Afar Region

Afar Region

Afar is one of the nine ethnic divisions ("kililoch") of Ethiopia, and is the homeland of the Afar people. Formerly known as Region 2, its current capital is Asayita; a new capital named Semera on the paved Awash - Asseb highway is under construction.

The Afar Depression, also known as the Danakil depression, is the lowest point in Ethiopia and one of the lowest in Africa and is located in the north of the Region. The southern part consists of the valley of the Awash River, which empties into a string of lakes along the Ethiopian-Djibouti border. Other notable landmarks include the Awash and Yangudi Rassa National Parks.


Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA) published in 2005, Afar has an estimated total population of 1,389,004, consisting of 772,002 men and 617,002 women. 1,263,000 or 90.9% of the population are considered rural inhabitants, while 126,000 or 9.1% are urban. With an estimated area of 96,707 square kilometers, this region has an estimated density of 14.36 people per square kilometer. [ [ CSA 2005 National Statistics] , Table B.3.]

This estimate is based on the 1996 census, in which the region's population was reported to be 1,106,383 of whom 626,839 are males and 479,544 are females. The rural population was about 1,020,504 (92.2%), while the urban population was 85,879. The major ethnic compositions are the Afar (91.8%), Amhara (4.5%), Argobba (0.92%), Tigrayans (0.82%), Oromo (0.7%), Welayta (0.45%), and Hadiya (0.013%). 96% of the population were Muslim, 3.86% Orthodox Christians, 0.43% Protestants, 0.09% Catholics, and other religions (0.02%).

Afar is predominantly (90.8%) spoken in the region and is the working language of the state. Other languages with a significant number of speakers in the state include Amharic (6.68%), Tigrigna (0.74%), Oromo (0.68%), Argobba (0.4%) and Wolaitigna (0.26%). [The 1994 census was delayed in the Afar Region until 22 July 1996. [ FDRE States: Basic Information - Afar] , Population (accessed 12 March 2006)]

On 20 April, the Regional government announced that it had increased health coverage from 34% to 40%, the result of construction of 64 new health clinics, bringing a total of 111 for the Region. [ [ "Health coverage reaches 40 percent in Afar State"] (Walta Information Center)]


Afar Depression, Erta Ale, is one of the world's most attractive areas. Afar Depression, Erta-Ale active volcanic movement, Awash natural reserve, Yangundu-Ras national park, Hadar and Aramis area, are the major tourist attraction area of the region. The Hot springs, Afar culture and cultural games are also other attraction areas. The Afar Depression i.e. a plate tectonic triple junction that forms the red sea and the Gulf of Aden and meets the east African Rift valley is found in Afar National regional state. It is one of earth's great active volcanoes. Due to this volcanic activity the floor of the depression is composed of lava, mostly basalt.The continuous process of volcanism results in the existence of major mineral occurrence. Potash, Sulpher, Salt, Bentonite, Gypsum and other different construction materials. In addition to these minerals, there are also promising geothermal energy sources and hot springs in different areas of the region. Most of the regions mineral potentials are found in Dalul, Brhale and Afdera Werda of Zone two. Elidar, Dubti and Mile in Zone one and Gewane in Zone three also have some coverage

Afar is home to peculiar wild life. Abyssinian wild Ass, Grevy's Zebra, wild fox, wild cat, Cheetah,Ostrich and etc… are the major wild animals that are found in the region's national parks. Because the regions tourism development is still in poor state, two lodges are constructed in Awash national park.


The CSA estimated in 2005 that farmers in Afar had a total of 327,370 cattle (representing 0.84% of Ethiopia's total cattle), 196,390 sheep (1.13%), 483,780 goats (3.73%), 200 mules (0.14%), 12,270 asses (0.49%), 99,830 camels (21.85%), 38,320 poultry of all species (0.12%), and 810 beehives (less than 0.1%). The CSA estimated on the basis of a survey performed in December 2003 that nomadic inhabitants had 1,990,850 cattle (an 83.8% share of those animals in the Region that year), 2,303,250 sheep (90.6%), 3,960,510 goats (90%), 759,750 camels (85.9%), 175,180 asses (92.5%), 2960 mules (88.6%), and 900 horses (100%). [2003 is the latest year available for statistics on nomadic inahbitants. CSA 2005 National Statistics, Tables D.3 - D.5 and D.7.]

Fossil finds

Hadar, a community in Afar, was the site of the discovery of "Lucy", the "Australopithecus afarensis" skeletal remains, by Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. On March 5, 2005, another skeleton, estimated to be 3.8 million years old and said to be the world's oldest bipedal hominid skeleton, was found in the region. Yohannes Haile-Selassie has led digs there each year from 2004 to 2007.

On March 24, 2006 it was reported that a "significantly complete" cranium had been found at Gawis in the Gona area. [Stone Age Institute, " [ Press Release on a New Hominid Cranium from Gona, Afar, Ethiopia] ", released March 24 2006] .The cranium appears as an intermediate form between "Homo erectus" and "Homo sapiens".

Presidents of the Executive Committee

*Habib Alimirah (ALF) 1992? - 1995
*Alimirah Hanfadhe (ALF) September 1995 - Mar 1996
*Ismael Ali Siro (APDO/ANDP) March 1996 - present

(This list is based on information from [] .)

Administrative Zones

Like other Regions in Ethiopia, Afar is subdivided into administrative zones (and one special woreda, which is not in a zone). However, these zones have not been given proper names.
*Administrative Zone 1 (Afar)
*Administrative Zone 2 (Afar)
*Administrative Zone 3 (Afar)
*Administrative Zone 4 (Afar)
*Administrative Zone 5 (Afar)

*Argobba special woreda

ee also

*List of woredas in the Afar Region


External links

* [ Map of Afar Region at UN-OCHA] (PDF file)
* [ Map of Afar Region at DPPA of Ethiopia] (PDF file)
* [ Afar Triangle]
* [ Large collection of photos from an expedition to the Danakil]
* [ Details of recent geological investigations into rifting in the Afar region]

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