Tigre people

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Tigre people
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly Islam (Sunni); minority Christianity (Eritrean Orthodox)
Related ethnic groups
AfarAgawAmharaBejaBilenJebertiSahoSomaliTigrinya people[2]

The Tigre people are an ethnic group residing in Eritrea. They are a nomadic and pastoralist community related to the Biher-Tigrinya of Eritrea,[3] as well as the Beja people.[4] The Tigre speak the Tigre language, which belongs to the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic family.


The Tigre are a predominantly Muslim nomadic people who inhabit the northern, western, and coastal lowlands of Eritrea (Gash-Barka, Anseba, Northern Red Sea regions of Eritrea and other regions too), as well as areas in eastern Sudan. 99.5% of the Tigre people adhere to the Islamic religion Sunni Islam, but there are a small number of Christians (who are very likely members of Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church) among them as well (often referred to as the Mensaï in Eritrea).[5]

The first Tigre converts to Islam were those who lived on islands in the Red Sea and were converted in the seventh century. Mainland Tigre were not converted to Islam until the nineteenth century.[3]

There are also a number of Eritreans of Tigre origin living in the Middle East, North America, the United Kingdom and Australia.


The Tigre language is an Afroasiatic language of the Semitic branch. Like Tigrinya, it is a member of the Ethiosemitic group, and is similar to ancient Ge'ez.[6] There is no known historically written form of the language. The Eritrean government uses the Ge'ez writing system (an abugida) to publish documents in the Tigre language.

Tigre is the lingua franca of the multi-ethnic lowlands of western and northern Eritrea, including the northern coast. As such approximately 75% of the Western Lowlands Eritrean population speaks Tigre.

The Tigre language is transcribed using the Ge'ez syllabary. However, due to the majority of Tigre speakers being Muslim, the language is also written in the Arabic alphabet.[7]

The Tigre people, language and their area of inhabitation should not be confused with the Tigray-Tigrinya people who live in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia and who speak Tigrinya, a closely related Semitic language.

Notable Tigre people[edit]


  1. ^ "Eritrea". CIA. Retrieved 12 May 2017.  : 30% of total Eritrea population of 5,869,869.
  2. ^ Joireman, Sandra F. (1997). Institutional Change in the Horn of Africa: The Allocation of Property Rights and Implications for Development. Universal-Publishers. p. 1. ISBN 1581120001. The Horn of Africa encompasses the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. These countries share similar peoples, languages, and geographical endowments. 
  3. ^ a b Olson, James Stuart (1996). The peoples of Africa: an ethnohistorical dictionary. Greenwood. pp. 557–58. ISBN 978-0-313-27918-8. 
  4. ^ MacDonald, Fiona; et al. (2000). Peoples of Africa, Volume 10. Marshall Cavendish. p. 500. ISBN 978-0-7614-7158-5. 
  5. ^ Yakan, Muḥammad Zuhdī (1999). Almanac of African peoples & nations. Transaction. p. 667. ISBN 978-1-56000-433-2. 
  6. ^ Allen, H (1888). Th Encyclopedia of Britannica. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Weekes, Richard V. (1978). Muslim peoples: a world ethnographic survey. Greenwood Press. p. 418. ISBN 0837198801. 

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