Eritrea is the northernmost province of the Kingdom of Ethiopia and the third largest, after Hararghe and Mogadishu Provinces, with a population of over 5.5 million. The provincial capital of Asmara is the site of the Royal Ethiopian Navy's second largest training center (second only to Mogadishu) and the largest regional naval air station. The naval base at Massawa is also one of the REN's largest (after Mogadishu and Cadalay).
Prior to the decisive and short-lived Second Italo-Abyssinian War (1935-36) and the 2nd Treaty of Addis Ababa (1936), Eritrea was part of Italian East Africa as the colony of Italian Eritrea. But with the 1935 British arms embargo against Italy and the subsequent closure of the Suez to Italian shipping, Italian troops in Eritrea and Italian Somaliland were under-equipped and undermanned to deal with the 'primitive' Ethiopian Army. In Ethiopia's Christmas Offensive, the Battle of Dembeguina Pass (of December 15, 1935) was an unmitigated success, with the Italians losing a contingent of a thousand Eritreans to a contingent of two-thousand Ethiopians under Ras Imru (cousin to Emperor Haile Selassie I). Within weeks, the army of Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio had been all but destroyed by the Ethiopians' greater numbers, and by January, the Ethiopian Army had invaded and entirely occupied Eritrea with surprisingly little bloodshed. Italian Eritrea thus ceased to exist and Eritrea was officially added as the newest province of the Ethiopian Empire.