Asmara Profile

Asmara City Profile

Asmara, with its population of 963,000 (2020), became the capital city of Eritrea in 1897 following Italian occupation from 1889, although its origins can be traced back some 700 years. (Legend recalls that the Queen of Sheba gave birth to the son of Solomon, Menelik I, close to Asmara.) The Italians called it 'Little Rome' with the intention of it becoming the capital of a Second Roman Empire in Africa and in the 1930s they carried out significant changes to the city's structures and buildings to reflect that aspiration. They used it as their main base for their invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 however Italian defeat in 1941 during the Second World War by the British led to Asmara coming under British military control and the end of Italian colonisation and involvement. It then remained under British administration until Eritrea's federation with Ethiopia in 1952.

The thirty-year occupation of Eritrea by Ethiopia and its concurrent war, saw a deterioration of Asmara, although it remained undamaged by warfare as Ethiopian troops made a hasty retreat at the end of that period. Since independence in 1991, Eritrea has re-invested in its capital, creating new buildings and refurbishing others. It retains a southern Italian feel with palm lined streets where the Roman Catholic Cathedral and Grand Mosque (approximately, half of the city's population are Christian, the other half Muslim) are located close to the former palace, legislative assembly and the municipal buildings. The centre of Asmara is also home to the main Ethiopian Orthodox church in Eritrea, St. Mary's. Visitors to Asmara can also enjoy the numerous shops, restaurants and cafes as they stroll around the city which has been described as one of the cleanest and safest in Africa.

Asmara Profile

Asmara can best be reached through Asmara Airport just a mile from the city however the more adventurous might want to travel there using the Eritrean Railway that was constructed during the Italian colony era and was built between 1887 and 1932 to connect the Port of Massawa with Asmara. Sadly the forty-five mile Asmara-Massawa Cableway, which was the longest of its kind in the world when opened in 1937, was dismanted by the British in 1941 during the Second World War but had been used by the Italians to move food and war materials to replenish the Imperial Italian Army which had also conquered Ethiopia in 1936. Check out Asmara in the video (below) then make a virtual landing at Asmara airport using our airport profile article below.

Asmara Profile: Volunteer in Eritrea

Volunteer in Eritrea

Check out all the latest fee paying and free African volunteer work placements and charity work job opportunities abroad with local projects and volunteering organisations in Eritrea.

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Asmara Profile: Asmara Map

Asmara Map

A satellite map of Asmara, capital city of Eritrea, which you can use to zoom in to explore each street of the city and its major tourist attractions.

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Asmara Profile: Asmara Airport

Asmara Airport

Make a virtual landing at Asmara International Airport in Eritrea in this video clip where you will be landing in the unlikely event you undertake volunteer work in the country!

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Asmara Profile: Child Sponsor Eritrea

Child Sponsor Eritrea

Details of how to sponsor children in Eritrea with Eritrean child sponsor organisations, charities, programs and projects.

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Asmara Profile: Eritrea Country Profile

African Country Profiles: Eritrea

In another of our African country profiles, find out all about Eritrea in a series of information articles, latest daily news, videos, and images together with volunteering and child sponsorship opportunities.

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