Eritrea profile – Timeline

A chronology of key events:
Ethiopian tank destroyed in 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia

The border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000 killed thousands of people

300-600 – What is now known as Eritrea forms part of the kingdom of Aksum.

600 – Arabs introduce Islam to coastal areas.

1500s – Ottoman Turks establish garrison at Massawa on the Red Sea coast.

1890 – Italy proclaims colony of Eritrea.

1941 – British forces occupy Eritrea.

1949 – Britain administers Eritrea as a United Nations trust territory.

1952 – UN General Assembly votes to make Eritrea a federal component of Ethiopia.

1958 – Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) is formed.

Independence war

1962 – Ethiopia annexes Eritrea, turning it into a province and giving impetus to the independence struggle.

1967 – Full-scale guerrilla war is under way.

1970 – ELF splits and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) is formed, calling for a social revolution.

1974 – Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown in a military coup. A military junta led by Mengistu Haile Mariam seizes power.

Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders meet in Addis Ababa, July 2018
President Isaias Afwerki (right) was in Addis Ababa for the inauguration of the Eritrean embassy in July 2018

1977-78 – Soviet support helps Ethiopian forces reverse significant advances made by Eritrean guerrillas.

1982 – Ethiopia launches a massive military assault named the Red Star Campaign in an effort to crush the rebels but suffers heavy casualties.

1991 – Eritrean People’s Liberation Front captures the Eritrean capital Asmara and forms a provisional government. The EPLF helps its allies in the Ethiopian rebel movement to topple Mengistu Haile Mariam.


1993 – Eritreans vote overwhelmingly for independence.

1998-2000 – Eritrean-Ethiopian border clashes turn into a full-scale war which leaves some 70,000 people dead.

2007 – Eritrea pulls out of regional body IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) as IGAD member states back Ethiopian intervention in Somalia.

2008 June – Fighting breaks out between Djiboutian and Eritrean troops in the disputed Ras Doumeira border area. At least nine Djiboutian soldiers killed. US condemns Eritrea, but Eritrea denies launching an attack.

2009 December – UN imposes sanctions on Eritrea for its alleged support for Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

2010 June – Eritrea, Djibouti agree to resolve their border dispute peacefully.

2014 June – The UN Human Rights Council says about six per cent of the population has fled the country over repression and poverty

2016 July – The UN Human Rights Council calls on the African Union to investigate Eritrean leaders for alleged crimes against humanity.

2017 July – UNESCO adds Asmara to its list of World Heritage sites, describing it as a well-preserved example of a colonial planned city.

Peace with Ethiopia

2018 July – Ethiopia and Eritrea end state of war after Ethiopian diplomatic overtures.

2018 November – UN Security Council ends nine years of sanctions on Eritrea, imposed over allegations of support for al-Shabab jihadists in Somalia.

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