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Eritrea Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT +3.

Electricity

Electrical outlets in Eritrea usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts. European two-pin plugs with round pins are standard.

Language

Eritrea has no official language but Tigrinya and Arabic are the most widely spoken languages, and English and Italian are also widely understood.

Travel Health

Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for all areas of Eritrea except Asmara and altitudes above 2,200 metres (7,218 ft). A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers arriving from yellow fever areas, and is recommended for travellers visiting the states of Anseba, Debub, Gash Barka, Maekel and Semenawi Keih Bahri. Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Those who may be at risk of animal bites, or who will be in contact with bats, should consider a rabies vaccination. Travellers are generally advised to be up to date on vaccinations for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), tetanus-diphtheria and polio.

Travellers should not drink tap water in Eritrea unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected, and should avoid ice in beverages. Don't eat fruit and vegetables unless they have been cooked or peeled, and eat all cooked meals while still hot.

Medical facilities in Eritrea are extremely limited and visitors should ensure that they have comprehensive travel and health insurance. As the availability of medicine is limited visitors should take along any medication they may need, in its original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what the medicine is and why it is needed.

Tipping

Tipping is appreciated but not generally expected in Eritrea. The standard 10 percent tip is acceptable in restaurants and small amounts are appreciated by hotel staff and taxi drivers.

Safety Information

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel near Eritrea's border with Ethiopia, as tensions between the countries remain high and there are sometimes military clashes in the region. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office also advises against all travel near Eritrea's borders with Djibouti and Sudan. The US Department of State advises Americans not to travel to Eritrea.

The Eritrean government maintains tight control of foreigners and all foreign nationals must apply for a travel permit to leave Asmara. These applications are frequently denied. Landmines and unexploded munitions are a threat outside of the capital city and travellers should be wary of straying off the main roads.

Crime levels are comparatively low in Eritrea, but seem to be increasing, especially in Asmara. Travellers should take all the normal precautions to ensure their personal safety. Valuables, including passports, should be kept out of sight.

Local Customs

In Eritrea, local customs and social etiquette are heavily influenced by the religious convictions of the population. Whether Orthodox Christians or followers of Islam, Eritreans value respect of their elders, conservative dress and behaviour (although casual dress is accepted), and strict observance of fasting periods. It is also considered rude to show the soles of your feet or shoes, and to touch or move objects with your feet. Visitors should avoid using their left hand when greeting others, or when eating, as it is considered 'haram' (impure). Also note that homosexuality is illegal in Eritrea, and is punishable by imprisonment.

Business

Eritrea's economy was promising post-independence but has taken a huge hit from war and drought. It is not an easy country to do business in. Meetings often don't start punctually, but foreigners should be sure to arrive on time or offense might be taken. Suits are appropriate attire for business meetings for both men and women, but women should ensure that skirts are knee-length or longer. Office hours are generally 8am to 11am and 2pm to 4pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 11.30am on Saturdays.

Communications

Statistics on communications infrastructure in Eritrea are not widely available, but it seems like landline use, mobile telephone use and internet use are all limited. Travellers should be able to find an internet cafe in Asmara, but outside of the capital and other big cities even finding phones may be difficult. The international dialling code for Eritrea is 291 and city codes are not in use.

Duty Free

Visitors to Eritrea may import the following goods: 200 cigarettes/50 cigars/250g of tobacco, and one litre of alcohol.

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