In 1936, after the defeat of Ethiopia, Italy created an empire in Africa called "Africa Orientale Italiana". It lasted 6 years until WWII and was made of 6 governorates. One of these was the "Eritrea Governorate". The original Italian Eritrea, called even Colonia primogenita (first colony), was enlarged with territories taken from northern Ethiopia that were populated by ethnic Eritreans.
In 1938 the Eritrea governorate was divided in 13 "commissariati" (provinces):
The Eritrea Governorate had an area of nearly 130,000 km2 and a population of more than 1100000, of which nearly 100,000 were Italian colonists concentrated in Asmara. Eritrea was chosen by the Italian government to be the industrial center of the Africa Orientale Italiana. The Italian government implemented agricultural reforms, primarily on farms owned by Italian colonists (exports of coffee boomed in the 1930s). In the area of Asmara there were in 1940 more than 2,000 small and medium sized industrial companies, concentrated in the areas of construction, mechanics, textiles, electricity and food processing.
Consequently, the living standard of life in Eritrea in 1939 was considered one of the best of Africa, for the Italian colonists and for the native Eritreans. In early 1940 were established laws that enabled all the autochthonous Eritreans in the Italian military forces to receive a "pension" with their families: no other European colonial country granted this at that moment.
In summer 1940 the Italians conquered in British Sudan the area of Kassala, that was temporarily annexed (the mayor of Kassala was Eritrean hero Hamid Idris Awate) until spring 1941. In those months the Allies invaded Italian Eritrea and the last governor (Luigi Frusci) surrendered on May 19, 1941. The British destroyed the Eritrea Governorate and created a military occupation government associated with Ethiopia's Negus.