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Religion and Society

Eritrea, traces of Italy in the former colony without peace

Photo album

Eritrea: the name, it seems, was suggested to Francesco Crispi by the bohemian writer Carlo Dossi to indicate the territory which suddenly descends from the Ethiopian plateau to the Red Sea (in fact Erythròs in Greek). The Italians arrived there for the first time in November 1869 when the Lazarist father Giuseppe Sapeto had purchased ‘the land between Mount Ganga, Cape Lumah and both sides of it’ for 6,000 thalers on behalf of the Rubattino Company of Genoa. At the time, following three centuries of Ottoman rule, the coastal regions, originally Christian with a considerable Muslim presence, were moving within the Egyptian orbit. It was the Mahdi revolt in Sudan and the fall of the Egyptian colonial presence that made it possible for the Italians to settle in the port town of Massawa (1885). In 1890 a royal decree established the Italian colony of Eritrea.

 

 

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Photographs courtesy of Gian Micalessin.

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