yes, they eat the same food, look the same, have the same religion, speak kind of the same and have the same general historical roots, but do not! call these people ethiopians! [intro playing] â™ª it's time to learn geography â™ª â™ª now â™ª hey everybody, i'm your host barby did you know that italy tried to take over parts of africa? yeah, and it didn't last that long and it didn't end very well. but it happened.
small islands, only two of which are permanently inhabited. nora and dohul. as well as a few of the hanish islands that they had a huge dispute over yemen with and the south red sea islands in the south. the country is divided up into six regions with the capital and largest city asmara located in the central ma'ekel region. the country operates five main airports, the largest ones being asmara and the former capital
when it was under the italians, massawa off the coast. although eritrea has the second largest coastline along the red sea, after egypt, not many people live there. other than the cities of massawa and assab, most eritreans live inland, especially in the areas surrounding the capital. this is partially due to the fact that like some other countries we'll cover in future episodes, eritrea has a generally dry and inhospitable coast. i mean the south red sea region is kinda classified
as one of the hottest areas on the planet. nonetheless, they take their coastline seriously. when you own land along one of the busiest trading routes on the planet, you tackle that bad boy! and tariff it like a boss. i mean, unless your constituents kinda start hating you and then they put up an embargo- but hey! they'll come crawling back. they even set up camp and even have an exclave on the southernmost border with djibouti on the dumaira peninsula because they were like
"we wanna get close as we can to that bab el-mandeb strait!" home to quite a few archaeological sites like the ones in qohaito, matara, and senafe with the aksumite (axumite) ruins, many of which are yet to be explored, as well as a plethora of centuries-old churches, monasteries, mosques, and mausoleums, hidden along the cliffs on the outskirts of towns. the point is, with whatever land that they do have, they work to the best of their ability to feed their
ever-growing population... let's explain:
when it comes to three tectonic plates: the somali, african, and arabian. all three of these converge into an area known as the afar triangle- basically, the land is tearing itself apart. eritrea is located right at the fork of the east african rift, including the danakil depression, shared with ethiopia, being labeled as the hottest place on earth. therefore the rift creates coastal highlands the results looks like a backwards rain shadow effect
in which the coasts are dry and hot, and the inland areas are fertile and green. this is also why the majority of the population lives inland in addition this gives eritrea a few volcanoes most of which are holocene and extinct but then again nabro was thought to be extinct until it kind of went buck wild in 2011 inland, you can find a range of landscapes from subtropical rainforests like like the ones at filfil or you can find green precipitous cliffs and canyons in the southern highlands
despite their lush interior there still is an issue with desertification and drought the entire population is required by law starting at age 15 to take a month off and terrace hillsides with rocks to prevent erosion and hold in moisture eighty percent of people live off of agriculture in which crops like barley, beans, lentils, sorghum and the interestingly small grain teff is grown animals thrive in many parts of the country especially in the lush interior regions over five hundred different species of birds can be found as well as mammals like warthogs, aardvarks, hares, gazelles and hyraxes
in terms of predators eritrea seems to have more canine species than feline wild dogs, golden wolves and jackals and hyenas dominate the highlands and plains resource wise eritrea actually has a pretty decent diversified economy however, two things they thrive off of are livestock and gold specifically sheep and goats in the livestock gold has actually been mined here for centuries and makes up about eh, fifteen or so percent of the exports and hold on your horses though even though they have a lot of gold they still have quite a ways to go
in terms of economic development which gets a little controversial let's uhâ€¦ lets discuss that in:
first of all, the country has about six and a half million people and has doubled it's population since the 1990s the country is made up of nine distinct ethnic groups the largest ones being the tigrinya at fifty-five percent and tigre at thirty percent and the remainder comes from groups like the saho, kunama, bilen, rashaida and others eritrea is on the only two countries that uses the only indigenous african writing system in the world that's still used
which, by the way, side note: an abugida is an alpha syllabic writing system similar to arabic and hebrew that incoporates consonant vowel clusters into syllable character units the word 'abugida' even came from four letters of the ge'ez alphabet a bu gi and da so, basically if you want to write something like the word house it would kind of look something like this the writing system is used primarily to write tigrinya, tigre and amharic in ethiopia
all three languages are pretty similar and if they listen really hard eritreans and ethiopians that speak these languages can kind of understand each other enough to get by it's kinda like italian, spanish and portuguese now, here's the thing: when eritreans and ethiopians meet each other the first question they typically as is are you "habesha" and then they ask what country they're from so what exactly is habesha?
habesha people are incredibly unique semitic mixed african people that can only be found in this area over a millennia semetic people have mixed in and created this beautiful new group of people found nowhere else the habehsa a little bit over half the population adheres to christianity predominantly coptic eritrean orthodox church where as the majority of the remaining population is mostly sunni muslims they also use the type-c plug outlet
they generally drive on the right side of the road and the currency is the nazca now, because of the italian occupation eritrea has like a little bit of italian twang to it where some of the buildings and shops have clearly influenced architectural styles pizza shops, cafes and cappuccino and espresso are all over and many of the residents especially the older generation in urban areas can actually still speak and understand italian okay now, this is where the distinctions really going to start to come out let's talk politics
eritrea kind of gets a bad label from the west because of some of the harsh policies that the government adheres to some even have gone so far as to label it as the north korea of africa in the simplest way i can put this, the modern day area of eritrea was most likely this site of the ancient land of punt fast forward, and after centuries of other empires and nations taking over until they finally got their independence from ethiopia in 1993 guys, i'm on a time constraint we don't have time for full historic lessons. just look it up yourselves
basically to this day isaias afewerki has been president since independence in 1993 and the country operates in a strange one party system that hasâ€¦ how can i put this rather intense social policies? everybody, male or female, are required to serve military conscription by the age of 18 and continue with national service it's estimated that about a third of the country's military in the war against ethiopia were actually women originally national service was supposed to be for 18 months
but the policy changed and now it's kind of like an indefinite amount of time until the government deems complete this has been a huge hotbed of controversy for many of the citizens since some have ended up serving for years and really have no say in it this has also caused quite a few eritreans to leave on a daily basis to avoid the conscription laws the government defends itself by saying they strongly emphasize strength and wealth of a unified nation that works moving forward together
this is also one of the reasons eritrea doesn't accept most forms of foreign aid believing that handouts will enable the citizens into and unhealthy dependency the government has actually kind of done a relatively good job at prioritizing the national budget towards education and health though this has in return helped them reach their goals of essentially eradicating polio and most cases of malaria in the entire country the problem though is there's almost no economic movement especially in the private sector with an average annual income of around six hundred dollars a year so essentially the people are fairly healthy
butâ€¦ poor cycling is the popular sport out here though and they actually host one of the most difficult routes in the world the asmara-keren road a lot of people from all over the world likes cycling that road for some reason let's talk more about the people who uhâ€¦ kind of interact with this country shall we?
let's just say they kind of isolate themselves a little bit they've made enemies with pretty much all of their neighbors you know, with battles and border disputes and wars with all of them even yemen however, recently sudan has been kind of been fixing things up a little bit but they still have some issues this means that they kind of have to look outwards for diplomacy now here's the most confusing circumstances: for some reason they are friendly with both israel andâ€¦ iran
the president has gone to israel for medical treatments and conducts business with them well but also has visited the president of iran and has made friendly ties with them but they are also an observer state of the arab league so essentially they do have some friends but they just can't be in a room with all their friends at the same time some eritreans might say that on a fiscal level qatar and china might be their close friends but no necessarily their best, since they've invested heavily in their commerce and business it's complicated
their best friends are kind ofâ€¦ themselves honestly in conclusion, yes eritrea has some issues no denying that but it's also a land overflowing with deep ancient history infused with semitic african influences coastal sea lovers with a few leftover shavings of italian spice mixed in there and that'sâ€¦ that's pretty unique isn't it stay tuned! estonia is coming up next!