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Location of Asmara in Eritrea
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 500,000 people. Textiles and clothing, processed meat, beer, shoes, and ceramics are the major industrial products. Asmara is located at 15°20' North, 38°55' East (15.333, 38.91667).

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History - Contents

Asmara grew from four villages founded in the twelfth century as a trading post and later the capital of Ras Alula. It was colonised by Italy in 1889 and became the national capital in 1897. In the late 1930s the Italians changed the face of the town, with a new structure and new buildings; Asmara was called "Piccola Roma" (Little Rome). Nowadays the major part of buildings are of Italian origin, and shops still have Italian names (e.g. "Bar Vittoria", "Pasticceria moderna", "Casa del formaggio", "Ferramenta").During the Eritrean war for independence from Ethiopia, Asmara's airport became key in the conflict, and it was used by the Ethiopians to obtain arms and supplies from outside supporters. The last town to fall to the Eritrean People's Liberation Front in the Eritrean War of Independence, it was besieged in 1990 and was surrendered by Ethiopian Army troops without a fight on May 24, 1991.

Features - Contents

The city is home to the Eritrean National Museum and is known for its early twentieth century buildings, including the Art Deco Cinema Impero, Cubist Africa Pension, eclectic Orthodox Cathedral and former Opera House, the futurist Fiat Tagliero Building, neo-Romanesque Roman Catholic Cathedral and the neoclassical Governor's Palace. Other attractions include a bowling alley and a large market.Asmara is also home to Asmara University and a nineteenth century fort. It is served by Asmara International Airport, and is connected to the port of Massawa by the Eritrean Railway.Asmara is also the see of the archbishop of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, which became autocephalous in 1993. The archbishop was elevated in 1998 to the rank of Patriarchate of Eritrea, at par with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.Asmara has been proposed as a possible new addition to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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