Eritrea is located in Eastern Africa in the Horn of Africa, to the North of Ethiopia and bordering the Red Sea in Northeast. It has a mixed Afro-Asiatic population that is divided by religion and language. The former Italian and British colony gained formal independence from Ethiopia, its last colonizer, in 1993. But independence did not end the wars in Eritrea. Conflicts with Yemen and Ethiopia followed.
Latest UN reports (2005) warned that the humanitarian situation in Eritrea was deteriorating, mainly due to recurrent drought and the protracted stalemate in the peace process with Ethiopia.
Eritrea is run by the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) with president Isaias Afewerki, who has been in office since independence in 1993. Other political groups are not allowed to organize, although the unimplemented constitution of 1997 provides for the existence of multi-party politics. National elections have been periodically scheduled and cancelled; none have ever been held in the country.
The capital of Gash-barka is Barentu. Other towns include Agordat (the former capital), Molki, Sebderat and Teseney.
With an area of 37,000 square kilometers and a population of 567,000, the Gash Barka region makes up roughly one-third of Eritrea. Many call this region the “breadbasket” as the region is rich in agriculture. As of 2005, many believe there are over 3.5 million livestock in this region, and many camels. The region is also rich in marble, and other important minerals, including gold. In Augaro, there are some old mineshafts and machinery from the days when the Italians mined gold here.