The capital city of Ethiopia. It means "new flower" in Amharic.


This definition is from "Eritrea: A Country Handbook", published by the Ministry of Information of Eritrea:

"Eritrean Afars, also known as Dankils, live mainly along the southeastern sea coast and on the offshore islands in a highly-segmented, patrilineal society. Afars inhabit one of the least hospitable terrains on earth and are renowned for their prowess in battle. They have a long history of independent sultanates and strong warrior traditions. Many of their songs and much of their oral literature is built on this, and it is still common to see Afar men wearing the jile or curved knife. Today, most are herders, traders, or artisanal fishers. Pastoral Afar families typically live in large hemispherical houses of hides and woven mats stretched across a framework of wooden poles that can be carried by camel over long distances. In the few oases in Afar territory, the people cultivate maize and tobacco. Traders carry slabs of salt on their camels to the highlands from long-dried salt pans by the sea."

Afars also live in Ethiopia and Djibouti, where they are the dominant ethnic group.


The capital city of Eritrea. It's name is derived from the phrase "Arbaate Asmara", which means "the four were united". This phrase refers to the origin of the city, which is said to have been formed by the women of four villages, who united their communities to protect themselves from bandit raids.



It is said that this stringed instrument resembles the ancient Greek and Roman lyre. It usually has 8 or 10 strings.


An ethnic group, and language, in Eritrea. The following is from "Eritrea: A Country Handbook", published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information:

The Cushitic-speaking Bilen live in and around the city of Keren. Among them are Muslim and Christian (mostly Catholic) herders and farmers. Theirs is a traditional society organized into kinship groups. Bilen women are known for their brightly colored clothes, their gold, copper or silver nose rings, and henna tattoos that resemble diamond necklaces.



The following is translated from "Documents Tigrigna", compiled by Wolf Leslau.

"A "debtera" is a kind of learned person. They complete the same studies as priests, and then continue with further education. A debtera, like a priest, has the right to marry and to raise a family. But he can neither celebrate mass nor take confession, as a priest may. A debtera can receive a share of church property, if he is native to the area. In Ethiopia, it is usually the debteras who take on the role of teachers. While priests are saying mass, it is the debteras [et le diacres] who sing the replies. It's the debteras who singe the hymns and who accompany them by playing [de tambours et de sistres], and they compose eulogies to the church's patron saint. In some parts, debteras have a reputation for sorcery, and they are feared. Some debteras can invoke Satan to do good or evil by reciting some mysterious texts. This is why they are very feared. If someone is touched by a spirit or taken by an unknown illness, debteras will treat them by reciting some verses or giving medicine made from pounded roots. Many people in Ethiopia wear amulets to protect them against spirits, the Zar and the Bouda. These amulets are usually made by debtaras, muslim craftsmen, or Galla priests. If one's sickness is caused by a debtera's recitations, then only the debtera himself or a second one who is more powerful can provide the cure. If the second debtera is weaker than the first, then he cannot undo the spell. When a debtera cures someone, he never reveals his methods, even if the cured person offers to pay him with goods or labour. A debtera's children can play with all other children, and they can marry with any of the others. A child with illiterate parents can study to become a debtera, and a child of a debtera can grow up illiterate."


The common name for the military regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam, which deposed Emperor Haile Selassie in a 1974 coup. The Derg ruled over all of Ethiopia, including the province of Eritrea, before it's independence in 1993. The Derg was defeated by a coalition of Eritrean and Ethiopian rebel forces in 1991.



A nation in the horn of Africa, north of Ethiopia, east of Sudan, and northwest of Djibouti. It lies along the southern Red Sea, across from Yemen and Saudia Arabia. The name Eritrea, is derived from Mare Erythreaum, meaning Red Sea in Latin. A former colony of Italy and province of Ethiopia, with which it shares strong cultural ties.


One of the main players in the Eritrean guerilla war for independence. After officially achieving Eritrean independence in 1993, the EPLF formed the government of Eritrea.



A light, white cotton shawl, worn by Eritrean and Ethiopian men and women over the head and shoulders. It serves many uses: to cover the nose and mouth when it gets dusty, to protect the head from the strong midday sun, to act as a windbreaker when its windy, and to act as a belt and money holder.


The liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, today only spoken by scholars, monks, and priests. A language related to the Eritrean and Ethiopian languages of Tigrinya, Tigre, and Amharic. It is disputed whether Ge'ez is a "parent" language to Tigrinya, tigre, and Amharic, or more of a "sibling".



A term (non-derogatory) commonly used by Eritreans and Ethiopians to describe themselves. It is also commonly used by Arabic speakers to refer to the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Habesha is the origin of the name Abyssinia, the former name of Ethiopia.


The last emperor of Ethiopia (including present-day Eritrea), who ruled from 1930 to 1974. Upon becoming emperor, he changed his name from Ras Tafari to Haile Selassie, which means "might of the trinity" in the Amharic language. Rastafarianism, which takes it name from Haile Selassie's original title, was inspired by this man.



A crepe-like, spongy bread which is a staple of Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine.



A drum. The Bet-khenet kebero is used for religious purposes and during the funeral services of distinguished people. It is made of a hollow and tapering wood frame, covered by skin. The Guayla kebero, often used for non-religious celebrations, is cylindrical, and in some parts of Eritrea small particles are put into the drum to add an extra melody.


This is considered to be the traditional guitar of our society. It is made with a wooden frame and five strings. It is a smaller version of the {begena}.


An ethnic group in Eritrea. The language of the Kunama people. The following is from "Eritrea: A Country Handbook", published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information:

"The Kunama live in southwestern Eritrea around the town of Barentu and close to teh border with Ethiopia. Some are Christian, some Muslim, but many follow their own faith, centered around worship of the creator, Anna, and veneration of ancestral heroes. Their society is strongly egalitarian with distinctive matrilineal elements. Historically, most were hunters and farmers, tilling the soil with hand-held hoes to grow a variety of grains and vegetables. Today, they tend to be farmers and herders, whose cattle are also important sourches of wealth prestige. The Kunama, thought to be among the aboriginal inhabitants of the region, were one of Eritrea's largest nationalities until the late 1800s, when repeated assaults and slave-raiding by Tigrayan warlords sharply reduced their population and impoverished the society. Many of their dances are reenactments of historical events."



Mesherefets are discs of woven and coloured straw (often obtained from the leaves of the laka plant) which are used to fan flames, and to scoop dry food items, such as coffee beans.



A town in Eritrea, known for being a historic base of the EPLF (Eritrean People's Liberation Front) during the independance war. The name of the Eritrean currency.



An Arabic-speaking ethnic group in Eritrea. The following is from Eritrea: A Country Handbook, published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information:

"The Rashaida are the country's only ethnic Arabs. Mainly pastoralists and traders, the Rashaida migrated to northeast Africa in the 19th century from the Hejaz. They are Arabic-speaking Muslims, living along the northern coast and along the Sudan border in tightly-knit, patrilineal clans. Rashaida women are noted for their red-and-black patterned dresses and their long heavy veils, often embroidered with silver, beads, and seed pearls."



A Semitic language originally spoken in Eritrea and Ethiopia, as well as diaspora communities throughout the world. It is one the official languages of Eritrea, along with Arabic and English. Tigrinya is related to Tigre, another Eritrean language, as well as Amharic, spoken in Ethiopia. It is also related to Geez, the liturgical language of the Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. As a Semitic language, it is also related to Arabic and Hebrew, and shares several etymologies with these languages. Tigrinya is written with a syllabic script called Geez or fidel, also used in the Amharic and Tigre languages. The following is from "Eritrea: A Country Handbook", published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information:

"Most Tigrinya speakers are sedentary farmers living in the densely populated central highlands of Maakel and Debub, though they are spread from this ancestral farmland over much of Eritrea today. The over-whelming majority are Orthodox Christians, though there is a small minority of Muslims, known as Jiberti, and there are significant minorities of Catholics and Protestants. Like all Eritreans, they are deeply attached to their land, but Tigrinya-speakers also make up a large proportion of urban traders and operators of small businesses, restaurants, and other services throughout the country."