Arba Minch

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Arba Minch
አርባ ምንጭ (Amharic)
Ganta Garo
Skyline view of Arba Minch University
Skyline view of Arba Minch University
Arba Minch is located in Ethiopia
Arba Minch
Arba Minch
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 6°2′N 37°33′E / 6.033°N 37.550°E / 6.033; 37.550Coordinates: 6°2′N 37°33′E / 6.033°N 37.550°E / 6.033; 37.550
Country Ethiopia
Region Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples
Zone Gamo Gofa Omo
Elevation 1,285 m (4,216 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 95,373
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Arba Minch {'አርባ ምንጭ'} (Amharic, "forty springs") is a city and separate woreda in southern Ethiopia; the first common name for this city called Ganta Garo. Located in the Gamo Gofa Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region about 500 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, at an elevation of 1285 meters above sea level. It is the largest town in Gamo Gofa Zone and the second town in SNNPR next to Awassa. It is surrounded by Arba Minch Zuria woreda.


A monument in Arba Minch

Arba Minch received its name for the abundant local springs which produce a groundwater forest. Besides the forty springs crossing the town is a river kulfo, affectionately referred to as "cock river", which is used by the local people for washing cloths and farming. 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 kilometers 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 Abaya to the north and Lake Chamo to the south. Buses and taxis connect the uptown and downtown parts; both parts have schools.[1]

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.[2] According to the SNNPR's Bureau of Finance and Economic Development, as of 2003 other amenities in Arba Minch include postal service, 24-hour electrical service, a bank and a hospital.[3] May 2010, the Ethiopian Roads Authority awarded a contract worth 563 million E$ to the construction firm of Brehane Hagos to build a road 60 kilometers in length from this town to Belta.[4] Arba Minch is known as a source for fruit, including mango, banana, orange, apple, guava and pineapple, and is also known for its fish farms.Indicating its richness of fish a local singer named Abile Chedo sang the song "Nu Dere Gamo Gofa Oycha Arbaminche muziri kalsi yedes Abaya-Chamo mole". It is the home of Arba Minch University and the Southwest Synod of the Mekane Yesus Church. The town also is served by Arba Minch Airport, (ICAO code HAAM, IATA AMH).


Arba Minch was founded in the early 1960s by then Fitawrari Aemeroselasie Abebe and the city succeeded Chencha as the provincial capital of Gamu-Gofa, The oral tradition has it that Fitawrari Aemiro Selassie Abebe had to fight with prominent figures of Chencha (Aba Gaga) to move the capital from Chencha to Arbaminch. One of the reasons for Aemiroselassie Abebe to move the provincial centre from Chencha to Arbaminch was for travelers from Gidole to Chencha to take a break after a long, hot crossing of the arid Rift Valley.

The settlement in the city had three major features following the three major sections of the city: Shecha sikella and Limat. Sikella is found in between Limat and Shecha. The three settlements are located almost five kilometers apart. Limat most probably was the first settlement that was developed before the declaration of Arbaminch as a capital of the province. Limat, which literally means "development", was the product of the then community development initiative undertaken by the then Ministry of Community Development. This department was responsible for the development of hundreds of hectares of land, cultivating mainly cotton and citrus fruit. Limat had its own clinic, elementary school, community development office, farm machinery and automotive shops. The residents of the Limat hence were workers in these institutions and cooperative farmers who were provided with a certain portion of the developed farm.

There was about five kilometers distance from the center of Sikella to the center of Shecha. Shecha was a place where all administrative offices were located: Here are the offices and names of the first heads of the institution: Provincial Administrative office (governor Ft Aemero Selassie Abebe, Ministry Of Education; Ato Bekele Tsegaye, Head of provincial police; Colonel Qalbesa Beka. All the top-level managers of these institutions and their families lived in Shecha. The only government institutions found in Sikella were: a provincial detention centre and police station (wehini bet); Arbaminch High School, which was moved from Chencha: and Ethiopian Airlines' regional office. Sikella is the business center of the city. The Famous Kulfo river which borders Limat and Sikella was the only source of clean drinking water for residents of Sikella. Sikella is inhabited by the daily lab [5] holding 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 public demonstrations occurred in the town,[6] and four people were killed in clashes with the police on 28 March 1974.[2] Following the revolution privately held plantations were made into state farms.[6]

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.[2]


Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the CSA, this town has a total population of 74,879, of whom 39,208 are men and 35,671 women. The majority of the inhabitants practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, with 56.04% of the population reporting that belief, 38.47% were Protestants, and 4.16% were Muslim. [7] In the same year, around the town of Arba Minch, in the Arba Minch District, there were 164,529 people, of whom 82,199 were male and 82,330 were female. In this district, 53.9% practiced Protestantism, 29.3% practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, 12.6% practiced Traditional beliefs, and all other religious practices made up 4.1%.[8]

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.


  1. ^ Philip Briggs, Ethiopia: The Bradt Travel Guide, 3rd edition (Chalfont St Peters: Bradt, 2002), p. 229
  2. ^ a b c "Local History in Ethiopia" The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 6 June 2008)
  3. ^ "Detailed statistics on hotels and tourism", Bureau of Finance and Economic Development website (accessed 4 September 2009)
  4. ^ "Tigray, Southern Towns Get First Roads", Addis Fortune 2 May 2010 (accessed 5 May 2010)
  5. ^ Freeman, Dena (2002). Initiating change in highland Ethiopia: causes and consequences of cultural transformation. p. 37. 
  6. ^ a b Günther Schlee, Elizabeth E. Watson (2009). Changing identifications and alliances in North-East Africa, Volume 1. 2: Ethiopia and Kenya. Berghahn Books. p. 150. 
  7. ^ Census 2007 Tables: Southern Peoples, Nations and Nationalities Region, Tables 2.1, and 3.4.
  8. ^ Census 2007 Tables: Southern Peoples, Nations and Nationalities Region, Table 3.4.

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