Tigray Region

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Tigray Region
ክልል ትግራይ
Flag of Tigray Region
Map of Ethiopia showing Tigray Region
Map of Ethiopia showing Tigray Region
Country Ethiopia
Capital Mek'ele
 • Total 41,409.95 km2 (15,988.47 sq mi)
Population (2015)
 • Total 6,960,003[2]
ISO 3166 code ET-TI

Tigray Region (ክልል ትግራይ kilil Tigrāy) is the northernmost of the nine regions (kililat) of Ethiopia. Tigray is the homeland of the Tigray, Irob and Kunama people. Tigray is also known as Region 1 according to the federal constitution. Its capital is Mek'ele (also spelt Mekelle).

Tigray is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, the Afar Region to the east, and the Amhara Region to the south and southwest.[3] Besides Mek'ele, major cities include Hawzen, Abiy Addi, Alamata, Mekoni, Adigrat, Adwa, Axum, Humera, Korem, Maychew, Qwiha, Shire (Inda Selassie), Wukro and Zalambessa. There is also the historically significant town of Yeha.


For the history of the Tigray area prior to 1991, see Tigray Province.
Canyon west of Adigrat in northern Tigray.

Following the conclusion of the Ethiopian Civil War, although the area which became the Tigray Region was thought by inhabitants in the rest of Ethiopia to be the beneficiaries of enormous funds from an Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government dominated by fellow Tigrayans, in reality the beneficiaries are mostly the party members of Tigray people liberation front /TPLF/. John Youngdisambiguation needed, who visited the area several times in the early 1990s, attributes this delay in part to "Budgetary restraints, structural readjustments, and lack of awareness in Addis Ababa of conditions in the province", but notes "an equally significant obstacle was posed by an entrenched, and largely Amhara dominated central bureaucracy which used its power to block even authorised funds from reaching all regions." At the same time, a growing urban middle class of traders, businessmen and government officials emerged which was both suspicious and distant from the victorious EPRDF. The ruling party attempted to address these challenges in forums with its middle class critics, as well as the establishment of a number of charitable non-governmental organizations controlled by the EPRDF, which include Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray, Relief Society of Tigray, and Tigray Development Association.[4]

In 1998, war erupted between Eritrea and Ethiopia over a portion of territory that had been administered at part of Tigray, which included the town of Badme. Following a 2002 United Nations decision, much of this land was awarded to Eritrea, so far however, Ethiopia has refused to implement the final and binding ruling and as a result, relation with Eritrea is very tense.


Mountains of Lemalimo near Inda Selassie in western Tigray

Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Tigray Region has a population of 4,316,988, of whom 2,126,465 are men and 2,190,523 women; urban inhabitants number 844,040 or 19.55% of the population. With an estimated area of 41,409.95 square kilometers, this region has an estimated density of 100 people per square kilometer. For the entire region 992,635 households were counted, which results in an average for the Region of 4.4 persons to a household, with urban households having on average 3.4 and rural households 4.6 people.[5]

In the previous census, conducted in 1994, the Region's population was 3,136,267, of whom 1,542,165 were men and 1,594,102 women; urban inhabitants numbered 621,210 or 14% of the population.

According to the CSA, as of 2004, 53.99% of the total population had access to safe drinking water, of whom 42.68% were rural inhabitants and 97.28% were urban.[6] Values for other reported common indicators of the standard of living for Tigray as of 2005 include the following: 31.6% of the inhabitants fall into the lowest wealth quintile; adult literacy for men is 67.5% and for women 33.7%; and the Regional infant mortality rate is 67 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, which less than the nationwide average of 77; at least half of these deaths occurred in the infants’ first month of life.[7]


At 96.55% of the local population, the region is predominantly inhabited by the Tigrinya speaking Tigray people. The Tigrinya language is classified as belonging to the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages. Most other residents hail from other Afro-Asiatic speaking communities, including the Amhara, Irob, Afar, Agaw and Oromo. There are also a minority of Nilo-Saharan-speaking Kunama Nilotes.

1994 Census 2007 Census
Tigray 94.98% 96.55%
Amhara 2.6% 1.63%
Irob 0.7% 0.71%
Afar - 0.29%
Agaw - 0.19%
Oromo - 0.17%
Kunama 0.05% 0.07%


Religion 1994 Census 2007 Census[8]
Orthodox Christians 95.5% 95.6%
Muslim 4.1% 4.0%
Catholics 0.4% 0.4%


The working language is Tigrinya, although most urban people are also able to speak Amharic, which was taught in schools.[9]


A gorge in the west of Adigrat in northern Tigray

The CSA estimated in 2005 that farmers in Tigray had a total of 2,713,750 cattle (representing 7.0% of Ethiopia's total cattle), 72,640 sheep (0.42%), 208,970 goats (1.61%), 1,200 horses (less than 0.1%), 9,190 mules (6.24%), 386,600 asses (15.43%), 32,650 camels (7.15%), 3,180,240 poultry of all species (10.3%), and 20,480 beehives (0.47%).[10]

Terracing and dam construction

A particular aspect of the agricultural work in Tigray after the end of the 1991 civil war was minimizing the problems of drought. The Tigray was covered with forests time and had a micro-climate that favored the rains. Subsequently the forests were cut down, usually to impoverish the population during the wars. Consequently, the Tigray was a country achieved a fair amount of rainfall during the rainy season, from August to September, but quickly lost these waters flowing downstream. In the process it was also eroded the fertile soil of the fields, which led to the valley gave the characteristic color to Blue Nile. After a few weeks of rain, the country was again dried up.[11][12]


The fog that veils the mountains near Inda Selassie in western Tigray

The new government undertook two projects in Tigray. The first was the construction of terraces. In agreement with local communities, villagers terrazzarono fields up to the tops of the mountains up to 2,500 meters. The goal was to prevent the rainfall flowed away immediately so that they could be charged for the agricultural season. On the highest terraces planted trees, mainly eucalyptus which is the dominant tree in Ethiopia and is a native of Australia. These plants had to create a new microclimate.[13][14]

The terracing method was very simple, but required a good organization. Long positions in the appropriate fields the villagers built stone walls using stones that erosion had brought to light. The rains also eroding the ground formed mudslides that was withheld from the walls, then raised further with the others put gradually uncovered stones, creating year after year new ground terraced farmland.

The extraordinary result of Tigray was the size of the transaction. After four or five years after the project, almost all of Tigray, with an area territorial of slightly less than that Italian was terraced.[15][16]


The second project involved the construction of new reservoirs. The dam needed to create these basins is typically an embankment along tens or hundreds of meters, from one part of a valley, and the top 10 or 12 meters. A work like this took months of work, in which people wore the earth in baskets loaded on the head, even without using mules. Generally 2,000-3,000 people - men, women and children - were carrying the earth dam in simple baskets[17][18]


View of Tigray from Emperor Yohannes' Palace in Mek'ele

A distinctive feature of Tigray are its rock-hewn churches. Similar in design to those of Lalibela in the Amhara Region, these churches are found in four or five clusters – Gheralta, Teka-Tesfay, Atsbi and Tembien – with Wukro sometimes included. Some of the churches are considered earlier than those of Lalibela, perhaps dating from the eighth century. Mostly monolithic, with designs partly inspired by classical architecture, they are often located at the top of cliffs or steep hills, for security. For example, Tigray's ancient Debre Damo monastery is accessible only by climbing a rope 25 meters up a sheer cliff.

Looting has become a major issue in the Tigray Region, as archaeological sites have become sources for construction materials and ancient artifacts used for everyday purposes by local populations.[19]

The area is famous for a single rock sculptured 23 meter long obelisk in Axum as well as for other fallen obelisks. The Axum treasure site of ancient Tigrayan history is a major landmark. Yeha is another important local landmark that is little-known outside the region.

Presidents of the Executive Committee

Administrative zones

Like other Regions in Ethiopia, Tigray is subdivided into administrative zones

See also


  1. ^ 2011 National Statistics
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Census - 2007" (PDF). FDRE Population Census Commission. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  3. ^ Eritrea and Ethiopia (Map). 1:5,000,000. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. Map #803395. 
  4. ^ Young, "Development and Change in Post-Revolutionary Tigray", Journal of Modern African Studies, 35 (1997), pp. 81-99
  5. ^ Census 2007 Tables: Tigray Region, Tables 2.1, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4.
  6. ^ "Households by sources of drinking water, safe water sources" CSA Selected Basic Welfare Indicators (accessed 21 January 2009)
  7. ^ Macro International Inc. "2008. Ethiopia Atlas of Key Demographic and Health Indicators, 2005." (Calverton: Macro International, 2008), pp. 2, 3, 10 (accessed 28 January 2009)
  8. ^ "Census 2007", first draft, Tables 1, 4, 5, 6.
  9. ^ "FDRE States: Basic Information - Tigray". Population. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2006. 
  10. ^ "CSA 2005 National Statistics", Tables D.4 - D.7.
  11. ^ https://www.cluteinstitute.com/conference-proceedings/DW16Proceedings.pdf
  12. ^ http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/ALST/article/viewFile/14087/14395
  13. ^ https://www-cif.climateinvestmentfunds.org/sites/default/files/aasr-2014climate-change-and-smallholder-agriculture-in-ssa.pdf
  14. ^ https://www.cluteinstitute.com/conference-proceedings/DW16Proceedings.pdf
  15. ^ https://www.cluteinstitute.com/conference-proceedings/DW16Proceedings.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/ALST/article/viewFile/14087/14395
  17. ^ https://www.cluteinstitute.com/conference-proceedings/DW16Proceedings.pdf
  18. ^ http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/ALST/article/viewFile/14087/14395
  19. ^ Jacke Phillips, Tekle Hagos et alia, "Combating the destruction of Ethiopia's archaeological heritage", Antiquity, 78 (December 2004)
  20. ^ "Ethiopian Regional States". 

External links

Media related to Tigray Region at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 14°08′12″N 38°18′34″E / 14.1365757°N 38.3093262°E / 14.1365757; 38.3093262