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Eritrea, officially the State of Eritrea, is a nation in the Horn of Africa bordered by Sudan to the west, Ethiopia to the south, and Djibouti to the southeast. Its northern and eastern parts have a coastline on the Red Sea; its name ‘Eritrea’ is actually based on the Greek name for the Red Sea. Eritrea is a multi-ethnic country, with nine recognised ethnic groups and approximately six million residents. Its capital and largest city is Asmara. Other important cities in the country include Asseb, Massawa, Keren, and Mendefera.
What to see & do
Admiring the beautiful landscape of Eritrea is an attraction itself when visiting this African country. Eritrea is characterised by north-south trending highlands, which descends on the east to a coastal desert plain. On the northwest of the country is a hilly terrain, while the southwest has rolling plains. Because of the diverse typography of the Great Rift Valley, Eritrea has a varied and contrasting landscape that offers a nice backdrop. The country has six main topographical features – the highlands, the western lowlands, the Sahel, the subtropical eastern escarpments, the northern coast and archipelago, and the southern coast – that all showcase Eritrea’s most interesting natural attractions. The highlands is where Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, is situated. It is characterised by valleys, hills, and plateaus, as well as dramatic chasms and gorges. Villages in this area feature stone houses, Christian and Muslim temples, and mules and camels as means of transporting goods. Martyrs National Park can be found in the outskirts of Asmara, near the village of Tselot. The park covers a mountainous forest and wildlife preserve.
Eritrea’s western lowlands is characterised by grassy, muddy, and green plains, interrupted by odd hills and mounts and three seasonal rivers and one perennial river. On the southern half of the lowlands are African Savannah and wild African elephants, while the northern half, which is part of the Sahara desert, features sand dunes and rocks. The market town of Tessenei is one of the destinations here.
In northern Eritrea is the Sahel, situated on the eastern edges of the Sahara desert. The Sahel includes a narrow chain of mountains populated by herding nomads on the slopes to the east and west. The central and northern core of the region features amazing mountain passes, gorges, and valleys. The town of Nakfa in the Sahel has a war museum that commemorates the liberation struggle.
The subtropical eastern escarpment, on the other hand, is home to the only subtropical rainforest in Eritrea, as well as one of the largest selections of bird species on the world. The Solomouna National Park is located here, which offers guided tours.
The northern coast and archipelago is known for its sandy red-brown and beige semi-desert. Tourism hotspots here include the hot springs resort that offers hot mineral water baths. Some of Red Sea’s beautiful coral reefs can also be found in this region, with marine life including dugongs, mantas, tigerfish, dolphins, and sharks. The coast of Eritrea hosts great fiving opportunities, particularly in Massawa. For pristine beaches and lagoons, the Dahlak islands is the place to be.
Finally, the southern coast features volcanoes, quicksand, sulphuric mudpools, salt lakes, coastal cliffs, and depressions. Located between Massawa and Assab, this region can only be toured with guides due to the extreme climate as well as the political volatility near the Ethiopian border.
Other places of interest in Eritrea are mostly located in the capital Asmara, including the Asmara Cathedral, Enda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral, Asmara Theatre and Opera House, Al Khalufa Al Rashiudin Mosque, and Fiat Tagliero. Recreation activities that can be enjoyed include hiking, rock climbing, and mountainbiking.
How to get around within Eritrea
The capital city of Eritrea, Asmara, is served by 10 downtown bus lines, distinguished by Red Mercedes Benz buses bearing a sign in the front which says the destination. The buses go between the airport and the zoo in Biet Ghiorghis, the main streets in downtown Asmara, and between the downtown marketplace and the nearby villages. There are also white minibuses that run on the main streets, as well as yellow taxis with fixed routes. Trains in Eritrea travel between Teseney, Agordat, Keren, and Asmara.
How to get there
The main international airports serving Eritrea is Asmara International Airport. Located in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, the airport is served by EgyptAir, Eritrean Airlines, Nova Airways, Qatar Airways, Sudan Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Yemenia. It has flights to and from Cairo, Jeddah, Kassala, Khartoum, Doha, Istanbul, and Sana’a.

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