Several centuries before our time, the Semitic cattle herders, who had emigrated from Saudi Arabia to Mesopotamia, arrived on the shores of the Red Sea. The area was subjugated to the Ethiopian kingdom but maintained widespread self-government until the Ottomans occupied the region in the 16th century. During the period between the 17th and 19th centuries, the region was the subject of conflicts between Ethiopians, Ottomans, the king of Tigray, Egypt and Italy. The Wichale Treaty, signed between Italy and Menilek II of Ethiopia in 1890, recognized the Italian’s possessions by the Red Sea. The colony, founded on January 1, 1890, was christened Eritrea, after the Latin name for the Red Sea, Mare Erythraerum.
According to countryaah, Eritrea became the most important base of the Italians during the invasion of Ethiopia in 1896 and in 1935-1936. Italian supremacy continued until 1941, when the area was left to the British.
About 1 million Eritreans lived in the colony and the national unity was reinforced by the fight against the Italians. On December 2, 1950, the United Nations decided that Eritrea should be transformed into a federal state under Ethiopia. The resolution was a rejection of Ethiopia’s demand for an annexation, but did not establish a plan for the transition to independence.
In Eritrea, a National Assembly was elected, which enjoyed some independence until 1962, when Haile Selassie forced a group of Eritreaean MPs to adopt an integration of the country into Ethiopia. This decision was rejected by the nationalists, who immediately began an uprising.
The Eritrean Liberation Front, ELF, was founded in Cairo in 1958 by journalist and trade union leader Idris Mohamed Adem and started the armed resistance struggle in September 1961. In 1966, the organization split due to the influence of a more radical group; of which arose Eritrea’s popular Liberation Front, EPLF. Following Sudan’s mediation attempt in 1974, both groups decided to establish a coordination body and in subsequent years the EPLF took on the task of leading the resistance struggle.
Under Mengistu Haile Mariam’s rule in Ethiopia, the Eritreans did not consider Ethiopia’s affiliation with the Socialist bloc as sufficient justification for the laying down of arms. The war on Ethiopia cost thousands of lives.