• Eritrea,
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  • Eritrea
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Eritrea

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
Eritrea comes from the Greek word " eruthros ", in reference to the Red Sea. It was named by the Italians, who colonised the country before surrendering to the allies after the Second World War. Eritrean monuments are therefore a testimony of the Italian presence, but the Egyptian and Turkish influences are omnipresent. A great number of tourist attractions are located in Asmara, the capital. You rejoice when contemplating the western low plains, shaped by rivers and valleys, to then benefit from the Eastern coast and the Red Sea. Those considering East Africa should be sure to travel to Eritrea.

Our Editorial team's advice

On arrival, declare all your electronic equipment (cameras, electric razor, etc...); they will be thoroughly checked on departure. Bring a filter to protect the lens of your camera. The locals accept being photographed but ask for a tip in exchange. It is recommended not to take pictures of military installations, the airport, bridges and official buildings. If you have a doubt, don't. When not on the beach, wear long clothes. To eat, only use your right hand and don't touch your lips with your fingers. Do not try to hire a camel for a hike or walk or you will risk being called a zulul (mad) as camels are used to carry merchandise !

pros

  • +The landscapes along the Asmara-Massawa road are splendid.
  • +Swimming and diving in the Red Sea.
  • +The local hospitality

cons

  • -A fragile situation with neighbouring Ethiopia.
  • -A relatively poor country culturally.
  • -Comfort is not optimum in some areas.

Traditions

Eritrea has as many Muslims (Sunni) as Christians (most are Monophysite, but there are large Catholic and Protestant minorities). Catholic churches (Services in local language, but also in English and Italian) and Protestant churches (Service in local language and English) as well as mosques are found in all major towns.

Food

Italian food is found in most restaurants of the big cities. Traditional dishes (Stews, lentils, beans, goat, chicken...), generally very spicy, are served on a kitcha (flat cake) or on an injera (kind of spongy cake made from teff, a local seed). Massawa is renowned for its excellent fish and sea food, such as shrimps and lobsters. Tea and Coffee are an institution. They are served strong with a lot of sugar. In some regions, the coffee is slightly gingered or peppered.

Souvenirs

You can buy gold or silver jewellery (sold by the weight), wooden sculptures, leather items, spears, drums, carpets and weaved objects. On the markets, you are expected to haggle. Shops are generally open from Monday to Saturday, from 8 am. till 1 pm. and from 2h30 to 7h30 pm., yet opening hours vary from one region to another.