Addis Merkato (Amharic for "New Market", popularly just Merkato, from the Italian for "market") is the name for the large open-air marketplace in the Addis Ketema district of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and for the neighborhood in which it is located.
Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa, covering several square miles and employing an estimated 13,000 people in 7,100 business entities. The primary merchandise passing through the Merkato is locally-grown agricultural products — most notably coffee.
The Addis Merkato was instituted by segregationist policies of the Italian occupational government. Merkato is said to have been established as a marketplace during the Italian occupation, when it was called Merkato Indigino – market of the indigenous. The intention was to marginalise the local marketers from the centre of the city, Arada Ghiorgis, which the Italians called Piazza and where they opened shops for their convenience. They restricted the historic St. George Merkato to Europeans, causing the mostly Arab tradesmen to relocate a half mile to the west. Over time, local shopkeepers displaced the Arab merchants and, since the 1960s, the Addis Merkato has had a mostly local flavor.
The Addis Merkato has over 150 stores and four massive shopping centers with 75 stores.
Notable landmarks near the Merkato include the Al-Anwar Mosque and the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
- Zewde, Bahru. (1991) A History of Modern Ethiopia. London: James Currey.
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