Haggling in Eritrea is light hearted and polite, as opposed to aggressive. You can generally get better deals in local markets and shops, where prices are rarely displayed.
Haggling in other places can offend Eritreans.
Tipping is not expected in the countryside, but is expected in the towns, particularly in larger hotels and restaurants who are used to dealing with tourists.
Usually the normal 10% of the bill in a restaurant, or $1 for hotel staff is fine.
In smaller local restaurants $0.20 to $0.50 is OK depending on the bill and the service.
There has never been carried out a proper population survey or census in Eritrea. Thus it is impossible to say exactly to state the population size or composition with any degree of precision.The guesses range between 2,5 to 3,5 million, and about an additional million living abroad.
Eritrea has 9 main linguistic groups, all diverse in culture, religion and production forms. There are three linguistic families represented: Cushitic, Semitic and Nilo-Saharan. The Semitic languages are written in Ethiopic script (Ge'ez) which is derived from a modified and localized south Arabian script.
The largest population group in the country are the Tigrinya highlanders (ca 50%) who speak the most commonly used government language, too, Tigriniya.
Tigré is spoken by diverse pastoralist and agriculturalist and fishing peoples lumped under the title Tigré living in the west central part of Eritrea. Bilen are centred around Keren town. Other important groups are Hadareb, Kunama, Nara, Saho-speakers, Rashida and Afar.
Then there are
The Kunama are a people of Nilotic origin that live in the north-western part of Eritrea. They are the original people of this area of Gash Barka/Setit. A tremendously proud and beautiful people they are something on their own. Barentu is the urban concentration point of the Kunama. They live a semi-nomadic pastoralist life style and do not easily conform.
When people meet - at least people who are aquainted or are seeing each other again after some time elapse they will in addition to a handshake bang shoulders: My right shoulder bangs three times gently into your right shoulder. Heads turned slighly away.
More formal greetings involve long tirades that sound like talk about the camels - how is your camel, mine is ok etc again and again. In fact the exchange is about asking the family's welfare.
The local language spoken in Eritrea is Tigrinay. In general, English is widely spoken and understood, as is Italian and some other European languages. The currency is called Nakfa, named after the city North of Asmara that had not been capture by Ethiopia in 30 year war. Money can be changed in Asmara in many hotels, banks and many authorized exchange offices (a better rate). Do not change your money on the street by anyone who may approach you to do so. They may offer you an enticing rate, but.... that could land you in jail. Changing money anywhere other than at an authorized vendor is illegal in Eritrea.
In general, it seems the Eritreans do not like being photographed by strangers. Many times, women will cover their face or turn away. This seems to be true more in rural areas outside of Asmara.
Arrived at the hotel after a late night flight from Frankfurt. Staff was always pleasant especially...more