Eritrea

Driving Directions Eritrea

ERITREA, formerly an autonomous province of Ethiopia, gained independence in May 1993 following a long, armed struggle against Ethiopia, which had been in control since 1945. Bounded by Djibouti, Sudan, and Ethiopia, Eritrea has acquired Ethiopia’s entire coastline along the Red Sea. The small Eritrean port of Aseb, in the southeast corner of the country, has been designated a free port guaranteeing the right of access to the now landlocked Ethiopia. Eritrea has a coastal plain rising to a belt of plateaux and mountains in the center and north. West of the mountains, the ground descends to form a region of undulating plains.

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Eritrea’s climate is hot and dry, and its desert coast but colder and wetter in the central highland regions. People have traditionally followed an agricultural or pastoral way of life. Eritrea’s natural resources include gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, fish, and probably oil. Deforestation and the consequent erosion are partly responsible for the frequent droughts and resultant famines that have blighted this area in recent years.

Future revenues may come from developing fishing, tourism, and oil industries. Warfare, with its consequent loss of life and displacement of people, coupled with drought and famine, has had a disastrous effect upon Eritrea in the second half of the 20th century. The threat of starvation continues to hang over the country, which faces a long struggle to rebuild its economy.

Google maps™ Equatorial Eritrea

The country of Eritrea resembles a funnel lying on its side and tilted to the southeast. It occupies the northern portion of a high, mountainous plateau reaching north from Ethiopia to the Red Sea. The mountains descend to a high hill rail on the northeast and a low, arid coastal strip along the Red Sea. A corridor of low rolling plains marks the southwestern perimeter with Sudan. Bordering Ethiopia in the southeast, the Danakil Depression at its deepest point lies 130 meters (423 feet) below sea level. The hottest temperatures in the world have been reported there. Only 3 percent of the land is arable.

Eritrea lies along the boundary between the African and Arabian Tectonic Plates. The Great Rift Valley, which extends from Mozambique in southern Africa north into the Middle East, passes near Eritrea’s eastern border.

Eritrea has an eastern coast on the Red Sea, a narrow, landlocked sea that separates Africa from the Arabian Peninsula. In the north, the Red Sea links to the Mediterranean through the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal. In the south, the sea links to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea through the Strait of Mandeb (Bab el Mandeb). The Red Sea is a busy shipping channel, potentially rich in oil and natural gas.

Did you know about Eritrea?

The waters surrounding the more than three hundred islands of the Dahlak Archipelago provide a habitat for diverse marine life species and extensive coral reefs, providing scuba divers with much to explore.

The Great Rift Valley, which passes just outside Eritrea’s western border, is a massive fault system that stretches over 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) from the Jordan Valley in Israel to Mozambique. In general, the Great Rift Valley ranges in elevation from 395 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level at the Dead Sea to 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level in south Kenya. Many volcanoes lie along this rift created by the violent underground activity of the African Plate (Nubian) to the west and the Eurasian, Arabian, Indian, and Somalian Plates to the east.

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