Hanish Islands

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Location of the islands between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

The Ḩanīsh Islands (Arabic: جزر حنيش‎) are an island group in the Red Sea. Most of them are a part of Yemen, but before 1998 or 1999, and they were claimed by Eritrea as well. After a case in an international court under the guidance of Abdul Karim al-Iryani, Yemen was granted full ownership of the larger Islands, and Eritrea was awarded the peripheral islands to the southwest.[1]

The three largest islands are Jabal Zuqar to the north (about 130 km²), Al-anīsh al-Kabīr (Great Anīsh) to the south (about 116 km²), with the much smaller Al-anīsh al-Ṣaghīr (Little Anīsh) inbetween.


French-built lighthouse on the Hanish Islands

The Hanish Islands were claimed by the Ottoman Empire, a claim abandoned by Turkey in 1923. From that point forward they were administered by the Italian colony of Eritrea until 1941. In that year, after the surrender of the Italian colonial forces, the British army established Eritrea as a protectorate. Throughout the 1970s, Ethiopia (which had annexed Eritrea) and Yemen claimed the islands.

Ethiopian interest stemmed from the fact that Eritrean independence groups used the Hanish Islands and the nearby Zuqar Island as a base to attack Ethiopian military interests.[2]

In 1991, Eritrea gained independence and, in 1996, attempted to exercise sovereignty over the archipelago, starting the Hanish Islands conflict, which was eventually ended after a brief conflict between Eritrea and Yemen over the islands. In all, 3–12 Eritreans and 4–15 Yemenis were killed in the fighting.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Maritime Boundary". Retrieved 2006-07-17. 
  2. ^ Killion, Tom (1998). Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3437-5. 

Coordinates: 13°45′N 42°45′E / 13.750°N 42.750°E / 13.750; 42.750