Eritrea in 2022

Eritrea in 2022

Our Series on Secessions leads us to Eritrea, a country whose history is linked to many foreign powers.

The Ottoman Empire, which aimed to control the entire Red Sea region, took control of Eritrea in the 16th Century, but its control was mostly limited to a few coastal areas. Italian merchants started to settle in the area in the 1860s, and by 1890, Italy had formally established its Colony of Eritrea. Its capital, Asmara, became a centre of Italian culture.

Italy had the ambition to become the sole regional power by establishing a protectorate over neighbouring Ethiopia, but this was done after a colonial war that alienated Italy from France and Great Britain, European powers which also had ambitions in Eastern Africa. As the World descended into World War II, Britain took control of the entire region and after the War, the United Nations decided that Eritrea should form a federation with Ethiopia, despite the major ethnic and historical differences between both entities.

This led to a long war of independence, and after Ethiopia agreed to a UN-monitored referendum on independence, Eritrea became a separate country in 1993.

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