/div>Country, eastern Africa. It extends about 600 mi (1,000 km) along the Red Sea coast and includes the Dahlak Archipelago. Area: 46,774 sq mi (121,144 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 5,073,000. Capital: Asmara
. There is no official religion or language. The varied population is about half Tigrinya-speaking (see Tigray
) Christians, with a large minority of Muslims and diverse other peoples. Arabic, English, and Italian are also spoken. Currency: nakfa. The land varies from temperate central highlands to coastal desert plain, with savanna in the western lowlands. The economy is based on livestock herding and subsistence agriculture. Industry, based in Asmara, includes food products, textiles, and leather goods. Eritrea's form of government is a transitional regime with one interim legislative body; the head of state and government is the president. As the site of the main ports of the Aksumite empire, it was linked to the beginnings of the Ethiopian kingdom, but it retained much of its independence until it came under Ottoman
rule in the 16th century. In the 17th–19th centuries, control of the territory was disputed among Ethiopia, the Ottomans, the kingdom of Tigray, Egypt, and Italy; it became an Italian colony in 1890. Eritrea was used as the main base for the Italian invasions of Ethiopia (1896, 1935–36) and in 1936 became part of Italian East Africa. It was captured by the British in 1941, federated to Ethiopia in 1952, and made a province of Ethiopia in 1962. Three decades of guerrilla warfare by Eritrean secessionist groups ensued. A provisional Eritrean government was established in 1991 after the overthrow of the Ethiopian government, and independence came in 1993. A new constitution was ratified in 1997 but was never implemented. A border war with Ethiopia that began in 1998 ended in 2000, but boundary disputes persisted into the 21st century.