An Ottoman invading force under Suleiman I conquered Massawa in 1557, building what is now considered the 'old town' of Massawa on Batsi island. They also conquered the towns of Hergigo, and Debarwa, the capital city of the contemporary Bahr Negus (ruler), Yeshaq. Suleiman's forces fought as far south as southeastern Tigray before being repulsed. Yeshaq was able to retake much of what the Ottomans captured with Ethiopian assistance, but he later twice revolted against the Emperor of Ethiopia with Ottoman support in an attempt to take the Ethiopian throne. By 1578, all revolts had ended, leaving the Ottomans in control of the important ports of Massawa and Hergigo and their environs. The Ottomans maintained their dominion over the northern coastal areas for nearly 300 years. Their possessions were left to their Egyptian heirs in 1865 and were taken over by the Italians in 1885.
The Italian colony of Eritrea-a name derived from Mare Erythraeum, the old Roman designation for the Red Sea-was adopted in 1890. After a humiliating defeat when they tried to expand their influence south into Ethiopia, the Italians concentrated on colonizing Eritrea. In 1936, however, Italy conquered Ethiopia and ruled over both colonies until 1941 when the Allied forces defeated Mussolini's troops and returned Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie to the thrown. Selassie pressed for the re-incorporation of Eritrea into its "motherland." In 1952 the UN General Assembly decided Eritrea should become an autonomous state federated with Ethiopia. Barely ten years later, however, Emperor Haile Selassie abrogated the federation, dissolved Eritrea's national assembly and annexed the country as Ethiopia's 14th province. Various liberation movements became active and eventually the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) emerged victorious when Eritrea won its independence in May 1993. The EPLF leader, Isaias Afwerki was appointed interim president and still rules. Since its independence, Eritrea and Ethiopia have disagreed about the exact demarcation of their borders and in May 1998 border clashes began. It erupted into a war lasting until the beginning of 2000 that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives on both sides and depleted state coffers. A cease-fire was signed in June 2000 and a peace agreement concluded later in the year. The UN agreed to provide peace-keeping troops to patrol the buffer zone. Since then, the peace agreement have been contested and it is yet to be settled.