ASMARA, the capital of the Italian colony of Eritrea, N.E.
Asmara, an Amharic word signifying "good pasture place," is a town of considerable antiquity.
Asmara appears to have been one of the most prosperous of these villages, and to have attained commercial importance through being on the high road from Axum to Massawa.
In 1872 Munzinger, now in Egyptian service, annexed Asmara to the khedivial dominions, but in 1884, owing to the rise of the mandi,Egypt evacuated her Abyssinian provinces and Asmara was chosen by Ras Alula, the representative of the negus Johannes (King John), as his headquarters.
In 1900 the seat of government was transferred from Massawa to Asmara, which in its modern form is the creation of the Italians.
A railway from Massawa to Asmara was completed as far as Ghinda, at the foot of the plateau, in 1904.
North of Asmara, are gold-mines which have been partially worked.
Instead of marching on to Kassala, Ras Alula, who at this time was much offended by the transfer of Massawa by the Egyptians to Italy, made a triumphant entry into Asmara, and absolutely refused to make any further efforts to extricate Egyptian garrisons from the grip of the khalifa.
The Baraka (otherwise Barka) and Anseba rise in the Hamasen plateau near Asmara within a short distance of each other.
The whole of the hill country north of Asmara belongs to the drainage area of the Baraka or Anseba.
Of Asmara, is the centre for a district (Bogos) fertilized by the upper course of the Anseba; Agordat, on the river Baraka, on the road from Keren to Kassala, is the centre of the Beni-Amer, Algheden and Sabderat tribes; Mogolo, on the lower Mareb, is the rendezvous of the Baria and Baza tribes.
An extension of the line is planned from Asmara to Sabderat and Kassala.
The great arteries, however, number three, which, starting from Massawa by way of Asmara, run, two to Abyssinia, and one to Kassala and Khartum.
The six regions or principal provinces are: - Asmara, which includes Hamasen and other small districts; Keren, which comprises the high territories to the north of Asmara, i.e.
Of Asmara; Serae, including Deki-Tesfa, the country S.W.
The colonial corps, about 5000 strong, garrisons the chief places of strategic importance, such as Asmara, Keren and Saganeiti.
In consequence of this the Italians occupied Asmara, made friends with Mangasha and received Ras Makonnen, 1 Menelek's nephew, as his plenipotentiary in Italy.