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Eritrea, History

The earliest food-producing inhabitants of Eritrea are thought to have moved from the Nile valley into the Mereb-Setit lowlands in about 4000 bc. Over the next several thousand years, Eritrea experienced migrations of Nilotic, Cushitic, and Semitic-speaking peoples into what became one of the earliest regions of crop and livestock domestication in Africa. From as early as 3000 bc, Eritrea was involved in trade on the Red Sea. In the 4th century ad Eritrea was a part of the ancient Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum. It flourished as a semi-independent state under nominal Ethiopian sovereignty until it was annexed in the 16th century by the expanding Ottoman Empire.

Eritrea was established as an Italian colony on January 1, 1890. Italian rule lasted until World War II (1939-1945) when British forces conquered the territory. British military administration lasted from 1941 until 1952 when the United Nations decided to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia as a compromise between Ethiopian claims for annexation and Eritrean demands for independence. Once in control, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie moved to end Eritrean autonomy, and by 1962 Eritrea was transformed into an Ethiopian province.

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