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The notion that Eritrea was more developed and modern than Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia helped to boost Eritrean national consciousness.
Italy—which had occupied Ethiopia in 1935— saw its dream of an East African empire crushed in World War II.
The decline of the Axumite empire began around 800, when its area of dominance became too big to administer efficiently.
Moreover, local resistance and uprisings coupled with the domination of overseas trade by the Islamic empire in the Middle East led to the collapse of the kingdom.
The official Eritrean flag, adopted in 1993, is a combination of the flag of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, the liberation movement that achieved a military victory over the Ethiopian government, and the old flag given to Eritrea by United Nations in 1952. The Eritrean-Ethiopian region has been exposed to population movements and migrations from northern Africa, across the Red Sea, and from the south.
The Italian colonization of Eritrea in 1890 marked the first time that Eritrean territory was ruled as a single entity.
British forces liberated Ethiopia from the Italian colonizers and took control of Eritrea in 1941.
Eritrea was administered by the British Military Administration until 1952, when the United Nations (UN) federated Eritrea with Ethiopia.
It appears, however, that Tigrinya is taking over as the dominant language, since the majority of the population are Tigrinya-speakers, the biggest towns are located in the highlands, and most people in government and the state bureaucracy are from the Tigrinya ethnic group. Since Eritreans fought a thirty-year-long war of liberation (1961–1991) to achieve independence from Ethiopian domination, the national culture endorsed by the government invokes symbols of war and sacrifice.
The three main national holidays all commemorate the war of liberation: 24 May, Liberation Day; 20 June, Martyr's Day; and 1 September, a holiday that commemorates the start of the liberation war.
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Ethiopia soon violated the federal arrangement, however, and in 1962 Ethiopia annexed Eritrea as its fourteenth province.