Flag of Eritrea


Eritrea is a country in northern East Africa that stretches along the Red Sea, bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. Lying directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Eritrea also includes the Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands.

Eritrea was consolidated into a colony by the Italian government in 1890, and gained its independence from Ethiopia following a thirty-year war that lasted until 1991. Since the outbreak of new hostilities with Ethiopia in May of 1998, the country is under a de-facto (undeclared) state of emergency ruled by presidential decree.

Eritrea's capital, Asmara, once a small cluster of villages, is now notable for its Italian architecture. The magnificent Cathedral, built in 1922 in the Lombardian style, is not far from the bustling market. The road from Asmara to Massawa (the former capital), is both spectacular and beautiful, descending from 2,438 m to sea level over 105 km, with hairpin bends on the escarpment, and magnificent views over the coastal desert strip. The road also passes the famous Orthodox Monastery of Debre Bizen. North of Massawa is the white sandy beach of Gergussum, which is an excellent place to sunbathe or swim.

The Turkish and Egyptian colonial periods left their legacy in the form of a number of interesting buildings and sites in Agordet (Barka Province), such as the tomb of Said Mustafa wad Hasan.

Eritrea is a multilingual and multicultural country with two dominant religions (Oriental Orthodox Christianity and Sunni Islam) and nine ethnic groups. The country has no official language, but it has three working languages: Tigrinya, Arabic and English.

Map of Eritea