Asmara only has about 500,000 inhabitants, which combined with low salaries, high import taxes and fuel shortages means the city has few vehicles. Those you do see often tend to be from a different age.
Roads are not only relatively empty of cars. Locals lament the departure of great numbers of young Eritreans who have left over the last 20 years because of hardships brought by regional conflicts and enforced national service under a government that brooks little dissent.
As a result of its circumstances, Asmara offers a very different landscape compared to many African cities congested with traffic. This, combined with the wonderful climate, makes it a dream for cyclists to get around. “Cycling is part of our culture,” says a 25-year-old man.
Asmara’s architecture is also admired and it was recently made a Unesco World Heritage Site for its striking art deco buildings, a legacy of the country’s time as an Italian colony from 1897 until 1943.