It is situated around 91 kilometers northwest of Asmara, at an elevation of 1,390 meters from sea-level. The town sprawls on a wide basin surrounded by granitic mountains on all sides. It serves as the capital of the Anseba region, and is home to the Bilen ethnic group.
It is an important commercial centre and was the scene of regular battles in both World War II and the Eritrean War of Independence. Keren was the site of a key battle between Italian and British troops in February – March 1941.
Subedar Richhapal Ram Lamba (August 20, 1899 - February 12, 1941) was twice the winner of prestigious Victoria Cross award, which is a record of bravery unparallel in Indian Army, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Richhpal Ram came from Barda in Haryana, serving as a Subedar in the 6th Rajputana Rifles.
On 7 February 1941 at Keren, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Subadar Richhpal Ram Lamba led a successful attack on the enemy and subsequently repelled six counter-attacks and then, without a shot left, brought the few survivors of his company back. Five days later, when leading another attack, his right foot was blown off, but he continued to encourage his men until he died.
During the assault on enemy positions on the night of 7th-8th February, 1941, Subadar Richpal Ram, who was second-in-command of a leading company, insisted on accompanying the forward platoon and led its attack on the first objective with great dash and gallantry.His company commander being then wounded, he assumed command of the company, and led the attack of the remaining two platoons to the final objective. In face of heavy fire, some thirty men with this officer at their head rushed the objective with the bayonet and captured it. The party was completely isolated, but under the inspiring leadership of Subadar Richpal Ram, it beat back six enemy counter-attacks between midnight and 0430 hours. By now, ammunition had run out, and this officer extricated his command and fought his way back to his battalion with a handful of survivors through the surrounding enemy.
Again, in the attack on the same position on 12th February, this officer led the attack of his company. He pressed on fearlessly and determinedly in the face of heavy and accurate fire, and by his personal example inspired his company with his resolute spirit until his right foot was blown off. He then suffered further wounds from which he died. While lying wounded he continued to wave his men on, and his final words were, "We'll capture the objective." The heroism, determination and devotion to duty shown by this officer were beyond praise, and provided an inspiration to all who saw him. 
- London Gazette 4th, July 1941