One party state headed by president
Head of state
President Isaias Afwerki
Eritrea's Ambassador to the UK
H.E Mr Estifanos Habtemariam Ghebreyesus
The Embassy of the State of Eritrea, 96 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF
The UK's ambassador to Eritrea
H.E Mr Alisadair Walker
The British Embassy, 66-68 Mariam Ghimbi Street, Zip Code 174, PO Box 5584, Asmara, Eritrea
Eritrea is a country in east Africa with an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, which borders Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south and Djibouti in the southwest. It also comprises the Dahlak Archipelago and several of the smaller Hanish islands.
A hard history
Eritrea has suffered periods of drought as well as conflict, particularly with neighbouring Ethiopia. Both have adversely affected Eritrea’s agricultural economy. It is one of the poorest countries in Africa. It is a highly militarised one-party state.
Conflict with Ethiopia
Eritrea’s last 60 years have been marked by first annexation by and then conflict with its giant Ethiopian neighbour. In 1941, British troops ended more than 50 years of colonisation by Italy. In 1952, the UN General Assembly established Eritrea as autonomous region within Ethiopia, but a decade later, Addis Ababa annexed its smaller northern neighbour, giving the hitherto landlocked giant a Red Sea coastline.
The annexation led inevitably to an insurgency which came to an end in 1991 when the Eritrean People’s liberation Front won the war of independence by capturing the capital Asmara. A year-long border conflict with Ethiopia erupted in 1998 and a formal declaration of war between the 2 neighbours only came to a formal end in 2018. Continuing tension with Ethiopia has always been cited as the reason for the militarised nature of the government.
In 1991, Eritreans voted formally for independence, but presidential elections planned for 1997 did not take place nor was a democratic constitution ratified in the same year implemented. President Isaias Afwerki has ruled Eritrea since its formal independence of 1993 and his people’s Front for Democracy is the only political party. There is no free or independent press to speak of.
Conflict in Tigray
In December 2020, the US State Department called for Eritrea to withdraw its troops from Ethiopia where they were reported to be assisting Addis Ababa in its conflict against rebels in the northern Ethiopian province of Tigray. In September 2021, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order authorising new sanctions on Eritrean and Ethiopian government officials following reports of atrocities committed by troops from both African nations in Tigray.