Ethiopian Province of Eritrea

About the location, history, size, population, and government of Eritrea, a province of Ethiopia.


Location-Ethiopian province along the Red Sea.

Size-45,400 sq. mi. (117,600 sq. km.).

Population-2 million of mixed Arab-black stock.


During the 19th century, the Amharas conquered adjoining Muslim lands and imposed their language and government. Part of Eritrea, the Roman name for the land around the Red Sea, has been under intermittent Ethiopian control. This part was the Kingdom of Tigre in the central mountains. Tigre is part of the Ethiopian plateau and its people are Christian. Because they have participated in Ethiopian culture for over 1,000 years, most Tigreans believe Eritrea is a lost province of Ethiopia. However, that part of Eritrea right along the Red Sea, in the north and west of the province, has been traditionally Muslim. These people have fought any union with Ethiopia and want Eritrea to be an independent state. After W.W. II, however, the UN decided Eritrea should federate with Ethiopia: Eritrea would handle local affairs while Ethiopia would handle external ones like defense and foreign affairs. In 1962 Ethiopia canceled Eritrea's autonomy and made her a province. Eritreans meanwhile, having enjoyed greater political freedoms under British and Italian colonial rule, weren't about to be returned to the Middle Ages. So separatists formed the ELF, the Eritrean Liberation Front, made up of both Christians and Muslims. Over a decade of guerrilla fighting exploded into major battles in early 1975, resulting in over 6,000 deaths. The fighting continues.

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