Eritrea: Asmara


Asmara (Arabic: أسمرة‎, Tigrinya: ኣስመራ?, Asmera), known as Asmera to the inhabitants, meaning "The four (feminine plural) made them unite" in Tigrinya) is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of 649,000 inhabitants. Sitting at an elevation of 2,325 metres (7,628 ft), it is located at the tip of an escarpment that is both the northwestern edge of the Eritrean highlands and the Great Rift Valley.
Asmara is situated in Eritrea's central Maekel Region. It is known for its well-preserved colonial Italian modern architecture,and is divided into thirteen districts or administrative areas: Acria, Abbashaul, Edaga Hamus, Arbaete Asmara, Mai Temenai, Paradiso, Sembel, Godaif, Maekel Ketema or Downtown, Tiravolo, Gejeret, Tsetserat and Gheza Banda.

Asmara's population of around 564,000 residents makes it the largest city in Eritrea. Although all ethnic groups are represented in the capital, the largest groups are the Tigrinya people (77%) and the Tigre people (15%). In Asmara, the main language is Tigrinya. Arabic, Italian and English are also widely spoken and understood.
The Eritrean government's 2003 national census found 99.67% of Asmara's housing units had access to safe drinking water, 96.9% had flush toilets, 2.1% pit toilets (both ventilated and unventilated), and 1% had no toilet facilities. Adult literacy for men is 95.2% and for women 89.95%, the highest in the nation for both sexes.

The city lies at an elevation of 2,325 metres above sea level. It lies on north-south trending highlands known as the Eritrean Highlands, an extension of the Ethiopian Highlands. The temperate central portion, where Asmara lies, is situated on a rocky highland plateau, which separates the western lowlands from the eastern coastal plains. The lands that surround Asmara are very fertile, especially those to the south towards the Debub Region of Eritrea. The highlands that Asmara is located in fall away to reveal the eastern lowlands, characterised by the searing heat and humidity of the Eritrean salt pans, lapped by the Red Sea. To the west of the plateau stretches a vast semi-arid hilly terrain continuing all the way towards the border with Sudan through the Gash-Barka Region.

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