Eritrea Geography and History


According to threergroup, in 1993 the population was 2,268,000 residents. Later, torn apart by the war with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000, Eritrea was unable to establish a census, so the number of residents is based on estimates. Like many countries with strong demographic growth, it has a very young population, so much so that over 40% are under 15 years of age. The ethnic composition shows a mix of Afro-Asiatic populations, with a prevalence of Tigrinians (52%, of Semitic origin); then there is the Tigré ethnic group (18%), then the Afar (8%) and the Cunama (4%); the other groups represent 18% of the population. The density is 39 residents / km²; the residents are mainly concentrated on the internal plateaus, while the coast is almost uninhabited, with the exception of the areas of Massawa and Assab. The war created a ‘ high emergency mobility of the population, with the deportation of tens of thousands of Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin who lived in Ethiopia and Eritreans who took refuge in Sudan; in addition, hundreds of thousands of refugees have moved because of the war, which has also been accompanied by a serious famine. Consequently, there are no reliable data on the proportion between urban and rural population, but it is estimated that in 2008 the urban population was only 21%. The only big city is the capital Asmara; the city was fairly equipped with industrial equipment, which had already been destroyed with the war of independence from Ethiopia. Before the most recent conflict, the port centers of Massawa and Assab also played an important role, which functioned as ports of call also open to Ethiopian trade.


Due to the harsh climatic conditions, Eritrea has a very poor vegetation. Its surface is divided into three geographical areas: the western plains characterized by the steppe with bushes and brambles, the very fertile central region, where juniper and olive trees grow and which is covered with intense crops, and the semi-desert plains of the coast. Along the coasts, in the Danakil area, there is a vegetation of tamarisks and Suaeda, continuing along the coast of Massaia, mangrove swamps, typical of tropical climates and further to the N a stunted vegetation during the dry season but as luxuriant as a prairie during the winter rainy season. Around the capital Asmara, the last tropical forest in the country survives. Among the most common animals we find the wild cat, the Abyssinian hare, the black-backed jackal, the common jackal, the warthog and the Soemmering’s gazelle, as well as numerous species of birds. There are also some specimens of lions, leopards, zebras, crocodiles, monkeys, antelopes and elephants, and in the Red Sea, along with the splendid corals, dugongs and sea turtles. Over the years the conflict and the devastation of natural habitats have caused the risk of the extinction of many animals; moreover, deforestation to obtain firewood, the increase in land use and the progressive desertification of the soil are among the most serious environmental problems in Eritrea. To combat all this, the state has signed three important international agreements on the environment on the subject of biodiversity, climate change, desertification and endangered species. 3.2% of the entire territory has been declared protected in the form of national parks (Dahlac National Park) and wildlife reserves.


Italy, through the shipowner Rubattino and his alleged agent Giuseppe Sapeto, bought Assab (1869) and then, with English consent, Massawa (1885). The emperor of Abyssinia John IV and the governor of Hamasien, ras Alula, reacted and a period of tension and war followed (1887-88), which culminated with the events of Dogali and ended with the disappearance of the emperor (1889). The Italian troops conquered the plateau and then, in 1890, founded the colony of Eritrea, which brought together all the Italian possessions and which was later transformed into a base for the military operations of 1895-96 (first Italo-Ethiopian war). Territorially enlarged in 1902 on the basis of the Anglo-Italo-Ethiopian agreement, and in 1908 on the basis of the Italo-Ethiopian treaty, after the second Italo-Ethiopian war (1935-36) Eritrea became part of Italian East Africa. During the Second World War, Eritrea was occupied by British troops (spring 1941), who left the region in 1952, when, by order of the UN, Eritrea and Ethiopia formed a federation.

Eritrea Country and People