ሃገረ ኤርትራ (Tigrinya)
دولة إرتريا (Arabic)
Hagärä Ertra (Tigrinya)
Daulat Iritriyā (Arabic)
|State of Eritrea|
|Motto : ዓወት ንሓፋሽ Awwät nəḤaffaš , German , victory for the masses'|
Tigrinya and Arabic ;
English , Tigre , Afar , Saho , Kunama , Bedscha , Blin and Nara de jure national languages on an equal footing
|State and form of government||presidential republic with one-party system|
|Head of state , also head of government||
|population||5.1 million (Source: UN World Population Prospects, 2017)|
|Population density||53 inhabitants per km²|
|Population development||+ 0.81% (2016 estimate)|
gross domestic product
|Human Development Index||0.459 ( 180th ) (2019)|
|independence||May 24, 1993 (from Ethiopia )|
Ertra, Ertra, Ertra
|National holiday||May 24th (Independence Day)|
|Time zone||EAT ( UTC + 3 )|
|ISO 3166||ER , ERI, 232|
Eritrea ([ ʔeʁiˈtʁeːa ]; Tigrinya ኤርትራ Ertra , Er ə tra or Ertəra , Arabic إرتريا Iritriyā ) is a state in northeastern Africa . It borders in the northwest on Sudan , in the south on Ethiopia , in the southeast on Djibouti and in the northeast on the Red Sea . The country's name is derived from its Greek name Ἐρυθραία Erythraia , which goes back to the designation ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα erythrà thálassa , German 'red sea' , and was formerlyGermanizedas Erythräa . The name Ertra (from old Ethiopian bahïrä ertra , "Red Sea") also refers to this ancient Greek name for the Red Sea. A quarter of Eritrea's almost 6 million inhabitants (2016) is concentrated in the capital region of Asmara , the other cities are significantly smaller.
The kingdom of Medri Bahri with the capital Debarwa , in which the Baher Negash ruled, used to be in the highlands of Eritrea ; the lowlands of Eritrea was an Ottoman and Egyptian colony for more than 300 years , the capital being Massaua . In 1890 Eritrea became an Italian colony . From 1941 the country was under British administration and had been federated with the then Abyssinian empire in personal union from 1952 , before it was centralistically integrated into the Ethiopian Empire by Haile Selassie as the province of Eritrea in 1961 . After a 30-year war of independence , Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993.
In the 21st century the country has a republican constitution and has been politically dominated since independence by the authoritarian Popular Front for Democracy and Justice , which emerged from the independence movement of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front . Isayas Afewerki has been president since then . With regard to the freedom of its citizens, Eritrea is strongly criticized by human rights organizations. The US state-affiliated non-governmental organization Freedom House characterized Eritrea in its 2019 country report as a “hermetic police state”.
The almost desert-like dry savannah on the Red Sea is very hot and dry. In the inland highlands, on the other hand, up to 600 millimeters of rain fall annually, especially in the period from June to September. Most of Eritrea's large cities are in the highlands, at over 1,600 meters above sea level. In the southern highlands are the few fertile regions of the country, such as the area of Mendefera , the area around Badme and the border triangle with Ethiopia and Sudan in the Gash-Barka region . The highest point in the country, the Dega at 3,047 meters, southeast of Asmara , is in the highlands of Abyssinia .
Eritrea also has a share of the Sahara in the west of the country : to the west of the Barka river and north of the Gash river , the eastern Sahara continues from Sudan and ends with the ascent to the highlands of Abyssinia. The eastern Sahara also reaches Eritrea in the northeast and stretches along the coast until it ends at Massaua . Compared to other coastal cities in the region such as Port Sudan and Assab , Massaua is blessed with slightly more rainfall.
In the border area with Djibouti , Eritrea has a share in another desert: on the southern coast, in the area of Assab , lies the Danakil desert , one of the hottest and driest deserts in the world. The deepest point in the country is in the Danakil Depression at 110 meters below sea level.
The largest cities are (2012 calculation): Asmara 665,000 inhabitants, Assab 99,000 inhabitants, Keren 80,000 inhabitants, Massaua 52,000 inhabitants, Mendefera 25,000 inhabitants and Barentu 19,000 inhabitants.
Until 1996 Eritrea was divided into nine regions ( awraja ). These regions came from the Italian colonial era and their regional capitals were Akkele Guzay ( Adi Keyh ), Barka ( Agordat ), Denkalia ( Assab ), Gash Setit ( Barentu ), Hamasien (Asmara), Sahel ( Nakfa ), Semhar ( Massaua ), Senhit ( Keren ) and Seraye ( Mendefera ).
With the administrative reform of July 15, 1996, the number of regions ( zoba ) was reduced to six:
- Maekel (Central Region) ( Asmara )
- Debub (South Region) ( Mendefera )
- Gash-Barka ( Barentu )
- Anseba ( Keren )
- Semienawi Kayih Bahri (Northern Red Sea Region) ( Massaua )
- Debubawi Kayih Bahri (Southern Red Sea Region) ( Assab )
The number of inhabitants is not given uniformly in different sources. For the year 2017, the population of the United Nations is given as 5.1 million, in the CIA World Factbook with 5.9 million and with Statista as 6.7 million.
|1995||3.1 million||3.2 million|
|2004||3.9 million||4.7 million|
|2006||4.1 million||5.0 million|
|2008||4.2 million||5.4 million|
|2010||4.4 million||5.7 million|
|2012||4.6 million||6.1 million|
|2017||5.1 million||6.7 million|
- The population growth rate is 2.7% (2012 estimate)
- Age structure of the population (2002 estimate):
- up to 14 years: 43% (approx. 1.9 million)
- 15–64 years: 54% (approx. 2.4 million)
- older than 65 years: 3.2% (approx. 146,000)
In an international comparison, the contraceptive supply rate in Eritrea is poor. It is therefore affected by strong population growth, which is largely due to unplanned pregnancies.
According to the German Foundation for World Population, in 2015 only 7% of married women had access to modern contraceptives. It is therefore estimated that the population will grow from 6.8 million in 2015 to around 14 million in 2050.
There are nine major ethnic groups in Eritrea. The largest people in the country are the Tigrinya (55 percent, according to other sources 50 percent). They also live in Ethiopia in the Tigray region . Their language Tigrinya is the official language of Eritrea alongside Arabic. The ethnic group called Tigrinya in Eritrea corresponds linguistically and culturally to the Tigray in Ethiopia. However, the Ethiopian Tigray and Eritrean Tigrinya are no longer to be regarded as a single group due to a political history that has been separate for a long time. Historically, they referred to themselves as Habescha . Even in the past before the colonial era, the Tigrinya speakers were extremely diverse in the form of different autonomous provinces and ethnic groups and were only rarely politically united.
The second largest people are the Tigre (30 percent). The larger ethnic groups also include the Saho (4 percent), the Bilen (2 percent) and the Rashaida (2 percent). The Kunama also make up two percent of the population. The small ethnic groups Sokodas and Iliit on the Sudanese border consider themselves to be Kunama, but are geographically and linguistically separated (they speak dialects of Ilit-Sokoda , also known as West Kunama).
The minority of Beja is officially called Hedareb referred, which is also used as a name of a sub-group. Other minorities are the Nara and the Afar . There are also very small groups of West African origin (mostly Haussa speakers) who are called Tokharir in Eritrea . The information situation in this area is poor. In addition, there are now 500,000 to a million Eritreans, mostly Orthodox Tigrinya, living abroad, which corresponds to up to a fifth of the population. Since 2015, Eritrea has been the main country of origin of African refugees in Europe alongside Nigeria and Somalia ( see also the refugee crisis in Europe from 2015 ). With only 0.3% of the population in 2017, the foreigner quota is one of the lowest in the world. Numerous political refugees living abroad have returned to their homeland. A tiny minority are Eritreans of European descent, mainly Italians who immigrated in the 19th century .
The population of Eritrea is officially divided almost equally into Muslims ( Sunnis ) and Christians ( Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church , Eritrean Catholic Church , Protestants ). The International Religious Freedom Report published by the US State Department assumed 50 percent Muslims and 48 percent followers of Christianity in Eritrea for 2007, and 60 percent Muslims and 37 percent Christians for 2006. The Association of Religion Data Archives put 50.15 percent Muslim and 47.91 percent Christian. There are also some small indigenous traditional religions . Despite the very different views and the resulting potential for conflict, the population forms a national unit. The Christians live mainly in the plateau around Asmara and the Muslim parts of the population mainly in the lowlands and near the coast.
In the last few years the government has systematically persecuted unrecognized Christian minorities because they do not conform to the government's ideological paradigms . Evangelical news agencies from the USA now regularly report on the persecution of Christians in the country. Amnesty International said members of government banned minority churches were held captive in freight containers in extreme heat with the risk of suffocation.
The nine languages of the nine largest ethnic groups are formally regarded as national languages with equal rights . These are Tigrinya (2.3 million speakers), Tigre (800,000), Afar (300,000), Saho , Kunama , Bedscha , Blin , Nara (around 100,000 each) and Arabic , which is used by the Rashaida as a mother tongue and by many other Eritreans Second language is spoken. The state encourages the use of these languages in schools by the respective ethnic groups and in programs on the national radio station.
There is no officially established official language . De facto but are mainly Tigrinya and Arabic - also known as vehicular languages are widely used - as well as English as a working language of the government. Italian , a legacy of colonial times, is mostly understood by the older population. Many signs and shops in Asmara are also labeled in Italian. Tigrinya and Italian are most commonly used in business, commerce and industry. There is also a school in Asmara that teaches Italian - the Scuola Italiana di Asmara . However, Italian is becoming less important as English becomes more widespread.
The languages of Eritrea belong to two of the large language families in Africa : Tigrinya, Tigre and Arabic are Semitic languages , Saho, Bilen, Afar and Bedscha are Cushitic languages - both branches of the Afro-Asian language family . Nara (Baria) and Kunama / Baza, on the other hand, belong to the family of Nilo-Saharan languages .
The Dahalik , which is spoken by a few thousand people on the islands of the Dahlak Archipelago , was previously considered the dialect of the Tigre, but according to more recent linguistic findings, it is an independent Semitic language.
Great progress has been made in the education sector since independence: the literacy rate for people between 15 and 24 years of age was 93% in 2015 (2002: 78%), one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa .
Formally, school attendance is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 13, but only between 39 and 57 percent of those required to attend school attend primary school and only around 21 percent attend secondary school. The schools are poorly equipped, the average class size is 63 (primary schools) and 97 (secondary schools) students per class. Girls are clearly disadvantaged. The proportion of illiterate people is 30 percent.
The health system is largely financed by the state and is free of charge for people with a poverty certificate.
Life expectancy is estimated at 63.4 years for 2010–2015. The fertility rate in 2012 was 4.7 children per woman. The child mortality rate is 74 per 1000 live births, which puts Eritrea in 51st place worldwide. Maternal mortality was reduced by 75% between 1990 and 2013.
In 2002, almost 89% of women between 15 and 49 years of age were affected by female genital mutilation , up from 94.5% in 1995. The success of the educational work was more clearly demonstrated by the prevalence among daughters, which was also recorded in 2002, depending on the level of education of the mothers 40% to 67.5%, on average 62.5%. On March 31, 2007, a legal ban on female circumcision came into effect.
Eritrea's media are state-run. There is the newspaper New Eritrea ( ሓዳስ ኤርትራ Ḥaddas Erətra = ارتريا الحديثة Iritriya 'l-ḥadīṯa = ኤሪትርየ ሐዳስ Eritrəya ḥaddas ), the radio transmitter voice of the masses ( ድምጺ ሓፋሽ Dəmṣi ḥaffaš =صوت الجماهير Ṣaut al-ǧamāhīr ), Zara FM and Radio Numa as well as the television station ERi-TV .
Between 500 BC and the 19th century
Since the historically researched early period around 500 BC Various powers ruled over the country. The Aksumite Empire was on what is now the national territory . During the Middle Ages, the Christian highlands were under the control of the Ethiopian emperors, while local princes ruled the coastal areas. When it was conquered by the Turks in 1554, Eritrea became the Habeş Eyaleti province of the Ottoman Empire for more than 300 years . During this time, the inhabitants of the coastal areas belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in particular were Islamized. The capital in the area of Eritrea was Massaua .
The Bay of Assab had been Italian since 1870 and 1882 , but it was only after the occupation of Massauas (1885) and Asmaras (1889) that it became an Italian colony in 1890 under the newly created name Colonia Eritrea .
In the 20th century
After Italy's invasion of Ethiopia , Eritrea was incorporated into the newly founded Italian East Africa in 1936 . Large areas of northern Ethiopia were added, so most of Tigrays became part of Eritrea. In 1941 allied forces ended membership in Italy. The area was placed under the British military administration and in 1947 - after the formal abandonment of Eritrea by Italy - a British mandate area. After the Second World War , the United Nations decided on a federation of the province of Eritrea with the Empire of Abyssinia .
After the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie systematically eroded the political rights of the Eritrean population from 1952 to 1961 and then annexed Eritrea in 1961 through the (self) dissolution of the Eritrean parliament , Eritrean separatists took up arms. The independence movements became very popular in the 1960s and the years that followed.
The war of independence ended after thirty years in 1991 with the victory of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) and various other Ethiopian rebel groups (including the EPRDF ) and the disempowerment of the Ethiopian Derg regime. The EPRDF formed a new government and allowed Eritrea to gain independence. This was declared after a referendum monitored by the UN on May 24, 1993, in which 99.83 percent of the participants voted for independence. Since then, this day has been Eritrea's national holiday.
Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea deteriorated in the years that followed. In 1998 a border war broke out between the two states , which ended in a stalemate. Since then, the UN monitoring mission UNMEE has been stationed in the border region to mark the legitimate course of the border.
In the 21st century
In 2002 an independent border commission recommended the new state borders. As part of an arbitration ruling by the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Commission of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed the agreement in which both agreed to recognize the course of the border. In fact, however, differences still exist, especially since neither side received all claims. The disputed area around Badme was awarded to the Eritrean side, Ethiopia protested and demanded an immediate correction of the arbitration award. As a result, the demarcation of the border could not be implemented as agreed by 2018. All UN troops that had actually been deployed to maintain peace were massively hindered in their work by the Eritrean side in protest against the Ethiopian blockade. In 2008 the United Nations Security Council decided not to extend UNMEE's mandate any further.
On June 5, 2018, the Ethiopian government declared its readiness to accept the provisions of the 2002 border agreement. This also includes handing Badme over to Eritrea. On July 8, 2018, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that Ethiopia and Eritrea would resume diplomatic relations . At the same time a peace treaty was concluded between the two countries.
|Name of the index||Index value||Worldwide rank||Interpretation aid||year|
|Fragile States Index||95.8 out of 120||18 of 178||Stability of the country: Alarm
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
|Democracy index||2.15 from 10||153 of 167||Authoritarian regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
|Freedom in the World||2 of 100||---||Freedom status: not free
0 = not free / 100 = free
|Freedom of the press ranking||81.45 out of 100||180 of 180||Very serious situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
|Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)||21 out of 100||160 of 180||0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean||2020|
Eritrea officially has a democratic constitution. Elections take place at regional and national level (Baito). The president is the head of state and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces is Sebat Efrem .
The head of state and the head of government are the highest levels of the Eritrean interim government . Together with the 24-person state representation, consisting of 16 ministers and other state representatives, they form the executive branch of Eritrea.
The legislature is formed by a 150-member Eritrean National Assembly . Of the 150, 75 are members of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and 75 are representatives of the people who are directly elected by the people. Of these 75 representatives of the people, eleven must be women and 15 emigrants. The National Assembly elects the President, enacts laws and ordinances and ensures compliance with them. Since Eritrea was part of Ethiopia from 1952, Eritreans took part in the Ethiopian elections of 1957 on the basis of a universal right to vote and stand as a candidate in Ethiopia from November 4, 1955. This made women's suffrage law. After independence in 1993, the 1997 constitution provided universal suffrage for both the National Assembly and the presidential election.
The regular jurisdiction of Eritrea consists of a higher court with five locations, 36 regional courts and about 368 municipal courts; there is also a special and military jurisdiction.
Eritrean politics is dominated by the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice ( PFDJ ). The Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, which emerged from the former armed independence movement of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front ( EPLF ), with its party leader Isayas Afewerki, also holds the post of President and Head of Government at the same time. Eritrea is therefore a one-party state . Even if it is officially confirmed that they are campaigning for a party law, these claims should be viewed rather critically. In addition to the PFDJ, there are a number of other political parties in the country, none of which are allowed to vote.
There are still some oppositional splinter groups within the country, but so far they have not been able to influence the country's politics:
- Eritrean Liberation Front led by Woldeyesus Ammar
- Eritrean National Alliance led by Hiruy Tedla
- Eritrean popular movement led by Abdellah Adem
- Eritrean Democratic Party led by Mesfin Hagos
- Eritrean Liberation Front - National Council , led by Ahmed Nasser.
Human rights situation
Due to ongoing human rights violations, Sheila Keetharuth was appointed Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation for Eritrea in October 2012 by the United Nations. A first report was presented to the Human Rights Council in the course of resolution 20/20 on May 28, 2013. In it she found serious human rights violations such as arbitrary killings and arrests, enforced disappearances , torture and a lack of freedom of expression, religion and assembly.
According to Amnesty International , critics of the government, deserters and Eritreans who have sought asylum abroad are being detained. Overall, many international observers consider the political system of Eritrea to be repressive or even a dictatorship . The government countered this - before peace talks with Ethiopia in 2018 - that Eritrea was in transition to democracy, was being harassed by Ethiopia and was therefore practically at war. This would prevent the young government from being overthrown. Eleven journalists were imprisoned in Eritrea in 2017.
The Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Churches as well as Islam are officially recognized. Unrecognized religious minorities such as evangelical Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses have been particularly hard hit by state repression and imprisonment since 2002. At the beginning of 2008, those arrested for their beliefs included a group of around 70 Muslims who refused to recognize the government-appointed Mufti as their head.
A UNHCR report from June 2015 found “ systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations ”.
In the annual World Persecution Index (WVI) published by Open Doors , which shows and analyzes the countries with the strongest persecution of Christians, Eritrea was in seventh place in 2019. Accordingly, the country is one of the countries in the world where Christians are most strongly oppressed because of their religious affiliation.
The repressive political system, the difficult economic situation and the conscription to indefinite forced labor ensure that Eritrea is one of the countries with the highest proportion of citizens living outside the country. Around a fifth of the population lives abroad.
Relations between Eritrea and its neighboring countries are strained. Eritrea and Ethiopia are accused of having been waging their disputes as a “proxy war” in Somalia , especially since 2006/2007 . Ethiopia supports the transitional government of Somalia and intervened militarily from late 2006 to early 2009; Eritrea is home to parts of the Somali opposition in exile. It has denied allegations that it illegally supplied arms to Islamists and other opponents of the transitional government. The separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front in Ethiopia has received support from Eritrea.
In mid-2008 there were several clashes between Eritrean and Djiboutian troops in the disputed border area of the two countries. The United States and the United Nations Security Council then accused Eritrea of military aggression.
Eritreans living abroad have to pay a "development tax" of two percent of their gross income to the Eritrean state. This used to be collected by the Eritrean embassies in the respective countries, but since embassies are no longer allowed to collect taxes, Eritreans living abroad now have to either travel home themselves or instruct a relative living there to pay. In the event of non-payment, no official documents are issued, there is no possibility of inheriting or starting business activities, and there is a risk of reprisals against relatives living in the country. Schoolchildren, students and the unemployed are exempt from the tax. This tax, which is levied on hundreds of thousands of foreigners, even if they have a different citizenship, is one of the largest sources of money for the Eritrean government.
At the beginning of July 2018, after a meeting with Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki in Asmara , Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that after decades of hostility, the resumption of diplomatic relations had been agreed. It is planned to reopen embassies and borders, to re-establish flight connections and to make ports accessible. The new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, who was elected at the beginning of April 2018, had already sought a peace solution with the neighboring country at the beginning of his term of office. At the beginning of June 2018 he announced that he would "fully" implement the resolution of an international arbitration commission supported by the United Nations on the border between the two countries in 2002 and withdraw from the disputed areas.
The gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017 is estimated at 5.8 billion US dollars. In purchasing power parity , the GDP is 9.4 billion US dollars or 1,580 US dollars per inhabitant. The real growth was 5.0%. Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world.
The following table provides an overview of the development of the economy since 1995. Due to the country's international isolation, per capita income has barely increased since the country became independent.
( purchasing power parity )
GDP per capita
( purchasing power parity )
(as a percentage of GDP)
|1995||3.20 billion||934||20.9%||12.0%||k. A.|
Tourism in the country is largely based on a few individual vacationers, Eritrean citizens living abroad on home visits and a small number of foreign tour operators who travel to the country with usually small groups. Subject areas include archaeological studies, Italian colonial history, trips for professional photographers to the country's ethnic groups, and trips for rail enthusiasts. Beach holidays are rarely offered due to the lack of a suitable tourist infrastructure.
About 75% of the population is employed in agriculture . Nevertheless, food has to be imported, also because at least 300,000 people were drafted into military service during the war and beyond, and there was therefore a shortage of workers in agriculture and other economic sectors. The drought and economic incompetence of the authoritarian government resulted in severe famines.
Eritrea has mineral resources such as gold , silver , copper , sulfur , nickel , potash , marble , zinc and iron . Salt is produced on a large scale. Eritrea has been promoting these raw materials for worldwide export for a long time.
There are cement, textile and food industries including several brewery companies, alcohol and wine production. Eritrea has a large number of spare parts and furniture companies. For several years now, buses, transport, cleaning and garbage trucks have been produced in the Eritrean industrial city of Dekemhare by the Eritrean company Tesinma .
The state budget in 2016 included expenditures equivalent to US $ 2,165 million , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 1,580 million. This results in a budget deficit of 10.9 percent of GDP .
In 2016, the national debt amounted to 125.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Eritrea.
In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:
The Armed Forces of Eritrea emerged from the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), which fought for Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia . Relations between Eritrea and other countries are tense. Among other things, due to the thirty-year war of independence against Ethiopia, the independence of Eritrea is strongly emphasized, which is sometimes referred to as isolationism . There were several border conflicts in the young history of the country, in particular the renewed war against Ethiopia in 1998–2000. The military in Eritrea takes a large role: both men and women need to make an open-ended military service in Eritrea, which according to Amnesty International a forced labor equals. Conscientious objectors are prosecuted and branded as deserters . In times of peace they face a prison sentence of up to five years - in times of war the sentence can range from five years to life, and in serious cases they face the death penalty .
The road network in Eritrea is relatively well developed by African standards. However, the infrastructure, which was very well developed by the Italians, was initially largely destroyed by the British and later by the Ethiopians, so that only a small part of it remains today. Most of the roads are gravel roads.
There is a railway connection between Massaua and Asmara , on which only one excursion train with a steam locomotive runs quite regularly between Asmara and Nefasit . In addition, there are always special trains for railway fans on the route. Consideration is being given to rebuilding the historic route between Asmara and Agordat (western lowlands).
Large deep-water ports are Massaua and Assab, and a smaller port is under construction in T'í'o .
Airports can be found in Asmara , as well as in Massaua , Sawa , Tesseney and Assab . There are long gravel roads in Nakfa and Barentu , but there are hardly any flights to them. Flight connections exist mainly to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines , to Cairo with Egypt Air , to Dubai with Flydubai , there are also some routes of the state Eritrean Airlines , such as to Khartoum .
The greatest international successes were achieved by Eritrean athletes in long-distance running . The most important and most widespread sport in Eritrea is cycling . He came to the country with the Italian colonial rulers and in 1946 the Giro d'Eritrea was held for the first time . Challenging road races are held in Eritrea on the weekends today. Internationally known road cyclists are Daniel Teklehaimanot , Natnael Berhane and Merhawi Kudus , who are currently (as of 2015) under contract with the South African cycling team MTN-Qhubeka and compete in cycling races at the highest athletic level. In 2015, Teklehaimanot and Kudus were the first Eritreans to take part in the Tour de France . In the course of this, Teklehaimanot even wore the spotted jersey of the leader in the mountain classification for several days , which was celebrated with a motorcade on the streets of Asmara. Probably the best-known Eritrean athlete, Zersenay Tadese , first tried his hand at road cycling in his youth before switching to long-distance running. He is multiple world champion and was the world record holder in the half marathon until October 2018 . The youngest marathon world champion in history is Ghirmay Ghebreslassie from Eritrea. At the age of 19, he won the marathon of the World Championships in Beijing in August 2015.
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