In 1991 the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) took over Asmara and completed the liberation of Eritrea; formal independence came two years later after a referendum in May 1993. It was the climax of a thirty-year struggle, though the EPLF itself was formed only in the early 1970s.
From the beginning, Eritrean nationalism was divided. Ethiopia’s appeal to a joint Christian imperial past alienated the Muslim pastoral lowland people in the areas where Eritrean nationalism first appeared. It was not until the early 1970s that the Christian elements of the population finally joined the liberation struggle on a substantial scale.