The country prides itself on its location as it occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa. Bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, on the east side with both countries sharing similar cultures. The country is considered to be one of the most secretive states in the world. According to the UN, the government wields absolute power an extensive surveillance network, torture, forced labor and detention without trial are common and indefinite military service. Eritrea’s capital and largest city is Asmara (Asmera).
The Italians colonized Eritrea for about 60 years before they were ousted by the British during the WWII. In 1947 Eritrea became part of a federation with Ethiopia, the Federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Subsequent annexation into Ethiopia led to the Eritrean War of Independence, ending with Eritrean independence following a referendum in April 1993. Hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia persisted, leading to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998–2000 and further skirmishes with both Djibouti and Ethiopia. In 1991 the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front defeated the Ethiopian government. Eritrea officially celebrated its 1st anniversary of independence on May 24, 1992. Tensions with Ethiopia remain high across a closed and heavily fortified border. The perceived threat of war is said to have been used by the government to clamp down on society. Eritrea is a one-party state, and its 1997 constitution which provided for the existence of multi-party politics, has never been fully implemented.
UNESCO Heritage sites in Eritrea include:
Located at over 2000 metres above sea level, the capital of Eritrea developed from the 1890s onwards as a military outpost for the Italian colonial power. After 1935, Asmara underwent a large scale programme of construction applying the Italian rationalist idiom of the time to governmental edifices, residential and commercial buildings, churches, mosques, synagogues, cinemas, hotels, etc.
Two resources the country thrives of are livestock and gold, gold contributes to fifteen percent of exports.
Eritrea has a dry and inhabitable coast due to the three tectonic plates as discoursed in the Ethiopia country profile. Agriculture is by far the most important sector of the country’s economy, providing a livelihood for most of its population. Most Eritreans live in-land which is fertile land rich with subtropical rain forest like Fulfil and green presebterous cliffs and Kenyans in the island. Land degradation is arguably the most critical environmental problem facing Eritrea therefore, National Action Programmed to combat Desertification for Eritrea by requiring the entire population from the age of fifteen to take a month off and tear hillsides with rocks to prevent erosion and holding moisture. Along with food and live animals, fish from the Red Sea constitute a significant percentage of the country’s exports.
There are about nine ethnic groups, the major ethnic groups are the Tigrinya and Tigre and are the two major local languages and Arabic English being the official languages. The bulk of the people in the Eritrean highlands are Tigrinya. Most people are Habesha people who are incredibly unique Semitic mixed Africans that can only be found in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Eritrea is home to many archeological sites which include: Adulis, Black Assarca shipwreck, Keskese, Matara, Eritrea, Nakfa, Eritrea, Qohaito, and Sembel.
Eritrean Cuisine is similar to Ethiopian cuisine. The two staples are: Kitcha, which is a very thin, baked unleavened wheat bread or pancake and injera, a spongy pancake made from taff, wheat and/or barley, maize or sorghum. The grains are ground up, made into watery dough and then left to ferment for a couple of days before being fried or baked. Injera is eaten with stew, usually called zigni, made from whatever is available (meat or fish, vegetables or a combination of the two). It is simmered for hours, in a tomato sauce spiced with berbere, chili powder and other spices. Tsebhi is a meat sauté prepared with lamb or beef, fresh tomatoes and hot peppers. Italian dishes are also very popular in Eritrea. Most restaurants serve lasagna, spaghetti and other pasta’s. There are various Pizza restaurants in Asmara.
The traditional musical instruments of Eritrea have similarities with those of countries in the rest of the Horn of Africa. They include the stringed instruments, drums (Krar, Abangala, Rebaba and Chira-Watta) and wind instruments (Shambiko Embilta, Melekhet and Horn).
The instrument common to all of the nine ethnic groups is the drum, referred to as kabro (Afar), kalambura (Bilen), kabbur (Nara) or kebero (Saho and Tigrinya). The drum sets the beat for their musical tunes and rhythms. On some occasions it is the only instrument used for a song accompanied by dance, as is the case in the Afar and Saho’s keke dance. Bilen, Tigre and Tigrinya have a dance commonly performed by a group of both sexes in a circle.