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Eastern desert mountain range in EritreaEastern desert mountain range in Eritrea
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authorshipEdal Anton Lefterov
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Eritrea is a country in the Horn of Africa. Covering 117,600 sq km (45,405 sq mi), it is bordered by Sudan to the west, Ethiopia to the south and Djibouti to the southeast. The country has a population of 5.5 million people (2011 estimate). Its capital and largest city is Asmara.

Eritrea is three hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+3). Its official currency is called the Nakfa (ERN). Traffic is driven on the right here. The phone IDD code is +291.

Eritrea, as is its neighbors, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its 2010 estimated nominal GDP stood at $2.254 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $424. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity is $676.

Eritrea was a colony of Italy from 1890 until 1941, when the Italians were expelled by the Commonwealth armed forces. The British controlled the country under a UN Mandate until 1951, when Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia. This led to the compulsory teaching of Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia, in Eritrean schools in 1959.

Obel River Railway Bridge, EritreaObel River Railway Bridge, Eritrea
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authorshipReinhard Dietrich
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Shegirini in EritreaShegirini in Eritrea
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authorshipReinhard Dietrich
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Hostility over Ethiopian rule gave rise to an independence movement in the early 1960's, with resulted in a 30-year war of secession. Following a UN-supervised referendum, which the Eritreans overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ethiopia, Eritrea declared its independence in 1993.

Since its independence, Eritrea is embroiled in regular border dispute with Ethiopia, taking a toll of over 100,000 lives on both sides of the border.

Planning your visit to Eritrea

Due to the volatile political situation in Eritrea, its government prohibits casual travel by visitors outside of its capital city.

All visitors to Eritrea need a visa. The only international airport in the country is in Asmara. Lufthansa flies there from Frankfurt three times a week.

Major Cities in Eritrea

  1. Asmara - capital
  2. Keren
  3. Massawa
  4. Tessenei

Places of Interest in Eritrea

  1. Dahlak Archipelago
  2. Debre Bizen
  3. Matara ruins

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