Eritrea - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Eritrea, a country in North East Africa bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the Red Sea has a total land area of 45,405 square miles and a population of around 5.25 million. Long mountain ranges essentially break up the country into halves – the west has the fertile lands, while the east slopes to a desert. War has eroded the very essence of the country. A progressive goal for Eritrea is to bring up the skill set of its people to what is necessary to contribute to the modern economy. It is on a drive to improve the lot of its society in the health front as well as in the poverty front. The country is also on a quest to bring its entire coast to an environmentally protected zone and step up its wildlife population. Oil, fishing and floriculture are the main industries of the country.

Travel Resources:

The best time to visit Eritrea is from October to March. While tourism is not on the country’s radar as yet there are gems waiting to be discovered there. The major attractions are the beaches, the religious buildings, and the marine life. Eritrean cuisine is a fusion of native and foreign cultures. A typical meal consists of injera (flat-bread) accompanied by spicy stews. Injera is broken into pieces and dipped into the stews.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Eritrea Bradt Travel Guide978-1841621715$27A practical travelers introduction followed by region wise coverage including Asmara, Asmara to Massawa, The Islands, Through Dankalia: Massawa to Assab, Assab and the Southeast, Asmara to Keren and Nakfa, The Western Lowlands, and The Southern Highlands.
I didn’t do it for You: How the world betrayed a small African nation978-0060780937$11The author Michela Wrong, an African correspondent for the Financial Times, portrays an extremely readable portrait of Eritrea from around 1869 to 2002, spanning the colonial and postwar eras when the UN failed to act against Ethiopian repression.
Eritrea Travel Map978-1553412014$121:900,000 Scale.
Eritrea Gounded Adapter Plug Kit – GUB and GUFB001FDA8EE$15


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Eritrea are ‘Colonia Eritrea’ overprints on Italian issues released in 1892. The set (Scott #1 to #11) is sought after and catalogs for around $2700 MNH and $300 used. ‘Colonia Eritrea’ overprints on Italian issues were the only stamps released in Eritrea till 1909. Some of these are fairly common while others fetch a huge premium. The first original issues of Eritrea were a set of two stamps released between 1910 and 1929 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #47 to #48) catalogs for around $230 MNH and $15 used. Certain varieties with different perforations also exist and they fetch a sizable premium. This was followed by another set of two stamps between 1914 and 1928 in the Farming theme. That set (Scott #49 to #50) is remarkably inexpensive and catalogs for a few dollars MNH or used. Couple of varieties released with a different perforation (11) in 1928 however fetch a huge premium. Surcharge overprints and regular overprints on Italian issues were the main stamp issues of Eritrea till 1936.

Eritrea released a set of ten stamps in 1930 showing local scenes in original design. The set (Scott #119 to #128) catalogs for around $75 MNH and $80 used. The designs show lancer, postman, lineman, Askari infantryman, scene in Massaua, railroad viaduct, Asmara Deghe Selam, and camels. This was followed in 1931 by a set of stamps (Scott #150 to #157) showing Victor Emmanuel III (King of Italy at the time). That set catalogs for around $20 MNH and $7 used.  Two more original sets issued in 1934 completed the Eritrean stamp issues during the classic period – Eritrea became a State of Italian East Africa in 1936. The sets (Scott #158 to #167 and #175 to #180) catalog for around $70 and $40 respectively for MNH and $25 and $70 respectively for used.

Other Eritrean issues enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of five stamps released on April 22, 1993 in the Referendum for Independence theme. The set (Scott #200 to #204) catalogs for around $10 MNH or used. The designs show placing ballot in box, group of arrows pointing right with one pointing left, signs indicating Yes and No, candle burning, peace dove and horn over country map. Eritrea became the 14th province of Ethiopia in 1952. An independence movement started in the 60s and following a 30-year struggle that culminated in an UN-supervised referendum in 1991, the country became independent on 24th May 1993.
  2. A long set of twelve stamps released on September 2, 1994 showing flag and map. The set (Scott #220 to #231) catalogs for around $17 MNH or used. Eritrean National elections were set for 1995 but would later be postponed to 2001 and then indefinitely. The country is run by an authoritarian regime headed by Isaias Afwerki, leader of Eritrean People’s Liberation Front which led the country to independence. The organization has since transformed into the  People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.
  3. A long set of twelve stamps released in 2003 to mark the 10th anniversary of independence. The set (Scott #368 to #376C) catalogs for around $50 MNH or used. The designs show Eritrean railway, independence celebrations, and Massawa. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Eritrea Italian Colonial Silver Centesimas released in 1890. The issue has high mintage (over 1.8M) but still catalogs for around $250 UNC. Republican Decimal Coinage started in 1997 with the introduction of Nickel Clad Steel coins with Red-fronted gazelle in Obverse and Soldiers with Flag and Date in Reverse.

Numismatic items of Eritrea include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNCs starts around $1. Large Dollar UNCs from the 1990s starts around $10.
Paper Money$3 and upCommon UNC banknotes from the 1990s starts around $3. Specimens, High Values, etc start around $15. RAR Replacements, Bundles etc start around $50.


Collectible Memorabilia:

The best Eritrean souvenirs are traditional handicrafts made from leather, olive-wood, clay and straw.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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