Located in East Africa, Eritrea is a land of extremes with coastal deserts fringing the Red Sea, the Sahel of the north and rolling highlands along the long disputed border with Ethiopia. Although a relatively small country by African standards, there’s a lot to discover such as 8th Century island ruins from early Islamic settlers in the Dahlak Archipelago, 14th Century hilltop Orthodox monasteries and various intriguing remnants left over from the nation’s 30 year resistance movement against Ethiopia which ended in 1991.
Consisting of 124 small islands, the Dahlak Archipelago is uninhabited apart from four islands. It’s here, since Roman times, that pearl fisheries have been famous, along with its diverse marine life and sea-birds. Uniquely as well it was the Dahlak Islanders whom were among the first people in the Horn of Africa to adopt Islam. Because of this an independent Muslim state emerged from the island in the 7th Century, which was later conquered by Yemen, followed by the Ottoman Turks and was once part of the Italian colony of Eritrea from the 1890s. Most contrasting of all is an abandoned Soviet Navy base left over during the Cold War when Ethiopia allied with the Soviet Union.
Eritrea holds the most easterly extent of the Sahel region was stretches all the way across the continent, following the southern edge of the Sahara, to reach the coastal nation of Mauritania.
Capital city of Eritrea, Asmara is most well-known for its highly preserved modernist Italian architecture owed to Mussolini’s vision to transform the city in to the centre of a second Roman Empire. With the architects given total freedom to unleash their imagination this has created a vast range of buildings to marvel at whose influences are drawn from ancient-Roman, futurism and cubism styles. Aside from wandering the streets and experiencing urban Eritrean culture at its best, a visit to mountainous forest and wildlife reserve known as the Martyrs National Park is worth visiting for its quiet plateaus punctuated by chasms and gorges.
E-visa for most nationalities. No visa necessary for Chinese and Singaporean citizens.
Equatorial – more or less same all year round. Subtropical climate
For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style system (type C and E).
Internet is not very good in Djibouti. Most accommodation will offer wifi, but it will not be of a good speed
Strong middle eastern combined with Indian influence in the cuisine. Staple dishes such as injera similar to Ethiopia.
Alcohol is permitted and is widely available
French and Arabic
State religion is Islam. Majority Sunni Muslim, small minority of Christians.
Conservative. Recommended to wear loose fitting clothing and refrain from showing too much flesh
SAFETY & SECURITY
The FCO considers most of Eritrea to be a low risk region to travel. The exception are the border areas due to political tensions between Eritrea and its neighbours. Contact us for information on how we work to minimise risk for our guests and staff.
I Didn’t Do It For You: How The World Betrayed A Small African Nation – Michela Wrong
The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore
My Fathers’ Daughter – Hannah Pool