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State

Capital

Eritrea

Asmara

Currency unit

Nakfa

Connections

Borders

East Africa

Ethiopia

Italy

Sahel

War

 Yemen
 

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Eritrea (named after the Red=Erithrean Sea) was one of the historic provinces of Ethiopia and in modern times has been Ethiopia's main outlet to the sea. It has a mixed population of Muslims, mainly on the coast, and Christians, mainly in the highlands.

The Italians occupied Massawa in 1885 as part of the British campaign against the Mahdi in Sudan. Eritrea was occupied by Italy from 1899 after their defeat of Ethiopia at Adowa in 1896.

Following the end of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1941 Eritrea was occupied by the British until the United Nations ordered it to be Federated to Ethiopia in 1952. In 1962 the Eritrean Parliament was induced to demand that Eritrea become a province of Ethiopia. But the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) began a revolt in 1966 following corrupt administration. This is the real beginning of the dispute. The war itself began with an armed revolt in 1974 and the actual fighting in 1975 on the overthrow of the Emperor and the rule of the Ethiopian Dergue (Junta).

The guerrillas organized in at least two groups (there is also the Eritrean People's Liberation Front EPLF) now control the whole country including the main port at Massawa and the capital Asmara. When Ethiopia lost its supplies of weapons from the Soviet Union the victory of the rebels followed.

Their source of weapons is obscure but it seems likely that they have been assisted by Arab oil producers and the Americans.

The signs are that not even the recent change of government in Addis Ababa would persuade the people to trust the Ethiopians again. The Ethiopian army was reported to have been one of the most ruthless in the world with reports of killing civilians indiscriminately. The Eritreans gained the victory in May 1991 after the Ethiopians ran out of men and weapons. One of the world's longest wars then stopped.

After Asmara fell to the Eritreans in May 1991, the rebels took control and declared that they would seek independence through a referendum to be held in April 1993. International recognition would wait until then. The Ethiopian government conceded control to the EPLF in July 1991 perhaps hoping that Eritrea could be retained in some kind of federation. They were wrong. The referendum confirmed independence which took effect on May 23 1993. It is now a member of the OAU and UN.

Some fighting with Yemen over Red Sea islands on the Eritrean side. Alleged potential oil.

A war with Ethiopia in 1999-2001 seemed to be the proverbial 'two bald men fighting over a comb'. But that's the sort of thing that two dictatorships are likely to do.

Eritrea is being accused of assisting Al Shabab (Islamist insurgents) in Somalia.

There is also fighting of a low level in the Ethiopian-owned Ogaden, where there is oil exploration.

Ethiopian attack in March 2012 may have the tacit support of the US. See Simon Tisdall's Guardian article.

Languages

Tigrinye

Tigre

Amharic

Interesting reading

Alberto di Pirajno - A Cure for Serpents
Classic memoir from the Italian colonial period

A Cure for Serpents - An Italian Doctor in North Africa
Testamento del Signor Enrico Pirajno Barone Di Mandralisca
A Cure for Serpents
Testamento del Signor Enrico Pirajno

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

Revolutionary government.

Referendum 26 April 1993 voted for independence.

The government seems to be a nasty dictatorship under Isaias Afwerki.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Before the war of independence, Eritrea was an important industrial area. Only a long period of reconstruction could restore this position.

So far (end 1997) there have been encouraging signs of self-help.

But in 2012 the economy is being described as a basket case.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Famine was caused partly by the war, partly by dessication of the land due to rainfall variations and deforestation. The independent government may have the chance to plant more trees and allow the people to farm without fear of being bombed.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Very poor. Citizens are rounded up in a press-gang to serve in the army.

Climate effects

Last revised 20/03/12


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