Eritrea History and Culture

By | September 15, 2021


In 1960, however, Ethiopia incorporated Eritrea as a province, causing the reaction of the Eritreans, who came organizing themselves into liberation movements (FLE, Eritrean Liberation Front; FPLE, Eritrean Popular Front) whose tenacious armed struggle against the Ethiopian army, conducted with ups and downs, has characterized the recent, troubled history of Eritrea. After the fall of the emperor Haile Selassiè for a military coup (1974), the independence movement successfully relaunched the armed struggle and in 1977 managed to control over 95% of the region, with the exception of large cities such as Massawa and Asmara, which were in fact besieged. The following year, however, the Ethiopian army, victorious over the Somalis in the Ogadèn, concentrated its forces against the Eritrean separatists and, thanks also to the modern armament provided by the Soviets and the help of the Cuban troops, began to regain control of Eritrea. It was only in the second half of the 1980s that the Eritrean resistance regained vigor. To the guerrilla war against the Mengistu regimein crisis also joined the rebels of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigrè (FPLT). In February 1990 the Eritrean guerrillas conquered Massawa and encircled Asmara, while the Revolutionary Popular Democratic Front (FDPRE) born from the unification of the PFLT with the Popular Democratic Movement (MDPE) strengthened its positions. Menghistu’s belated attempts and his own escape (May 21, 1991) failed to reverse the situation. When the FDPRE entered Addis Ababa at the end of May 1991, the FPLE now controlled the whole territory of Eritrea. A quick agreement with the new Ethiopian government defined the path of Eritrea’s independence by setting a special referendum for 1993. At the same time, it was guaranteed the Ethiopia an outlet on the Red Sea declaring Assab and Massawa free ports even if administratively dependent on Eritrea. The consultation, held under the control of the UN (23-25 ​​April 1993), was attended by 95% of the electors and 99.8% declared themselves in favor of independence which was solemnly proclaimed a month later, with the election of Isaias Afeworki at the head of the state. Immediate Ethiopian recognition was followed by that of the international community and on May 28, 1993 Eritrea was admitted to the UN. Finally independent, the country was thus able to begin a new page in its history: it faced some common issues in the Horn of Africa area with a certain determination: in December 1994 it broke off diplomatic relations with Sudan, accused of interference and of wanting to destabilize the country by financing Islamic fundamentalist groups. In December 1995 he occupied the islet (Grande Hanish) in the Red Sea disputed with Yemen (later returned in 1998). New constitutional rights were introduced, laws for the protection of the environment, infrastructures were rebuilt and efforts were made to improve the living conditions of the population. This positive path was interrupted, however, with the introduction, at the end of 1997, of its own currency (nakfa): this decision meant the end of the monetary union between Eritrea and Ethiopia and was not approved by the latter which blocked trade. between the two countries. The disagreements extended from the economic to the political sphere and the lack of consensual definition of a border between the two states led to the outbreak of the military conflict in June 1998: the disputed area of ​​Tigray was invaded at the end of May by Eritrean troops. OUA, at the beginning of 1999 the war resumed with violence both on the land and on the air front. The armed clashes continued throughout 2000 until on 12 December of the same year, Eritrean President Afeworki and the premier Ethiopian M. Zenawi signed a peace agreement in Algiers, which formally ended the two years of war. On the border between the two states in Eritrean territory, a demilitarized band was created in 2001 under the control of the UN. However, relations between the two countries remained tense and only in 2006 did Eritrea resume talks with Ethiopia, while an international commission charged with finding a solution to the crisis dissolved with nothing in 2007. UN Security Council approved an embargo against the arms trade and some financial sanctions against the country.


According to getzipcodes, the numerous ethnic groups that live in Eritrea, in addition to having different languages, have also developed completely original lifestyles and customs, also due to the different environments in which they live. This makes the country a model of cultural and religious diversity; in Asmara, close to each other, there is a Catholic cathedral, a mosque, a synagogue and an Orthodox church. Women enjoy greater freedom and rights than in other African countries. As in Ethiopia, dance is also very important in Eritrea; the most characteristic and best known, as in Ethiopia, is the iskista, other dances are performed on the occasion of religious holidays or special occasions. The musical instruments are the traditional Ethiopian ones: stringed instruments such as the krar and the wata, a breath like embilta or shambko. The cuisine is very similar to that which can be found in Ethiopia; the spicy sauce (called wat) adds flavor to meat dishes, including the famous zigni; the most used meats are lamb and kid. Another extremely tasty condiment is sils, made with tomatoes and onions. Artisan products are different local cheeses and yoghurt. The pasta dishes are a legacy of the Italian colonial past. The drinks that are consumed most frequently are tea and coffee, which in the western area, towards Sudan, is flavored with ginger. A local beer is also brewed and a particular type of gin, called ouzo.

Eritrea Culture