Asmara skyline

Italy’s colonial legacy is evident in the capital, Asmara

Became capital of Italian colony of Eritrea in 1900

1941-53: Under British administration

Capital of independent Eritrea from 1993

Population: 500,000

1890 – Eritrea becomes an Italian colony.

1941 – British forces occupy Eritrea.

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

1952 – UN decides to make Eritrea a federal component of Ethiopia.

1958 – Eritrean Liberation Front formed.

Independence struggle

1962 – Ethiopia annexes Eritrea, turning it into a province; war of independence begins.

1970 – Leftist faction of the Eritrean Liberation Front splits to form the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front.

Hamasin Beach, near Massawa, Eritrea

Eritreans relax at the Red Sea resort of Hamasin Beach

1974 – Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie overthrown in a military coup.

1977-78 – Soviet advisers and Cuban troops help Ethiopian forces reverse significant advances made by Eritrean guerrillas.

1990 – Eritrean People’s Liberation Front captures the Eritrean port of Massawa.

1991 – Eritrean People’s Liberation Front captures the Eritrean capital, Asmara and forms a provisional government; the United Nations sets a date for a referendum on Eritrean independence with Ethiopian backing.

1993 – Eritreans almost unanimously vote for independence; Eritrea becomes independent and joins the United Nations.

Post-independence war

1995 – Eritrean troops invade the Yemeni-held Hanish islands at the mouth of the Red Sea.

1998 – International arbitration panel awards the Greater Hanish island to Yemen and divides other smaller islands between the two countries.

Airfield near Asmara after Ethiopian aerial attack

Border conflict with Ethiopia cost tens of thousands of lives

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

2000 Eritrea, Ethiopia ceasefire and peace agreements envisage troop withdrawals and UN peacekeepers.

Border disagreement

2001 February – Ethiopia says it has withdrawn its troops from Eritrea in accordance with the 2000 peace deal.

2001 April – Eritrea says its forces have pulled out of the border zone with Ethiopia in accordance with the 2000 peace agreement.

2001 May – Eritrea and Ethiopia agree on a UN-proposed mediator to try to demarcate their disputed border.

Badme, Eritrea

Border commission ruled that disputed Badme is in Eritrea

2002 February – Eritrea’s highest legislative body, the National Assembly, decides not to allow the creation of any political parties in the near future.

2002 October – Eritrea is accused by neigbouring Sudan of taking part in a rebel offensive in the east. Asmara denies the charge.

2003 April – Boundary commission rules that the disputed border town of Badme lies in Eritrea. Ethiopia says the ruling is unacceptable.

2004 November – Ethiopia says it accepts “in principle” a commission’s ruling on its border with Eritrea. But a protracted stalemate over the town of Badme continues.

2005 April – World Food Programme warns of a dire food situation after a series of droughts. It extends emergency operations to help more than 840,000 people.

Renewed tensions

2005 October – Eritrea bans UN helicopter flights in its airspace. UN says the restriction could force it to withdraw altogether.

2005 November – UN Security Council threatens Eritrea and Ethiopia with sanctions unless they return to the 2000 peace plan.

2005 December – Eritrea orders the expulsion of North American, European and Russian peacekeepers from the UN mission monitoring its border with Ethiopia.

International commission, based in The Hague, rules that Eritrea broke international law when it attacked Ethiopia in 1998. It says the attack could not be justified as self defence.

2006 September – Eritrea expels five UN staff as spies, in a move seen as a further deterioration of dire relations with the UN.

2006 October – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urges Eritrea to pull back the troops it has moved into the buffer zone on the Ethiopian border. The UN says the incursion is a major ceasefire violation.

2006 November – A UN report says seven countries – including Eritrea – have been providing arms and supplies to the rival Islamist administration in Somalia. Eritrea denies the charge. Eritrea’s arch foe Ethiopia was arming the interim government, the report says.

Ethiopia and Eritrea reject a proposal put forward by an independent boundary commission as a way around a four-year impasse over the demarcation of their shared border.

2007 March – A group of British embassy workers and their Ethiopian guides are kidnapped in Ethiopia’s northern Afar region bordering on Eritrea. They are eventually released in Eritrea.

2007 April – Female circumcision is banned.

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

2007 May – European Union Development Commissioner Louis Michel meets President Afwerki in Brussels. The commission’s welcome is condemned by rights activists.

2007 August – US secretary of state Jendayi Fraser says Washington is considering putting Eritrea on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

2007 September – War could resume between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their border conflict, warns United Nations special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Kjell Bondevik.

Border dispute rumbles on

2007 November – Eritrea accepts border line demarcated by international boundary commission. Ethiopia rejects it.

2008 January – UN extends mandate of peacekeepers on Ethiopia-Eritrea border for six months.

UN Security Council demands Eritrea lift fuel restrictions imposed on UN peacekeepers at the Eritrea-Ethiopia border area. Eritrea declines, saying troops must leave border.

2008 February – UN begins pulling 1,700-strong peacekeeper force out due to lack of fuel supplies following Eritrean government restrictions.

2008 April – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warns of likelihood of new war between Ethiopia and Eritrea if peacekeeping mission withdraws completely. Outlines options for the future of the UN mission in the two countries.

Djibouti accuses Eritrean troops of digging trenches at disputed Ras Doumeira border area and infiltrating Djiboutian territory. Eritrea denies charge.

2008 May – Eritrea calls on UN to terminate peacekeeping mission.

Clash with Djibouti

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 Eritrean “aggression” but Eritrea denies launching an attack.

2008 July – UN Security Council votes unanimously to end UN peacekeeping mission monitoring disputed border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

2008 November – An armed opposition group, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation, says it carried a major attack on a military base, killing or injuring more than a hundred people.

2009 April – UN Security Council says Eritrea failed to fulfil its obligation to withdraw troops from disputed border area of Djibouti under an ultimatum issued in January. Eritrea denies having troops on Djiboutian soil.

2009 April – Human Rights Watch says the government is turning the country into a “giant prison”.

2009 July – US threatens Eritrea with sanctions for allegedly backing Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

2009 August – Etritrea is ordered to pay Ethiopia compensation for their 1998-2000 border war.

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

Source – BBC – News – Country profiles