The State of Tigray consists of 4 administrative zones, one special zone, 35 woredas and 74 towns. The State Council which is the highest administrative body of the state is made up of 152 members, the executive body consists of 16 personalities.
The capital city of the State of Tigray is Mekele
The State of Tigray is located at the northern tip of the country. The region shares common borders with Eritrea in the north, the State of Afar in the east, the State of Amhara in the south, and the Republic of the Sudan in the west.
The State of Tigray has an estimated area of 80,000 square kilometres.
According to the 1994 Census the state’s population size was 3,136,267 of which 1,542,165 were males and 1,594,102 were females. The urban residents of the region number 468, 478 and its rural residents 2,667,789. In terms of religion 95.5% of the population are Orthodox Christians, 4.1% and 0.4% are Muslims and Catholics respectively. Regarding ethnic composition, 94.98% are Tigraway, 2.6% Amhara, 0.7% Erob and 0.05% Kunama. Tigrigna is the working language of the state.
MAJOR ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
About 83% of the population are farmers. Teff, wheat, and barely are the main crops. Other agricultural products include beans, lentils, onions, and potatoes. Irrigation and terrace farming are used on the steep slopes. The region is also known for its export items of cotton, incense, sesame and minerals. 1.5 million hectares of land in the region is cultivable, of which one million hectares is being cultivated, while 420,877 hectares of land is terraced. Handicraft (gold smith, painting and wood sculptures) is another area of activity observed in the historic cities of the state.
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Centuries of erosion, deforestation and overgrazing have left the region with dry and treeless plains, hills and plateau. Nevertheless, an amazing landscape of chains of mountains ranging from 3,250-3,500 meters, cliffs, ledges and precipice are natural attractions of the region. Two altitude extremes: the elevation of the region rises from 600-2,700 above sea level, the Tekeze Gorge, 550 meters above sea level and the “Kisad Gudo” peak at 3,935 meters above sea level are among Tigray’s natural scenery which is classified into the central highland, the western lowland and eastern escarpments. The climate of the region is characterized as “Kolla” (semi arid) 39%, “Woina dega” (warm temperate) 49%, and “Dega” (temperate) 12%. The average annual rainfall is between 450-980 mm.
RIVERS AND LAKES
Tekeze and Mereb are international rivers that pass through the state of Tigray with their sources in the Amhara and Eritrean Mountains, respectively. There are small rivers such as Geba, Worii, Berber, Arqoa and Teter, which are suitable for irrigation development. Tekeze is a promising source of hydroelectric power. Lake Ashenge, which is found in the state, is an interesting area for observing birds and for fishing.
The State claims to have about 11.51 million domestic animals (1997 G.C.) of which 2.15 million are cattle, 5.63 million are sheep and goats and 392,000 are pack animals.
Elephant, leopard, klipspringer and bush back are among the wild animals that are found in the state.
Tigray is one of the richest areas in Ethiopia in mineral resources. Some of the explored metallic minerals of the state include gold, copper, iron ore, zinc, lead and nickel. Asbestos, Silica sand, Kaolin, graphite, gypsum gemstone, marble, granite slate, limestone and dolomite are among the non-metallic minerals.
TOURISM AND HERITAGE
Tigray is among the few in the world, frequently mentioned in civilization and cultural lists of humanity for its universally accepted historic sites. The state has some of the most important historical monuments of the continent. It is very well known for its pre-Christian monuments. The Axum obelisks or Steles (2nd century BC), the pre-Axumite Yeha’s “Temple of The Moon” (5th century BC), bath and palace of the Queen Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant, are among the most prominent. The Ark of the Covenant, is said to have been brought from the Temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, the region has served as entrance of the two world religions- Christianity in the 4th century AD, and Islam in the 6th century AD into Ethiopia. The mosque of Negash is also another historical site. There are more than 120 rock hewn churches and caves that serve as monasteries scattered over the mountains of Tigray, containing gold and silver crosses, glittering crowns, manuscripts and stones bearing ancient Sabean inscriptions. These and other cultural heritages are priceless assets of the country.
The state of Tigray has created favourable conditions and incentives in order to attract investors. So far, until the beginning of 1998, there were 361 projects with a capital of 4 billion Ethiopian Birr. These projects focus mainly on agriculture, industry, hotel and tourism, social services, mining, construction and transport. About 200,138 persons will benefit from the job opportunity created by these projects. The state also has large farming areas suitable for the production of cash crops such as cotton and different kinds of oilseeds.