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Arba Minch (Amharic, "forty springs") is a city in southern Ethiopiamarker; less common names for this city include Gantar and Minghi. Located in the Semien Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region about 500 kilometers south of Addis Ababamarker, at an elevation of 1285 meters above sea level. It is the largest town in Arba Minch Zuria woreda.

Overview

Arba Minch received its name for the abundant local springs which produce a groundwater forest. Located at the base of the western side of the Great Rift Valley, Arba Minch consists of the uptown administrative centre of Shecha and 4 km away the downtown commercial and residential areas of Sikela, which are connected by a paved road. On the eastern side of Sikela is the gate to Nechisar National Park, which covers the isthmus between Lake Abayamarker to the north and Lake Chamomarker to the south. Buses and taxis connect the uptown and downtown parts; both parts have schools.

Arba Minch was connected by dry-weather roads until they were upgraded in 1966. A telephone line connecting the town to the capital, costing E$ 250,000, was turned up on 15 July 1967. "Local History in Ethiopia" (pdf) The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 6 June 2008) According to the SNNPR's Bureau of Finance and Economic Development, other amenities in Arba Minch include postal service, 24-hour electrical service, a bank and a hospital. It is known as a source for fruit, including mango, banana, orange, apple, guava and pineapple, and is also known for its fish farms. It is the home of Arba Minch University and the Southwest Synod of the Mekane Yesus Church. The town also is served by an airportmarker, (ICAOmarker code HAAM, IATA AMH).

History

This city succeeded Chenchamarker as the provincial capital of Gamu-Gofamarker, and held this honor until the reorganisation of provinces in 1995. It retains a degree of government importance as the administrative center for its Zone.

The Norwegian Lutheran Mission opened a station at Arba Minch in 1970, which included a trade school; the school's operation was later taken over by the Mekane Yesus Church. At the beginning of the Ethiopian Revolution, four people were killed in clashes with the police on 28 March 1974.

The 193 million birr Arba Minch Textile Mill was opened on 6 May 1992 in the presence of Ethiopian Prime Minister Tamirat Layne. The mill would produce polyester mixed with cotton grey fabrics.

Police and militia broke into the home of Gelaye Tadele, a resident of Arba Minch, on 9 February 2008, and after beating him took him to a detention facility in Kofelemarker, where they beat him again until he lost consciousness, and fractured his right leg. Gelaye was eventually taken to the local police station and later admitted to the hospital in Arba Minch. His mother filed a complaint but local authorities had taken no action by year's end. On 1 December of that year, police opened fire at a public gathering outside a church in Arba Minch, wounding three individuals. Police were reportedly attempting to disperse a crowd following a disagreement between Ethiopian Orthodox priests.

Demographics

Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, Arba Minch has an estimated total population of 72,507 of whom 36,296 were males and were 36,211 females. The 1994 national census reported this town had a total population of 40,020 of whom 20,096 were males and 19,924 were females.

Events

Arba Minch is host to the annual Thousand Stars Music and Dance Festival, which encourages the practice, preservation and development of traditional dance, songs, artistic and cultural expressions, and various ceremonies of the more than 50 indigenous nations, nationalities and peoples of the SNNPR, and is organized by the Gughe Indigenous Art and Music Association (GIAMA), a local civil society association dedicated to support artistic and cultural promotion and protection. As in previous years, the Festival is funded by The Christensen Fund of Palo Alto, California.

Notes

  1. Philip Briggs, Ethiopia: The Bradt Travel Guide, 3rd edition (Chalfont St Peters: Bradt, 2002), p. 229
  2. "Detailed statistics on hotels and tourism", Bureau of Finance and Economic Development website (accessed 4 September 2009)
  3. "2008 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department (accessed 8 July 2009)
  4. CSA 2005 National Statistics, Table B.3


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