Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, East Africa. Home to a population of around 649,000 inhabitants, it sits at an elevation of 2,325 metres (7,628 ft). The city is located at the tip of an escarpment that is both the north-western edge of the Eritrean highlands and the Great Rift Valley in neighbouring Ethiopia. Asmara is situated in Eritrea's central Maekel Region. The city is divided into thirteen districts or administrative areas: Acria, Abbashaul, Edaga Hamus, Arbaete Asmara, Mai Temenai, Paradizo, Sembel, Godaif, Maekel Ketema or Downtown, Tiravolo, Gejeret, Tsetserat and Gheza Banda.

Asmara started to grow in a huge way when it was occupied by Italy in 1889 and was made the capital city of Italian Eritrea in preference to Massawa by Governor Martini in 1897. In the early 20th century, a railway line was built to the coast, passing through the town of Ghinda, under the direction of Carlo Cavanna.

In the late 1930s the Italians changed the face of Asmara, with a new structure and new buildings and, as a result, the town became known as Piccola Roma (Little Rome). Asmara is still known today for its well-preserved colonial Italian modernist architecture.

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