Your guide to being an expatriate in Eritrea

Caffeinate Your Eritrea Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

Eritrea, an independent nation since 1993, gained its sovereignty after a 30-year-long liberation war. This northeastern African country with a profound history marked by colonization, occupation, and secession, is blessed with stunning landscapes, diverse ethnic groups, and dynamic religions. Its proximity to the Red Sea and ancient port towns dates the nation's rich maritime trading history which continues to contribute to its economy today while political stability is being promised after years of conflict in recent years. Whether you're an expat looking for job opportunities or someone considering moving to a new place, this guide is all you need to know about Eritrea.


Expat destinations in Eritrea

Demographics of Eritrea:

Ethnic groups

Tigrinya: 55%, Tigre: 30%, Saho: 4%, Beja: 3%, Kunama: 2%, Rashaida: 1%, Bilen: 1%


Tigrinya: official (spoken by 55% of the population), Tigre: official (spoken by 30% of the population), Arabic: official

Religion Overview

Religion plays a crucial role in Eritrean society and culture, shaping its history, heritage, and festivities. The predominant religions practiced in Eritrea are Christianity (mainly Orthodox) and Islam.

Major Religions


Eritrea has a tropical desert climate with daytime temperatures reaching up to 40°C, especially in the summer season. The winter season experiences milder temperatures, but cooler climates can be expected along the coast and in highlands.

Economy Overview

Eritrea's economy primarily relies on farming, fishing, and mining, with some exports of food, cattle, and textiles to neighboring countries. The country is relatively self-sufficient in agriculture, and fisheries comprise an important percentage of the country's agricultural output.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture: wheat, sorghum, barley, millet, corn, beans, vegetables, fruit; sheep, goats, cattle, camels, horses
  • Fishing: all types of fish
  • Mining: gold, silver, copper, mercury, platinum, potash, zinc, marble, asbestos, granite, gypsum, salt, limestone, formation stones, copper ore, copper concentrates, rock salt, bentonite

Major Companies

  • National Mining Corporation (NMC)
  • Eritrea Development Bank (EDB)
  • Eritrea Ports and Harbors Corporation (EPHC)
  • Eritrea Railway Corporation (ERAIL)
  • Eritrea Electric Corporation (EEC)

Culture and Language Overview

Eritrea's diverse ethnic groups have contributed to its culture, which is evident through its festivals, music, dances, and traditional practices. The Tigrinya New Year, Kuds, and Meskel festivals are significant cultural events, and traditional music and dances such as kiration, halala, and qiyyadat are widely documented and practiced.

Cultural Highlights

  • Kuds (Gran Sungere) Festival: Celebrated on 12 September annually, Kuds results from the blending of Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo, Islamic, and Afro-Oriental cultures. This three-day festival involves dances such as qiyyadat, songs, camel chases and racing, and feasts.
  • Meskel Festival: Meskel traces its roots to ancient Ethiopia and is attributed to Emperor Gebre Mesqel. It is a significant Christian celebration celebrated on 27 September annually. The festival lasts for a week, embellished with decorated crosses, psalm singing, choral performances, and processions.
  • Tigrinya New Year: Known as Enkutatash, this festival marks the beginning of the traditional agricultural year. It is celebrated at the end of August or beginning of September annually, and traditionally coincides with harvest season. Enkutatash is embellished with games, dances, and songs, and is often accompanied by the consumption of traditional dishes and drinks.

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Eritrea's geography encompasses rolling plains, highlands, coastal lowlands, and west-facing escarpment with altitudes ranging between less than 100 and 3000 meters above sea level. Some significant landmarks and sites, including volcanic mountains, sandstone escarpments, historic seaports, and ancient mining areas, are scattered around the country, evidence of previous civilizations dating back to biblical times.

Notable Landmarks

  • Massawa (Masawa): A Historic Seaport and Trading City located in northern Eritrea
  • Asmara: The Capital City and Historic Heartland of Eritrea
  • Halhale (Halaale): A Historic Mining Area and Trade Center
  • Fil tutti (Palourdes): A Major (Limestone-based) Volcanic Mountain Range with Peak Heights Reaching 3328 Meters Above Sea Level
  • Carentan (Shire): The Arabic-named Harbour-and-Trade-Port of Anseba Province, Bounded by Mild Climates

National Holidays

  • 1 January: New Year’s Day
  • 19 January: Commemoration of the Martyrs of Eritrea
  • 20 April: Independence Day
  • 8 May: Victory over Ethiopia Day (End of the War)
  • 12 September: Kuds (Gran Sungere) Festival
  • 27 September: Meskel Festival
  • 24 December: Christmas Eve
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: Boxing Day

Political Stability

The political situation in Eritrea has demonstrated instability, marked by internal conflict, international sanctions, and border disputes with neighboring countries. Tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea have worsened in recent years, while Eritrea continues to repress political dissent and freedom of speech through a range of fervent measures. Nonetheless, efforts aimed at promoting peace and stability are underway through regional cooperation, mediation, and interaction between policymakers, academics, and concerned groups.

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