Eritrea is a republic in north-eastern Africa, located along the coastal periphery adjacent to the Horn of Africa. The country is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the south-east. Historically the area was known to the ancient Egyptians as part of the northern end of the Land of Punt, a significant trading partner for exotic goods, along the Red Sea littoral. Its strategic position was emphasized during the construction of the Suez canal (1859—69), which required coaling stations for ships passing to and from the waterway. Italy annexed Eritrea from Ethiopia and proclaimed it a colony in 1890. Italian immigration to the region followed along with major infrastructure projects, including the building of roads and railways. Following the conquest of Ethiopia, Italy proclaimed the united province of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana) in 1936, consisting of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Italian Somaliland. The outbreak of the Second World War, resulted in the eventual loss of Eritrea following the Battle of Keren in 1941, and the British establishing a mandated territory until 1951. Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia and finally annexed in 1962, which resulted in a thirty year war of independence until a United Nations brokered referendum in 1992, which voted for the creation of an independent state. The capital and largest city is Asmara. Estimated population of Eritrea in 2012 is 6,233,682.