North Shewa Zone (Amhara)

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For the Zone in the Oromia Region, see Semien Shewa Zone (Oromia).
A map of the regions and zones of Ethiopia.

Semien Shewa (or "North Shewa") is one of 10 Zones in the Ethiopian Amhara Region. Semien Shewa takes its name from the kingdom or former province of Shewa. The Zone is bordered on the south and the west by the Oromia Region, on the north by Debub Wollo, on the northeast by the Oromia Zone, and on the east by the Afar Region. The highest point in the Zone is Mount Abuye Meda (4012 meters); other prominent peaks include Mount Megezez. Towns and cities in Semien Shewa include Ankober, Debre Berhan, and Shewa Robit.

The administrative subdivisions of this Zone have been renamed, divided, and their boundaries redrawn numerous times between the 1994 and 2007 national censuses far more often than any other Zone in the Amhara Region. As a result, its subdivisions can be very confusing; Svein Ege, in his comparison of how the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) and the Ethiopian Mapping Authority reported the administrative boundaries in this Zone and how they changed between 1994 and 2004, stopped halfway through this Zone, stating that he had run out of time to perform field checking.[1]


Northern Shewa the Amhara zone is the zone where the former kingdom,province currently zones of shewa all started. The zone is also the launching pad for the expansion and annexation of the rest of southern Ethiopia.For example R.H.Kofi Darkwah writes that "like his father before him, the major conquests of sahla selassie were made in the south and south west." Sahla Selassie is the grandfather of Menilik second. (Shewa Menilek and the Ethiopian Empire(1813-1889) page 26.)


Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), this Zone has a total population of 1,837,490, an increase of 17.72% over the 1994 census, of whom 928,694 are men and 908,796 women; with an area of 15,936.13 square kilometers, Semien Shewa has a population density of 115.30. While 214,227 or 11.66% are urban inhabitants, a further 112 or 0.01% are pastoralists. A total of 429,423 households were counted in this Zone, which results in an average of 4.28 persons to a household, and 413,235 housing units. The three largest ethnic groups reported in Semien Shewa were the Amhara (95.73%), the Oromo (2.14%), and the Argobba (1.71%); all other ethnic groups made up 0.42% of the population. The oromo language speaking people in shewa are the mixture of many ethnic groups especially Amaras. During oromo settlement in shewa in 16th century, most of the Amaras hide themselves in the shewa highlands. During the settlement, many Amaras such as children, women and captured Amara men in the lowlands of shewa assimilated to oromo language and became oromo. After the settlement, Amaras from shewa highlands moved to the lowlands of shewa and started living with oromo people by intermarrying themselves with the oromos. As a result, the oromo speaking people in shewa district are the mixture of the Amaras. One of the culture of the oromos, adoption, also contributed the Amara linage of the oromos in shewa. This fact is still intact in the oromo culture and the shewa oromos names also linked to their Amara blood. The Amhara people in north shewa oromia constitute around (14.99%). The Amaras mainly live the old Amara districts of Menz, Merhabete, Tegulet, Bulga, Minjar, Yifat and Ensaro. The Amaras are the majority in Addis Ababa and other cities in Shewa. The current Ethiopian government divided shewa in different ethnic based states to create difference among the people. Ethiopians in shewa and other regions have been intermarrying over centuries, but the ethnic based governance in Ethiopia magnifies difference in Ethiopia. Most of the people in shewa are the mixture of more than two ethnic groups. In fact, Ethiopians in all regions of the country have been marrying each other and as a result, Ethiopia has become the true melting pot. Amharic is spoken as a first language by 96.97%, and 2.32% spoke Oromiffa; the remaining 0.71% spoke all other primary languages reported. 94.71% of the population said they practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and 4.91% were Muslim.[2]

The 1994 national census reported a total population for this Zone of 1,560,916 in 340,413 households, of whom 784,207 were men and 776,709 women; 146,952 or 9.41% of its population were urban dwellers at the time. The three largest ethnic groups reported in Semien Shewa were the Amhara (93.87%), the Oromo (4.27%), and the Argobba (1.73%); all other ethnic groups made up 0.13% of the population. Amharic was spoken as a first language by 95.44%, and 4.38% spoke Oromiffa; the remaining 0.18% spoke all other primary languages reported. 94.56% practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and 5.26% of the population said they were Muslim.[3]

According to a May 24, 2004 World Bank memorandum, 4% of the inhabitants of Semien Shewa have access to electricity, this zone has a road density of 41.4 kilometers per 1000 square kilometers (compared to the national average of 30 kilometers),[4] the average rural household has 1.2 hectare of land (compared to the national average of 1.01 hectare of land and an average of 0.75 for the Amhara Region)[5] and the equivalent of 0.9 heads of livestock. 15.7% of the population is in non-farm related jobs, compared to the national average of 25% and a Regional average of 21%. 48% of all eligible children are enrolled in primary school, and 12% in secondary schools. 39% of the zone is exposed to malaria, and 14% to Tsetse fly. The memorandum gave this zone a drought risk rating of 487.[6]


  1. ^ Ege, "North Shäwa 1:100,000. Topographic and administrative map of North Shäwa Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.", p. 3
  2. ^ Census 2007 Tables: Amhara Region, Tables 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.4.
  3. ^ 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Amhara Region, Vol. 1, part 1, Tables 2.1, 2.11, 2.14, 2.17 (accessed 6 April 2009).
  4. ^ "Ethiopia - Second Road Sector Development Program Project", p.3 (World Bank Project Appraisal Document, published 19 May 2003)
  5. ^ Comparative national and regional figures comes from another World Bank publication, Klaus Deininger et al. "Tenure Security and Land Related Investment", WP-2991 (accessed 23 March 2006).
  6. ^ World Bank, Four Ethiopias: A Regional Characterization (accessed 23 March 2006).

Coordinates: 10°00′N 39°30′E / 10.000°N 39.500°E / 10.000; 39.500