Asmara at a Glance
Moving to Asmara
As one of the safest capital cities in Africa, moving to Asmara is becoming increasingly popular. Eritrea's economy is growing quickly and the nation is seen as one of the fastest developing countries in the third world. One of the main reasons for this is the gold and silver Bisha mine, while resources such as gold, potash, copper, granite and marble are found across Eritrea.
About the City
Home to well over half a million people, Asmara is by far the largest city in Eritrea, while it is also extremely diverse with a number of different ethnic groups represented. There is a significant population of Asmara-based Italian Eritreans due to the country's colonial past, for example. It is thought that as many as 100,000 people living in Asmara are descended from Italian Eritreans.
Christianity and Islam are two of the most commonly followed religions in the city but there is no religious tension between them. The majority of people living in Asmara follow the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Tigrinya is the main language spoken by the Asmara people, but languages such as English, Arabic and Italian are typically widely spoken and understood in the city too.
The Climate in Asmara
Asmara's climate is thought to be a rarely seen version of a steppe climate, which means it has mild winters but the summers are warm, rather than hot.
Despite the fact that the city is not too far away from deserts, temperatures do not tend to rise much higher than 25°C, even during the hottest months of the year. At the coolest time of the year in Asmara, temperatures do not usually fall much lower than 5°C. However, the nights can be cold during the winter, which lasts from December until February.
The short wet season in Asmara runs from July to August and frost is extremely uncommon in the city, despite its high altitude.
Visas for Eritrea
Expatriates planning to move to Asmara must be able to produce a letter from their sponsoring company if they are to successfully receive a business visa for Eritrea. Proof of sufficient funds to cover the necessary expenses of living in Asmara must also be produced by applicants.
The processing of visas in Eritrea usually takes a minimum of ten business days, so applicants should leave plenty of time for the documents to be sorted out.
Foreigners living in Asmara also need to be aware of the fact that travel outside of the city is limited and a travel permit must be secured to leave. These documents can be obtained from the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality, which can be found opposite the Cathedral Compound on Harnet Avenue in the downtown area of Asmara.