Eritrea is a state in north-east Africa, which was part of Ethiopia before its independence in 1993. The country occupies 121,100 km² and borders on Sudan and Ethiopia. The north-east of the country is washed by the Red Sea.
The population of Eritrea (about 5 million people) is represented mainly by the Tigray, Tigray, Bedja, Saho, Afar and several others. Half of the population is Muslim and half is Christian. The official languages are Tigrinya and Arabic. The capital and one of the most comfortable and beautiful cities in Northeast Africa is Asmara (about 650 thousand residents), other major cities are Massawa and Asseb.
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By natural conditions, Eritrea is close to neighboring Ethiopia: the relief is predominantly mountainous (northern spurs of the Ethiopian Plateau) with heights up to 3248 m (Asimba town), in the east turning into flat hills (part of the Afar Depression, located in Ethiopia). The climate is tropical desert and semi-desert with high average monthly temperatures and abrupt daily variations, with little rainfall.
Much of the territory is occupied by the Ethiopian highlands. Along the coast of the sea is a zone of semi-deserts and savannahs. The highest point is Mount Soira (2,989 m). Gold, iron, potassium salt, magnesium, marble, copper, table salt, potash and zinc are useful minerals.
Climate is subequatorial. The distinct seasons are humid summer (May-September) and dry winter (October-April). On the plateau, the average annual air temperature is +17°C, while on the coastline it reaches +30°C. The average annual rainfall on the coast is 200 mm, while in the Eritrean Plateau (which occupies the northern part of the Ethiopian Plateau) it ranges from 500 to 850 mm a year. There are frequent droughts (the worst in 2000). The major river is the Tekeze, while most of the numerous rivers (Barka, Gasha, Mereb, Tash, etc.) dry up during the dry season.
Agave, acacia, date palms and eucalyptus trees grow on the coast, baobabs grow in the savannas, the sycamore tree grows high in the mountains, etc. Wildlife – antelopes, baboons, hippos, hyenas, porcupines, hares, wild boars, crocodiles, lions, monkeys, many species of local and migratory birds, rhinos, various rodents and snakes, elephants, turtles and jackals. There are 250 species of fish in the Dahlak Archipelago area.
Eritrea is a unique historical region. In the Barka Valley, archaeologists discovered a human settlement dating back to 8000 BC. Unfortunately, most of the historical sites have been destroyed during the long war, but some architectural monuments have survived. Among them are the Corinthian columns of the neoclassical Governor’s Palace in the capital, the Romanesque porticoes of Opera House, the Catholic Cathedral, and the city’s mosque.
The image of the capital has largely retained the features of the Italian architectural style. In the past, houses were built from blocks of madrepora (local building material of coral origin). In modern cities, buildings are built of brick and reinforced concrete structures.
In the Adi Alauti cave (located near the Kohaito archaeological site) 100 sculptural panels carved out of the surrounding rock have been found. Not far from the capital are found rock multicolor and monochrome (yellow ochre) paintings, applied by ancient man before the beginning of the new era.
The handicrafts and crafts are widespread: weaving of polychrome trays, plates and other household items from reeds and grass, jewelry is well developed.
It is formed on the basis of oral folk art. In poetry is popular genre called “kine” (reminiscent of the church canticle).
National music has a long tradition, formed under the influence of cultural traditions of the peoples of Africa and Asia. The art of wandering singers “khamina” is popular.
Archaeological finds found in the valley of the river Barca testify that the territory of the modern Eritrea was inhabited by people (the Nilotic peoples who migrated from the Nile Valley) in the 8th millennium BC. In May 2002 on the outskirts of Asmara the remains of the most ancient settlements of sedentary farmers in the Tropical Africa (about 3 thousand years) were found. Ancient Egypt knew of the existence of Eritrea in the 3rd millennium B.C. and called it the “Land of the Gods”.
In the 1st-10th centuries, on the territory of the modern Eritrea and the province of Tigray (Ethiopia) there was an early feudal kingdom of Aksum with its capital in the port city of Adoulis, which was a major trading center on the coast of the Red Sea. Before the 9th century, most of the territory of Eritrea was part of the Axum Kingdom (see also AKSUM), and in the 9th-13th centuries it was under the control of the Beja, who created several independent states. In the 16-18th centuries. part of the western areas of the country were under the occupation of the Sennarian Sultanate (Sudan), and the area of Massawa and the Red Sea coast were captured by the Ottoman Turks. In the middle. 19th century attempts to subdue Ethiopia and Eritrea were made by the rulers of Egypt.
In 1885 it was colonized by Italy. It was under Italian rule until the Italians were defeated by Allied forces in World War II. After that it became a British protectorate. After the end of World War II and a referendum held under the auspices of the United Nations, it was decided that Eritrea be attached to Ethiopia as a federal territory. In the early 60s, the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie abolished autonomy, which greatly increased the separatist tendencies in the region. The result was the War of Independence for Eritrea, which continued with varying intensity for more than 30 years, especially after a group of Marxist officers, led by Mengistu, came to power in the country. The resistance movement was most successful during the Ogaden War, making good use of the Ethiopian army’s employment in the conflict.
In the late 1980s, amid the general collapse of the regime, the Eritrean rebels not only took control of most of Eritrea, but also actively supported the actions of other rebel groups, whose front leader was Meles Zenawi. In 1991, the rebels entered Addis Ababa, Zenawi became president of Ethiopia, and two years later, after a referendum, Eritrean independence was declared.
From 1993 to the present, the country has been ruled by a group of veterans of the war for independence, led by Isaiah Afewerki, who have concentrated all branches of power in their hands. The country’s leaders have systematically rejected proposals to democratize political life and hold elections under the pretext of the country’s weak economic base and other priorities. International human rights organizations regularly criticize the state of affairs in the country and give low ratings to the human rights situation, freedom of the press in Eritrea, etc.
In 1998, a new war broke out with Ethiopia over disputed territories, during which tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides died. The war resulted in enormous economic and social disruption, leaving behind a devastated economy as well as vast areas of land mined. The war ended in 2000 with Eritrea’s defeat and the signing of a peace treaty under which UN peacekeeping forces would oversee a cease-fire.
Since 2006, Eritrea has actively assisted the Somali Islamic Courts Union and its allies, supplied the insurgents with weapons and money, provided refuge and space for political activities, and Eritrean “volunteers” have participated in the civil war on Somali territory. The main motive behind this strategy is Ethiopia’s support for the Abdullahi Yusuf government.
Eritrea is one of the poorest states in the world. The economy is based on the agricultural sector.
The agricultural sector employs 80% of the population. The country is experiencing an acute shortage of fertile land, including due to intensive soil erosion. About 5% of the land is cultivated. Bananas, potatoes, corn, sesame, vegetables, papaya, millet, wheat, sorghum, teff, cotton, citrus fruits, etc. are grown. Dairy cattle breeding, poultry farming and fishery (catching of anchovies, salmon, sardines, tuna, pike) are developed. Countries of the European Union and Japan have provided the country with financial assistance for the development of fisheries.
Most of the manufacturing industries – footwear, food, oil refining, textiles, etc. – are to be restored. – Most of the manufacturing industries – footwear, food, petroleum, textile, etc. – are in the process of restoration. Companies for fish processing, dairy and meat production, glass manufacturing, soft drinks, etc. are functioning. The handicraft industry is well developed. The industrial extraction of salt from sea water is possible.
Eritrea is a unitary state with a transitional government. Eritrea has a constitution adopted on May 24, 1997. The head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces is the president elected by the transitional parliament (National Assembly). Legislative power is vested in the parliament (150 seats) which consists of 75 members of the Central Committee of the ruling “People’s Front for Democracy and Justice” (PFDJ) party and 15 members of the Eritrean Diaspora.
The country is divided into six regions (since May 1995), which consist of districts.
There are High and Appeal Courts, Zonal Trial Courts and Sharia Courts. Customary law is also used for civil cases.
Eritrea’s foreign policy is based on a policy of non-alignment. In the second half of the 20th century, Eritrea became involved in a complex knot of mutual contradictions and claims, in which Djibouti, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia participated to different degrees. Relations with Sudan became complicated, with the authorities accusing Eritrea of helping South Sudanese rebels. A territorial dispute emerged with Yemen over the Khanshi archipelago in the Red Sea. Cooperation with China has been established and is being strengthened. In February 2005, the president of Eritrea paid an official visit to Beijing.
Diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the State of Eritrea were established on May 24, 1993.
The country is not known for good hotels. Most of them were built 40-50 years ago, and the restoration can only at a stretch be called satisfactory. The rooms are clean but poor. Frequent power cuts are possible. Every more or less decent hotel has its own generator.
Asmara has an international chain hotel, Asmara Palace Hotel. It is located near the international airport and is one of the most modern buildings in the country. It is ideal for business trips.
Eritrea is the poorest country in the world. But this poverty is more of an ascetic nature. The image of the capital of the country would look more organic somewhere in Eastern Europe than in Africa. Despite the numerous wars with Ethiopia and Djibouti, the architectural appearance of the cities has been perfectly preserved (what has not been destroyed).
The capital of Eritrea, Asmara, was called the “Rome of Africa. Everything has been preserved from the Italians: from the opera house, houses of the local rich, Orthodox churches and mosques to the exterior and interior appearance of the pharmacy, post office, coffee shops (of which there are many) and gas stations. On the streets you can see vintage Fiat cars and it immediately seems that the streets of Eritrea’s cities are something like Cuba. Unfortunately, most of the historical sites have been destroyed during the long wars, only ruins are left.
Eritrea is a mountainous country. Beautiful landscapes await you outside the cities. In the Dahlak National Marine Park, you can see flocks of pink flamingos, colorful sea fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.
Asmara National Museum tells the 6,000 year history of the country. In parallel, there is a center for archaeological research in the museum building. The modest halls are filled with numerous finds: objects of culture and everyday life of different eras, paintings, scrolls, tombstones. An exhibition on the country’s recent history, especially the struggle for independence with Italy and Ethiopia, is about to open.
Climate of Eritrea:: Hot, dry desert strip along the Red Sea coast. Wet in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of precipitation per year, heavy June through September). Semi-arid in the western hills and lowlands
The Red Sea off the coast of Eritrea is special. The fact is that no river flows into it, so its water is completely clear. Unfortunately, traveling around the country is not yet possible, it really hinders tourism, because there are so many unique places!
The fact is that Eritrea’s relations with Ethiopia are still very tense, the entry into the city is accompanied by a checkpoint, and part of the country is generally closed from the eyes of tourists (as in North Korea).
Since the ability to travel around the country has been restricted by the local authorities, it remains to walk around the picturesque capital, drink expresso (the Italians inherited the love of coffee from the locals) and see buildings from a bygone era. By the way, Asmara is the safest country in Africa for tourists. According to travelers, the locals are very friendly to tourists.
The terrain of Eritrea: From north to south highlands, east to the coastal desert plain, northwest to the hilly terrain and southwest to the plains.
It is simply impossible to buy gasoline, so there are virtually no cars in or out of town. Only cab drivers and company cars have a quota for gasoline. Working as a cab driver is very prestigious. The license for the right to work is inherited. If a cab driver dies and has no children, there is a long line of people wishing to buy the license outside his house. They say the widows live for years on the money they make from the sale of the license.
There are buses in the cities. As it should be, the buses are terribly crowded. But the fare is two Russian rubles (according to data for 2013).
Standard of living
Eritrea is the poorest country in the world. But there is not the kind of poverty inherent in other African countries. There is also no electricity, no groceries in stores and no internet (hotels are exceptions, but it is expensive and slow there).
Citizens of the country are forbidden to travel abroad if there are no relatives there. It is forbidden to buy currency. The population is engaged in agriculture and handicrafts. Command economy is controlled by the ruling party. Eritrea is often referred to as “Africa’s North Korea.”
Eritrea has resources like: : Gold, zinc, copper, salts, possibly oil and natural gas, fish.
The capital of Eritrea is Asmara. A very beautiful city, in spite of numerous wars. The city is characterized by a mild climate. There is no exhausting African heat, the temperature rarely exceeds +25 degrees.
The city of Massawa – the main port of the country (now temporarily closed). Very much destroyed during the war, but it does not detract from its beauty. For a long time was ruled by Turkey, then passed to Italy. Hence its unusual architecture. According to a fair decision of the authorities, it is forbidden to build new buildings here. The authorities give the ruins for restoration free of charge.