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Korem is located in Ethiopia
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 12°30′N 39°31′E / 12.500°N 39.517°E / 12.500; 39.517Coordinates: 12°30′N 39°31′E / 12.500°N 39.517°E / 12.500; 39.517
Country Ethiopia
Region Tigray
Zone Debubawi (Southern)
Elevation 2,539 m (8,330 ft)
Population (2007)
 • Total 16,856
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Korem (alternative forms include Quoram Vecchia, Kworam) is a town and separate woreda in northern Ethiopia. Located on the eastern edge of the Ethiopian highlands in the Debubawi (Southern) Zone of the Tigray Region, this town has a latitude and longitude of 12°30′N 39°31′E / 12.500°N 39.517°E / 12.500; 39.517 with an elevation of 2539 meters above sea level and is located along Ethiopian Highway 2. It is surrounded by Ofla woreda.


The telegraph line the Italians constructed between 1902 and 1904 from Asmara south to Addis Ababa passed through the town, and had an office in Korem. Near the town on 9 October 1909, Abraha Araya, governor of Enderta, made a surprise attack at dawn on Dejazmach Abate Bwalu, the new governor of Tigray. Abreha had declared that he would not submit to the Dejazmach.[1]

During the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, the Italians are said to have attacked Ethiopian soldiers near the town with shells releasing mustard gas. More certain are the reports that three planes of Ethiopian Red Cross, sitting on the airstrip at Korem, were destroyed by Italian fighters.[1] In 1937, during the Italian occupation, the arbegnoch sacked Korem, which was being held by the Italians.[2] Minister of War Ras Abebe Aregai, made Korem his headquarters during the 1943 Woyane rebellion in Tigray. The main road northwards was finally cleared on 6 October.[1]

Korem was the location of one of the early refugee camps of the 1984 - 1985 famine in Ethiopia, housing 35,500 children in April 1983. On 21 April, the TPLF raided the town, seizing humanitarian supplies and taking seven relief workers hostage, who included two British citizens from the Save the Children Fund. The hostages were released unharmed seven weeks later near the Sudan border, but Save the Children suspended operations in Korem until September of that year.[1]

From July 1983 up to March 1984 the monthly death toll in the Korem camp stayed under 100; then it shot up until October 1984, when the daily death toll topped 100 a day. What food aid there was in Korem in October 1984 was from the European Commission. Along with the camp at Atsbi, conditions in Korem were shown on BBC television on 23 and 24 October. UN Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar and his wife visited the relief center in the following month. Although international assistance greatly improved conditions in the camp, they remained grim for the inmates, who were treated as prisoners. In January 1986, an estimated 12,000 of the camp population had fled into the surrounding hills for fear of being registered for involuntary resettlement.[1]

EPRDF forces captured Maychew and Korem 8 September 1989, afterwards continuing their advance south along the main highway.[1]


Based on the 2007 national census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), this town has a total population of 16,856, of whom 7,532 are men and 9,324 women. 92.12% of the population said they were Orthodox Christians, and 7.65% were Muslim.[3]

The 1994 census reported it had a total population of 16,895 of whom 7,371 were males and 9,524 were females.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Local History in Ethiopia" (pdf) The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 10 January 2008)
  2. ^ Anthony Mockler, Haile Selassie's War (New York: Olive Branch, 2003), p. 184
  3. ^ Census 2007 Tables: Tigray Region, Tables 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4.