Located in the Horn of Africa, Eritrea shares borders with Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, and to the east is the Red Sea. With an area of approximately 117,600 km2 and a population of just over 6 million, Eritrea is a comparatively small African country.
With many different ethnic groups, three official languages, and diverse religions, nowhere is ‘melting pot’ a more fitting term than in Eritrea. The country is home to six major ethnic groups, with the most prevalent being the Ethiopian Tigrinya and the nomadic Tigre peoples. The most spoken language is Tigrinya followed by Arabic; English is often spoken in the world of business and at university. From 1880 until 1941 Eritrea was an Italian colony, and there is still a small community of Italian Eritreans existing today. The Italian language is understood and spoken by a large number of Eritreans.
Eritrea only won independence from Ethiopia in 1991 so tensions are still high, and there have been violent struggles with its other neighbors, Sudan and Djibouti; border crossings to these countries are entirely closed and have a heavy military presence.
The climate varies quite widely across this small country. Asmara has a moderate climate all year long with an agreeable annual average of 16°C (61°F). The coastal areas have higher temperatures of around 30°C (86°F) and experience what the locals call ‘little rains’ between the months of October and March, elsewhere the 'main rains' run from June to September. The climate in the central highlands fluctuates greatly throughout the year with the winter months of December to February often bringing freezing temperatures.
All non-nationals visiting Eritrea, for whatever purpose, will require a visa. The six types of visa are official, employment, business, student, tourist and transit. For the business and employment visas you will need to provide a completed application form, a letter from your sponsor company, proof of sufficient funds for the entirety of your stay (most likely a bank statement), and a recent passport photo and a passport valid for at least another six months (one year if applying for the employment visa). For the employment visa you will also need to obtain a work permit from the Eritrean Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare.
Many Eritrean embassies have online application forms available to download; you can find a full list of embassies and links to their websites on the dedicated website. If there isn’t an embassy in your country then contact your foreign office for details of the nearest Eritrean mission.