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Coordinates: 15°N 39°E / 15°N 39°E / 15; 39

State of Eritrea

ሃገረ ኤርትራ (Tigrinya) Hagere Ertra دولة إرتريا (Arabic) Dawlat Iritriyá

Flag

Emblem

Anthem: Ertra, Ertra, Ertra Eritrea, Eritrea, Eritrea

Location within Africa
Africa
(dark gray) and the Eastern Hemisphere (gray)

Capital and largest city Asmara 15°20′N 38°55′E / 15.333°N 38.917°E / 15.333; 38.917

Official languages None[1] (see working languages)

Recognised national languages

Tigrinya Arabic[2] Tigre Kunama Saho Bilen Nara Afar[3]

Working languages

Tigrinya[4] Arabic[4] English[4]

Ethnic groups (2012[5])

55% Tigrinya 30% Tigre 4% Saho 2% Kunama 2% Bilen 2% Rashaida 5% others

Demonym Eritrean

Government Unitary one-party presidential republic

• President

Isaias Afwerki

Legislature National Assembly

Formation

• Dʿmt

c. 980 BC

• Kingdom of Aksum

c. 100 AD

• Medri Bahri

1137

• Italian Eritrea

1890

• Eritrean Federation

15 September 1952

•  De facto State of Eritrea

24 May 1991

•  De jure State of Eritrea

24 May 1993

Area

• Total

117,600 km2 (45,400 sq mi) (99th)

• Water (%)

0.14%

Population

• 2016 estimate

4,954,645[6] (116th)

• Density

51.8/km2 (134.2/sq mi) (154th)

GDP (PPP) 2018 estimate

• Total

$10.176 billion[7]

• Per capita

$1,466[7]

GDP (nominal) 2018 estimate

• Total

$6.856 billion[7]

• Per capita

$988[7]

HDI (2015)  0.420[8] low · 179th

Currency Nakfa (ERN)

Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

• Summer (DST)

not observed (UTC+3)

Drives on the right

Calling code +291

ISO 3166 code ER

Internet TLD .er

Eritrea
Eritrea
(/ˌɛrɪˈtreɪ.ə/ or /ˌɛrɪˈtriːə/;[9] Tigrinya: ኤርትራ,  listen (help·info)), officially the State of Eritrea,[10] is a country in the Horn of Africa, with its capital at Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan
Sudan
in the west, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in the south, and Djibouti
Djibouti
in the southeast. The northeastern and eastern parts of Eritrea
Eritrea
have an extensive coastline along the Red Sea. The nation has a total area of approximately 117,600 km2 (45,406 sq mi), and includes the Dahlak Archipelago
Dahlak Archipelago
and several of the Hanish Islands. Its toponym Eritrea
Eritrea
is based on the Greek name for the Red Sea
Red Sea
(Ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα Erythra Thalassa), which was first adopted for Italian Eritrea
Italian Eritrea
in 1890. Eritrea
Eritrea
is a multi-ethnic country, with nine recognized ethnic groups in its population of around 5 million. Most residents speak languages from the Afroasiatic family, either of the Ethiopian Semitic languages or Cushitic branches. Among these communities, the Tigrinyas
Tigrinyas
make up about 55% of the population, with the Tigre people constituting around 30% of inhabitants. In addition, there are a number of Nilo-Saharan-speaking Nilotic
Nilotic
ethnic minorities. Most people in the territory adhere to Christianity
Christianity
or Islam.[11] The Kingdom of Aksum, covering much of modern-day Eritrea
Eritrea
and northern Ethiopia, was established during the first or second centuries AD.[12][13] It adopted Christianity
Christianity
around the middle of the fourth century.[14] In medieval times much of Eritrea
Eritrea
fell under the Medri Bahri kingdom, with a smaller region being part of Hamasien. The creation of modern-day Eritrea
Eritrea
is a result of the incorporation of independent, distinct kingdoms and sultanates (for example, Medri Bahri and the Sultanate of Aussa) eventually resulting in the formation of Italian Eritrea. After the defeat of the Italian colonial army, in 1942, Eritrea
Eritrea
was administered by the British Military Administration until 1952. Following the UN General Assembly decision, in 1952, Eritrea
Eritrea
would govern itself with a local Eritrean parliament but for foreign affairs and defense it would enter into a federal status with Ethiopia
Ethiopia
for a period of 10 years. However, in 1962 the government of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
annulled the Eritrean parliament and formally annexed Eritrea. But the Eritreans that argued for complete Eritrean independence since the ouster of the Italians in 1942, anticipated what was coming and in 1960 organized the Eritrean Liberation Front
Eritrean Liberation Front
in opposition. In 1991, after 30 years of continuous armed struggle for independence, the Eritrean liberation fighters entered the capital city, Asmara, in victory. Eritrea
Eritrea
is a one-party state in which national legislative elections have been repeatedly postponed.[15] According to Human
Human
Rights Watch, the Eritrean government's human rights record is among the worst in the world.[16] The Eritrean government has dismissed these allegations as politically motivated.[17] The compulsory military service requires long, indefinite conscription periods, which some Eritreans leave the country in order to avoid.[18] Because all local media is state-owned, Eritrea
Eritrea
was also ranked as having the least press freedom in the global Press Freedom Index. Eritrea
Eritrea
is a member of the African Union, the United Nations, and IGAD, and is an observer in the Arab League
Arab League
alongside Brazil, Venezuela, India
India
and Turkey.[19]

Contents

1 Name 2 History

2.1 Prehistory 2.2 Antiquity

2.2.1 Punt 2.2.2 Ona Culture 2.2.3 Gash Group 2.2.4 Kingdom of D'mt 2.2.5 Kingdom of Aksum

2.3 Middle Ages

2.3.1 Medri Bahri 2.3.2 Aussa Sultanate 2.3.3 Habesh Eyalet

2.4 Modern history

2.4.1 Italian Eritrea 2.4.2 British administration 2.4.3 Federation
Federation
with Ethiopia 2.4.4 Independence

3 Geography

3.1 Location and habitat 3.2 Wildlife

4 Climate 5 Government and politics

5.1 National elections 5.2 Military 5.3 Legal profession

6 Foreign relations

6.1 General 6.2 Relations with Ethiopia

7 Administrative divisions 8 Largest cities 9 Transportation 10 Economy 11 Demographics

11.1 Ethnic composition 11.2 Languages 11.3 Religion

12 Human
Human
rights

12.1 Media freedom

13 Health care 14 Education 15 Culture

15.1 Cuisine 15.2 Music 15.3 Sport

16 See also 17 References 18 Further reading 19 External links

Name During the Middle Ages, the Eritrea
Eritrea
region was known as Medri Bahri ("sea-land"). The name Eritrea
Eritrea
is derived from the ancient Greek name for the Red Sea
Red Sea
(ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα erythra thalassa, based on the adjective ἐρυθρός erythros "red"). It was first formally adopted in 1890, with the formation of Italian Eritrea (Colonia Eritrea).[20] The territory became the Eritrea
Eritrea
Governorate within Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa
in 1936. After the defeat of the Italian colonial army In Eritrea
Eritrea
in 1942 by the British Army, Eritrea
Eritrea
was under the protectorate of the British Military Administration while the fate of the former colonies of Italy
Italy
was being debated at the UN. In 1952 the UN adopted that Eritrea
Eritrea
would be self-governing for domestic affairs through an elected Eritrean Parliament while trade, foreign affairs and defense would be handled in a federal status with the Government of Ethiopia. But in 1962, after a series of political machinations, the government of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
annulled the Eritrean Parliament and annexed Eritrea
Eritrea
as one of the provinces of Eritrea. But the Eritrean people
Eritrean people
that had fought for independence since the defeat of the Italian colonial army was removed never doubted what the designs of the Ethiopian government were. Therefore, in 1960 they formed the Eritrean Liberation Front. And after 30 years of armed struggle, Eritrea
Eritrea
gained its de facto independence in 1991. And following the 1993 referendum, and the name of the new state was defined as State of Eritrea
Eritrea
in the 1997 constitution.[21] History Main article: History of Eritrea Prehistory

You may need rendering support to display the Ethiopic text in this article correctly.

At Buya in Eritrea, one of the oldest hominids representing a possible link between Homo erectus
Homo erectus
and an archaic Homo sapiens was found by Italian scientists. Dated to over 1 million years old, it is the oldest skeletal find of its kind and provides a link between hominids and the earliest anatomically modern humans.[22] It is believed that the section of the Danakil Depression
Danakil Depression
in Eritrea
Eritrea
was also a major player in terms of human evolution, and may contain other traces of evolution from Homo erectus
Homo erectus
hominids to anatomically modern humans.[23]

Neolithic
Neolithic
rock art in a Qohaito
Qohaito
canyon cave.

During the last interglacial period, the Red Sea
Red Sea
coast of Eritrea
Eritrea
was occupied by early anatomically modern humans.[24] It is believed that the area was on the route out of Africa
Africa
that some scholars suggest was used by early humans to colonize the rest of the Old World.[24] In 1999, the Eritrean Research Project Team composed of Eritrean, Canadian, American, Dutch and French scientists discovered a Paleolithic
Paleolithic
site with stone and obsidian tools dated to over 125,000 years old near the Bay of Zula south of Massawa, along the Red Sea littoral. The tools are believed to have been used by early humans to harvest marine resources like clams and oysters.[25] According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations arrived in the region during the ensuing Neolithic
Neolithic
era from the family's proposed urheimat ("original homeland") in the Nile Valley.[26][27] Other scholars propose that the Afroasiatic family developed in situ in the Horn, with its speakers subsequently dispersing from there.[28] Antiquity Punt Main article: Land of Punt

Queen Ati, wife of King Perahu of Punt, as depicted on Pharaoh Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el-Bahri.

Together with Djibouti, Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and the Red Sea coast of Sudan,[29] Eritrea
Eritrea
is considered the most likely location of the land which the ancient Egyptians called Punt, first mentioned in the 25th century BC.[30] The ancient Puntites had close relations with Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
during the rule of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Sahure
Sahure
and Queen Hatshepsut. This is confirmed by genetic studies of mummified baboons. In 2010, a study was conducted on baboon mummies that were brought from Punt to Egypt
Egypt
as gifts by the ancient Egyptians. The scientists from the Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum
and the University of California
University of California
used oxygen isotope analysis to examine hairs from two baboon mummies that had been preserved in the British Museum. One of the baboons had distorted isotopic data, so the other's oxygen isotope values were compared to those of present-day baboon specimens from regions of interest. The researchers initially found that the mummies most closely matched modern baboon specimens in Eritrea
Eritrea
and Ethiopia, which suggested that Punt was likely a narrow region that included eastern Ethiopia
Ethiopia
and all of Eritrea.[31] In 2015, isotopic analysis of other ancient baboon mummies from Punt confirmed that the specimens likely originated from an area encompassing the Eritrea- Ethiopia
Ethiopia
corridor and eastern Somalia.[32] Ona Culture Excavations at Sembel
Sembel
found evidence of an ancient pre-Aksumite civilization in greater Asmara. This Ona urban culture is believed to have been among the earliest pastoral and agricultural communities in the Horn region. Artifacts at the site have been dated to between 800 BC and 400 BC, contemporaneous with other pre-Aksumite settlements in the Eritrean and Ethiopian highlands during the mid-first millennium BC.[33] Additionally, the Ona culture may have had connections with the ancient Land of Punt. In a tomb in Thebes (Luxor) dated to the 18th dynasty reign of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Amenophis II (Amenhotep II), long-necked pots similar to those that were made by the Ona people are depicted as part of the cargo in a ship from Punt.[34] Gash Group

Pre-Axumite monolithic columns in Qohaito.

Excavations in and near Agordat
Agordat
in central Eritrea
Eritrea
yielded the remains of an ancient pre-Aksumite civilization known as the Gash Group.[35] Ceramics were discovered that were related to those of the C-Group (Temehu) pastoral culture, which inhabited the Nile Valley
Nile Valley
between 2500–1500 BC.[36] Some sources dating back to 3500 BC.[37] Shards akin to those of the Kerma culture, another community that flourished in the Nile Valley
Nile Valley
around the same period, were also found at other local archaeological sites in the Barka valley belonging to the Gash Group.[35] According to Peter Behrens (1981) and Marianne Bechaus-Gerst (2000), linguistic evidence indicates that the C-Group and Kerma peoples spoke Afroasiatic languages
Afroasiatic languages
of the Berber and Cushitic branches, respectively.[38][39] Kingdom of D'mt Main article: Dʿmt

Bronze oil lamp excavated at Matara, dating from the Kingdom of Dʿmt (1st century BCE or earlier).

Dʿmt
Dʿmt
was a kingdom that encompassed most of Eritrea
Eritrea
and the northern frontier of Ethiopia. The polity existed during the 10th to 5th centuries BC. Given the presence of a massive temple complex at Yeha, this area was most likely the kingdom's capital. Qohaito, often identified as the town of Koloe in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea,[40] as well as Matara were important ancient Dʿmt
Dʿmt
kingdom cities in southern Eritrea. The realm developed irrigation schemes, used plows, grew millet, and made iron tools and weapons. After the fall of Dʿmt
Dʿmt
in the 5th century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms. This lasted until the rise of one of these polities during the first century, the Kingdom of Aksum, which was able to reunite the area.[41] Kingdom of Aksum Main article: Kingdom of Aksum

The Kingdom of Aksum's realm

The Kingdom of Aksum
Kingdom of Aksum
was a trading empire centered in Eritrea
Eritrea
and northern Ethiopia.[42] It existed from approximately 100–940 AD, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron
Iron
Age period around the 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD. According to the medieval Liber Axumae (Book of Aksum), Aksum's first capital, Mazaber, was built by Itiyopis, son of Cush.[43] The capital was later moved to Aksum in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name "Ethiopia" as early as the 4th century.[12][13] The Aksumites erected a number of large stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre- Christian
Christian
times. One of these granite columns, the Obelisk of Aksum, is the largest such structure in the world, standing at 90 feet.[44] Under Ezana (fl. 320–360), Aksum later adopted Christianity.[45] In the 7th century, early Muslims from Mecca
Mecca
also sought refuge from Quraysh persecution by travelling to the kingdom, a journey known in Islamic history
Islamic history
as the First Hijra. It is also the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba.[46] The kingdom is mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Erythraean Sea
as an important market place for ivory, which was exported throughout the ancient world. Aksum was at the time ruled by Zoskales, who also governed the port of Adulis.[47] The Aksumite rulers facilitated trade by minting their own Aksumite currency. The state also established its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
and regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian peninsula, eventually extending its rule over the region with the conquest of the Himyarite Kingdom. Middle Ages Medri Bahri Main article: Medri Bahri

The Northern Red Sea
Red Sea
Region, part of the Hamasien province of the medieval Medri Bahri
Medri Bahri
kingdom.

After the decline of Aksum, the Eritrean highlands were under the domain of Bahr Negash
Bahr Negash
ruled by the Bahr Negus. The area was then known as Ma'ikele Bahr ("between the seas/rivers," i.e. the land between the Red Sea
Red Sea
and the Mereb river).[48] It was later renamed under Emperor Zara Yaqob as the domain of the Bahr Negash, the Medri Bahri
Medri Bahri
("Sea land" in Tingrinya, although it included some areas like Shire on the other side of the Mereb, today in Ethiopia).[49] With its capital at Debarwa,[50] the state's main provinces were Hamasien, Serae and Akele Guzai. Turks briefly occupied the highland parts of Baharnagash in 1559 and withdrew after they encountered resistance and were pushed back by the Bahrnegash and highland forces. In 1578 they tried to expand into the highlands with the help of Bahr Negash
Bahr Negash
Yisehaq who had switched alliances due to power struggle, and by 1589 once again they were apparently compelled to withdraw their forces to the coast. After that Ottomans abandoned their ambitions to establish themselves on the highlands and remained in the lowlands until they left the region by 1872.[51][52] The Scottish traveler James Bruce reported in 1770 that Medri Bahri was a distinct political entity from Abyssinia, noting that the two territories were frequently in conflict. The Bahre-Nagassi ("Kings of the Sea") alternately fought with or against the Abyssinians and the neighbouring Muslim
Muslim
Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
depending on the geopolitical circumstances. Medri Bahri
Medri Bahri
was thus part of the Christian
Christian
resistance against Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi
Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi
of Adal's forces, but later joined the Adalite states and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
front against Abyssinia in 1572. That 16th century also marked the arrival of the Ottomans, who began making inroads in the Red Sea
Red Sea
area.[53] James Bruce in his book published in 1805 reported Hadawi, the seat of Baharanagash, was part of the Tigré province of Abyssinia which was ruled by Ras Mikael Sehul
Mikael Sehul
at the time of his travel. The officer in Hadawi watched over the Naybe of Masawa (province of Turk's Habesh Eyalet), and starved him into obedience by intercepting his provisions, whenever the officer in Hadawi and the governor of Tigré found it necessary. Bruce also located Tigré between Red Sea
Red Sea
and the river Tekezé and stated many large governments, such as Enderta and Antalow, and the great part of Baharhagash were on the eastern side of Tigré province.[54][55][56] Aussa Sultanate Main article: Sultanate of Aussa

Flag of the Aussa Sultanate

At the end of the 16th century, the Aussa Sultanate
Aussa Sultanate
was established in the Denkel lowlands of Eritrea.[57] The polity had come into existence in 1577, when Muhammed Jasa moved his capital from Harar
Harar
to Aussa (Asaita) with the split of the Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
into Aussa and the Sultanate of Harar. At some point after 1672, Aussa declined in conjunction with Imam Umar Din bin Adam's recorded ascension to the throne.[58] In 1734, the Afar leader Kedafu, head of the Mudaito clan, seized power and established the Mudaito Dynasty.[59][60] This marked the start of a new and more sophisticated polity that would last into the colonial period.[60] Habesh Eyalet Main article: Habesh Eyalet

The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
in 1566, at its greatest extent in Eritrea.

By 1517, the Ottomans had succeeded in conquering Medri Bahri. They occupied all of northeastern present-day Eritrea
Eritrea
for the next two decades, an area which stretched from Massawa
Massawa
to Swakin in Sudan.[53] The territory became an Ottoman governorate (eyalet) known as the Habesh Eyalet. Massawa
Massawa
served as the new province's first capital. When the city became of secondary economical importance, the administrative capital was soon moved across the Red Sea
Red Sea
to Jeddah. Its headquarters remained there from the end of the 16th century to the early 19th century, with Medina temporarily serving as the capital in the 18th century.[61] The Ottomans were eventually driven out in the last quarter of the 16th century. However, they retained control over the seaboard until the establishment of Italian Eritrea
Italian Eritrea
in the late 1800s.[53] Modern history Italian Eritrea Main article: Italian Eritrea

Map of Eritrea
Eritrea
in 1896.

The boundaries of the present-day Eritrea
Eritrea
nation state were established during the Scramble for Africa. In 1869[62] or ’70, the ruling Sultan of Raheita
Raheita
sold lands surrounding the Bay of Assab
Assab
to the Rubattino Shipping Company.[63] The area served as a coaling station along the shipping lanes introduced by the recently completed Suez Canal. It had long been part of the Ottoman Habesh Eyalet centered in Egypt.[64] The first Italian settlers arrived in 1880.[63] In the vacuum that followed the 1889 death of Emperor Yohannes IV, Gen.  Oreste Baratieri
Oreste Baratieri
occupied the highlands along the Eritrean coast and Italy
Italy
proclaimed the establishment of the new colony of Italian Eritrea, a colony of the Kingdom of Italy. In the Treaty of Wuchale (It. Uccialli) signed the same year, King Menelik of Shewa, a southern Ethiopian kingdom, recognized the Italian occupation of his rivals' lands of Bogos, Hamasien, Akkele Guzay, and Serae in exchange for guarantees of financial assistance and continuing access to European arms and ammunition. His subsequent victory over his rival kings and enthronement as Emperor Menelek II (r. 1889–1913) made the treaty formally binding upon the entire territory.[65]

Coat of Arms of Italian Eritrea.

In 1888, the Italian administration launched its first development projects in the new colony. The Eritrean Railway
Eritrean Railway
was completed to Saati in 1888,[66] and reached Asmara
Asmara
in the highlands in 1911.[67] The Asmara– Massawa
Massawa
Cableway was the longest line in the world during its time, but was later dismantled by the British in World War II. Besides major infrastructural projects, the colonial authorities invested significantly in the agricultural sector. It also oversaw the provision of urban amenities in Asmara
Asmara
and Massawa, and employed many Eritreans in public service, particularly in the police and public works departments.[67] Thousands of Eritreans were concurrently enlisted in the army, serving during the Italo-Turkish War
Italo-Turkish War
in Libya
Libya
as well as the First and Second Italo-Abyssinian Wars.

An Asmara
Asmara
station on the Eritrean Railway
Eritrean Railway
(1938).

Additionally, the Italian Eritrea
Italian Eritrea
administration opened a number of new factories, which produced buttons, cooking oil, pasta, construction materials, packing meat, tobacco, hide and other household commodities. In 1939, there were around 2,198 factories and most of the employees were Eritrean citizens. The establishment of industries also made an increase in the number of both Italians and Eritreans residing in the cities. The number of Italians residing in the territory increased from 4,600 to 75,000 in five years; and with the involvement of Eritreans in the industries, trade and fruit plantation was expanded across the nation, while some of the plantations were owned by Eritreans.[68] In 1922, Benito Mussolini's rise to power in Italy
Italy
brought profound changes to the colonial government in Italian Eritrea. After il Duce declared the birth of the Italian Empire
Italian Empire
in May 1936, Italian Eritrea (enlarged with northern Ethiopia's regions) and Italian Somaliland were merged with the just conquered Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in the new Italian East Africa
Africa
( Africa
Africa
Orientale Italiana) administrative territory. This Fascist period was characterized by imperial expansion in the name of a "new Roman Empire". Eritrea
Eritrea
was chosen by the Italian government to be the industrial center of Italian East Africa.[69] British administration Through the 1941 Battle of Keren, the British expelled the Italians,[70] and took over the administration of the country. The British placed Eritrea
Eritrea
under British military administration until Allied forces could determine its fate. In the absence of agreement amongst the Allies concerning the status of Eritrea, British administration continued for the remainder of World War II
World War II
and until 1950. During the immediate postwar years, the British proposed that Eritrea
Eritrea
be divided along religious lines and annexed to Sudan
Sudan
and Ethiopia.[citation needed] The Soviet Union, anticipating a communist victory in the Italian polls, initially supported returning Eritrea
Eritrea
to Italy
Italy
under trusteeship or as a colony. Federation
Federation
with Ethiopia

Flag of Eritrea
Flag of Eritrea
(1952–1961)

In the 1950s, the Ethiopian feudal administration under Emperor Haile Selassie sought to annex Eritrea
Eritrea
and Italian Somaliland. He laid claim to both territories in a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Paris Peace Conference and at the First Session of the United Nations.[71] In the United Nations, the debate over the fate of the former Italian colonies continued. The British and Americans preferred to cede all of Eritrea
Eritrea
except the Western province to the Ethiopians as a reward for their support during World War II.[72] The Independence
Independence
Bloc of Eritrean parties consistently requested from the UN General Assembly that a referendum be held immediately to settle the Eritrean question of sovereignty. Following the adoption of UN Resolution 390A(V) in December 1950, Eritrea
Eritrea
was federated with Ethiopia
Ethiopia
under the prompting of the United States.[73] The resolution called for Eritrea
Eritrea
and Ethiopia
Ethiopia
to be linked through a loose federal structure under the sovereignty of the Emperor. Eritrea
Eritrea
was to have its own administrative and judicial structure, its own flag, and control over its domestic affairs, including police, local administration, and taxation.[71] The federal government, which for all practical purposes was the existing imperial government, was to control foreign affairs (including commerce), defense, finance, and transportation. The resolution ignored the wishes of Eritreans for independence, but guaranteed the population democratic rights and a measure of autonomy. Independence Main article: Eritrean War of Independence

The wreath with the upright olive-branch symbol derived from the 1952 flag, which had a light blue background to honour the United Nations. The green color in the flag stands for the agriculture and livestock of the country, the blue stands for the sea, and the red for the blood shed in the fight for freedom.

In 1958, a group of Eritreans founded the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM). The organization mainly consisted of Eritrean students, professionals and intellectuals. It engaged in clandestine political activities intended to cultivate resistance to the centralizing policies of the imperial Ethiopian state.[74] On 1 September 1961, the Eritrean Liberation Front
Eritrean Liberation Front
(ELF), under the leadership of Hamid Idris Awate, waged an armed struggle for independence. In 1962, Emperor Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie
unilaterally dissolved the Eritrean parliament and annexed the territory. The ensuing Eritrean War for Independence
Eritrean War for Independence
went on for 30 years against successive Ethiopian governments until 1991, when the Eritrean People's Liberation Front
Eritrean People's Liberation Front
(EPLF), a successor of the ELF, defeated the Ethiopian forces in Eritrea
Eritrea
and helped a coalition of Ethiopian rebel forces take control of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Following a UN-supervised referendum in Eritrea
Eritrea
(dubbed UNOVER) in which the Eritrean people
Eritrean people
overwhelmingly voted for independence, Eritrea
Eritrea
declared its independence and gained international recognition in 1993.[75] The EPLF seized power, established a one-party state along nationalist lines and banned further political activity. There have been no elections since. Geography Main article: Geography of Eritrea Location and habitat

Map of Eritrea

Eritrea
Eritrea
is located in the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
in East Africa. It is bordered to the northeast and east by the Red Sea, Sudan
Sudan
to the west, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
to the south, and Djibouti
Djibouti
to the southeast. Eritrea
Eritrea
lies between latitudes 12° and 18°N, and longitudes 36° and 44°E. The country is virtually bisected by a branch of the East African Rift. It has 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
and its fishing grounds are situated off the sandy and arid coastline.

The Dahlak Archipelago.

Eritrea
Eritrea
can be split into three ecoregions. To the east of the highlands are the hot, arid coastal plains stretching down to the southeast of the country. The cooler, more fertile highlands, reaching up to 3000m has a different habitat. Habitats here vary from the sub-tropical rainforest at Filfil Solomona to the precipitous cliffs and canyons of the southern highlands.[76] The Afar Triangle
Afar Triangle
or Danakil Depression
Danakil Depression
of Eritrea
Eritrea
is the probable location of a triple junction where three tectonic plates are pulling away from one another. The highest point of the country, Emba Soira, is located in the center of Eritrea, at 3,018 meters (9,902 ft) above sea level. The main cities of the country are the capital city of Asmara
Asmara
and the port town of Asseb
Asseb
in the southeast, as well as the towns of Massawa to the east, the northern town of Keren, and the central town Mendefera. Eritrea
Eritrea
is part of a 14 nation constituency within the Global Environment Facility, which partners with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.[77] Local variability in rainfall patterns and/or reduced precipitation is known to occur, which may precipitate soil erosion, floods, droughts, land degradation and desertification.[78] In 2006, Eritrea
Eritrea
also announced that it would become the first country in the world to turn its entire coast into an environmentally protected zone. The 1,347 km (837 mi) coastline, along with another 1,946 km (1,209 mi) of coast around its more than 350 islands, will come under governmental protection.

Highlands between Asmara
Asmara
and Massawa

Wildlife Main article: Wildlife of Eritrea See also: List of mammals in Eritrea
List of mammals in Eritrea
and List of birds of Eritrea

Pelicans
Pelicans
in a pond near Asmara

Eritrea
Eritrea
has several species of mammals and a rich avifauna of 560 species of birds.[79] Eritrea
Eritrea
is home to an abundant amount of big game species. Enforced regulations have helped in steadily increasing their numbers throughout Eritrea.[80] Mammals commonly seen today include the Abyssinian hare, African wild cat, Black-backed jackal, African golden wolf, Genet, Ground squirrel, pale fox, Soemmerring's gazelle, warthog. Dorcas gazelle
Dorcas gazelle
are common on the coastal plains and in Gash-Barka.

A Precis pelarga
Precis pelarga
butterfly species from Eritrea.

Lions
Lions
are said to inhabit the mountains of the Gash-Barka Region. There is also a small population of African bush elephants that roam in some parts of the country. Dik-diks
Dik-diks
can also be found in many areas. The endangered African wild ass
African wild ass
can be seen in Denakalia Region. Other local wildlife include bushbuck, duikers, greater kudu, Klipspringer, African leopards, oryx and crocodiles.,[81][82] The spotted hyena is widespread and fairly common. 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 baboons, with the baboons using the water holes dug by the elephants, while the elephants use the tree-top baboons as an early warning system.

Eritrean landscape near road to Massawa

It is estimated that there are around 100 African bush elephant
African bush elephant
left in Eritrea, the most northerly of East Africa's elephants.[83] The endangered African wild dog
African wild dog
(Lycaon pictus) was previously found in Eritrea, but is now deemed extirpated from the entire country.[84] In Gash-Barka, deadly snakes like saw-scaled viper are common. Puff adder and red spitting cobra are widespread and can be found even in the highlands. In the coastal areas marine species that are common include dolphin, dugong, whale shark, turtles, marlin, swordfish, and manta ray.[82] Climate The climate of Eritrea
Eritrea
is shaped by its diverse topographical features and its location within the tropics. The diversity in landscape and topography in the highlands and lowlands of Eritrea
Eritrea
result in the diversity of climate across the country. The highlands have temperate climate throughout out the year. The climate of most lowland zones is arid and semiarid. The distribution of rainfall and vegetation types varies markedly throughout the country. Eritrean climate varies on the basis of seasonal and altitudinal differences. Based on variations in temperature, Eritrea
Eritrea
can be broadly divided into three major climate zones: the temperate zone, subtropical climate zone, and tropical climate zone.[85]

Climate data for Eritrea
Eritrea
in general, based on 14 cities

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 27.3 (81.1) 28.3 (82.9) 29.8 (85.6) 32.3 (90.1) 33.3 (91.9) 33 (91) 32 (90) 31.5 (88.7) 32.3 (90.1) 31.8 (89.2) 30 (86) 28.3 (82.9) 31 (88)

Daily mean °C (°F) 20 (68) 20.8 (69.4) 22.5 (72.5) 24.3 (75.7) 25.6 (78.1) 26 (79) 25.1 (77.2) 24.7 (76.5) 24.4 (75.9) 23.8 (74.8) 22.1 (71.8) 20.5 (68.9) 23.3 (73.9)

Average low °C (°F) 17.8 (64) 17.3 (63.1) 18.3 (64.9) 21 (70) 23.3 (73.9) 24.4 (75.9) 24.4 (75.9) 24.5 (76.1) 23.3 (73.9) 22.3 (72.1) 20 (68) 18.3 (64.9) 20.8 (69.4)

Average precipitation mm (inches) 6.7 (0.264) 6.9 (0.272) 9 (0.35) 14.8 (0.583) 20.3 (0.799) 26.5 (1.043) 100 (3.94) 99.7 (3.925) 25.4 (1) 8.6 (0.339) 11.9 (0.469) 9.4 (0.37) 347 (13.66)

Source: weatherbase[86]

Government and politics Main article: Politics of Eritrea

The National Assembly of Eritrea.

The People's Front for Democracy and Justice
People's Front for Democracy and Justice
(PFDJ) is the ruling party in Eritrea.[87] 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.[11] The president, Isaias Afwerki, has been in office since independence in 1993. National elections Eritrean National elections were set for 2001 but it 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 2010 and 2011. On further elections, the President's Chief of Staff, Yemane Gebremeskel said,[88]

“ The electoral commission is handling these elections this time round so that may be the new element in this process. The national assembly has also mandated the electoral commission to set the date for national elections, so whenever the electoral commission sets the date there will be national elections. It's not dependent on regional elections. ”

As yet, no national elections have been held since independence.[11] Military The Eritrean Defence Forces
Eritrean Defence Forces
are now the official armed forces of the State of Eritrea. Eritrea's military is one of the largest in Africa. Compulsory military service was instituted in 1995. Officially, conscripts, male and female, must serve for 18 months (although a human rights inquiry stated that it lasts for decades, and sometimes life[89]), which includes 6 months of military training and 12 months doing "national reconstruction". Thus around 5% of Eritreans live in barracks in the desert doing projects such as road building as part of their service. After regular service, reservists with skills, such as teachers, may be forced to work as professionals anywhere. The National Service Proclamation of 1995 does not recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service. According to the 1957 Ethiopian penal code adopted by Eritrea
Eritrea
during independence, failure to enlist in the military or refusal to perform military service are punishable with imprisonment terms of six months to five years and up to ten years, respectively.[90] National service enlistment times may be extended during times of "national crisis"; since 1998, everyone under the age of 50 is enlisted in national service for an indefinite period until released, which may depend on the arbitrary decision of a commander. In a study of 200 escaped conscripts, the average service was 6.5 years, and some had served more than 12 years.[18] Legal profession According to the NYU School of Law, the Legal Committee of the Ministry of Justice oversees the admission and requirements to practice law in Eritrea. Although the establishment of an independent bar association is not proscribed under Proclamation 88/96, among other domestic laws, there is no bar association. The community electorate in the local jurisdiction of the Community Court chooses the Court's judges. The Community Court's standing on women in the legal profession is unclear, but elected women judges have reserved seat.[91] Foreign relations General Main article: Foreign relations of Eritrea

President Isaias Afewerki
Isaias Afewerki
with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, December 2002

British Conservative politician Henry Bellingham meeting Eritrean foreign minister Osman Saleh Mohammed, London, 2012

Eritrea
Eritrea
is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and is an observing member of the Arab League
Arab League
alongside Brazil, Venezuela, India
India
and Turkey.[19] The nation holds a seat on the United Nations' Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). Eritrea
Eritrea
also holds memberships in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, International Criminal Police Organization
International Criminal Police Organization
(INTERPOL), Non-Aligned Movement, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa, and the World Customs Organization. The Eritrean government previously withdrew its representative to the African Union
African Union
to protest the AU's alleged lack of leadership in facilitating the implementation of a binding border decision demarcating the border between Eritrea
Eritrea
and Ethiopia. The Eritrean government has since January 2011 appointed an envoy, Tesfa-Alem Tekle, to the AU.[92] Eritrea
Eritrea
maintains diplomatic ties with a number of other countries, including China, Denmark, Djibouti, Israel, the United States and Yemen. There are approximately 60,000 African refugees in Israel, mostly from Sudan
Sudan
and Eritrea.[93] Its relations with Djibouti
Djibouti
and Yemen
Yemen
are tense due to territorial disputes over the Doumeira Islands and Hanish Islands, respectively. Relations with Ethiopia See also: Eritrean–Ethiopian War Further information: Eritrean War of Independence
Eritrean War of Independence
and Eritrean independence referendum, 1993 The undemarcated border with Ethiopia
Ethiopia
is the primary external issue currently facing Eritrea. Eritrea's relations with Ethiopia
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 lives from both sides.[94] The border conflict cost hundreds of millions of dollars.[95] Disagreements following the war have resulted in stalemate punctuated by periods of elevated tension and renewed threats of war.[96][97][98] The stalemate led the President of Eritrea
Eritrea
to urge the UN to take action on Ethiopia
Ethiopia
with the Eleven Letters penned by the President to the United Nations
United Nations
Security Council. The situation has been further escalated by the continued efforts of the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders in supporting opposition in one another's countries.[citation needed] In 2011, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
accused Eritrea
Eritrea
of planting bombs at an African Union
African Union
summit in Addis Ababa, which was later supported by a UN report. Eritrea
Eritrea
denied the claims.[99] Administrative divisions Main articles: Regions of Eritrea
Regions of Eritrea
and Districts of Eritrea

Administrative regions of Eritrea

Eritrea
Eritrea
is divided into 6 administrative regions. These areas are further divided into 58 districts.

Central Anseba Gash-Barka Southern Northern Red Sea Southern Red Sea

The regions of Eritrea
Eritrea
are the primary geographical divisions through which the country is administered. Six in total, they include the Maekel/Central, Anseba, Gash-Barka, Debub/Southern, Northern Red Sea and Southern Red Sea
Red Sea
regions. At the time of independence in 1993, Eritrea
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). The boundaries of these new regions are based on catchment basins.

Largest cities

 

v t e

Largest cities or towns in Eritrea Geonames

Rank Name Region Pop.

Asmara

Keren 1 Asmara Maekel 650,000

Massawa

2 Keren Anseba 82,198

3 Massawa Northern Red Sea 53,090

4 Assab Southern Red Sea 28,000

5 Mendefera Debub 25,332

6 Barentu Gash-Barka 15,891

7 Adi Keyh Debub 13,061

8 Edd Southern Red Sea 11,259

9 Dekemhare Debub 10,959

10 Ak'ordat Gash-Barka 8,857

Transportation Main article: Transport in Eritrea

Eritrea
Eritrea
mountain road

Transport in Eritrea
Transport in Eritrea
includes highways, airports and seaports, in addition to various forms of public and private vehicular, maritime and aerial transportation As of 1999, there was a total of 317 kilometres of 950 mm (3 ft 1 3⁄8 in) (narrow gauge) rail line in Eritrea. The railway links Agordat
Agordat
and Asmara
Asmara
with the port of Massawa; however, it had been inoperative since 1978 except for about a 5 kilometre stretch that was reopened in Massawa
Massawa
in 1994. Rehabilitation of the remainder and of the rolling stock has occurred in recent years. By 2003, the line had been restored from Massawa
Massawa
all the way through to Asmara. The Eritrean highway system is named according to the road classification. The three levels of classification are: primary (P), secondary (S), and tertiary (T). The lowest level road is tertiary and serves local interests. Typically they are improved earth roads which are occasionally paved. During the wet seasons these roads typically become impassable. The next higher level road is a secondary road and typically is a single-layered asphalt road that connects district capitals together and those to the regional capitals. Roads that are considered primary roads are those that are fully asphalted (throughout their entire length) and in general they carry traffic between all the major cities and towns in Eritrea.

Economy Main article: Economy of Eritrea

Eritrea's main exports, 2013.

The economy of Eritrea
Eritrea
has experienced considerable growth in recent years, indicated by an improvement in gross domestic product (GDP) in October 2012 of 7.5% over 2011.[100] A big reason for the recent growth of the Eritrean economy is the commencement of full operations in the gold and silver Bisha mine and the production of cement from the cement factory in Massawa.[101]

An Eritrean Airlines
Eritrean Airlines
Boeing 767-366/ER aircraft. The national carrier is based in Asmara.

The real GDP (2009 est.): $4.4 billion, and the annual growth rate (2011 est.):14%.[102][103] Worker remittances from abroad are estimated to account for 32% of gross domestic product.[9] Eritrea
Eritrea
has an extensive amount of resources such as copper, gold, granite, marble, and potash. The Eritrean economy has undergone extreme changes due to the War of Independence. In 2011, Eritrea's GDP grew by 8.7% making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.[104]

The Massawa- Asmara
Asmara
Highway, built as part of the Wefri Warsay Yika'alo program.

80% of the Eritrean workforce are employed in agriculture.[105] Eritrea's main agricultural products include sorghum, millet, barley, wheat, legumes, vegetables, fruits, sesame, linseed, cattle, sheep, goats and camels.[106] The Eritrean–Ethiopian War
Eritrean–Ethiopian War
severely hurt Eritrea's economy. GDP 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 and 55,000 homes. Even during the war, Eritrea
Eritrea
developed its transportation infrastructure by asphalting new roads, improving its ports, and repairing war-damaged roads and bridges as a part of the Wefri Warsay Yika'alo program. The most significant of these projects was the construction of a coastal highway of more than 500 km connecting Massawa
Massawa
with Asseb, as well as the rehabilitation of the Eritrean Railway. The rail line has been restored between the port of Massawa and the capital Asmara, although services are sporadic. Steam locomotives are sometimes used for groups of enthusiasts. In theory, Eritrea
Eritrea
has a national carrier, Eritrean Airlines, but services are intermittent.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of Eritrea

Tigrinya women performing a traditional dance.

Eritrea's population increased from 3.2 million to 5 million between 1990 and 2016.[6] The average number of children born to Eritrean mothers is 4.7.[107] Ethnic composition There are nine recognized ethnic groups according to the government of Eritrea.[11][108] Eritrean society is ethnically heterogeneous. An independent census has yet to be conducted, but the Tigrinya people make up about 55% and Tigre people make up about 30% of the population. A majority of these ethnic groups belong to Afroasiatic-speaking communities of the Cushitic branch, such as the Saho, Hedareb, Afar and Bilen. There are also a number of Nilotic ethnic minorities, who are represented in Eritrea
Eritrea
by the Kunama and Nara. Each ethnicity speaks a different native tongue but, typically, many of the minorities speak more than one language. The Rashaida represent about 2% of Eritrea's population.[5] They reside in the northern coastal lowlands of Eritrea
Eritrea
as well as the eastern coasts of Sudan. The Rashaida first came to Eritrea
Eritrea
in the 19th century from the Hejaz
Hejaz
region.[109] In addition, there exist Italian Eritrean (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. Eritrea
Eritrea
had about 760,000 inhabitants, including 70,000 Italians, in 1941.[110] Most Italians left after Eritrea
Eritrea
became independent from Italy. Languages Main article: Languages of Eritrea

Saho women in traditional attire.

Eritrea
Eritrea
is a multilingual country. The nation has no official language, as the Constitution establishes the "equality of all Eritrean languages".[111] Tigrinya serves as the de facto language of national identity. With 2,540,000 total speakers of a population of 5,254,000 in 2006, it is the most widely spoken language, particularly in the southern and central parts of Eritrea. Other major national languages include Afar, Arabic, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Nara, Saho and Tigre. Tigrinya alongside Modern Standard Arabic
Arabic
and English serve as de facto working languages, with the latter used in university education and many technical fields. Italian, the former colonial language, is spoken by a few monolinguals and is still taught in primary and secondary schools.[3] Most of the languages spoken in Eritrea
Eritrea
belong to the Ethiopian Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic family.[112] Other Afroasiatic languages belonging to the Cushitic branch are also widely spoken in the country.[112] The latter include Afar, Beja, Blin, and Saho. Smaller groups also speak other Afroasiatic languages, such as the newly recognized Dahlik and Arabic
Arabic
(the Hejazi and Hadhrami dialects spoken by the Rashaida and Hadhrami, respectively). In addition, Nilo-Saharan languages
Nilo-Saharan languages
(Kunama and Nara) are spoken as a native language by the Nilotic
Nilotic
Kunama and Nara ethnic minority groups that live in the northern and northwestern part of the country.[112] Religion Main article: Religion in Eritrea

Eritrea
Eritrea
religious groups

U.S Department of State 2011[113] Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
2010[114]

Religion

Percent

Christianity

50%

Islam

48%

Others

2%

Religion

Percent

Christianity

63%

Islam

36%

Others

1%

According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2010, 62.9% of the population of Eritrea
Eritrea
adheres to Christianity, 36.6% follows Islam, and 0.4% practices folk religion. The remainder observes Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism
Buddhism
and other faiths (<0.1% each), or are religiously unaffiliated (0.1%).[114] The U.S. Department of State estimates that, as of 2011, 50% of the population of Eritrea
Eritrea
adheres to Christianity, 48% follows Islam, and 2% observes other religions, including traditional faiths and animism.[113]

The 15th century Sheikh Hanafi Mosque in Massawa.

Since May 2002, the government of Eritrea
Eritrea
has officially recognized the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church (Oriental Orthodox), Sunni Islam, the Eritrean Catholic Church
Eritrean Catholic Church
(a Metropolitanate sui juris), and the Evangelical
Evangelical
Lutheran church. All other faiths and denominations are required to undergo a registration process.[115] Among other things, the government's registration system requires religious groups to submit personal information on their membership to be allowed to worship.[115]

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in the capital Asmara.

The Eritrean government is against what it deems as "reformed" or "radical" versions of its established religions. Therefore, alleged radical forms of Islam
Islam
and Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
(though the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
is neither Islamic nor Christian), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and numerous other non- Protestant
Protestant
Evangelical
Evangelical
denominations are not registered and cannot worship freely. Three named Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
are known to have been imprisoned since 1994 along with 51 others.[116][117][118] In its 2017 religious freedom report, the U.S. State Department named Eritrea
Eritrea
a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).[119] Human
Human
rights Main article: Human
Human
rights in Eritrea

Building of regional administration in Asmara.

Eritrea
Eritrea
is a one-party state in which national legislative elections have been repeatedly postponed.[15] According to Human
Human
Rights Watch, the government's human rights record is considered among the worst in the world.[16] Most Western countries have accused the Eritrean authorities of arbitrary arrest and detentions, and of detaining an unknown number of people without charge for their political activism. However, the Eritrean government has continually dismissed the accusations as politically motivated.[17] A prominent group of fifteen Eritreans, called the G-15, including three cabinet members, who were arrested in September 2001 after publishing an open letter to the government and President Isaias Afewerki calling for democratic dialogue. This group and thousands of others who were alleged to be affiliated with them are imprisoned without legal charges, hearing, trial and judgment.[120][121] Since Eritrea's conflict with Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in 1998–2001, the nation's human rights record has been criticized at the United Nations.[122] Human
Human
rights violations are allegedly often committed by the government or on behalf of the government. Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association are limited. Those who practice "unregistered" religions, try to flee the nation, or escape military duty are arrested and put into prison.[122] During the Eritrean independence struggle and 1998 Eritrean-Ethiopian War, many atrocities were also committed by the Ethiopian authorities against unarmed Eritrean civilians.[123][124] In June 2016, a 500-page United Nations
United Nations
Human
Human
Rights Council report accused Eritrea's government of extrajudicial executions, torture, indefinitely prolonged national service and forced labour, and indicated that sexual harassment, rape and sexual servitude by state officials are also widespread.[125][126] Barbara Lochbihler of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human
Human
Rights said the report detailed 'very serious human rights violations', and asserted that EU funding for development would not continue as at present without change in Eritrea.[127] The Eritrean Foreign Ministry responded by describing the Commission's report as "wild allegations" which were "totally unfounded and devoid of all merit".[128] Several countries also disputed the report's language and accuracy, including the US and China.[129] All Eritreans aged between 18 and 40 years must complete a mandatory national service, which includes military service. This requirement was implemented after Eritrea
Eritrea
gained independence from Ethiopia, as a means to protect Eritrea’s sovereignty, to instill national pride, and to create a disciplined populace.[18] Eritrea’s national service requires long, indefinite conscription, which some Eritreans leave the country in order to avoid.[18][130][131] In an attempt at reform, Eritrean government officials and NGO representatives in 2006 participated in many public meetings and dialogues. In these sessions they answered questions as fundamental as, "What are human rights?", "Who determines what are human rights?", and "What should take precedence, human or communal rights?"[132] In 2007, the Eritrean government also banned female genital mutilation.[133] In Regional Assemblies and religious circles, Eritreans themselves speak out continuously against the use of female circumcision. They cite health concerns and individual freedom as being of primary concern when they say this. Furthermore, they implore rural peoples to cast away this ancient cultural practice.[134][135] In 2009, a movement called Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea formed to create dialogue between the government and political opposition. The group consists of ordinary citizens and some people close to the government.[136] Media freedom In its 2017 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
ranked the media environment in Eritrea
Eritrea
at the bottom of a list of 180 countries.[137] According to the BBC, " Eritrea
Eritrea
is the only African country to have no privately owned news media",[138] 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."[139] The state-owned news agency censors news about external events.[140] Independent media have been banned since 2001.[140] The Eritrean authorities had reportedly imprisoned the fourth highest number journalists after Turkey, China
China
and Egypt.[141] Health care Main article: Health in Eritrea Eritrea
Eritrea
has achieved significant improvements in health care and is one of the few countries to be on target to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for health, in particular child health.[142] Life expectancy
Life expectancy
at birth increased from 39.1 in 1960 to 59.5 years in 2008; maternal and child mortality rates dropped dramatically and the health infrastructure expanded.[142] Due to Eritrea's relative isolation, information and resources are extremely limited and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2008 found average life expectancy to be slightly less than 63 years. Immunisation and child nutrition have 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 prevalence of underweight children decreased by 12% from 1995 to 2002 (severe underweight prevalence by 28%).[142] The National Malaria
Malaria
Protection Unit of the Ministry of Health registered reductions in malarial mortality by as much as 85% and in the number of cases by 92% between 1998 and 2006.[142] The Eritrean government has banned female genital mutilation (FGM), saying the practice was painful and put women at risk of life-threatening health problems.[143] However, Eritrea
Eritrea
still faces many challenges. Although the number of physicians increased from only 0.2 in 1993 to 0.5 in 2004 per 1000 people, this is still very low.[142] Malaria
Malaria
and tuberculosis are common.[144] HIV prevalence for ages 15 to 49 years exceeds 2%.[144] The fertility rate is about 5 births per woman.[144] Maternal mortality dropped by more than half from 1995 to 2002, but is still high.[142] Similarly, the number of births attended by skilled health personnel doubled from 1995 to 2002, but still is only 28.3%.[142] A major cause of death in newborns is severe infection.[144] Per-capita expenditure on health is low.[144] Education Main article: Education in Eritrea There are five levels of education in Eritrea: pre-primary, primary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary. There are nearly 238,000 students in the primary, middle, and secondary levels of education. There are approximately 824 schools,[145] two universities (the University of Asmara
Asmara
and the Eritrea
Eritrea
Institute of Technology) and several smaller colleges and technical schools. Education in Eritrea is officially compulsory for children aged 7 to 13 years . However, the education infrastructure is inadequate to meet current needs. Statistics vary at the elementary level, suggesting that 65% to 70% of school-aged children attend primary school; Approximately 61% attend secondary school. Student-teacher ratios are high: 45:1 at the elementary level and 54:1 at the secondary level. Class sizes average 63 and 97 students per classroom at the elementary and secondary school levels, respectively. Learning hours at school are often less than six hours per day. However, the literacy rate is high: for ages 18 to 24 years, it is 92.6% for men and 87.7% for women (2008–2012)[146] Overall literacy is 81%.[147] Barriers to education in Eritrea
Eritrea
include traditional taboos, school fees (for registration and materials), and the opportunity costs of low-income households.[148] Culture Main article: Culture of Eritrea

An Eritrean woman pouring traditionally brewed coffee from a jebena during a coffee ceremony.

One of the most recognizable parts of Eritrean culture is the coffee ceremony.[149] Coffee (Ge'ez ቡን būn) is offered when visiting friends, during festivities, or as a daily staple of life. During the coffee ceremony, there are traditions that are upheld. The coffee is served in three rounds: the first brew or round is called awel in Tigrinya (meaning "first"), the second round is called kalaay (meaning "second"), and the third round is called bereka (meaning "to be blessed"). Traditional Eritrean attire is quite varied among the ethnic groups of Eritrea. In the larger cities, most people dress in Western casual dress such as jeans and shirts. In offices, both men and women often dress in suits. A common traditional clothing for Christian Tigrinya-speaking highlanders consists of bright white gowns called zurias for the women, and a white shirts accompanied by white pants for the men. In Muslim
Muslim
communities in the Eritrean lowland, the women traditionally dress in brightly colored clothes. Besides convergent culinary tastes, Eritreans share an appreciation for similar music and lyrics, jewelry and fragrances, and tapestry and fabrics as many other populations in the Horn region.[150] Cuisine See also: Eritrean cuisine

Eritrean injera with various stews

A typical traditional Eritrean dish consists of injera accompanied by a spicy stew, which frequently includes beef, chicken, lamb or fish.[151] Overall, Eritrean cuisine
Eritrean cuisine
strongly resembles those of neighboring Ethiopia,[151][152] Eritrean cooking tend to feature more seafood than Ethiopian cuisine
Ethiopian cuisine
on account of their coastal location.[151] Eritrean dishes are also frequently "lighter" in texture than Ethiopian meals. They likewise tend to employ less seasoned butter and spices and more tomatoes, as in the tsebhi dorho delicacy. Additionally, owing to its colonial history, cuisine in Eritrea features more Italian influences than are present in Ethiopian cooking, including more pasta and greater use of curry powders and cumin.The Italian Eritrean cuisine
Eritrean cuisine
started to be practiced during the colonial times of the Kingdom of Italy, when a large number of Italians moved to Eritrea. They brought the use of "pasta" to Italian Eritrea, and it is one of the main food eaten in present-day Asmara. An Italian Eritrean cuisine
Eritrean cuisine
emerged, and dishes common dishes are ' Pasta
Pasta
al Sugo e Berbere', which means " Pasta
Pasta
with tomato sauce and berbere" (spice), but there are many more like "lasagna" and "cotoletta alla milanese" (milano cutlet).[153] Alongside sowa, people in Eritrea
Eritrea
also tend to drink coffee.[151] Mies is another popular local alcoholic beverage, made out of honey.[154] Music Main article: Music of Eritrea

Eritrean artist Helen Meles

Eritrea's ethnic groups each have their own styles of music and accompanying dances. Amongst the Tigrinya, the best known traditional musical genre is the guaila. Traditional instruments of Eritrean folk music include the stringed krar, kebero, begena, masenqo and the wata (a distant/rudimentary cousin of the violin). A popular Eritrean artist is the Tigrinya singer Helen Meles, who is noted for her powerful voice and wide singing range.[155] Other prominent local musicians include the Kunama singer Dehab Faytinga, Ruth Abraha, Bereket Mengisteab, the dead Yemane Baria, and the dead Abraham Afewerki. Sport See also: Sport in Eritrea

Cyclists competing in the Tour of Eritrea
Tour of Eritrea
in Asmara.

Football and cycling are the most popular sports in Eritrea. In recent years, Eritrean athletes have also seen increasing success in the international arena. Zersenay Tadese, an Eritrean athlete, currently holds the world record in half marathon distance running.[156] The Tour of Eritrea, a multi-stage international cycling event, is held annually throughout the country. The Eritrea
Eritrea
national cycling team has experienced a lot of success, winning the continental cycling championship several years in a row. Six Eritrean riders have been signed to international cycling teams, including Natnael Berhane
Natnael Berhane
and Daniel Teklehaimanot. Berhane was named African Sportsman of the Year in 2013, while Teklehaimanot became the first Eritrean to ride the Vuelta a España
Vuelta a España
in 2012.[157] In 2015, Teklehaimanot won the King of the Mountains classification in the Critérium du Dauphine. Teklehaimanot and fellow Eritrean Merhawi Kudus
Merhawi Kudus
became the first cyclists from Africa
Africa
to compete in the Tour de France, when they were selected by the MTN–Qhubeka team for the 2015 edition of the race.[158] In July of the year, Teklehaimanot also became the first rider from an African team to wear the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France.[159] The Eritrean Cycling National team of both man and women are ranked first on the continent. In 2013, the women's team won the gold medal in the African Continental Cycling Championships for the first time, and for the second time in 2015.[160][161][162] See also

Eritrea
Eritrea
portal Africa
Africa
portal

Index of Eritrea-related articles Outline of Eritrea Freedom of press in Eritrea

References

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Further reading

Beretekeab R. (2000); Eritrean making of a Nation 1890–1991, Uppsala University, Uppsala. Cliffe, Lionel; Connell, Dan; Davidson, Basil (2005), Taking on the Superpowers: Collected Articles on the Eritrean Revolution (1976–1982). Red Sea
Red Sea
Press, ISBN 1-56902-188-0 Cliffe, Lionel & Davidson, Basil (1988), The Long Struggle of Eritrea
Eritrea
for Independence
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
Red Sea
Press, ISBN 1-56902-145-7 Connell, Dan (2004), Conversations with Eritrean Political Prisoners. Red Sea
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
Red Sea
Press, ISBN 1-56902-198-8 Firebrace, James & Holand, Stuart (1985), Never Kneel Down: Drought, Development and Liberation in Eritrea. Red Sea
Red Sea
Press, ISBN 0-932415-00-8 Gebre-Medhin, Jordan
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 (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
Ethiopia
and Eritrea
Eritrea
at War. Red Sea
Red Sea
Press, ISBN 1-56902-217-8 Johns, Michael (1992), "Does Democracy Have a Chance", Congressional Record, 6 May 1992 Keneally, Thomas (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, [1] Mauri, Arnaldo (1998), "The First Monetary and Banking Experiences in Eritrea", African Review of Money, Finance and Banking, n. 1–2. Miran, Jonathan (2009), Red Sea
Red Sea
Citizens: Cosmopolitan Society and Cultural Change in Massawa. Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-22079-0 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. Negash T. (1987); Italian Colonisation in Eritrea: Policies, Praxis and Impact, Uppsala Univwersity, Uppsala. Ogbaselassie, G (10 January 2006). "Response to remarks by Mr. David Triesman, Britain's parliamentary under-secretary of state with responsibility for Africa". Retrieved 7 June 2006.  Pateman, Roy (1998), Eritrea: Even the Stones Are Burning. Red Sea Press, ISBN 1-56902-057-4 Phillipson, David W. (1998), Ancient Ethiopia. Reid, Richard. (2011) Frontiers of violence in north-east Africa: genealogies of conflict since c.1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199211883 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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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 152381756 LCCN: n93074182 ISNI: 0000 0001 2186 9846 GND: 4015278-9 SELIBR: 144363 SUDOC: 171128737 HDS: 2

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