Eritrea


Figure 1.--This is an Eritrean family group, perhaps members of the Bilen people, near Keren in 1933. At the time, Eritrea was an Italian economy. Keren locatedin central Eritrea was an important stop on the now defunct Eitrean Railroad near Asmara.

Eritrea is a small East African country part of the Horn of Africa. Like most of the Red Sea coast, what is now Eritrea was Islamacized and there were areas of local independence and other eras of control by Christian Ethiopia. Italy colonized Eritrea, but failed to move further inland and colonize Ethiopia (late-19th century). Italy later attackd Ethiopia again, using Eritrea as a base, and finally suceeded in defeating and occupying Ethiopia (1935). After World War II, Ethiopia arranged a union with Eritrea. The Ethiopians Eritrea so it could have a seaport. This led to a brutal 30-year civil war. Eritrea finally achieved independence from Ethiopia (1993). Isaias Afewerki was elected president nd through his People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) has tightly contolled the country eer since. The country is bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. It occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa. Despite the end of the civil war, tensions with Ethiopia remain elvated. The two countries face each other high across a closed and heavily fortified border. Some observers describe Eritrea as Africa's North Korea. The Government has used the perceived threat of Ethiopian invasion to tightly contol Eritrean society. The county is very poor and much of the nationl income is devoted to military spending. It is also one of the most secretive states in the world. The 1997 Constitution establishes a multi-party democracy, but the country is insted governed by aingle party which does not permit other parties to organize. Life in Ertrea is dominated by military conscription which is desribed by Amesty International as both mandatory and indefinite. The country's commitment to military spending and periodic border clashes with Ethiopia hae combined with drought and desertification have left the country one of the poorest in Africa. A full scale war was fought wuth Ethiopia (1998-2000). The economy is largely agicultural. The United Nations has accused the Ertrean Governent of extensive human rights abuses, including crimes against humanity. Hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled their repressive country. Most have attempted dangerous journey across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. We note Ethiopian boys wearing both Western and Arab style clothing. We have some information on Eritrean schools.

Geography

Eritrea is a small East African country located in the northeast neween (between 12 and 18 north, and 36 and 44 east). It is a part of the strategic Horn of Africa. The mainland includes the Dahlak Archipelago and other islands along the Red Sea coast. It is bordered by Sudan to the north and west, Ethiopia to the south, Djibouti to the south-east and the Red Sea to the north and north-east. The locatin between the Red Sea anf Ethiopi has domintes its history. There are over 350 islands, but the Dahlak Archipelago is the most important. The Red Sea coast is the land terminus of the Great Rift Valley. The mountains in are remnants of when Africa was geologically connected to the Arabian peninsula, millions of years ago. Eritrea in ancient times was called Mareb Mellash (This side of the Mareb River) or Bahrmeder (Sealand). The modern name Eritrea is of foreign. It is believed that it originated as an ancient Greek cartographic designation -- Mare Erythrean (Red Sea). [Aeschylus] Only with the arrival of the Italians did the term begin to be used (19th century).

History

Like most of the Red Sea coast, what is now Eritrea was Islamacized and there were areas of local independence and other eras of control by Christian Ethiopia. Italy colonized Eritrea, but failed to move further inland and colonize Ethiopia (late-19th century). Italy later attackd Ethiopia again, using Eritrea as a base, and finally suceeded in defeating and occupying Ethiopia (1935). After World War II, Ethiopia arranged a union with Eritrea. The Ethiopians Eritrea so it could have a seaport. This led to a brutal 30-year civil war. Eritrea finally achieved independence from Ethiopia (1993). Isaias Afewerki was elected president nd through his People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) has tightly contolled the country eer since. The country is bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. It occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa. Despite the end of the civil war, tensions with Ethiopia remain elvated. The two countries face each other high across a closed and heavily fortified border. Some observers describe Eritrea as Africa's North Korea. The Government has used the perceived threat of Ethiopian invasion to tightly contol Eritrean society. The county is very poor and much of the nationl income is devoted to military spending. It is also one of the most secretive states in the world. The 1997 Constitution establishes a multi-party democracy, but the country is insted governed by aingle party which does not permit other parties to organize. Life in Ertrea is dominated by military conscription which is desribed by Amesty International as both mandatory and indefinite. The country's commitment to military spending and periodic border clashes with Ethiopia hae combined with drought and desertification have left the country one of the poorest in Africa. A full scale war was fought wuth Ethiopia (1998-2000).

Economy

The economy is largely agicultural.

Clothing

We note Ethiopian boys wearing both Western and Arab style clothing.

Ethnicity

Situated along a coast can lead to isolation or contact. For the Japanese it led to isolation, because there was nothing but sea to the east. For Eritra it led to conrct because it was located along sea routes as well as trade into the interior. This has led to a diverse ethnic population in Eritrea. There are nine ethnic groups recognized by the Government. The largest Eritrean ethnic group are the Tigrinya, the group indigenous to this area, at least for over 2,000 years. They dominate south central Eritrea. The Tigrinya language is related to the Semitic language family, giving a clue as to their origins--the Arabian Peninsula. Other modern Semetic languages are Arabic and Hebrew. The written version uses Ge'ez, an ancient script. It is the country's most commonly used language. Tigrinya is the official language as is Arabic. Actual language usage varies regionlly along with ethnity. The country's other major ethnic group are the Tigre, related to the Tiginya. They dominte the north. The Tigre also speak a Semetic language. They comprise about 30 percent of the population. The Tigre mostly live in the northwest, bordering Sudan. They are mostly nomadic pastoralists herding animals as part of family-based clans. The Tigre are mostly Muslim, following a sect largely centered in Sudan. The seven other ethnic groups are much smaller, making up about 15 percent of the population. The Saho are related to the ancient Kushites who contened with the Egyptians over the upper Nile. They live in the south central/southeast, making up perhsps 3 percent of the population. . The Kunama people live yn the southwest. They are another Nile River groups in modern Sudan. The Afar lare nearly 50 percent of the population and live in the southeast near Djoubuti. The Bilen live in central Eritrea. The Hadareb inhabit the northwest The Nara live in the southwest. The Rashaida inhabit the northwest. Italy colonized Eritrea (19th century). The United Nations federated Ethiopia and Eritrea (1952), but when Ethiopia disolved the federal arangenmenbts and annexed Eritrea as a province, a war broke out. The diverse people of Eritrea largely fiormed a solid front against the Ethiopianms. Duruing the Italian colonial period, Europeans moved to Eritrea. This was primarily Itliand, but include other nationalities such as Greeks. They largely lived aopart from the Eritreans.

Schools

We know nothing about historic education in Eritrea at this time. Italy colonized much of what what is now Eritrea and Somalia. The first Italian settlements in the area were established (1882) around Assab (1882). A colony was formally established (1890). They founded some schools, but we have few details. The British seized the Italian colonies during World War II and Eritra was annexed by Ethiopia. We have little information on schools during the Ethiopian period. After a long independence struggle, Eritrea gained its independence at the time of the fall of Ethiopia's Marxist Government. A Eritrean source reports on schools in modern Eritrea, "Education is well organized in Eritrea. Tuition is subsidized by the government and studies relevant to the development of Eritrea are their main focus. In the first 10 years of independence, Eritrea has invested heavily in education. School enrollment increased by 270 percent at the Elementary and middle levels and by 185 percent at high School level. Education starts at the age of five with 2 years for social interaction and adjustment of behavioral reaction. Thereafter follow 5 years of Elementary School at the age of 7 until grade 5, where the children learn to read and write, operations, mathematics, biography, geography, Eritrean history, singing, arts and sports. Primary education is followed by 2 years of middle School (grade 6 and 7) where the subjects mentioned above are deepened. Finally there is four years of Secondary School (grade 8 to 11) with the subjects physics, chemistry, biologics, history, geography, mathematics, English and civics."

Human Rights

The United Nations has accused the Ertrean Governent of extensive human rights abuses, including crimes against humanity. Hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled their repressive country. Most have attempted dangerous journey across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

Photography

As far as we know, photography in Eritrea was a European introiduction. There may have been photographers active before the Italians seized Eritrea, but we have no information on this. The first Italian settlements in the area were established (1882). This is probably about the time that thr first studios were establisshed. We do not yet have any examples of early photography. We suspect that much of the early phoography was by Italian or other European operators and many of the clients were Europeans. We do note what looks like a snapshot in 1952. It has ragged edges and the image only takes up part of the paper. It is marked Foto Expresso in Asmara. The name suggests an Italian operator. I think that meant that they developed the roll of film, but they may have also been a portrait studio.

Sources

Aeschylus. Fragment 67. A connection With Ethiopia helps confirm th attribution.







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Created: 4:43 AM 11/6/2016
Last updated: 2:50 AM 11/10/2018