Eritrea stretches along the Red Sea and is a low-lying coastal area with a mountainous interior. The Turkish and Egyptian colonial periods left their legacy in the form of numerous interesting buildings and sites, and the cuisine reflects the period of Italian rule.
The Italians were expelled by the British in 1941. After the departure of the British, Eritrea was merged into Ethiopia in a federal arrangement brokered by the UN in 1952 and incorporated fully into Ethiopia 10 years later. After a decade of changing fortunes for both the Eritrean government and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), fighting against the Communist government within Ethiopia, the guerrillas finally expelled government forces from Eritrea in early 1991. In 1992, the EPLF-controlled Provisional Government of Eritrea announced a referendum over the future status of the area. With 99.8% support registered in favour of independence at an UN-supervised referendum in April 1993, full nationhood was declared the following month.
Despite its many vicissitudes, Eritrea boasts an abundance of natural attractions, including a vast array of wildlife. Native to the country are elephants, lions, baboons, gazelles, leopards, ostriches and turtles. Off any of Eritrea's stunning beaches, it is not uncommon to see angelfish, barracudas, butterfly fish and several varieties of crabs, sea cucumbers and jellyfish beneath the azure ocean waters.