Natural Features of Eritrea
Eritrea is located on the Horn of Africa, directly north of Ethiopia. It shares its western border with the Sudan, bounded by Djibouti to the southeast, and divides east Africa and the Middle East with over a 1200Kms Red Sea coastline. The total area is comprised of about 125,750 square km, which roughly equates to the size of the State of Pennsylvania. Over 350 small islands are spread out throughout Eritrea’s maritime territory. The ports of Assab and Massawa are notably the largest sea outlets and, as such, are widely used trade and commerce functionaries.
The topography of Eritrea comprises of four types of geographical features: the coastal plains that goes parallel with the Red Sea; the south central plateau highland, which constitutes the core of the nation; the hilly part of the north and mid-west part of Eritrea; and the western plains. The highest peak of the country is called Embasoira which is 3,010 meters and the lowest point is the Kobar Sink in the Danakil Depression, which is 116 meter below sea level.
Gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt and possibly petroleum and natural gas are the natural resources Eritrea possesses. However, due to colonization and continuous war, most of its mineral and other resources has not been explored and exploited to benefit the country and its people. Even though the protracted struggle for independence had made exploration and researches impossible, Eritrea, in cooperation with big exploration firms, is working hard so that the resources are used to the benefit of its people.
Eritrea has four major rivers; the first one is the Mereb River that originates in the vicinity of Asmara and ends up in the Gash delta in Sudan. It is the longest river in the country. The second one is the Setit, a river that originates from Ethiopia and flows along side the Eritrean-Ethiopian border to Sudan. The third and forth ones are the Anseba and Barka rivers. Both of these rivers join together in a place called Sala and flow north-wards to the Sudan.
Elephant, buffalo, giraffe, gazelle, monkey, fox, hippopotamus, cheetah, and more were the wild treasures of the country. However, due to war and deforestation, their number dwindled drastically and some of them totally vanished. After Eritrea’s independence, the government has and is still doing a lot of efforts to preserve and boost their numbers. As a result of ongoing efforts, their numbers are growing at a considerable rate.
Eritrea is a country that has very favorable and pleasant climatic conditions. This is a result of its location within the tropics and the different topographical set up it has. Due to this, a person can experience a variety of weather while traveling from the highlands to the lowlands. That is why the motto of the Eritrean tourism sector loudly echoes this reality: “Three seasons in two hours.”
In the highlands the weather is relatively cool, having an annual average temperature of 20° C(68° F) or below. Moreover, its summer time is between the months of June and September in which it earns about 530mm of rain on average. As for the lowlands, the temperature ranges between 25° C(77° F) to 30° C(86° F) in most places. The timetable of the rainy season differs between the eastern lowlands and the western lowlands. The eastern lowlands, which encompasses the whole Red Sea coast, gets its rain between the months of September and February while the western lowlands experiences its rain season together with the highlands.
Eritrea gets its maximum temperature between the months of March and September, when the sun is overhead between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. During this time, temperature reaches 30° C(86° F) in the lowlands and continues to increase during the months of May, June, July and August. For example in Massawa, the maximum temperature rises from 29.9° C(85.82° F) in March to 42.9° C(109.22° F) in July.