Eritrea emerged as a political entity in 1890 with the advent of Italian colonization, like most of other African-Asian countries, took on their present political and territorial shapes with the advent of European colonialism. The name “Erythraea” which means “red” in Greek has been given to the Red Sea by Greek merchants. When Italy colonized Eritrea, it had the following political, economic and military motives: To make use of Eritrea for industrial and commercial purpose; to exploit the natural resources and cheap labor; to get market for its industrial products; to develop and expand settlement of Italians in Eritrea; and to make Eritrea as a base for further colonial expansion.
To implement its motives Italy confiscated all fertile land in Eritrea from poor peasants. The land has been given to Italian immigrant farmers. The Italian farmers were given financial incentives to practice modern agriculture, e.g. free importation of agricultural equipment. The privatization of land had political significance. All landless peasants began to work in big farms owned by the Italians. These landless peasants from all ethnic groups were subjected to the same kind of exploitation, oppression and discrimination. This made them conscious and united against the common oppressors and exploiters. This led to national integrity and resistance.
Source: New World History Outline