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Eritrea (/ˌɛrɪˈtr.ə, -ˈtrə/; Tigrinya: ኤርትራ (About this sound listen)), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa, with its capital at Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeastern and eastern parts of Eritrea have an extensive coastline along the Red Sea. The nation has a total area of approximately 117,600 km2 (45,406 sq mi), and includes the Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands. Its toponym Eritrea is based on the Greek name for the Red Sea (Ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα Erythra Thalassa), which was first adopted for Italian Eritrea in 1890.

Eritrea is a multi-ethnic country, with nine recognized ethnic groups in its population of around 5 million. Most residents speak languages from the Afroasiatic family, either of the Ethiopian Semitic languages or Cushitic branches. Among these communities, the Tigrayans make up about 55% of the population, with the Tigre people constituting around 30% of inhabitants. In addition, there are a number of Nilo-Saharan-speaking Nilotic ethnic minorities. Most people in the territory adhere to Christianity or Islam.

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Credit: Hansueli Krapf

Mountains between the Eritrean capital city of Asmara and the city of Massawa.

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Asmara (English) (Ge'ez: ኣስመራ Asmera, formerly known as Asmera, or in Arabic: أسمرا ‎Asmara, meaning "Live in Peace" in Tigre) is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people. At an elevation of 2,400 meters (7 874 ft), Asmara is on the edge of an escarpment that is both the northwestern edge of the Great Rift Valley and of the Eritrean highlands. Textiles and clothing, processed meat, beer, shoes, and ceramics are the major industrial products. Asmara started with four villages, to being a regional center under Emperor Yohannes IV of Ethiopia, to "Little Rome" of Benito Mussolini's unsuccessful second Roman Empire, to being a provincial capital under Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and lastly a national capital of Eritrea. (Read more...)

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Credit: Charles Fred

A group of men in Agordat, Eritrea.

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Isaias Afwerki in 2002.jpg

Isaias Afwerki (Tigrinya: ኢሳይያስ ኣፈወርቂ) is the first and current President of Eritrea, attaining that status after Eritrean independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Prior to that, he was the leader of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, an armed movement determined to secure Eritrean independence.

He joined the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1966 and in the following year he was sent to China to receive military training. He never spoke about his private life as discretion is an Eritrean's treasured culture. During which bitter power struggle erupted between Christian highlanders and Muslim low land settlers supported by the petrodollar from across the red sea. Four years later he was appointed a commander. Eventually he split from ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) and joined a small group of combatants which became known as the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF). He next allied himself with other two groups that had splintered from the ELF earlier : PLF1, led by Osman Saleh Sabbe, and a group known as Obel. In 1976 he split from Sabbe's group after the latter signed a unity agreement with the ELF (the Khartoum Agreement)

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