13 unique facts you should know about Eritrea

eritrea fun facts

Located in the “horn of Africa,” Eritrea houses a unique tank graveyard, ancient ruins, and the UNESCO-listed Asmara, the capital city known as the ‘Modernist African City.’

This small country bordering Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, and the Red Sea is rich in culture, with nine ethnic groups living in the region.

Here are some fun facts about Eritrea that you should know about.

1. Eritrea Comes From The Greek Word Erythra Thalassa’

The Greek word “Erythra Thalassa” means ” the Red Sea.”

Eritrea is situated on the Red Sea. Its coastal line has impacted its culture, history, and name.

2. The Oldest Human Skull Was Found In Eritrea

An international team of palaeoanthropologists discovered a million-year-old skull in Eritrea’s Afar region. The remains contain the traits of both Homo Sapiens and Homo Erectus.

3. The Powerful Ancient Kingdom Of Aksum Is In Eritrea

The early Aksum Kingdom encircles the present-day Ethiopia, Tigray, and Eritrea regions. The Aksum Kingdom existed between 100AD to 940AD.

During this time, the kingdom played a crucial role in the trade route between the Middle East and the Roman Empire.

Once, Aksum was one of the largest markets in North-Eastern Africa. Legends say that it was the hometown of the Queen of Sheba and the resting location for the Ark of the Covenant.

The Kingdom of Aksum at its greatest extent in the 6th century
The Kingdom of Aksum at its greatest extent in the 6th century

4. The ‘City of Qohaito’ Is A Famous Site Of Aksumite Ruins

The City of Qohaito is one of the most famous Aksumite ruins. The location includes four columns of the Mariam Wakino temple, which is believed to have existed as a pre-Christian church.

SEE ALSO:  18 Fun Facts About Nigeria That Are Rather Surprising

In addition, there are several rock art sites and remains of six other temples, including the Adi Alauti cave and a shelter with more than a hundred painted figures.

Rock art in the Adi Alauti cave
Rock art in the Adi Alauti cave

5. Eritrea’s capital Is Known As ‘Italy’s African City’ or ‘New Rome’

The capital city of Eritrea, Asmara, is known as the ‘New Rome’ or ‘Italy’s African City,’ mainly for its Italian architecture. In 1890, Italy invaded Eritrea and built more than 400 Italian-style buildings.

Some of the famous buildings in the city include the former Casa del Fascio (today’s Ministry of Education), the Cinema Capitol, and the Decemhare Villa.

Asmara is called the ‘Modernist African City’ by UNESCO as it is a well-preserved example of a planned colonial city.

casa de fascio
Former Casa del Fascio

6. Home To A Tank Graveyard

A tank graveyard in Asmara is a popular touristic destination filled with old trucks, vehicles, and military tanks.

It is a reminder of the battle for Eritrea’s Independence. The war started in 1961 and ended in 1991 when the country was finally independent of Ethiopia.

7. The Dahlak Archipelago Is World Famous For Pearl Production

The archipelago of the Dahlak group of islands is located in the Red Sea near Massawa in Eritrea. It has two large and 24 small islands. The archipelago is famous for its pearl production.

Since the early Roman times, the fisheries in the islands were the primary source of pearls. Even today, the island produces a significant amount of pearls.

Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea as seen from the International Space Station
Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea as seen from the International Space Station

8. 14000 Fish Species Live In Eritrea

There are 14000+ fish species present in Eritrea. 17% of these are exclusive to the country.

SEE ALSO:  13 Fun Facts About Gambia Revealing the Hidden Secrets

9. In 1998, Eritrea Fought A War With Ethiopia

The war started on May 6th, 1998, over the control of the border town of Badme, a dusty and humble town.

Six months after the war ended in 2000, an agreement was signed setting up an Ethiopia-Eritrea boundary commission.

10. The Port City Of Massawa Is Known As The “Pearl of The Red Sea”

The port city of Massawa is also known as the ‘Pearl of the Red Sea,’ mainly for its Egyptian, Ottoman, and Italian architecture.

However, the war of independence in Eritrea damaged the city.

Historic centre of Massawa
Historic center of Massawa

11. Home To The Finest Collection Of Art Deco Architecture

Eritrea is home to some of the world’s best art deco architecture collections. Several remains of Futurist, Rationalist, and other modern architectural styles from the colonial period of Italy are present.

Futurist-style service station in Asmara
Futurist-style service station in Asmara

12. Thousands Of Women Fought In The War Of Independence

Eritrean women played a significant role in the country’s war for independence. 30% of the freedom fighters were women.

13. Eritrea Has Had Only One President: Isaias Afwerki

Eritrea received independence in 1993 and is a one-party state. Since 2004, the country has not held any local or regional elections. Since 1993, there have been no national or presidential elections.

Afwerki Isaias is the president of Eritrea, with 75 national assembly representatives since 1993.


Since discovering how much fun and learning are to be had traveling, Alex has made it a point to tour his home country and continent while still in his heydays. His ultimate desire is to travel farther afield to see the wonders of Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia. When he isn’t traveling, he takes his time to write about various places to share his experiences with other global citizens.

Recent Posts