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A virtual guide to Eritrea, an East African country with a coastline on the Red Sea. The state of Eritrea is bordered by Sudan in the west, by Ethiopia in the south and by Djibouti in the southeast. The country shares also maritime borders with Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The former Italian colony became part of a federation with Ethiopia in 1947, in 1952 Eritrea was annexed by Ethiopia. The country became independent in 1993.

The country's landscape is divided into three ecological distinct regions. There are the Eritrean highlands, the northern extension of the Ethiopian Plateau, running north to south through the centre of the country, the hot and dry western lowlands, and the coastal plain. The highest point is Emba Soria at 3,018 m. With an area of 117,000 km², the country is almost four times the size of Belgium or slightly larger than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

The capital and largest city is Asmara situated on the northwestern edge of the Eritrean highlands. Other important cities are the ports of Massawa and Assab. The country's population of 6 million people is made up of Tigrayans (55%), Tigre people (30%) and some smaller ethnic groups, like Saho, and Kunama. Spoken languages are Tigrinya, Arabic, and English. About 50% of the population are Christians, 48% adheres to Islam.

Eritrea is located in Eastern Africa in the Horn of Africa, to the North of Ethiopia and bordering the Red Sea in the Northeast. It has a mixed Afro-Asiatic population that is divided by religion and language. The former Italian and British colony gained formal independence from Ethiopia, its last colonizer, in 1993. But independence did not end the wars in Eritrea. Conflicts with Yemen and Ethiopia followed.

The latest UN Inquiry (2015) reports gross human rights violations in Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea is responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that have created a climate of fear. A large proportion of the population is subjected to forced labour and imprisonment, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the country.

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Official Name:
Hagere Eritrea
Short form: Eritrea

ISO Country Code: er, ERI
Local Time = UTC +3h
Country Calling Code: +291

Capital City: Asmara
(2,300 meters (7,500 ft.) above sea level; pop. 435 000)
Other Cities:
Keren (57,000); Assab (28,000); Massawa (25,000); Afabet (25,000); Tessenie (25,000); Mendefera (25,000); Dekemhare (20,000); Adekeieh (15,000); Barentu (15,000); Ghinda (15,000).

Single-party presidential republic.
In 2004 the U.S. State Department declared Eritrea a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its alleged record of religious persecution.
Independence: Eritrea officially celebrated its independence on May 24, 1993 (from Ethiopia)
Constitution: Ratified 24 May 1997, but not yet implemented.

Location: Eastern Africa, in the Horn of Africa bordering the Red Sea in the northeast.
Area: 117,600 km². (45,405 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Central highlands straddle escarpment associated with Rift Valley, dry coastal plains, and western lowlands.

Climate: Temperate in the mountains and hot in the lowlands, hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast.