Lake Ashenge

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Lake Ashenge
Coordinates 12°34′50″N 39°30′00″E / 12.58056°N 39.50000°E / 12.58056; 39.50000Coordinates: 12°34′50″N 39°30′00″E / 12.58056°N 39.50000°E / 12.58056; 39.50000
Primary outflows none
Basin countries Ethiopia
Max. length 5 km
Max. width 4 km
Surface area 20 km²
Surface elevation 2,409 m

Lake Ashenge (also Lake Ashangi) is a lake in the northern Tigray Region of Ethiopia. Located in the Ethiopian highlands at an elevation of 2409 meters, it has no outlet. According to the Statistical Abstract of Ethiopia for 1967/68, Lake Ashenge is five kilometers long and four wide, with a surface area of 20 square kilometers.

The British explorer Henry Salt, who notes that the Tigrinya name of the lake is Tsada Bahri ("White Sea") from the number of birds which cover its surface, records a local tradition that a large city once stood on the site of Ashenge, but "it was destroyed, in his displeasure, by the immediate hand of God."[1]


On August 29, 1542, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi advanced upon the Portuguese stockade near Wofla on the southern side of Ashenge, where he fought the Battle of Wofla and prevailed, afterwards capturing and killing the leader Cristóvão da Gama.

Another notable battle that took place on the shores of this lake was the Battle of Lake Ashenge on 9 October 1909, when Dejazmach Abate Bwalu defeated the rebel forces of Dejazmach Abraha Araya.[2]

On 3 April 1936, thousands of soldiers of the Ethiopian Empire were killed with poison gas all around Lake Ashenge. The soldiers were withdrawing from the Battle of Maychew during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. As they withdrew, the Italians sprayed and bombed the area around the lake with mustard gas to deadly effect. On 4 April, Emperor Haile Selassie I looked with despair upon the horrific sight of the dead bodies of his army ringing the poisoned lake.[3]


  1. ^ Salt, A voyage to Abyssinia (Philadelphia and Boston, 1816), pp. 216f
  2. ^ Harold G. Marcus, The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913, (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1995), p. 240
  3. ^ A. J. Barker. The Rape of Ethiopia, p. 105


  • Barker, A.J. (1971). Rape of Ethiopia, 1936. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 160 pages. ISBN 978-0-345-02462-6.