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Many of the lowland groups, however, lead semi-nomadic pastoral or agro pastoral lives.
The Eritrean capital, Asmara, is located in the highland plateau, the home region of the biggest ethnic group, the Tigrinya. The population in Eritrea is approximately three to three-and-a-half million (1994), divided between nine ethnic groups.
Since the creation of Eritrea was so closely linked to Ethiopia, Eritrea's identity developed in struggles against its ancient and larger neighbor to the south.
English is taught as a second language from second grade.
The highland Tigrinya group constitutes about half of the population.
More than 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Although the Eritrean Constitution states that all nine ethnic languages in the country are equal, the government of Eritrea has two administrative languages: Tigrinya and Arabic.
Nevertheless, only one ethnic group, the Rashaida, has Arabic as a mother tongue, whereas the other groups use it as a religious language.
Many of the groups are bilingual, and because of the legacy of Ethiopian domination over Eritrea, many Eritreans also speak Amharic, the Ethiopian administrative language.