Eritrea, the small unknown country in East Africa, is located at the banks of the Red Sea and is home to one of the world’s worst dictatorships and is (un)popularly known as the North Korea of Africa. It has one of the best colonial architectural structures in the world. Here are some interesting facts about Eritrea.
1. Eritrea gained its independence in 1993. The country has never held regional or local elections since 2004 and national and presidential elections since 1993 which means that the country has had only one president since 1993.
2. This also means that the people of Eritrea are not only oppressed by the government politically, they also have no access to the information. All the media channels and enterprises in the country are state-owned. According to the global Press Freedom Index, Eritrea has been ranked as the third-worst country in the world with respect to press freedom.
3. Eritrea is a multilingual country with no official language. Their Constitution established the “equality of all Eritrea languages.” However, the main languages spoken in Eritrea are Tigirinya, Tigre and Standard Arabic.
4. Asmara is called “Italy’s African City” or “New Rome.” The names come from its distinctive Italian designed buildings. Currently, over 400 structures have an Italian architectural look including Cinema capitol, Keren Casa-del Fascio, Orthodox cathedral, and the villa in Decemhare among others.
5. Eritrea, after Egypt, has the second highest archaeological historical discoveries in Africa. The number of archaeological sites in the country, which was 45,000 previously, has now increased to 80,000.
6. It is the world’s first country to allocate an entire coastline as a reserve. The Dahlak group of islands is world-renowned for their pearl production and are largely uninhabited.
7. The women of Eritrea have been known to fight alongside their men as far back as 1810 AD. Women picked up arms to help their counterparts fight off the Italians and later on the Ethiopians. This group had the highest percentage of women than all the other liberation movements on the planet.
8. Eritrea was part of the ancient kingdom of Aksum. The kingdom of Axum was an ancient kingdom that was centered in the present-day Tigray Region, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The kingdom existed between 100AD and 940AD, and its polity was centered in Axum city.
9. There are 14,000 known fish species living in Eritrea’s waters, and 17% of those fishes are found nowhere else. Having a long Red Sea coastline with warm waters, Eritrea is an attraction zone for rare species of fish.
10. A million years old skull with traits associated with both the Homo Sapien and Homo erectus was found in the Afar region in Eritrea. Before this discovery, the oldest fossil with modern human traits was the 600,000years old, which was excavated in Bodo Ethiopia.
How to reach?
The one and the only way to arrive in Eritrea is by flight, and the two international airports are Asmara International Airport and Massawa International Airport. The airport operates flights from Dubai, Entebbe, Jeddah, Juba, Khartoum, Nairobi, Asmara, Cairo, Cape Town, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Karachi, Khartoum, Lagos, Lahore and Rome. The local airline Eritrean Airlines flies to Milan, Dubai, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, but they currently don´t offer online booking.
Captain Nero’s recommendations in Eritrea:
Massawa: Massawa is an important coastal city in Eritrea and a paradise of tourists, especially youths, housing many renowned spectacular beaches with the opportunities of snorkelling and diving. The city is also famous for historical buildings, dominated by the Sheikh Hanafi Mosque. Take a stroll through the streets and alleys, discovering all the small porticoes, arcades, and whitewashed buildings tucked here and there.
Dahlak Islands: The Dahlak Archipelago consists of 126 islands, with only four of them being permanently inhabited. Such unspoiled waters and the abundance of fish life and the wonderful corals make the Red Sea and the Dahlak Islands scuba-divers paradise.
Qohaito: An ancient city settled before the Axumite period and believed to be inhabited in as late as the 5th millennium BC. Covering an area of 2.5km, Qohaito is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the country. Qoahito plateau and its cultural landscape is of significant importance to Eritrea, and today, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. With ancient tombs and columns, it is a prime example of the rich history to be found in Eritrea.
Danakil Desert: The Danakil Depression is one of the lowest points on the earth not covered by water. One of the most forbidding and inhospitable landscapes in the world, it is starkly dramatic yet with a beauty and appeal all of its own. It is known as one of the hottest places on earth with a landscape often described as moon like, it is a wonderful example of nature at work.