Video Source: Youtube
Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Getting In and Around
Make sure you have a passport and a valid visa prior to your arrival, as visas are not available in the airport. If you travel to the country using a foreign passport, you do not need an exit visa, provided you will be leaving before the expiration date on your entrance visa. Please note: If you stay beyond the expiration date, you may be fined or imprisoned, and you may be required to stay in Eritrea while your court case is being reviewed. There is a $20 airport departure tax.
If you are interested in traveling outside of the capital city Asmara, you must obtain a travel permit. Applications are available at the Ministry of Tourism (located on Harnet Avenue in Asmara); or, if you are applying before you leave your home, contact the Department of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Permission often takes more than a day, and there is no guarantee that your request will be approve
Upon entry into and exit from the country, all visitors must declare foreign currency. Visitors must save all receipts for foreign exchange and present them upon their departure to account for all foreign currency spent in Eritrea. Failure to do so will often lead to both a fine and imprisonment.
In and Out of Eritrea: Eritrea’s transportation network was severely damaged during the border conflict with Ethiopia from 1998 to 2000, and despite investments in the Wefri Warsay Yika’alo program, transportation within the country at this time is rudimentary at best. The roads between major cities, like Asmara, Massawa, and Barentu, are paved and in usable condition, but streets and rural roads are usually unpaved and in poor condition. All roads leading to Ethiopia have been closed since the border dispute beginning in 1998. At times, border demarcation is either missing or misleading, so use your best judgment when traveling in these areas.
Personal vehicles are rare in Eritrea, so many locals use buses and taxis to get around. Buses, while inexpensive, are sometimes overcrowded, so we recommend taking a taxi whenever possible, especially in Asmara, where they are plentiful. Taxis usually travel along a predefined route and will pick up additional passengers. You may also request a “contract” taxi; these run at higher prices. There are two airports in Eritrea with permanent runways, one in Asmara and the other in Assab. Eritrean Airways, though non-operational during the Ethiopian conflict of 1998–2000, is once again functional and includes destinations like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Rome.
Safety and Security
All foreign visitors are strongly advised not to travel near the Ethiopian border, owing to previous conflicts. Since 2008, Eritreans have increased a military presence on the border to Djibouti, so you may want to avoid the port of Assab. During the 30-year war with Ethiopia, land mines were ever present, and it is not guaranteed that all land mines near the borders have been removed. If you are near those border areas, you should not walk alone or hike in riverbeds.
Although Sudan is technically on friendly diplomatic terms with Eritrea, the border with that region has been the target of intensified banditry and bombing. Crime within Asmara, the capital city, has increased lately because of drought, food shortages, and the current economic situation. Check the U.S. Department of State
’s website on Eritrea for more information.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index
, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Eritrea or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.