Asmara, estimated population 400,000 (1996), is the capital of Eritrea. Textiles and clothing, processed meat, beer, shoes, and ceramics are the major industrial products. Asmara was a small village until the 1880s, when it became an Ethiopian regional administrative center. It became the capital of the Italian colony of Eritrea in 1900.
During the Eritrean war for independence from Ethiopia, Asmara's airport became key in the conflict, and it was used by the Eritreans to obtain arms and supplies from outside supporters. The city became a part of Eritrea when the country gained its independence (1993).