well. After a long trial with an international court under the guidance of Dr...

 are part of Eritrea.
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Encyclopedia
Eritrea officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

. It is bordered by Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 in the west, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 in the south, and Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 in the southeast. The northeast and east of the country has an extensive coastline on the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, directly across from Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

. The Dahlak Archipelago
Dahlak Archipelago
The Dahlak Archipelago is an island group located in the Red Sea near Massawa, Eritrea. It consists of two large and 124 small islands. The pearl fisheries of the archipelago have been famous since Roman times and still produce a substantial number of pearls. Only four of the islands are...

 and several of the Hanish Islands
Hanish Islands
The Hanish Islands are an island group in the Red Sea. Most of them are a part of Yemen, but before 1998–1999 they were claimed by Eritrea as well. After a long trial with an international court under the guidance of Dr...

 are part of Eritrea. Eritrea's size is approximately 117600 km² (45,406 sq mi) with an estimated population of 6 million.

History



Together with northern Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

, and the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 coast of Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Eritrea is considered the most likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 as Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 (or "Ta Netjeru", meaning "God's Land"), whose first mention dates to the 25th century BC. The ancient Puntites were a nation of people that had close relations with Pharaonic Egypt
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 during the times of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Sahure
Sahure
- Etymology :Sahure's birth name means "He who is Close to Re". His Horus name was Nebkhau.- Biography :Sahure was a son of queen Neferhetepes, as shown in scenes from the causeway of Sahure's pyramid complex in Abusir. His father was Userkaf. Sahure's consort was queen Neferetnebty. Reliefs show...

 and Queen
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

 Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

.

D'mt was a kingdom located in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia that existed during the 8th and 7th centuries BC. With its capital at Yeha
Yeha
Yeha is a town in northern Ethiopia, located in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region. The Central Statistical Agency has not published an estimate for this village's 2005 population.- Archeology :...

, the kingdom developed irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 schemes, used plows, grew millet
Millet
The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Their essential similarities are that they are small-seeded grasses grown in difficult...

, and made iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 tools and weapons. After the fall of Dʿmt in the 5th century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of one of these polities, the Aksumite Kingdom
Aksumite Empire
The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire, was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD...

 during the first century, which was able to reunite the area.

The history of Eritrea is tied to its strategic position on the Red Sea littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

, with a coastline that extends more than 1,000 km. Many scientists believe that it is from this area that anatomically modern humans
Anatomically modern humans
The term anatomically modern humans in paleoanthropology refers to early individuals of Homo sapiens with an appearance consistent with the range of phenotypes in modern humans....

 first expanded out of Africa. From across the seas came various invaders and colonizers, such as the South Arabians hailing from the present-day Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 area, as well as the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

, the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 from Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

 (India), the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ians, the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and, in the 19th century, the Italians
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Over the centuries, invaders also came from the neighboring countries in Africa, like Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 to the west and north, as well as Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 to the south. However, present-day Eritrea was largely affected by the Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 colonisers of the 19th century.

In the period following the opening of the Suez canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 in 1869, when European powers scrambled for territory in Africa and tried to establish coaling stations for their ships, Italy invaded Ethiopia and occupied Eritrea. On January 1, 1890, Eritrea officially became a colony of Italy. In 1936, it became a province of Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa was an Italian colonial administrative subdivision established in 1936, resulting from the merger of the Ethiopian Empire with the old colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian Eritrea. In August 1940, British Somaliland was conquered and annexed to Italian East Africa...

 (Africa Orientale Italiana), along with Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland , also known as Italian Somalia, was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy from the 1880s until 1936 in the region of modern-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sultanate of Hobyo and the Majeerteen Sultanate, the territory was later acquired by Italy through various...

. By 1941, Eritrea had about 760,000 inhabitants, including 70,000 Italians. Through the 1941 Battle of Keren
Battle of Keren
The Battle of Keren was fought as part of the East African Campaign during World War II. The Battle of Keren was fought from 5 February-1 April 1941 between the colonial Italian army defending it's colonial possession of Eritrea and the invading British and Commonwealth forces. In 1941, Keren was...

, the British expelled the Italians and took over the administration of the country. The British continued to administer the territory under a UN Mandate
UN Mandate
The term UN mandate is typically used to refer to a long-term international mission which has been authorized by the United Nations General Assembly or the UN Security Council in particular. UN mandates typically involve peacekeeping operations....

 until 1951, when Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia per UN Resolution 390A(V) under the prompting of the United States adopted in December 1950.

The strategic importance of Eritrea, due to its Red Sea coastline and mineral resources, along with their shared history, was the main cause for the federation with Ethiopia, which in turn led to Eritrea's annexation as Ethiopia's 14th province in 1952. This was the culmination of a gradual process of takeover by the Ethiopian authorities, a process which included a 1959 edict establishing the compulsory teaching of Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia, in all Eritrean schools. The lack of regard for the Eritrean population led to the formation of an independence movement in the early 1960s (1961), which erupted into a 30-year war
Eritrean War of Independence
The Eritrean War of Independence was a conflict fought between the Ethiopian government and Eritrean separatists, both before and during the Ethiopian Civil War. The war started when Eritrea’s autonomy within Ethiopia, where troops were already stationed, was unilaterally revoked...

 against successive Ethiopian governments that ended in 1991. Following a UN-supervised referendum in Eritrea (dubbed UNOVER) in which the Eritrean people overwhelmingly voted for independence, Eritrea declared its independence and gained international recognition in 1993.

The de facto predominant languages are Tigrinya
Tigrinya language
Tigrinya , also spelled Tigrigna, Tigrnia, Tigrina, Tigriña, less commonly Tigrinian, Tigrinyan, is a Semitic language spoken by the Tigrinya people in central Eritrea , where it is one of the two main languages of Eritrea, and in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia , where it...

 and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, both of which belong to the Semitic
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 branch of the Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

 family. English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is used in the government's international communication and is the language of instruction in all formal education beyond the fifth grade.

Eritrea is a single-party state. Though its constitution, adopted in 1997, stipulates that the state is a presidential republic with a unicameral parliamentary democracy
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

, it has yet to be implemented. In 1998 a border dispute with Ethiopia led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War
Eritrean-Ethiopian War
The Eritrean–Ethiopian War took place from May 1998 to June 2000 between Ethiopia and Eritrea, forming one of the conflicts in the Horn of Africa...

. The war resulted in the death of as many as 100,000 Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, although specific casualty estimates are varied.

Politics and government



Eritrea is run by the People's Front for Democracy and Justice
People's Front for Democracy and Justice
The People's Front for Democracy and Justice is the current ruling political movement in Eritrea. It is nominally and often considered African socialist and holds itself open to nationalists of any political affiliation. It is the successor to the Eritrean People's Liberation Front...

 (PFDJ). Other political groups are not allowed to organize, although the unimplemented Constitution of 1997 provides for the existence of multi-party politics. The National Assembly has 150 seats, of which 75 are occupied by the PFDJ. National elections have been periodically scheduled and cancelled; none have ever been held in the country.

Independent local sources of political information on Eritrean domestic politics are scarce; in September 2001 the government closed down all of the nation's privately owned print media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

, and outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held without trial, according to various international observers, including Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 and Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

. In 2004 the U.S. State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 declared Eritrea a Country of Particular Concern
Country of Particular Concern
Country of Particular Concern is a designation by the United States Secretary of State of a nation guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and its amendment of 1999...

 (CPC) for its record of religious persecution
Religious persecution
Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof....

.

Human rights


The human rights record of Eritrea is considered poor. Eritrea is a one-party state in which national legislative elections have been repeatedly postponed.

Media


In its 2010 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

 classified the media environment in Eritrea at 175 out of 175, the lowest possible rating, and below that of totalitarian North Korea at 174. According to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, "Eritrea is the only African country to have no privately-owned news media", and Reporters Without Borders said of the public media, "[they] do nothing but relay the regime's belligerent and ultra-nationalist discourse. ... Not a single [foreign correspondent] now lives in Asmara." The state-owned news agency censors news about external events. Independent media has been banned since 2001.

National elections



Eritrean National elections were set for 2001 but was then decided that because 20% of Eritrea's land was under occupation, elections would be postponed until the resolution of the conflict with Ethiopia. However, local elections have continued in Eritrea. The most recent round of local government elections were held in May 2004. On further elections, the President's Chief of Staff, Yemane Gebremeskel said,

Regions and districts



Eritrea is divided into six regions
Regions of Eritrea
||At the time of Independence in 1993 Eritrea was arranged into ten provinces. These provinces were similar to the nine provinces operating during the colonial period. In 1996, these were consolidated into six regions...

 (zobas) and subdivided into districts
Districts of Eritrea
The regions of Eritrea are divided into districts, as follows:-Anseba Region:* Adi Tekelezan* Asmat* Elabered* Geleb* Hagaz* Halhal* Habero* Keren City* Kerkebet* Sela-Central Region:* Berikh* Ghala Nefhi* North Eastern* Serejaka...

 (sub-zobas). The geographical extent of the regions is based on their respective hydrological properties. This a dual intent on the part of the Eritrean government: to provide each administration with sufficient control over its agricultural capacity, and to eliminate historical intra-regional conflicts.

The regions, followed by the sub-region, are:
No. Region
1 Berikh, Ghala-Nefhi, Semienawi Mibraq, Serejaka, Debubawi Mibraq, Semienawi Mi'erab, Debubawi Mi'erab, Asmara
2 Adi Keyh
Adi Keyh
Adi Keyh is a market town in Eritrea, lying approximatively 110 kilometers southeast of Asmara. It lies almost 2,500 metres above sea level and has a population of around 25,000 people...

, Adi Quala
Adi Quala
Adi Quala is a market town in Eritrea, lying south of Mendefera near the Ethiopian border, over 2,000m above sea level.-Overview:Adi Quala is known for its tukul church with its frescoes and its mausoleum for the Italian Army soldiers who died at the Battle of Adwa. The town has a population of...

, Areza, Debarwa
Debarwa
Debarwa is a market town with a population of about 25,000 in central Eritrea, about 25 kilometers south of the capital Asmara. It is the capital of the Debarwa district in the Debub administrative region...

, Dekemhare, Mai Ayni, Mai Mne, Mendefera, Segeneiti
Segeneiti
Segeneiti is a small town in the Southern Region of Eritrea. The town lies on the road between Asmara and Senafe....

, Senafe
Senafe
Senafe is a market town in southern Eritrea, on the edge of the Ethiopian highlands. The surrounding area is inhabited by the Saho people and the Tigrinya people....

, Tserona
3 Agordat
Agordat
Agordat is a city in Eritrea. It was the former capital of the now defunct Barka Province of Eritrea .- Overview :...

, Barentu
Barentu, Eritrea
Barentu is a town in south-western Eritrea, lying south of Agordat. It is mainly inhabited by the Nilotic Kunama people and Nara people. The Nara people leader Shekaray Agaba was the first to build the town umba arenku which it means the white water. It is located in the Gash-Barka Zone of...

, Dghe, Forto, Gogne, Haykota, Logo-Anseba, Mensura, Mogolo, Molki, Guluj, Shambuko, Tesseney, La'elay Gash
4 Adi Tekelezan
Adi Tekelezan
Adi Tekelezan is a small town in the Anseba region of Eritrea. It is located on the route between Asmara and Keren. It is a thriving commercial center in Eritrea with a population estimated at 4,000....

, Asmat, Elabered, Geleb, Hagaz, Halhal, Habero, Keren
Keren, Eritrea
Keren is the second largest city in Eritrea. It is situated about 91 kilometers northwest of Asmara. The town serves as the capital of the Anseba region, and is home to the Bilen ethnic group.-History:...

, Kerkebet, Sel'a
5 Afabet
Afabet
-Overview:Afabet is the capital of the Afabet district.The site of a major battle in the Eritrean War of Independence, the city is still surrounded by trenches but has been largely rebuilt.-References:*...

, Dahlak
Dahlak Archipelago
The Dahlak Archipelago is an island group located in the Red Sea near Massawa, Eritrea. It consists of two large and 124 small islands. The pearl fisheries of the archipelago have been famous since Roman times and still produce a substantial number of pearls. Only four of the islands are...

, Ghel'alo, Foro, Ghinda
Ghinda
Ghinda is a town in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It lies between Asmara and Massawa.-Overview:Ghinda is a major fruit and vegetable growing area and a centre for Tigre Muslims. It lies near the springs of Sabarguma...

, Karura, Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

, Nakfa
Nakfa, Eritrea
Nakfa is a town in northern Eritrea, after which the nakfa currency is named. It served as the base for the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, during the Eritrean War of Independence....

, She'eb
She'eb
She'eb is a town in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It lies on the fertile plain at the foot of the eastern escarpment of the Eritrean highlands.-History:It was the site of a massacre during the Eritrean War of Independence...

6 Are'eta, Central Dankalia, Southern Dankalia, Assab
Assab
Assab is a port city in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea on the west coast of the Red Sea. In 1989, it had a population of 39,600. Assab possesses an oil refinery, which was shut down in 1997 for economic reasons...


Foreign relations


Eritrea is a full member of the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

 (AU), the successor of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). However, it had withdrawn its representative to the AU in protest at the AU's alleged lack of leadership in facilitating the implementation of a binding border decision demarcating the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The Eritrean government has since January 2011 appointed an envoy, Tesfa-Alem Tekle, to the AU.

Relations with the West


Eritrea's relationship with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 has a short yet complex history. The US army operated Kagnew Station
Kagnew Station
Kagnew Station was an American army base in Asmara, Eritrea on the horn of Africa. The base was established in 1943 as an Army radio station, taking over and refurbishing a pre-existing Italian naval radio station, after Italian forces based in Asmara surrendered to the allies in 1941...

 in Eritrea from 1943 to 1977. Relations worsened in October 2008 when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer
Jendayi Frazer
Jendayi Elizabeth Frazer is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, heading the Bureau of African Affairs. She currently serves as a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College and Department of Social and Decision...

, called the nation a 'state sponsor of terrorism' and stated that the U.S. government might add Eritrea to its list of rogue states, along with Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

. The stated reason for this was the presence of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an exiled Somali
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...

 Islamist leader, whom the U.S. suspects of having links to Al Qaeda, at a Somali opposition conference in Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

.

Eritrea's relationship with Italy and the EU is still reasonably strong and does not seem to be as strained as is its relationship with the U.S. On 27 January 2009, the Dutch Ambassador, Yoka Brandt, Director General of International Development Cooperation, paid an official visit to the country for bilateral talks with President Isaias' government, which were held in Massawa.

During the week of August 2, 2009, U.S. Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Hillary Clinton claimed that Eritrea was supplying weapons to the Somali militant group al-Shabab
Al-Shabaab (Somalia)
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen , more commonly known as al-Shabaab , is a terrorist group of militants fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia. As of 2011, the group controls large swathes of the southern parts of Somalia, where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia law...

. Although Eritrea denied this accusation in a public statement the following day, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, with the backing of the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, imposed sanctions and an arms embargo on Eritrea under Resolution 1907
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1907
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1907, adopted on December 23, 2009, imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on its leaders, and froze the assets of some of the country's political and military officials as punishment for aiding anti-government rebels in Somalia and refusing to...

 for its alleged role in Somalia and refusal to withdraw troops from the border with Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

.

Relations with neighbouring countries


Eritrea's relations with its neighbours have been strained due to a series of wars and disputes. These include a break of diplomatic relations with Sudan in 1994, for hosting network of terrorists in 1994, a war with Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 over the Hanish Islands
Hanish Islands
The Hanish Islands are an island group in the Red Sea. Most of them are a part of Yemen, but before 1998–1999 they were claimed by Eritrea as well. After a long trial with an international court under the guidance of Dr...

 in 1996 (the conflict was settled through the verdict of the International Court of Arbitration in 1998), and a border conflict with Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 from 1997–2000. An international border commission, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission had delimited and virtually demarcated the border, but Ethiopia has refused to implement it.

Eritrea's relations with the Sudan have normalised. Meanwhile, Eritrea has been recognised as a broker for peace between the separate factions of the Sudanese civil war: "It is known that Eritrea played a role in bringing about the peace agreement [between the Southern Sudanese and Government]." In addition, the Sudanese government and Eastern Front rebels requested Eritrea to mediate peace talks in 2006.

A dispute with Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 over the Hanish Islands
Hanish Islands
The Hanish Islands are an island group in the Red Sea. Most of them are a part of Yemen, but before 1998–1999 they were claimed by Eritrea as well. After a long trial with an international court under the guidance of Dr...

 in 1996 resulted in a brief war. As part of an agreement to cease hostilities the two nations agreed to refer the issue to the Permanent Court of Arbitration
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration , is an international organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands.-History:The court was established in 1899 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution.The creation of...

 at the Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 in 1998. Yemen was granted full ownership of the larger islands while Eritrea was awarded the peripheral islands to the southwest of the larger islands. At the conclusion of the proceedings, both nations acquiesced to the decision. Since 1996, both governments have remained wary of one another but relations are relatively normal.

Relations with Ethiopia



The undemarcated border with Ethiopia is the primary external issue currently facing Eritrea. Eritrea's relations with Ethiopia turned from that of cautious mutual tolerance, following the 30-year war for Eritrean independence, to a deadly rivalry that led to the outbreak of hostilities from May 1998 to June 2000 which claimed approximately 70,000 casualties from both sides.

Disagreements following the war have resulted in stalemate punctuated by periods of elevated tension and renewed threats of war. The stalemate led the President of Eritrea to urge the UN to take action on Ethiopia with the Eleven Letters penned by the President to the United Nations Security Council. The situation is further escalated by the continued efforts of the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders in supporting opposition in one another's countries. In 2011, Ethiopia accused Eritrea of planting bombs at an African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

 summit in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

, which was later supported by a UN report. Eritrea has denied the claims. US diplomats in a cable leaked by Wikileaks stated that according to an embassy source, as well as clandestine reporting, the bombing may have in fact been the work of Ethiopian government's security forces.

Amid fears of an emerging Islamic and nationalist Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with US assistance, putting in place the weak and locally unpopular UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

/AU
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

-backed Transitional Federal Government
Transitional Federal Government
The Transitional Federal Government is the current internationally recognized government of the Republic of Somalia. It was established as one of the Transitional Federal Institutions of government as defined in the Transitional Federal Charter adopted in November 2004 by the Transitional...

 which, without Ethiopian support, had been unable to exercise any control beyond its base in Baidoa
Baidoa
Baidoa is a city in south-central Somalia, situated by road northwest of the capital Mogadishu. It is the capital of the Bay region, which is traditionally inhabited by the Digil and Mirifle clans....

 and along the Ethio-Somali border.
The United States Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 also conducted a covert program of funding and assisting a coalition of Somali warlords to replace the widely popular Islamic Courts Union government in Somalia.

On its part, Eritrea used to host members of the ousted Union of Islamic Courts and the Somali Free Parliament, including the current President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, who was also the leader of the Union of Islamic Courts ousted by Ethiopia in 2007. The Eritrean government has been accused of sponsoring, arming and hosting numerous militant leaderships and separatist rebels in the Horn of Africa.

Geography



Eritrea is located in Northeast Africa and is bordered on the northeast and east by the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, on the south by Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, and on the northwest by Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

. It lies between latitudes 12°
12th parallel north
The 12th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 12 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 18°N
18th parallel north
The 18th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 18 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 36°
36th meridian east
The meridian 36° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 44°E
44th meridian east
The meridian 44° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

The country is virtually bisected by one of the world's longest mountain ranges, formed by the processes that formed the Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

, with fertile lands to the west, descending to desert in the east. Eritrea, at the southern end of the Red Sea, is the home of the fork in the rift. The Dahlak Archipelago
Dahlak Archipelago
The Dahlak Archipelago is an island group located in the Red Sea near Massawa, Eritrea. It consists of two large and 124 small islands. The pearl fisheries of the archipelago have been famous since Roman times and still produce a substantial number of pearls. Only four of the islands are...

 and its fishing grounds are situated off the sandy and arid coastline. The land to the south, in the highlands, is slightly drier and cooler.

The Afar Triangle or Danakil Depression of Eritrea is the probable location of a triple junction
Triple junction
A triple junction is the point where the boundaries of three tectonic plates meet. At the triple junction a boundary will be one of 3 types - a ridge, trench or transform fault - and triple junctions can be described according to the types of plate margin that meet at them...

 where three tectonic plates are pulling away from one another: the Arabian Plate, and the two parts of the African Plate (the Nubian and the Somali plate) splitting along the East African Rift Zone (USGS). The highest point of the country, Emba Soira, is located in the center of Eritrea, at 3018 metres (9,902 ft) above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

.

The main cities of the country are the capital city of Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

 and the port town of Asseb in the southeast, as well as the towns of Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

 to the east, and Keren
Keren, Eritrea
Keren is the second largest city in Eritrea. It is situated about 91 kilometers northwest of Asmara. The town serves as the capital of the Anseba region, and is home to the Bilen ethnic group.-History:...

 to the north.

Environment


Eritrea formerly supported a large population of elephants. The Ptolemaic kings
Ptolemaic Kingdom
The Ptolemaic Kingdom in and around Egypt began following Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. It was founded when Ptolemy I Soter declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt, creating a powerful Hellenistic state stretching from...

 of Egypt used the country as a source of war elephants in the third century BC . Between 1955 and 2001 there were no reported sightings of elephant herds, and they are thought to have fallen victim to the war of independence. In December 2001 a herd of about 30, including 10 juveniles, was observed in the vicinity of the Gash River. The elephants seemed to have formed a symbiotic relationship with olive baboon
Olive Baboon
The olive baboon , also called the Anubis baboon, is a member of the family Cercopithecidae . The species is the most widely spread of all baboons: it is found in 25 countries throughout Africa, extending south from Mali to Ethiopia and to Tanzania. Isolated populations are also found in some...

s. It is estimated that there are around 100 elephants left in Eritrea, the most northerly of East Africa's elephants. The endangered Painted Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus) was previously found in Eritrea, but is now deemed extirpated from the entire country.

In 2006, Eritrea announced it would become the first country in the world to turn its entire coast into an environmentally protected zone. The 1347 km (837 mi) coastline, along with another 1946 km (1,209.2 mi) of coast around its more than 350 islands, will come under governmental protection.

Economy




Like the economies of many other Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n nations, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. Drought has often created trouble in the farming areas.

The Real GDP (2009 est.): $1.87 billion, and the annual growth rate (2009 est.): 3.6%.

The Eritrean-Ethiopian War
Eritrean-Ethiopian War
The Eritrean–Ethiopian War took place from May 1998 to June 2000 between Ethiopia and Eritrea, forming one of the conflicts in the Horn of Africa...

 severely hurt Eritrea's economy. GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 growth in 1999 fell to less than 1%, and GDP decreased by 8.2% in 2000. In May 2000, the war resulted in some $600 million in property damage and loss, including losses of $225 million in livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 and 55,000 homes. The war also prevented the planting of crops in Eritrea's most productive region, causing food production to drop by 62%.

Even during the war, Eritrea developed its transportation infrastructure
Transport in Eritrea
This article summarizes characteristics of a number of forms of transport in the coastal African nation of Eritrea.- Railways :As of 1999, there was a total of 317 kilometres of rail line in Eritrea...

 by asphalting new roads, improving its ports, and repairing war-damaged roads and bridges as a part of the Warsay Yika'alo Program
Wefri Warsay Yika'alo
The Wefri Warsay Yika'alo or Warsay Yika'alo Program of Eritrea is an ambitious project of post-war recovery. It is similar to other economic recovery programs, and is often compared to the Marshall Plan.1, 2, 3...

. The most significant of these projects was the building of a coastal highway of more than 500 km connecting Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

 with Asseb as well as the rehabilitation of the Eritrean Railway
Eritrean Railway
The Eritrean Railway is the only railway system in Eritrea. It was constructed between 1887 and 1932 by the Kingdom of Italy for the Italian colony of Eritrea, and connected the port of Massawa with Bishia near the Sudan border. The line was essentially destroyed by warfare in subsequent decades,...

. The rail line now runs between the Port of Massawa and the capital Asmara.

Demographics




Eritrean society is ethnically heterogeneous. An independent census has yet to be conducted, but the Tigrinya people make up about 60% and Tigre people
Tigre people
The Tigre are an ethnic group residing in Eritrea and Sudan. They are a nomadic and pastoralist people, related to the Tigray-Tigrinya people of Eritrea and Ethiopia and to the Beja people of Sudan.-History:...

 make up about 30% of the population. These form the bulk of the country's predominantly Semitic
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

-speaking population.

Most of the rest of the population belong to other Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

-speaking communities of the Cushitic
Cushitic languages
The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family spoken in the Horn of Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt. They are named after the Biblical character Cush, who was identified as an ancestor of the speakers of these specific languages as early as AD 947...

 branch, such as the Saho
Saho people
The Saho , sometimes called Soho, are an ethnic group living largely in the Horn of Africa. They are principally concentrated in the Southern and Northern Red Sea regions of Eritrea, but some also live in adjacent parts of Ethiopia.-Demographics:...

, Hedareb
Hedareb people
The Hedareb people include the Beni-Amer people who have retained the use of the Beja language, the To-Bedawi . They also include the subtribes: Hashish, Labat, and Halenqua...

, Afar
Afar people
The Afar , also known as the Danakil, are an ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. They primarily live in the Afar Region of Ethiopia and in northern Djibouti, although some also inhabit the southern point of Eritrea.-Early history:...

 and Bilen
Bilen people
The Bilen, Blin or Bilin, also known as the Bogo or North Agaw, are an ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. They are primarily concentrated in central Eritrea, in and around the city of Keren, and south toward Asmara, the nation's capital.-Overview:Some of the Bilen entered Eritrea from Ethiopia...

.

There are also a number of Nilotic
Nilotic
Nilotic people or Nilotes, in its contemporary usage, refers to some ethnic groups mainly in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and northern Tanzania, who speak Nilotic languages, a large sub-group of the Nilo-Saharan languages...

 ethnic minorities who are represented in Eritrea by the Kunama
Kunama people
The Kunama are a Nilotic people living in Eritrea and Ethiopia. 80% of Kunamas live in Eritrea yet make up only 2 percent of the population of Eritrea, where they are one of the smallest ethnic groups. Most of the estimated 100,000 Kunama live in the remote and isolated area between the Gash and...

 and Nara
Nara people
The Nara are a Nilotic ethnic group living in Eritrea and make up less than 1% of the population. The Nara people are generally Muslim, with a few still practicing their indigenous beliefs. The Nara name means "Sky Heaven" and Speak a language called Nara-Bana, which means "Nara-Talk". The Nara are...

. Each ethnicity speaks a different native tongue but, typically, many of the minorities speak more than one language.

In addition, there exist Italian Eritrean
Italian Eritreans
Italian Eritreans are Eritrean-born descendants of Italian settlers as well as Italian long-term residents in Eritrea.-History:...

 (concentrated in Asmara) and Ethiopian Tigrayan communities. Neither is generally given citizenship unless through marriage or, more rarely, by having it conferred upon them by the State.

The most recent addition to the nationalities of Eritrea is the Rashaida. The Rashaida came to Eritrea in the 19th century from the Arabian Coast.

Languages




Many languages are spoken in Eritrea today. There is no official language as such, as the Constitution establishes the "equality of all Eritrean languages" but Tigrinya
Tigrinya language
Tigrinya , also spelled Tigrigna, Tigrnia, Tigrina, Tigriña, less commonly Tigrinian, Tigrinyan, is a Semitic language spoken by the Tigrinya people in central Eritrea , where it is one of the two main languages of Eritrea, and in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia , where it...

 and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are the two predominant languages for official purposes. English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 are also widely understood.

Most of the languages spoken in Eritrea stem from the Semitic
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 branch of the Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

 language family. The Semitic languages in Eritrea are Tigre
Tigre language
For other uses please see Tigre Tigre is a Semitic language, which, along with Tigrinya, is believed to be one of direct descendants of the extinct Ge'ez language...

, Tigrinya, the newly-recognized Dahlik
Dahlik language
Dahalik is a language spoken exclusively in Eritrea off the coast of Massawa, on three islands in the Dahlak Archipelago: Dahlak Kebir, Nora and Dehil...

, and Arabic (spoken natively by the Rashaida Arabs).

Other Afro-Asiatic languages belonging to the Cushitic
Cushitic languages
The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family spoken in the Horn of Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt. They are named after the Biblical character Cush, who was identified as an ancestor of the speakers of these specific languages as early as AD 947...

 branch are also widely spoken in the country. The latter include Afar
Afar language
Afar is a Lowland East Cushitic language spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. It is believed to have 1.5 million speakers, the Afar. The basic word order in Afar, like in other East Cushitic languages, is subject–object–verb. Its speakers have a literacy rate of between one and three per cent...

, Beja
Beja language
Beja or North Cushitic is an Afro-Asiatic language of the southern coast of the Red Sea, spoken by about two million nomads, the Beja, in parts of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea.-Classification:...

, Blin
Blin language
The Blin language , Bilin or Bilen has approximately 70,000 speakers in and around the city of Keren in Eritrea. It is the only Central Cushitic language which is spoken in Eritrea....

 and Saho
Saho language
The Saho language is a Cushitic language of Eritrea and Ethiopia.-Overview:It is spoken natively by the Saho people who traditionally inhabit territory in Eritrea bounded by the bay of Arafali in the east, the Laasi Ghedé valleys in the south, and the Eritrea highlands to the west .This speech area...

.

In addition, Nilo-Saharan languages
Nilo-Saharan languages
The Nilo-Saharan languages are a proposed family of African languages spoken by some 50 million people, mainly in the upper parts of the Chari and Nile rivers , including historic Nubia, north of where the two tributaries of Nile meet...

 (Kunama
Kunama language
The Kunama language is a language isolate which has been included in the proposed Nilo-Saharan language family. Kunama spoken by the Kunama people of western Eritrea and just across the Ethiopian border. The language has several dialects including: Barka. Marda, Aimara, Odasa, Tika, Lakatakura,...

 and Nara
Nara language
The Nara or Barea language is a Nilo-Saharan language spoken chiefly in western Eritrea. The language is often confused with Kunama, which is at best only distantly related. According to Tsige Hailemichael, the "...Nara language is in danger of quickly disappearing." The name Barea is considered...

) are also spoken as a mother tongue by the Nilotic Kunama and Nara ethnic minority groups that live in the north and northwestern part of the country.

Education



There are five levels of education in Eritrea: pre-primary
Preschool education
Preschool education is the provision of learning to children before the commencement of statutory and obligatory education, usually between the ages of zero and three or five, depending on the jurisdiction....

, primary
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

, middle
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

, secondary
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

, and post-secondary
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

. There are nearly 238,000 students in the primary, middle, and secondary levels of education. There are approximately 824 schools in Eritrea and two universities (the University of Asmara and the Institute of Science and Technology) as well as several smaller colleges and technical schools.

One of the most important goals of Eritrea's education policy is to provide basic education in each of Eritrea's mother tongues, as well as to develop a self-motivated and conscientious population to fight poverty and disease. Furthermore it is tooled to produce a society that is equipped with the necessary skills to function in the modern economy.

The education system in Eritrea is also designed to promote private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

 schooling, equal access for all groups (i.e., to prevent gender discrimination, ethnic discrimination, and class discrimination) and promote continuing education, both formally and informally.

Education in Eritrean include kindergartens for young children of both genders.

Barriers to education in Eritrea include traditional taboos, school fees (for registration and materials), and the opportunity costs of low-income households.

Religion




Eritrea has two dominant religions, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Various approximations have estimated that 50 to 62.5% are Christians (mostly followers of Orthodox Christianity
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

 and, to a lesser extent, Roman Catholicism) and 36.5 to 50% of the population is Sunni Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

. The Christians consist primarily of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church. Its autocephaly was recognised by Pope Shenouda III after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.-Origins:...

, which is the local Oriental Orthodox church, while considerable groups of Roman Catholics (including Italian Eritreans), Protestants, and other denominations also exist. Most Muslims follow Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

.

Since May 2002, the Government of Eritrea has officially recognized the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church. Its autocephaly was recognised by Pope Shenouda III after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.-Origins:...

, Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, Catholicism, and the Evangelical Lutheran church. All other faiths and denominations are required to undergo a registration process. Among other things, the Government's registration system requires religious groups to submit personal information on their membership to be allowed to worship
Worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

. The few organizations that have met all of the registration requirements have still not received official recognition.

The Eritrean Government is against reformed or radical versions of its traditional religions the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church. Its autocephaly was recognised by Pope Shenouda III after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.-Origins:...

, Catholicism, Sunni Islam, and the Evangelical Lutheran church. Therefore, radical forms of Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, the Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

, and numerous other Protestant denominations are not registered and cannot worship freely. Three named men are known to have been imprisoned since 1994. Additionally, on June 28, 2009, police raided a private home where Jehovah's Witnesses were meeting. 23 were arrested including children as young as two years old. Some of the women and children were later released, however, two children who are now three and four years of age are still imprisoned with their mothers. None have been charged officially or given access to the judicial process. As of July 29, 2010, 52 Jehovah's Witnesses have been imprisoned in Eritrea for attending their religious meetings and engaging in religious activity.

In its 2006 religious freedom report, the U.S. State Department named Eritrea a "Country of Particular Concern" (CPC) for the third year in a row.

Health



Eritrea has achieved significant improvements in health care and is one of the few countries to be on target to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets in health, in particular child health. Life expectancy at birth has increased from 39.1 in 1960 to 59.5 years in 2008, maternal and child mortality
Child mortality
Child mortality, also known as under-5 mortality, refers to the death of infants and children under the age of five. In 2010, 7.6 million children under five died , down from 8.1 million in 2009, 8.8 million in 2008, and 12.4 million in 1990. About half of child deaths occur in Africa....

 rates have dropped dramatically and the health infrastructure has been expanded. Due to Eritrea's relative isolation, information and resources are extremely limited and according the World Health Organisation (WHO) found in 2008 average life expectancy to be slightly less than 63 years. Immunisation and child nutrition has been tackled by working closely with schools in a multi-sectoral approach; the number of children vaccinated against measles almost doubled in seven years, from 40.7% to 78.5% and the underweight prevalence among children decreased by 12% in 1995–2002 (severe underweight prevalence by 28%). The National Malaria Protection Unit of the Ministry of Health has registered tremendous improvements in reducing malarial mortality by as much as 85% and the number of cases by 92% between 1998 and 2006. The Eritrean government has banned female genital mutilation (FGM), saying the practice was painful and put women at risk of life-threatening health problems.

However, Eritrea still faces many challenges. Despite number of physicians increasing from only 0.2 in 1993 to 0.5 in 2004 per 1000 population, this is still very low. Malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and Tubercolosis both are common in Eritrea. HIV prevalence among the 15–49 group exceeds 2%. The fertility rate is at about 5 births per woman. Maternal mortality dropped by more than half from 1995 to 2002, although the figure is still high. Similarly, between 1995 and 2002, the number of births attended by skilled health personnel has doubled but still is only 28.3%. A major cause of deaths of neonates is by severe infection
Infection
An infection is the colonization of a host organism by parasite species. Infecting parasites seek to use the host's resources to reproduce, often resulting in disease...

. Per capita expenditure on health is low in Eritrea.

Culture




The Eritrean region has traditionally been a nexus for trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

 throughout the world. Because of this, the influence of diverse cultures can be seen throughout Eritrea. Today the most obvious influences in the capital, Asmara, are those of Italy. Throughout Asmara, there are small cafes serving beverages common in Italy. In Asmara, there is a clear merging of the Italian colonial influence with the traditional Tigrinya lifestyle. In the villages of Eritrea, these changes never took hold.
In the cities, before the occupation and during the early years, the import of Bollywood
Bollywood
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai , Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing...

 films was commonplace, while Italian and American films were available in the cinemas as well. In the 1980s and since independence, however, American films have become the most common. Vying for market share are films by local producers, who have slowly come into their own. The global broadcast of Eri-TV has brought cultural images to the large Eritrean population in the Diaspora that visits the country every summer. Successful domestic films are produced by government and independent studios with revenue from ticket sales typically covering the production costs.

Traditional Eritrean dress is quite varied, with the women of most lowland ethnicities traditionally dressing in brightly colored clothes, while the Tigrinya traditionally dress in bright white costumes. Of the Muslim ethnicities, only the Arab or Rashaida tribeswomen maintain a tradition of covering their faces.

Football and cycling
Tour of Eritrea
The Tour of Eritrea is a multiday bicycle race held throughout Eritrea.-History:The first race was held in 1946 and was promoted by the Italian community of Eritrea with the Italian name Primo Giro dell'Eritrea....

 are the most popular sports in Eritrea. In recent years, Eritrean athletes have also seen increasing success in the international arena.

Further reading


  • Cliffe, Lionel; Connell, Dan; Davidson, Basil (2005), Taking on the Superpowers: Collected Articles on the Eritrean Revolution (1976–1982). Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-188-0
  • Cliffe, Lionel & Davidson, Basil (1988), The Long Struggle of Eritrea for Independence and Constructive Peace. Spokesman Press, ISBN 0-85124-463-7
  • Connell, Dan (1997), Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution With a New Afterword on the Postwar Transition. Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-046-9
  • Connell, Dan (2001), Rethinking Revolution: New Strategies for Democracy & Social Justice : The Experiences of Eritrea, South Africa, Palestine & Nicaragua. Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-145-7
  • Connell, Dan (2004), Conversations with Eritrean Political Prisoners. Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-235-6
  • Connell, Dan (2005), Building a New Nation: Collected Articles on the Eritrean Revolution (1983–2002). Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-198-8
  • Firebrace, James & Holand, Stuart (1985), Never Kneel Down: Drought, Development and Liberation in Eritrea. Red Sea Press, ISBN 0-932415-00-8
  • Gebre-Medhin, Jordan (1989), Peasants and Nationalism in Eritrea. Red Sea Press, ISBN 0-932415-38-5
  • Hatem Elliesie: Decentralisation of Higher Education in Eritrea, Afrika Spectrum, Vol. 43 (2008) No. 1, p. 115–120.
  • Hill, Justin
    Justin Hill
    Justin Hill is an English novelist whose novels have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize three times. Born in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in 1971, he grew up in Yorkshire. He was educated at the historic St Peter's School, York....

     (2002), 'Ciao Asmara, A classic account of contemporary Africa'. Little, Brown, ISBN 978-0-349-11526-9
  • Iyob, Ruth (1997), The Eritrean Struggle for Independence : Domination, Resistance, Nationalism, 1941–1993. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-59591-6
  • Jacquin-Berdal, Dominique; Plaut, Martin (2004), Unfinished Business: Ethiopia and Eritrea at War. Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-217-8
  • Johns, Michael (1992), "Does Democracy Have a Chance", Congressional Record, May 6 1992
  • Keneally, Thomas
    Thomas Keneally
    Thomas Michael Keneally, AO is an Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction. He is best known for writing Schindler's Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982 which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor...

     (1990), "To Asmara" ISBN 0-446-39171-9
  • Kendie, Daniel (2005), The Five Dimensions Of The Eritrean Conflict 1941–2004: Deciphering the Geo-Political Puzzle. Signature Book Printing, ISBN 1-932433-47-3
  • Killion, Tom (1998), Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-3437-5
  • Mauri, Arnaldo (2004), "Eritrea's Early Stages in Monetary and Banking Development", International Review of Economics, Vol. LI, n. 4, http://ideas.repec.org/p/mil/wpdepa/2003-28.html
  • Mauri, Arnaldo (1998), "The First Monetary and Banking Experiences in Eritrea", African Review of Money, Finance and Banking, n. 1–2.
  • Müller, Tanja R.: Bare life and the developmental State: the Militarization of Higher Education in Eritrea, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 46 (2008), No. 1, p. 1–21.
  • Pateman, Roy (1998), Eritrea: Even the Stones Are Burning. Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-057-4
  • Phillipson, David W. (1998), Ancient Ethiopia.
  • Wrong, Michela (2005), I Didn't Do It For You: how the world betrayed a small African Nation. Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-078092-4


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