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Preface Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:28 PM

Eritrea is Africa’s newest country, having achieved its de facto independence in 1991 following a 30-year war with neighboring Ethiopia. Its origins are ancient, as evidenced by its many prehistoric archaeological sites and the ruins of Adulis, a port city believed to have been founded by the Greeks in 600 B.C.

From the 1880s to 1991, Eritrea was successively under Italian, British, and Ethiopian rule. The country was federated with Ethiopia in 1952. Over the next 10 years Ethiopia gradually eroded the institutions that gave Eritrea a degree of autonomy, and finally, in 1962 abolished the federation altogether and made Eritrea an Ethiopian province.

These actions led to the three-decade war for independence, in which the Eritrean forces challenged one of Africa’s largest armies. The war ended in 1991 when Eritrean forces captured Asmara and the socialist dictatorship of Haile Mariam Mengistu in Addis Ababa collapsed. In 1993, Eritreans overwhelmingly voted for independence in a UN-supervised referendum.

Under a transitional government headed by the former liberation movement, the EPLF, the Eritreans made an impressive start in rebuilding the economy, institutions and infrastructure in 1991. The EPLF formally ended its existence and became the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), Eritrea’s only political party. The PFDJ drafted a constitution and issued proclamations pending parliamentary and presidential elections. Plans for a transition to a full democracy have been indefinitely delayed as a result of a border conflict that began in May 1998, which led to renewed fighting with Ethiopia. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides have been killed or wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have been internally displaced. In addition, 75,000 Eritreans have been forcibly expelled from Ethiopia. Finally, through an OAU-led mediation effort that included the participation of the U.S. and the E.U., a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in June 2000. This was followed by the signing of a peace agreement in December 2000.

The 30-year war both helped form and continues to define the Eritrean character. They are a proud, resourceful and determined people, filled with a spirit of self-help and independence. During the independence struggle, fighters (about one-third of them women) taught villagers and one another to read and write, and formed cultural troupes to teach villages about the diverse cultural, religious and ethnic traditions to be found within Eritrea. Indeed, one of Eritrea’s greatest achievements has been the creation of a cohesive and tolerant society from such diversity. Eritrea can also boast a government virtually free of corruption, and safe cities where citizens are not afraid to walk the streets at night. Despite their long ordeal, Eritreans have retained a sense of humor and are a remarkably friendly and welcoming people.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:30 PM

About the size of Pennsylvania, Eritrea is a country of stark and dramatic landscapes from its 630-mile Red Sea coastline to its high craggy mountains to the desolate Danakil Depression. To the north and west is the Sudan, with Ethiopia and Djibouti to the south. The capital of Asmara, at 7,600 feet above sea level, is located on a high plateau in the center of the country. The descent from Asmara to the port of Massawa is one of the most spectacular drives in the world, taking nearly three hours over hairpin curves to cover the 65 miles to the coast. Off the coast are some 350 islands, most of them uninhabited and little explored. The coral reefs which surround many of the islands were left undisturbed by tourism and over-fishing during the long war, and are among the healthiest in the world. The country’s lowest point is minus 75 meters, near Dalul in the Danakil Depression; its highest is Mount Soira at 3,018 meters. Only about 12% of the land is arable.

The climate in the central highlands, including Asmara, is near perfection, usually in the 70’s or 80’s during the day, cooling off to the 50’s at night. There is little humidity and it seldom rains except during the July/August rainy season when daily afternoon showers are the norm. Asmara receives about 21 inches of rain each year. April, May and June are the warmest months on the plateau, with the cooler season stretching from November to March.

Temperatures in the lowlands can be scorchingly hot, typically ranging from 105ºF to 120ºF, sometimes more, in August. Along the coast, including in the port cities of Massawa and Assab, high humidity often accompanies the heat. Winter highs here are around 90, with evening temperatures in the 70s.

The country has been sadly deforested by the war, and by the need for heating and cooking fuel, and feed for livestock. Some attempts have been made to reforest but with varying success. Almost any kind of flower seems to do well in the highlands, but much of the lowlands is limited to various acacias, scrub and cactus plants. Wildlife includes an impressive array of birds, including raptors and water birds, some of which are migrants and some of which are unique only to Eritrea and little documented. Wild animals include baboons, monkeys, ostriches, hyenas, and gazelles. The hope was that the end of the liberation struggle would see traditional wildlife return to the region, but the renewed fighting is a deterrent. There is the occasional report of a leopard sighting, and elephants have been sighted recently in the west of the country.

Population Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:33 PM

Eritrea’s population is estimated at close to 3,500,000, the numbers swollen recently with some 75,000 people expelled from Ethiopia following the renewal of hostilities. In addition, the UNHCR has registered 150,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan for voluntary repatriation following the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries in January 2000. However, more than one million Eritreans were displaced as a result of the war with Ethiopia and of drought. Approximately 400,000 people live in the capital; the next largest cities are: Keren (75,000), Massawa (24,000), and Assab (21,000).

The people are composed of nine major tribal and ethnic groups: Tigrinya (50%), Tigre and Kunama (40%), Afar (4%), Saho (3%), and the remaining 3% are made up of Begia, Bilen, Nara, and Rashaida. Each has its own language, mode of dress and cultural traditions. About half the country is Moslem, living primarily in the lowlands. The other half, mostly highlanders, is Christian, primarily Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic, although there are small Protestant communities.

The government’s official working languages are Tigrinya and Arabic, though most officials speak English, and a great deal of diplomatic and commercial business is conducted in English. English is also the language of instruction in public schools from the 6th grade onward, including at the University of Asmara. Ge’ez, an ancestor of Tigrinya, Amharic, and Tigre, survives as the liturgical language of the Orthodox Church.

Western dress predominates in the capital, especially for men and young people. Women can often be seen in the traditional dress of white cotton with a colorful border. The traditional dress for men, also white, is seldom used in Asmara except for ceremonial occasions.

The cuisine will be familiar to anyone who has eaten at an Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurant. The staple is zigny, a highly spiced stew containing mutton, beef, goat, or sometimes chicken.

The stew is ladled into the center of a large flat fermented bread called injera. Diners then use their hands to break off pieces of the bread and scoop up bite-size pieces of the zigny. Italian dishes, particularly pastas and pizza, are also readily available. Many Orthodox Christians, as well as Moslems, do not eat pork. Orthodox Church members abstain from meat and animal products two days a week, as well as for long periods leading up to Christmas and Easter.

There are no family names in Eritrea. A child is given a “first” name, and then takes the name of his father as a “last” name. Women do not change their names after marriage, but they do change their title from Woizerit (Miss) to Woizero (Mrs.). Men are addressed as Ato (Mr.).

Although the Western calendar is used for business and official purposes, it co-exists with both the Moslem and traditional Orthodox calendars. The latter runs eight years behind the Western calendar and the year begins on September 11; it has twelve 30-day months, plus an extra “month” of 5 or 6 days. Days of the week are identical to Western usage.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:34 PM

Eritrea began statehood in 1993 under a provisional government, which created the Constituent Assembly, charged with drafting a constitution and laws. After the successful referendum for independence in 1993, the Provisional Government gave way to the Government of the State of Eritrea. After ratification of the Constitution in 1997, the Constituent Assembly gave way to a National Assembly, with members either appointed or elected; it was established as one of three independent branches of government and its initial tasks were to create an election code to be followed by Parliamentary and Presidential elections. However, due to the conflict with Ethiopia, elections have been postponed indefinitely, as has full implementation of the Constitution.

The legislative branch of the transitional government, called the National Assembly, is the highest legislative authority in Ethiopia. The National Assembly has met only sporadically since being created but, when fully established, it will be responsible for national policies, enactment of laws and their implementation, as well as approving the budget. It chose Isaias Afwerki as its President with 95% of the vote. The Assembly is a unicameral body; its 150 members include:

75 representatives appointed from the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. The PFDJ is the political party that succeeded the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which waged the successful struggle for independence;

60 elected members of the constituent assembly; and

15 people chosen from the Eritrean Diaspora. The President serves as both chief of state and head of government under the transitional government. As such, he is head of both the National Assembly and the State Council, a collective executive authority akin to a Cabinet. The President is responsible for nominating people to head the various Ministries and Commissions and Agencies, which make up the Executive Branch, subject to the approval of the National Assembly. President Isaias is also Chairman of the PFDJ-the only political party recognized by the Government, though other interests groups do exist.

When the Constitution is fully implemented, the Judicial Branch will operate independently of both the legislative and executive branches of government; there is already in place a court system extending from the village through the district, provincial and national levels. The justice system consists of a Supreme Court, 10 provincial courts and 29 district courts.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:35 PM

The Eritrean education system, having suffered a severe decline during the war, was given a top priority by the new Eritrean Government. School attendance is compulsory and free through grade seven. At the primary and secondary school levels, 331 new schools were constructed between 1991 and 1998, and another 356 were rehabilitated. The number of teachers increased by 33%. Despite this achievement, as of 1997, only 29% of elementary-age children, 8% of junior high school, and 10% of high school students were attending school. The overall literacy rate is only about 30% for men and 15% for women.

University-level education began in Eritrea with the 1958 establishment of the Santa Famiglia, a small private Catholic school administered and largely staffed by Italian Sisters. In 1967, the school was renamed as the University of Asmara, but it remained privately funded and never resembled a national university. In 1990, Ethiopia moved the university (students, staff and materials) to Ethiopia.

Thus, at liberation, Eritrea had no university in any real sense of the word. The University of Asmara now enrolls about 4,350 students and is crucial to the economic development of the country. As such, its priorities are training to produce secondary school teachers, government and economic development workers, and academics to eventually fill the university’s faculty needs. Another goal is expansion of the university to include advanced degree programs.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:37 PM

Considerable remittances from Eritreans living abroad mask the fact that Eritrea is one of the world’s poorest countries. Its economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture with nearly 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. Per capita income is $240 a year (1999 estimate). The population growth rate is over 3%.

At independence, Eritrea faced the problems of being a small, desperately poor African country with few natural resources; a workforce trained for little other than warfare and traditional agriculture; outmoded light industries; poor infrastructure, with roads, communications and whole towns destroyed by the war.

Eritrea began to tackle these problems with all the determination it had exhibited in winning its independence. Though the 1998 resumption of hostilities with Ethiopia forced Eritrea to put many of its plans on hold — and will create new ones — it had made an impressive start toward rebuilding. Roads, despite the heavy beating they took during the struggle, are now in better shape than in most other African countries and the railroad between Asmara and the Massawa port has been partially rebuilt. A major electric power generating project is underway but the site was bombed in May 2000, which will lead to a lengthy setback. Domestic and international telephone services have improved markedly, although the country still does not have cellular services. Internet service became available in November 2000. Eritrea’s first international-class hotel, the Asmara Palace, opened in 1999 and is managed by the Inter-Continental chain.

To attract investors, a top priority, the government created one of the most liberal investment climates in Africa. The investment code provides a number of incentives for investors, including no taxes on exports and items brought in for re-export; a reduced tax rate over several years; and free movement of any amount of capital in and out of the country for both Eritrean and foreign investors.

Apart from infrastructure improvements, the government has privatized more than two-thirds of the 42 state-owned enterprises nationalized by the former Ethiopian Government, including a brewery and milk, soap, textile, furniture, cigarette, leather, oil, metal, machinery and candy factories. It has plans to modernize the textile, glass and leather industries, and is also in the process of developing a fisheries industry. Other potential opportunities for American businesses can be found in energy (oil, natural gas, and thermal), agriculture, food processing, construction, mining (including gold), telecommunications, tourism and general consumer goods. The American petroleum company, Anadarko, found offshore oil in 1999 but not in commercially recoverable quantities. At present, no energy companies are exploring for petroleum or gas.

Transportation Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:39 PM

One of the delights of Asmara is that nothing is more than a 5- or 10-minute drive, or a 15- to 30-minute bike ride, from anything else. The city is small enough for most people to traverse the central area on foot in not much more than an hour.

Asmara traffic is light even in rush hour, but newcomers should be warned that Eritreans are inattentive drivers and pedestrians, paying little attention to traffic around them, and frequently walk or enter into traffic without a glance at what might be coming. Fortunately, the normal speed for Eritrean drivers in Asmara is only 15 to 20 mph, so serious accidents in the capital are rare. The road to Massawa is another matter. It is necessary to pay close attention on the winding, steep descent because Eritrean truckers and other drivers often drive either in the middle of the road or, when swinging around curves, take the oncoming lane. One mistake risks a drop of a thousand feet or more in the upper parts of the road, and there are few guardrails.

Given the compactness of the city, it is possible to spend a tour in Asmara without a personal vehicle, although it would make shopping less convenient, and travel outside the city very difficult. Because Asmara is small, the ability to take trips outside of town can be important. As of this writing, several Embassy employees who do not have personal vehicles at post are using bicycles or a local taxi service that is on-call when needed. Other options are the very cheap taxi service, and even cheaper local buses (which do not meet U.S. safety standards) for inter-city travel. For trips out of town, employees can rent cars, with or without drivers, at about the same prices as in the U.S. The Embassy also has a policy of allowing employees to rent official cars and drivers, when available, for trips outside of town on regularly traveled roads. Employees must pay mileage and per diem (including overtime) for the driver.

Employees who want a personal vehicle should not count on buying one at post. Cars are scarce at present and very expensive. Also, no vehicle more than 10 years old may be imported into Eritrea.

A standard economy car is adequate for Asmara and main paved roads. Any real exploration of the countryside, however, requires a four-wheel-drive with good clearance. Air-conditioning is not needed in Asmara, but is important for lowland travel. European and Japanese cars prevail; repair services exist, but the right spare parts cannot always be found. Diesel fuel and regular gasoline are available, but there is no high-octane or unleaded gasoline in the country. The Embassy has a pump with diesel and gasoline for employee purchase.

The Embassy will assist in obtaining drivers licenses, license plates, automobile registration and insurance. It is necessary to purchase third-party coverage locally.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:40 PM

Telephones are installed in all Embassy housing. The quality and service are generally good, but calls to and from Eritrea are among the most expensive in the world (currently about $3.00 a minute). To cut costs the Embassy subscribes to a call-back service, which employees may use on a reimbursable basis for personal business. Residential call-back service is also readily available. Employees are billed for their usage of the home line once a month. Fax machines are available at the Embassy and at other places in town. Several companies offer E-mail only services for personal home use and the monthly fee is expensive by U.S. standards. Web access is due in August 2000.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:40 PM

Both the international mail and the pouch usually take 2 to 3 weeks. The usual restrictions on pouch service apply, e.g., no glass, liquids or aerosol containers; no mail (other than returned catalog merchandise, from employees to the U.S.) larger than a videotape cassette or more than 2 pounds; no more than 24 inches in length and not more than 62 inches width and girth combined; no mailing tubes longer than 32 inches; and a maximum weight of 40 pounds.

There are two ways to receive mail in Asmara: through the international mail or through the diplomatic pouch. The local post office, unlike in many third world countries, is reliable, though any private packages must be cleared through customs. The mailing addresses are:

Pouch Service (revised 6/00) Name 7170 Asmara Pl. International Name U.S. Embassy

Department of State P.O. Box 211 Washington DC 20521–7170 Asmara, Eritrea

Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:41 PM

Eritrea has one television station that broadcasts a half-hour of English news nightly and an occasional film in English, but most programs are in Tigrinya and Arabic. Additional television programming is available by satellite, including CNN, two movie channels with fairly recent offerings, two BBC channels, one with news the other with sitcoms and specials, cartoon channels, MTV-style programming, the Discovery, Hallmark and Travel channels, several sports channels and one channel offering nothing but cooking programs. This TV service also has programming in Chinese, Italian, Portuguese and Greek as well as international radio stations (VOA, BBC 1 and 2, RFI and very wide range of non-commercial music stations). Subscription to the satellite service is expensive by American standards, and it is necessary to purchase a satellite dish locally.

Both local and satellite TV operate on the European PAL system; videotapes available locally are made for the same system. To enjoy programming and videotapes available in Ethiopia, as well as American videotapes, it is absolutely necessary to have a multi-system TV/VCR that can handle both PAL and the U.S. NTSC systems. In purchasing the equipment, make certain that it uses the same system as found in Eritrea.

There are two local radio stations, one AM and one FM. The VOA and the BBC broadcast in English to Eritrea but the quality of reception can vary greatly.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:42 PM

There are ten Eritrean newspapers, including one, The Eritrean Profile, in English. Some Western magazines, including Time, Newsweek, and The Economist, are available locally. Very few books in English are available.

The Media. The Eritrean media consists of one government-owned television station, three official newspapers, one magazine, and two radio stations. There are seven independent newspapers. Freedom of the press is guaranteed under the Constitution, which has been ratified but not implemented. Though there is no official censorship, government reaction to some criticism by the media has at times been harsh, including the jailing of reporters and editors. As a result, the independent media exercise a form of self-censorship.

Health and Medicine Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:45 PM

The first medical challenge for newcomers is acclimatization to Asmara’s 7,400 feet elevation. Since the air is thinner at that height, some people may initially experience shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches and difficulty sleeping. The dry climate can cause dehydration, irritate the eyes of contact lens wearers, and exacerbate respiratory diseases and allergies. Given the altitude and Eritrea’s proximity to the equator, it is necessary to take extra precautions against sun damage.

The most common illnesses found in Eritrea are upper respiratory and gastrointestinal, malaria and measles. Communicable diseases of concern include tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and meningitis.

Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are not a problem in the highlands, but are found in the lowlands. Malaria suppressants are thus not necessary in Asmara and other highland areas, but are recommended for the lowlands. Insect repellents, while rarely needed in Asmara, are essential for the lowlands, particularly on the coast.

All water for consumption should be boiled and filtered. The Embassy provides electric water filters for each house. In a rare case of a long power interruption, keep in mind that the boiling temperature of water is lower at higher altitudes. Local mineral water is safe. All fruits and vegetables must be peeled, cooked or disinfected by soaking in a solution of bleach (available locally) and water.

A Health Unit is located on the Embassy grounds for all official Americans and their dependents. It is staffed by a American Foreign Service Health Practitioner and an FSN nurse, with the regional medical officer based in Saudi Arabia paying quarterly visits.

All immunizations are currently available at the health unit. A basic supply of medicines is on hand for emergencies, and the health unit also stocks preventive medicines, including malaria suppressants. The supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines in local pharmacies is limited and unreliable.

Medical, dental, diagnostic, and hospital facilities in Eritrea do not meet Western standards. They are, in general, overcrowded, have a limited stock of medicines, and are poorly maintained; limited laboratory tests and x-ray services are available. A new clinic has opened that is better equipped than most, but patients requiring medical assistance other than basic services are evacuated to London or the U.S. There is one Western-standard dental facility, but others are not recommended for routine use. Employees and their dependents should have all necessary dental work done before arrival at post. In case of dental emergencies, evacuation may also be authorized.

Though the health unit and local pharmacies have a limited supply of medicines for emergencies, employees must bring with them into the country all needed prescription and non-prescription medicines and supplies for both routine and chronic medical conditions. This includes items such as aspirins, bandages, adult and baby acetaminophen, vitamins, cough syrups, and any other medicines needed for routine home-treatable conditions. Other useful items recommended are: a thermometer, mosquito repellent, Dramamine against motion sickness on winding roads, tampons, sun block, hand and body creams, and contact lens supplies, as well as an extra pair of glasses and the prescriptions for both.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:46 PM

The Embassy is presently small and there are usually jobs available for Eligible Family Members (EFMs) who want them, although the choice of jobs is limited. As of this writing, the State Department has three EFM (part time intermittent, temporary) positions. AID also has occasional jobs open. Salaried positions outside the Embassy are very limited. There are a number of international organizations and businesses that sometimes look for expatriate staff locally. However, there is no bilateral agreement on the employment of spouses and dependents of diplomats. Obtaining an Eritrean work permit requires foreigners and their potential employees to engage in a process to ensure that no qualified Eritrean candidates are available.

American Embassy - Asmara

Post City Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:48 PM

Clean, safe, unpolluted, a near-perfect climate, interesting architecture and friendly people-all describe Eritrea’s capital of Asmara. It is located on a high rocky plateau two miles from a breath-taking escarpment.

The city has a small-town atmosphere where people walk anywhere day or night without fear of harassment. The downtown shopping district along the palm tree-lined main boulevard comes alive at night, when the inevitable cool evening breezes draw residents out for a stroll. There are many small cafes offering cappuccino, fruit juices, snacks, ice cream or beer. A series of traditional markets winds behind the main avenue offering foodstuffs, spices, handmade baskets, furniture, jewelry, religious artifacts and other items for sale.

Asmara escaped serious damage during the war but it suffered from very limited maintenance or expansion of needed infrastructure during the 30-year struggle. Thus, Asmara’s charming architecture-essentially unique in Africa-though badly deteriorated, survived intact. Asmara is a marvel of modern Italian architecture, reflecting Italy’s long colonial and post-colonial presence in the country and in some areas, the city appears like a postcard from 50 years in the past. One particularly fine example is an art deco style gas station in the shape of an airplane.

The Embassy is located a short stroll from the town center.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:52 PM

A U.S. Consulate was opened on the existing Embassy compound in 1950. In early 1977, the Ethiopian Government ordered the closure of all consulates in Eritrea. The U.S. Consulate reopened in 1992, and became an Embassy in 1993 concurrent with the Eritrean referendum for independence. A U.S. military communications facility, Kagnew Station, operated in Asmara from post-World War II until 1975 and other facilities were added later. At its peak, 3,000 military personnel were assigned to Asmara. The Kagnew Station grounds and buildings are now used by the Eritrean Government.

The Embassy compound resembles a school campus, with lots of grass, trees and flowers. The Chancery, Administrative Section, Communications, and GSO all occupy separate buildings. A Defense Attaché’s Office, Security Assistance Office, and the Public Diplomacy Section have been opened on the compound. AID is in its own quarters a short drive from the Embassy. The Peace Corps withdrew Volunteers and staff in the wake of the 1998 fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 1999, the office was closed indefinitely.

The Embassy workweek is Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. New staff members are expected to call on the Ambassador and DCM, who might recommend other appointments within, or outside, the Mission. Business cards may be ordered upon arrival though quality is uneven. The Mission prints its own invitations. Representational responsibilities are especially significant for the Ambassador, DCM, AID Director, and public affairs officer. Diplomatic functions are typically receptions and dinners and are almost always informal. Eritrean men invited to dinner may or may not bring their wives, and Eritrean women may or may not bring their husbands.

The Embassy does not have a snackbar, but several restaurants as well as the town center are within easy walking distance. The Embassy telephone exchange is open 24 hours a day. If there is a problem after hours, ask for the duty officer.

All new arrivals are met and assisted through customs and immigration and are assigned sponsors to assist in orientation, office check-in and getting settled.

Telephone: (291–1) 12–00–04 Fax: (291–1) 12–75–84 E-mail:


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:52 PM

Newcomers usually move directly into permanent housing. In case houses are not ready, hotels are used for temporary lodging. The Intercontinental Asmara Palace, opened in 1999, is the best hotel in town, but some people opt for the Sunshine Hotel, a short walk to the Embassy.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:52 PM

Permanent housing for all agencies at the Mission is under short-term lease and is assigned by an inter-agency housing board. A typical Asmara house is one story with 3 bedrooms, 1 to 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living/dining room, and has a small garden surrounded by walls. In back is usually a separate building containing several rooms intended for servants’ quarters. Since most household help do not live in, the space is usually used for storage of consumables and other items.

Furnishings Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:53 PM

Furniture is also provided, including carpets, lamps, and standard items for the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms.

Employees must supply their own china, glassware, flatware, kitchen utensils, table linens, bedding, towels, small kitchen appliances, scatter rugs, pictures, an iron and ironing board, cleaning implements such as mops, brooms, and sponges, and any items for decorating. Most houses do not have curtains; windows are instead covered by wooden pull-down shades.

Newcomers receive a Welcome Kit, containing the basic essentials for housekeeping, for use until their airfreight arrives.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/14/2004 1:59 PM

Telephone service, water supply, and electricity are generally reliable but there are occasional disruptions. All residences have underground water tanks that the Embassy fills in case of city shortages. All houses are equipped with a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, freezer, microwave, electric water filter, vacuum cleaner, transformers, fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. Electric heaters and humidifiers are available upon request, but air-conditioners and fans are not necessary.

Most houses have 220v and a very few also have 110v (the latter a legacy of Kagnew Station), 50 cycle lines and outlets. In some houses the 110v lines can only handle light appliances such as lamps; they cannot handle microwaves, food processors, and hairdryers.

The Embassy provides transformers for conversion of electricity, but newcomers should familiarize themselves with which outlets provide which voltage. Most outlets are made to receive European style two-pronged plugs, but there are some American-style outlets providing 220v. Plugging an American item into one of these will result in an instantly fried appliance. Plug adapters are available locally. The electrical voltage fluctuates quite a bit, and there are power outages. Surge protectors for sensitive equipment are a necessity. Home computers should be protected by an uninterruptible power source (UPS).

Voltage stabilizers, available locally, are also recommended.

Food Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:02 PM

There is no commissary in Asmara, but employees do receive a consumables allowance. Several times a year, the Embassy also organizes a joint order from a European supplier for a variety of refrigerated and fresh goods, including poultry, hams and sausages, long-life sour cream, cheese, and frozen berries.

There is a plentitude of little corner stores in Asmara packed with everything from foodstuffs to batteries to bottled water, cigarettes and beer. In addition, there are large open-air covered markets for vegetables, grains and spices. There are also a number of very good bakeries in town, offering bread, baguettes, rolls and pita bread, as well as pastries, including chocolate donuts. Homemade ice cream is available in a few restaurants but is not as rich as American ice cream. Brown and whole-grain breads can be ordered and purchased at the Inter-Continental Hotel though the bread is extremely expensive by Eritrean standards.

Local fresh produce is inexpensive and easily obtained from corner stores and the downtown markets. Some of the produce is seasonal, however, and there are occasional absences of some items. Almost always available are: onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, hot peppers, lettuce, chard, garlic and parsley. More seasonal are green beans, eggplant, celery, artichokes, fennel, leeks, radishes, green peppers and cauliflower. Cucumbers are scarce, though the supply is improving. Corn, though seasonally available, is of poor quality. Herbs, other than parsley, are almost never seen on the market. Familiar spices are pretty much limited to chili powder or paste, dried coriander seeds, curry powder, and cumin. Dried ginger is readily available, but fresh ginger is rare.

Bananas, oranges and limes are available throughout the year, but other fresh fruits are seasonal, including tangerines, lemons, grapes, mangoes, papayas, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, apples, grapefruit, and various others native to the region, including a delicious cactus fruit high in oxalic acid. Fresh berries are almost never found on the market. Several times a year, one market imports grapes, pears, apples and kiwis.

Locally made pasteurized milk, butter, yogurt and cheeses (parmesan, mozzarella) are of good quality and readily available but there can be seasonal shortages. Beef is inexpensive, lean and very good, as are pork, lamb and goat. A wide variety of fresh fish is brought up in refrigerated trucks from the coast several times a week and is available daily from a downtown market and directly from a facility run by the Ministry of Marine Resources. Locally grown chicken can always be found but is almost always tough. Imported frozen chicken is sold at several downtown stores.

Staples such as flour (white only), rice (several varieties including basmati), sugar (granulated only), salt/pepper, and vegetable and peanut oils are always on the shelves. So too are products reflecting Eritrea’s long Italian colonial influence, including olive oil, balsamic vinegar, various prepared pastas, tomato sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, canned tomatoes, peas, capers, anchovies, tuna, and sardines. Locally produced peanuts and cookies are good and inexpensive, and Italian-packaged cookies and candies are also available. Powdered milk and long-life milk are often found, but there can be shortages. A box of corn flakes, the only cereal currently sold here, is expensive.

Spending time browsing through the various small grocery stores can often be rewarded with surprises such as canned coconut milk, Thai green curry paste, or fresh chestnuts, but supplies of specialty items cannot be counted on.

Coffee beans, ground or whole, are plentiful, as is tea. A local factory produces Coke (classic only), Fanta and tonic water. The local brewery produces a good Western-style lager beer as well as an excellent bottled carbonated water. Plain bottled water is also available. Imported liquor and wine can be bought at a duty-free shop, and a number of stores sell good and relatively inexpensive South African wines. There are two home-brewed alcoholic beverages: meas, a wine made from honey, and suwa, a weak, slightly sour version of beer.

Paper products, cleaning and personal hygiene items are imported and of varying quality, not always available, and usually very expensive.

Depending on a family’s needs or taste, a consumables shipment might include the following, keeping in mind that some items have a longer shelf life than others:

baby needs, including food, diapers, and toys;

paper products and cleaning supplies;

all goods in glass containers and aerosol cans that cannot go into the pouch;

baking needs, including powdered sugar, whole wheat flour, and chocolate;

canned mushrooms, corn, peas, soups, jalapeno peppers, and other Mexican goods;

peanut butter, jams, honey, and maple syrup;

condiments, including mustard, teriyaki sauce, chutneys, pickles;

nuts other than peanuts;

crackers, including saltine, cocktail, and graham;

powdered or long-life milk, either whole or nonfat,

powdered Gatorade, Kool Aid, and unsweetened soft drinks;

potato and tortilla chips;

personal products such as cosmetics, tampons, toothpaste, shampoos, and razors;

all medicines, including vitamins; bar, laundry, and dishwashing soaps;

holiday decorations wrapping paper/ribbon for presents;

arts and craft supplies;

sports supplies, including equipment, spare parts, shoes, clothing, backpacks, etc.;

camping supplies, including lighting and a tarp for shade;

thermos and ice chest;

English-language books, simple cookbooks, including one with high-altitude recipes;

herb, vegetable and flower seeds;

music, computer games, and videotapes;

a computer and supplies, including voltage regulators;

pet supplies, including dried or canned food, and tick/flea/deworming medicines;

complete clothing supply for a tour, including hats;

ice cream machine and supplies;

camera and film;

car parts, including air/gas/oil filters, spark plugs, distributor cap, water pump, alternator, windshield wipers, tires, and an extra battery.

Clothing Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:03 PM

The climate alone is worth a tour in Asmara. The city’s temperature typically ranges from 55ºF at night to 75ºF during the day, (a little hotter in the summer and a little cooler at night), and is usually extremely dry. During the day, the weather can feel quite hot in the sun and relatively cool in the shade. In this climate, most people opt for layered clothing. At night, jackets and warm sweaters are often needed. During the July/August rainy season, rain tends to fall an hour or two a day, usually in the afternoons. Raincoats aren’t really necessary, but umbrellas are useful.

Asmara is not considered a particularly formal city in terms of dress. Most invitations are marked “informal.” Men usually wear suits or sports jackets at the office and for receptions and dinner, though more casual attire is also often seen. Women wear dresses or pants for the office, but nicer dresses or pantsuits with heels and stockings are appropriate for more formal events.

For recreation, running errands or just walking around the town, jeans, t-shirts and jogging shoes are just fine. Swimsuits and shorts are needed for trips to the coast. Hats and plenty of sunscreen are recommended for protection against the powerful sun anywhere in the country.

Children need a good supply of clothes for both warm and cool weather, including pants, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, sturdy shoes, shorts, socks, warm pajamas, t-shirts, hats, etc.

Try to bring all the clothing necessary for a complete tour, recognizing that supplementary items can be ordered through catalogs. Clothing, fabric and tailors can be found in town, but all tend to be of poor quality. Some shops will custom-make sweaters, vests, shirts and suits, but quality is often a problem. Relatively inexpensive leather items, of varying quality, can be custom made, including shoes, purses, jackets, coats, pants, skirts and backpacks.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:04 PM

Most services in Asmara are quite basic, but include bicycle and car repair, quite good dry-cleaning and laundry, film developing, shoe repair and small mending jobs of all types. Hair salons and barbers are extremely basic, though the new Inter-Continental Hotel is planning to open a hair salon soon. In the meantime, “easy care” hairstyles are strongly recommended.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:04 PM

Most Embassy staff hire domestic help to assist with house cleaning, clothes washing and ironing, as well as a range of other duties that can include food shopping, errand running and cooking; these jobs are usually filled by Eritrean women. Most people also hire a full- or part-time gardener. Duties and working hours are negotiated individually with the employee. Salaries are not expensive, about $90 to $100 a month for full-time help.

Fine cuisine was not a priority during the 30-year war; cooks thus lack training and are unfamiliar with most spices — as a result, most cooks can produce only basic meals. Since most domestic help speak and read some English, it would be helpful to bring simple cookbooks containing recipes and pictures of meals that you like.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:05 PM

Churches found in Eritrea are Orthodox Christian, Moslem, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Greek Orthodox. There is a very beautiful small synagogue maintained by the last Jewish family in Asmara, but there is no rabbi. Some churches offer weekly services in English.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:05 PM

There is a small Asmara International Community School (AICS) offering instruction in English for grades K-7 and a half-day pre-school. Following the outbreak of hostilities with Ethiopia in 1998, all official American children were evacuated. In November 2000, the Department lifted the ban on minor dependents at post. Since AICS probably could not continue to exist without USG financial support, the Embassy has remained actively involved, including providing some funding and a representative on the School Board in the interests of keeping AICS open until dependent children can return.

There is also an Italian school for preschool through high-school students. All instruction is in Italian though English courses are offered. Anyone interested in placing a child in the school should contact the school directly to determine what is necessary for placement, including documents and health records. The elementary school address is: Michelangelo Buonarotti, PO Box 5230, Asmara, Eritrea. Telephone: (291 1) 12–57–98. For the high school, write to Alessandro Volta and Guglielmo Marconi, PO Box 5554, Asmara, Eritrea. Telephone: 291 1 12 05 05.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:06 PM

Other educational opportunities in Asmara are limited. It is the University of Asmara’s policy not to admit foreigners at this time. The Alliance Française offers classes in French and Tigrinya. The Italian Embassy sponsors Italian classes, and private tutors in Tigrinya can be found.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:06 PM

Asmara is an isolated, safe, peaceful and relatively small town on a plateau high in the mountains. Within this description lies much of its charm for those who love it here. Employees and visitors should expect most often, however, to rely on themselves for entertainment, as quick and easy sources of outside entertainment are few.

Sports Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:08 PM

The Embassy compound contains a lighted clay tennis court and a heated swimming pool. Exercise equipment has been purchased. For a membership fee (currently about $400 a year for a family), the Inter-Continental Hotel offers indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, exercise equipment, a sauna and massages. There is also a municipal swimming pool, an exercise gym and a bowling alley in town.

Eritreans are quite enthusiastic cyclists and hold periodic bicycle races. A number of official Americans quite easily bike between home and the Embassy, and the more adventurous challenge themselves on strenuous trips to nearby towns or the spectacular 120 km five-hour bike trip down the escarpment to the port of Massawa. Be sure to bring along extra tire tubes or repair kits.

Hiking in the countryside outside Asmara is a popular activity and a good way to get some exercise while seeing some very beautiful landscapes. One exceptional hike is a zig-zag dirt trail straight up a very tall mountain, on the top of which is a monastery (sorry, only men allowed). No matter where the hike, however, it is absolutely necessary to keep to well-established trails used by people and animals. Though Eritrea has made a start on demining, much of the countryside is still mined. Jogging is not a particularly popular sport with Eritreans, but male and female joggers can run anywhere in town without fear of harassment. Soccer is the most popular team sport.

There are a few playgrounds with swings and slides.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:15 PM

The coral reefs around the 350 or so islands off the port of Massawa offer superb snorkeling and scuba diving. Many of the sites are totally unexplored and others haven’t been seen for 30 years or more. The Eritrean Government, trying to develop this as a tourist attraction, has been unofficially assisted by Embassy employees who have been giving safety tips to local dive masters and helping them to chart dive sites. Since there is only one basic hotel on one of the islands, most of these snorkeling/diving trips involve camping out for several days. Fishing is also excellent, including tuna, kingfish, jackfish, and grouper.

Travel by road is steadily improving, although there are still many unpaved roads. Exploring the countryside requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and in some areas it might be necessary to take along extra food, plenty of water, gasoline and spare parts. Given the many winding roads, anyone prone to motion seasickness should take preventive medication. As with hiking, it is necessary to use common sense, especially in more remote areas. Guides who speak Tigrinya are useful, especially in finding obscure or remote sites. Any traveler should, at a minimum consult with local inhabitants in advance on the conditions of the roads and about the potential existence of mines.

The port of Massawa, badly damaged by heavy fighting during the war, is rapidly being repaired. The old town's architecture reflects its Arab and Turkish influence. The city’s hotels, both in town and on the coast north of town, are basic, but improvements are in the works. The beach, with very shallow water, can be a disappointment. Massawa’s Salaam restaurant, in the old city, is extremely popular with Americans. Its specialties, in fact the only things on the menu, are fish and bread, which are cooked, Yemeni style, by throwing them into a hole in a very hot clay oven. The fish exterior is blackened but inside it is moist, succulent, and tasty. The bread, a cross between pita and nan, is equally good. All of this is eaten at rustic tables in the dirt street outside the restaurant. Assab, Eritrea’s other port, is a 1-hour flight from Asmara or a difficult 2-day drive south of Massawa, although part of the road has been paved, almost to the ruins of the port of Adulis, believed to have been established by the Greeks in 600 BC. It later became the seaport of the ancient Axumite kingdom, although today the sea is several kilometers distant. Though it is easy to see that this was once a major city, only a small portion of the site has been excavated.

Keren is a very beautiful 2-hour drive north of Asmara. It has long been a crossroads between the Christian highlands and the Moslem lowlands. There are pleasant outdoor cafes, and the local market is a good place to buy gold and silver jewelry at better prices than in Asmara.

North of Keren is the small town of Afabet, famous as the site of a battle that was one of the turning points of the war. Near here, an outnumbered Eritrean force in one battle captured 70 Ethiopian tanks and killed or captured thousands of Ethiopian soldiers. The road along here is still littered with burned-out tanks, trucks and jeeps.

Further north still is the town of Nakfa, dear to all Eritreans as the redoubt for the EPLF in the bleakest years of the war. In the mountains around Nakfa are a hospital, schools and other buildings constructed deep inside mountains and many miles of deep trenches. Completely destroyed during the war, the town is being rebuilt, including a new hotel. In recognition of the area’s importance to the struggle, the Eritrean currency is named the Nakfa.

Among other places of interest are Fil Fil, a mountainous, green, and forested area 2 hours northeast of Asmara, which offers a nice contrast to the dry landscapes of most of Eritrea; and Adi Keyih, about 2 hours southeast of Asmara, the site of a 2000-year-old Axumite dam, and an Axumite city dating from the 6th to the 9th century A.D.

Once the current border conflict is resolved, Embassy employees should once again also be able to visit the Ethiopian town of Axum, a political and religious site as far back as the first century A.D. Among its attractions are tall obelisks, one, at 76 feet, still standing; a stone throne; a reservoir carved in rock; an underground tomb; and an ancient Orthodox Church. Many Orthodox Christians believe Axum to be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:16 PM

There are only two cinemas in Asmara, for the most part showing films several years old or more. For movie entertainment, most families rely on their VCR, making use of the videotape stores in town, two of which carry surprisingly up-to-date English-language selections. The Embassy’s public diplomacy office offers weekly film showings and other cultural events. Other cultural activities are offered by the Alliance Française, the Italian Club and the British Council. The Alliance Française and the British Council also have an excellent collection of films and television shows on videotape for borrowing.

The restaurant scene has recently shown vast improvement. Just a few years ago, other than a good Chinese restaurant, the China Star, the only options were places with limited menus of Eritrean cuisine, simple grilled meats and fishes, and sub-standard versions of Italian dishes such as pizza or spaghetti. The Chinese restaurant remains open, but has been supplemented by restaurants serving everything from European to Middle Eastern food. The Inter-Continental Hotel offers a pastry/sandwich shop and two restaurants, including an excellent Italian restaurant, as well as an Irish pub. The Irish Pub and a couple of restaurants also offer disco music and dancing, but the places usually don’t start jumping until around midnight. People also frequently entertain with dinners and parties at home, and the Embassy occasionally organizes parties either at a home or around the compound’s swimming pool.

Social Activities Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:16 PM

The Eritrean arts scene is slowly rebuilding after the war. There are occasional exhibits of work by Eritrean artists, but most painting, perhaps understandably, has war-related themes. There are also quite good artisans, making pottery, basketry, and gold and silver jewelry. Eritrean traditional music, akin to Arabic music, is most often heard at weddings and ceremonial occasions. There are more modern musicians popular with young Eritreans, but concerts are rare. This music, as well as Western music, is heard in Asmara’s discos.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:17 PM

No American carriers serve Asmara directly. Transfers to a foreign carrier for direct service to Asmara are available in Frankfurt, Jeddah, Cairo and Yemen. Official arrivals will be met at the airport in Asmara and assisted through immigration and customs.

For airfreight shipments, containers should be of a size acceptable to a passenger aircraft for air shipment. This size may vary according to the airline. Containers should be marked:

American Embassy For: (your name) Asmara, Eritrea Telephone Number: (291–1) 12–00–04

Seafreight should be routed through the European Logistical Support Office (ELSO) in Antwerp for onward shipment to Asmara through the port of Massawa. As soon as consumables, airfreight and/or sea freight are packed (and before they are shipped), send a copy of their bills of lading and packing lists to the General Services Office in Asmara. It is important that these documents are in Asmara before the shipments arrive. Before you ship your private vehicle, have your shipping agent send the bill of lading to the GSO in Asmara.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:18 PM

Employees assigned to the Embassy are entitled to full duty-free privileges for the duration of their tour. There are no restrictions on items to be imported, except that vehicles cannot be more than 10 years old.

Passage Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:18 PM

Each traveler must have a valid diplomatic or official passport, as well as a valid Eritrean visa. Although visas are sometimes issued at the airport under special circumstances with advance notification in writing, this is not a customary procedure and should not be assumed as a privilege granted to travelers. Persons arriving in Eritrea from a yellow fever epidemic area must have proof of a current yellow fever vaccine.

Pets Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:18 PM

There are no quarantine restrictions, but all pets must have an up-to-date health certificate, including evidence of a rabies shot for warm-blooded pets, especially dogs and cats. Tick fever and intestinal parasites are problems for pets. There are many diseases among local chickens, which could pose problems for pet birds.

Only basic veterinarian services are available in Asmara. It is thus highly recommended that you have your pets examined and given all needed vaccinations before coming to post, and that you bring all pet supplies, including food and medicine with you. A rabies vaccine is available locally.

Make sure before you leave for Eritrea that you have all necessary paperwork to bring pets back to the U.S., particularly in the case of parrots and other birds protected by the CITES treaty. For more information on CITES, contact the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:19 PM

The importation of personal firearms is forbidden by both the Eritrean Government and Embassy policy. The Eritrean Government also prohibits the possession of personal firearms in the country.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:19 PM

The Eritrean currency is the nakfa, which is available in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 1 bills. The current exchange rate is approximately US$1=nakfa 10. Credit cards are rarely accepted in Eritrea except by airlines, the new Intercontinental Hotel, and a few car-hire companies. Foreigners must pay for their airline tickets and hotel bills in U.S. currency (dollar bills, travelers checks, or credit cards).

The Embassy has a cashier service open 3 days a week. U.S. checks may be cashed in limited amounts for nakfa or U.S. dollars. Travelers checks are not available. Major hotels, banks, and the airport will also exchange dollars for local currency.

Local time is Greenwich Mean Time plus 3 hours. Eritrea is thus 7 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during U.S. daylight saving months, and 8 hours ahead for the rest of the year. Eritrea does not adopt daylight saving time.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:20 PM

At this time, U.S. personnel are exempt from local income tax as well as import and export duty taxes. If Embassy employees want to sell their cars on the local market, they are responsible for seeing that import duties are paid either personally or by the buyer. Such duties can run as high as 200%. Also, according to U.S. Government policy, anyone wishing to sell items when leaving Eritrea must provide a list of the items to be sold and their price to the Ambassador for approval before sale. No employee may make a profit on the sale of goods.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:22 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Connell, Dan. Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution. The Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1993.

Cliffe, Lionel and Davidson, Basil, eds. The Long Struggle of Eritrea for Independence and Constructive Peace. Spokesman: Nottingham, England, 1988.

Davidson, Basil, et al., ed. Behind the War in Eritrea. Spokesman: Nottingham, 1980.

Duffield, Mark and John Pendergast. Without Troops and Tanks: Humanitarian Intervention in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Red Sea Press: Lawrenceville, N.J., 1994.

Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. Eritrea: Dawn After a Long Night. Department of Information: Asmara, Eritrea, 1989.

Firebrace, James, with Holland, Stuart. Never Kneel Down: Drought, Development, and Liberation in Eritrea. Spokesman: Nottingham, England, 1984.

Gamst, Frederick C. “Conflict in the Horn of Africa.” In Peace and War: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Mary L. Foster and Robert A. Rubenstein, ed. Transaction Books: New Brunswick, N.J., 1986.

Gayim, Eyassu. The Eritrean Question: The Conflict Between the Right of Self-Determination and the Interests of States. Lustus Forlag: Uppsala, 1993.

Gebre-Medhin, Jordan. Peasants and Nationalism in Eritrea. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1989.

Habte Selassie, B. Riding the Whirlwind: An Ethiopian Story of Love and Revolution. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1993.

Henze, Paul B. The Horn of Africa: From War to Peace. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 1991.

Haggai Erlich. Ras Alula and the Scramble for Africa: A Political Biography, and Ethiopia and Eritrea, 1875–1897. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1996.

Keneally, Thomas. To Asmara: A Novel of Africa. Warner Books: New York, N.Y., 1989.

Kutschera, Chris. Erythree/Eritrea. J.J. Productions: Barcelona, 1994.

Mesghenna, Yemane. Italian Colonialism: A Case Study of Eritrea, 1869–1834. International Graphics: Maryland, 1989.

Paice, Edward. Guide to Eritrea. The Globe. Pequot Press: Old Saybrook, Connecticut, 1994.

Papstein, R. Eritrea: Revolution at Dusk. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1991.

Papstein, Robert. Eritrea: Tourist Guide. Red Sea Press: Lawrenceville, N.J., 1995.

Pateman, Roy. Even the Stones are Burning. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1990.

Tekle, A. Eritrea and Ethiopia: From Conflict to Cooperation. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1992.

Tesfagiorgis, Abeba. A Painful Season and a Stubborn Hope: The Journey of an Eritrean Mother. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1992.

Tesfagiorgia, G. Emergent Eritrea: Challenges of Economic Development. The Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1993.

U.S. Department of the Army. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. Ethiopia: A Country Study. Area Handbook Series. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1993.

Wilson, A. The Challenge Road: Women and the Eritrean Revolution. Red Sea Press: Trenton, N.J., 1991.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 1/14/2004 2:23 PM

Official holidays consist of American, Eritrean, Orthodox Christian, and Moslem national holidays. The Moslem holidays are fixed according to a lunar calendar and vary from year to year. These holidays include celebrations of Id Al Fitr at the end of the month of Ramadan, and the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. Other local holidays without fixed dates are Christian and include Whit Day, Good Friday and Easter. Following are holidays with fixed dates:

Orthodox Christmas January 7 Timket (Epiphany Day) January 19 Women’s Day March 8 Liberation Day May 24 Martyr’s Day June 20 Start of the Armed Struggle September 1 Orthodox Church New Year September 11 Meskel September 27

Liberation Day is the major national holiday and therefore would be an inconvenient time for visitors to arrive in Eritrea.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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