Regions of Eritrea

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ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. The only changes for Eritrea are to the spelling of region names.

FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 10, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2006-03-23. It assigns FIPS codes to the six new regions.

Note: The CIA World Factbook gives the name Anelba in place of Anseba for one of the regions of Eritrea. When I do a Google search, the only apposite matches I find seem to be copies of the CIA World Factbook (there are thousands of copies on the Web). If Anelba were really the name of an Eritrean region, I would expect to find many more independent references to it. It seems clear that this is an error on the CIA's part that has been propagated.

Update I-1 to ISO 3166-2 was published on 2000-06-21. It shows the six new regions.

Country overview: 

Short nameERITREA
ISO codeER
LanguagesTigrinya (ti), Arabic (ar), etc.
Time zone+3


In 1889, Italy consolidated its possessions on the Red Sea coast, and declared Eritrea to be a colony on 1890-01-01. In 1936 it became a province of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana), along with Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland. The British expelled the Italians in 1941. Eritrea remained a British protectorate until 1952-09-15. The United Nations voted to create a federation of Eritrea and Ethiopia, which lasted uneasily until 1962-11-14, when Ethiopia took full control. Eritrea regained its independence by force of arms. The separation was ratified by a referendum, and independence became official on 1993-05-27. The boundaries of Eritrea have changed somewhat during the 20th century.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: Dewlet Eritrea (formal)
  2. Danish: Eritrea
  3. Dutch: Eritrea
  4. English: State of Eritrea (formal)
  5. Finnish: Eritrea
  6. French: Érythrée, État m d'Érythrée f (formal)
  7. German: Eritrea n
  8. Icelandic: Erítrea
  9. Italian: Eritrea f
  10. Norwegian: Eritrea, Staten Eritrea (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Eritreia, Eritréia f (Brazil), Estado m da Eritreia f (formal)
  12. Russian: Государство Эритрея (formal)
  13. Spanish: Eritrea, Estado m de Eritrea f (formal)
  14. Swedish: Eritrea
  15. Tigrinya: Hagare Eretra (formal)
  16. Turkish: Eritre

Origin of name: 

From Italian mare Eritreo, a name for the Red Sea

Primary subdivisions: 

Eritrea is divided into six zoba (regions)

RegionHASCFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)CapitalOld provinces
Anseba ER.ANER01400,84623,2009,000 KerenBarka, Senhit
Debub ER.DUER02702,502 8,0003,100 MendeferaAkele Guzai, Seraye
Debubawi Keyih BahriER.DKER03189,62727,60010,700AssabDenkalia
Gash Barka ER.GBER04515,66733,20012,800BarentuBarka, Gash-Setit, Seraye
Maekel ER.MAER05502,300 1,300500 AsmaraAsmara, Hamasien
Semenawi Keyih BahriER.SKER06392,65327,80010,700MassawaAkele Guzai, Denkalia, Sahel, Semhar
6 regions2,703,595121,10046,800
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by hyphens,
    these are the same as the region codes from ISO standard 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: Source [2].
  • Area: Source [3].
  • Old provinces: provinces as defined from independence to 1997 covering corresponding
    areas (approximate).

Further subdivisions:

See the Subregions of Eritrea page.

Territorial extent: 

Eritrea includes Red Sea islands near its coast. The main group is the Dahlak Archipelago, whose largest island is Dehalak Deset, offshore from Massawa. There are a number of smaller islands near Assab, the largest of which is Halba Deset. The Hanish Islands are disputed between Eritrea and Yemen; the International Court of Justice is arbitrating. These include Jazirat Jabal Zuqar (Mount Zuqar Island), also spelled Zugur or Zugura; Jazirat al Hanish al Kabir (Great Hanish Island); Jazirat al Hanish al Sqier, and a number of smaller islands.

The Dahlak Archipelago is part of Semenawi Keyih Bahri region; previously it was in Semhar province.

The UN LOCODE page  for Eritrea lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

Asmara: Tigrinya: arbate asmara = "they (feminine) united the four" (four clans or villages made a truce at the women's urging)

Change history: 

  1. 1936: As part of Italian East Africa, Eritrea was subdivided into five commisariats (Bassopiano Occidentale, Bassopiano Orientale e Dancalia, Cheren, Confine Meridionale, Hamasien) and one autonomous residence (Dancalia Meridionale).
  2. 1993-05-27: At independence, Eritrea was divided into ten awraja (provinces), as listed below. No FIPS codes were assigned to the provinces. The FIPS code ER represents the whole country.
Akele GuzaiER.AG8,400Adi K'eyih (Adi Caieh, Adi Qayeh)
AsmaraER.AS200Asmara (Asmera, Asmra)
BarkaER.BA27,800Ak'ordat (Agordat)
DenkaliaER.DE24,300Assab (Aseb, Asseb)
HamasienER.HA2,700Asmara (Asmera, Asmra)
SemharER.SM6,300Massawa (Massaua, Mesewa, Mits'iwa)
SenhitER.SN5,900Keren (Karen)
SerayeER.SR6,800Mendefera (Mendeferas)
10 provinces117,400
  1. 1996-04-15: New constitution took effect. Eritrea reorganized into six regions, as shown above.
  2. ~1999: Capital of Gash Barka region moved from Agordat to Barentu.

Other names of subdivisions: 


  1. Anseba: Ansaba, A'Nseba (variant)
  2. Debub: al-Janubiyah (Arabic); Southern (English)
  3. Debubawi Keyih Bahri: Debubawi Keyh Bahri, Debub-Keih-Bahri (variant); al-Bahru al-Ahmaru al-Janubi (Arabic); Southern Red Sea (English)
  4. Gash Barka: al-Qash wa-Barka (Arabic); Debubawi Gash Barka (variant)
  5. Maekel: al-Markaziyah (Arabic); Central (English); Maakel, Maekelay, Ma'käl, Makelay (variant)
  6. Semenawi Keyih Bahri: al-Bahru al-Ahmaru ash-Shimali (Arabic); Northern Red Sea (English); Semenawi Keyh Bahri, Semien-Keih-Bahri (variant)


  1. Akele Guzai: Akale Guzay, Akole Guzay (variant)
  2. Barka: Ak'ordat, Baraka (variant)
  3. Denkalia: Aseb, Asseb, Denakil (variant); Dancalia (Italian)
  4. Gash-Setit: Gash and Setit (English); Gashe na Setit (variant)
  5. Hamasien: Hamasen, Hamassien (variant)
  6. Sahel: Sahil (variant)
  7. Semhar: Key Bahir, Mits'iwa, Samhar (variant)
  8. Senhit: Keren (variant)


  1. [1] "Ershiyi (21) Shiji Shijie Diming Lu", Beijing, 2001.
  2. [2] UNESCO: The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports: Eritrea  (retrieved 2000-07-13). Table 11 shows area, population, and population density by region, citing 1995 Ministry of Local Government data. Area for Debubawi Keyih Bahri, and total area, are missing, but an approximate total area can be calculated using the population density. Total population given here is about 1/4 less than the figures usually quoted elsewhere; Total area is about 8% too high.
  3. [3] Personal webpage at (dead link, retrieved 2006-04-19).
  4. [4] Ethiopia Eritrea conflict  has a timeline at the end of the page (retrieved 2011-12-17).
  5. [5] Historical Outline , originally found on a U. Penn. African Studies site (retrieved 2011-12-17).
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