Under Italian colonial administration, infrastructure was developed, and a modern administrative state structure was established.

The highland Tigrinya group constitutes about half of the population.

More than 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Although the Eritrean Constitution states that all nine ethnic languages in the country are equal, the government of Eritrea has two administrative languages: Tigrinya and Arabic.

The topographical variety has affected the social organization and mode of production of the country's nine ethnic groups.

In the highland plateau, people live in small villages conducting subsistence plow-agriculture.

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.

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.

On the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, one also finds traces of some of Africa's oldest civilizations.

Since the creation of Eritrea was so closely linked to Ethiopia, Eritrea's identity developed in struggles against its ancient and larger neighbor to the south.

Many of the nine ethnic groups within Eritrea are also found in Ethiopia, and the dominant Christian Orthodox highland culture of Ethiopia also stretches into the Eritrean highland plateau.

Tigrinya is a Semitic language also spoken by the Tigreans of Ethiopia.