The history of Eritrea can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times, as the ancient Puntites who dominated the land had close ties with Pharaoh Sahure and Queen Hatshepsut.
The Aksumite Kingdom rose to power during the 1st century AD, followed by South Arabians, Ottoman Turks, the Portuguese, the Egyptians, the British, and finally the Italians in the 19th century.
European powers rushed Africa after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, and on January 1, 1890, Eritrea became an official colony of Italy.
The Italians were driven out by the British through the Battle of Keren in 1941, and subsequently adminstered until 1951.
Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation under a UN Mandate. Ethiopia’s annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating governmental forces; independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum.
A border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000.
Eritrea currently hosts UN peacekeeping operations that monitor a 15-mile (25 km) wide Temporary Security Zone on the border with Ethiopia. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted their findings in 2002; however, its final demarcation is on hold due to Ethiopian objections.
These days, border conflicts continue between both Djibouti and Ethiopia. In 2008, a call for the UN to terminate its peacekeeping mission and a conflict between Djiboutian troops and Eritrea errupted, and the country’s immediate future remains uncertain as time goes on.