Tourism, known as a smokeless industry, plays a very important role in the development of a country’s economy.
With its cultural, historical and natural treasures, Eritrea has a great potential to make strides in the tourism industry.
Eritrea borders the Red Sea in the northeast and east, Sudan in the west and northern east, Ethiopia in the south and Djibouti in the southern east. It is 125,000 sq.k.m wide and its altitude reaches ranges from 1800m to 3000m above sea level. The coastal plains, western lowlands, and some 350 islands comprise the remainder of Eritrea’s land mass.
The diversity in landscape and topography in the highlands and lowlands of Eritrea result in the diversity of climate across the country. Eritrea is classified in to three climatic zones: highlands, eastern coastal regions and the western lowlands. The highlands have temperate climate throughout out the year. The climate of most lowland zones is arid and semiarid. Anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of the Eritrean climate must travel from Asmara city to Massawa and experience three different seasons in two hours.
The Red Sea is 2,350 kilometers long and reaches a maximum width of 350 kilometers at the Eritrean coast. It is known as the world’s last great unspoiled tropical paradise, where every scuba diver or snorkeler has something to explore. It is one of the richest areas in the world. The marine bio-diversity in the Red Sea spans from the unicellular phytoplankton seedlings to the enormous wales. There are over 1,000 species of fish, 2,000 species of invertebrates, and 180 species of corals. Many of these species are indigenous to the Red Sea. Among the corals and anemones you can spot tough-beaked parrotfish, big-eyed squirrel fish, disc-shaped surgeon fish and countless other species. Giant sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beaches. Pods of dolphins can appear to play around the boat, and even giant dugongs or sea cows are sometimes seen. And there are seabirds – sterns, seagulls, sand plovers, herons and pelicans. There are manta rays with wing spans of many meters, and there are the famous Red Sea sharks. Despite their reputation, however, shark attacks on swimmers in the area are extremely rare.
The Red Sea and its coastlines are also very suitable for various marine birds. The birds that migrate from the cold weather in Europe find the Eritrean tropical warm climate favorable for breeding and gathering food. The Northern Red Sea Region is endowed with islands and coastlines preferred by many migrating birds. Some of the non-migrating bird species that dwell in the marine and coastal territories of the Red Sea are crab, plover, western riff and heron.
From the ancient times, the Red sea has been a busy trade route between Europe and the Far East. Compared to other countries, little number of people live along the coasts of the Eritrean Red Sea and those people are from Afar, Saho, Tigre, Rashaida as well as Tigrinya ethnic groups. However, the largest number of inhabitants is from Afar ethnic groups that inhabit the area from Gelalo to Rahayta and Dahlak Islands.
Eritrea’s more than 350 islands have been described as the world’s last unspoiled tropical paradise. The Eritrean Red Sea coast and islands provide opportunities for sea cruise holidays, scuba-diving, fishing and other water sports. Moreover, because of their closeness to the port city of Massawa most of the Islands can be easily visited. Any visitor can visit Shek Seiad “Hamlay Desiet” (Green Island), Dese, Madot, Durgamon and Durgalan islands in one day. The summertime is long, from May to September, and hot with average temperature ranging from 35 °C to 45 °C. And, in the months of November to February it rains from 175-250 mm. The Eritrean Red Sea also has the potential for oil and gas. It is the source of minerals such as copper, magnesium, aluminum, titanium, potash and lead.
Due to its comfortable climate and diverse landscape, Eritrea is also home to different kinds of plants and animals. The most common trees which are found In Eritrea are fig tree, palm tree, pine tree, olive tree, and scrub and gum trees. Trees such as palm have the potential to play great role in the economy of the country. Semenawi Bahri is one of the amazing green lands found at the Northern East of Asmara occupying about 100,000 hectare land. In this green area, there are different species of birds, monkeys, baboons, leopards, kudu, push buck and Klipspringer. Filfil and Solomuna, places in Semenawi Bahri, are filled with large picturesque trees, home to a large variety of bird life. Another fact that makes this place unique is that it is green throughout the year.
Most of the wild animals in Eritrea are similar with those found in Africa. Greater kudus and torah arte-beasts are found in the mountains of Gash-Barka Region. Rarely could they be seen in other places. Large population of Elephants are also found in this region. Dik-diks and dorcas gazelles as well the endangered African wild ass can be seen in the Denakalia Region. Others include bushbucks, duikers, greater Kudus, klipspringers, leopards, Oryx’s and crocodiles. With the loss of forests and decades of colonization and war many wild animals disappeared. Nevertheless, after Eritrea’s independence the government has been working on preserving the plants and animals and, as a result, many wild animals are now able to inhabit and breed in Eritrea. And so far their increase in number is promising.
Eritrea’s major mineral resources include natural gas, gold, copper, oil, zinc and potash. Almost 70% of the country is covered by the greenstone belt of Eritrea that has deposits of precious metals and volcanic massive sulfide. At this time, as the government works on developing and using this hidden treasure, many minerals have been found and this has attracted many international mining companies to Eritrea.
Its location, its natural environment and climate make Eritrea a comfortable destination for tourists. If harnessed so well, the natural resources of Eritrea and the prevalent peace and security provide the right conditions for the development of a sustainable tourism industry that has the potential to develop Eritrea as a country. For this reason every citizen ought to have knowledge about the natural resources and play their role in preserving it.