Eritrea got its independence from Ethiopia on May 24. 1991, after the Eritrean War of Independence. Since the inception of the war in the 1960's many immigrants from Eritrea left for the United States. By 2000, the Eritrean community in the U.S. had grown to around 30,000 members.
Eritrean Americans have since established ethnic enclaves in various places around the country, particularly in the Washington D.C. area. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, California has come to be known as Little Ethiopia, owing to its many Ethiopian and Eritrean businesses and restaurants. The Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, California has many Ethiopian and Eritrean businesses and restaurants. Additionally, Eritreans have opened a number of garages and auto repair shops. They also run several taxi establishments, including the Eritrean Cab company based in San Diego.
The exact number of Eritrean residents in the United States is unknown because Eritreans were Ethiopian nationals prior to Eritrea's independence in the early 1990s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 18,917 people reported Eritrean ancestry in 2000. Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 25,848 Eritrea-born residents in the country. California had the most Eritrean-born people, at 4,782 residents, followed by Virginia (3,417), Texas (2,693), and Maryland (1,902).
Most Eritrean immigrants are concentrated in Washington D.C. and California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area. The community also has a notable presence in the Seattle, Columbus, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Denver and Dallas metropolitan areas.
The Eritrean community in the United States is represented by various Eritrean-run organizations. Among these are the Eritrean American Community Association of Georgia, Eritrean American Community in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Eritrean Community Center of Greater New York, Eritrean American Community in Dallas, Eritrean Community Association in Chicago, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, and Eritrean American Community in Sacramento.
In 2001, a chapter of the Eritrean Liberation Front–Revolutionary Council was also established in Chicago. The National Union of Eritrean Women likewise routinely holds meetings and activities in the city.
Additionally, the Virginia-based Eritrean Sports Federation in North America (ERSFNA) annually hosts a soccer tournament for Eritrean residents. It also organizes adult and youth sports community programs in various U.S. cities.
The Eritrean Muslims Association in North America (EMANA) and Eritrean Muslims Council (EMC) serve the Eritrean community's Muslim adherents. Christians also gather in a number of Eritrean Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
Notable U.S. residents of full or partial Eritrean descent include: