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Eritrea: sea, plateaus and deserts

Eritrea (Ertra/State of Eritrea) is a presidential republic of North-East Africa. It is bordered to the north-east and east by the Red Sea, to the south-east by Djibouti, to the south by Ethiopia and to the north-west and west by the Sudan. It used to be an Italian colony and later became a province of Ethiopia. Since 1993 the country is a sovereign state. The capital is Asmara and the only significant port on the Red Sea is Massawa.

Eritrea consists of a low and arid coastline along the Red Sea, which to the southeast forms the torrid Danakil Depression, where the lowest point of the country is located: Lake Kulul, lying 75 meters below sea level.

Towards the west the coastal plain rises sharply, forming a central plateau of a height between 1,800 and 2,400 m. In this region the highest mountain of Eritrea – Soira Amba – is to be found, reaching 3,018 metres. On the plateau several seasonally flowing rivers have their source such as the Baraka, Satit, Tacazzè and Gash. The Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea, off the coast of Massawa, are an archipelago of about 300 islands and islets.

Agriculture is practiced on the plateau. Here are grown barley, corn, sorghum, potatoes, bananas, oilseeds, cotton and coffee. The main resource is, however, breeding cattle, sheep, goats and poultry. Fishing is important and practiced from the ports of Massawa and Assab. The collection of shells and pearl oysters is realized. Industry is limited besides some tanneries to small textile, food and shoe factories. Due to the beauty of the National Park of the Dahlak islands and to the impressive landscapes of the plateau the tourism potential is worth to be developed.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 121,143 sq km: arable land 6%, pastures 49%, forests and bushland 6%, uncultivated and unproductive land 39%
  • Population: 4,400,000 (as of 2005): Tigrinya 48%, Tigre 35%, Afar 4%, Saho 3%, Kunama 3%, Bilen 2%, Nara 2%, Hedareb (Beja) 2%, Rashaida 1%.
  • State Capital: Asmara.
  • Languages: The main spoken languages are Tigre, Tigrinya, Arabic, English and Italian. Other languages are: Afar, Beja, Blin, Kunama, Nara, Saho.
  • Religion: Muslim 51%; Christian 49%: Coptic, Catholic 5% and Protestant.
  • Currency: Nakfa (ERN)
  • Time Zone: UTC+3 hours.

This post is also available in: German

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