Deva, Ethiopia

Geography

Deva is a village in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, about 80 km in a straight line to the south-east from the capital city of Bahir Dar. Its coordinates are 11° 7′ 0″ N 37° 38′ 0″ E.

Amhara is located in northern Ethiopia, bordering Sudan, and is considered the most fertile and hospitable region of the country. The largest water basin of Ethiopia is Lake Tana, which supplies the Blue Nile. Lake Tana is located in Amhara.

Within the region there is also the mountain range (and National Park) of Simien, which includes Ras Dashan, the highest peak in Ethiopia. 

To the West and North-West of Amhara lies Sudan, to the North, the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Afar to the East, Gumuz to the West and Oromia to the South.

Demographics

The ethnic group of Amhara speak a semitic language (Amharic) and worship in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. At about 20 million, Amhara is the second largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

History

The Amhara long dominated the history of their country; Amharic was the official language of Ethiopia until the 1990s, and it remains important. As descendants of a southward movement of ancient Semitic conquerors who mingled with indigenous Cushitic peoples, they inhabit much of the central and western parts of present-day Ethiopia.

All except one of the country’s emperors from 1270 to 1974 were Amhara; this dominance created competitive quarrels between the Amhara and their northern neighbours, the Tigray, and other Ethiopian ethnic groups, such as the Oromo. Tensions rose between the Amhara and the Oromo during the period of socialist rule (1974–91), as the Oromo claimed an increasingly prominent role in the nation’s social and political affairs.

After 1991 a measure of Amhara sentiment was directed against the Tigray, who had gained influence during the struggle against the Marxists.

Traditions

The Amhara are primarily agriculturists, producing corn (maize), wheat, barley, sorghum, and teff (Eragrostis tef), a cereal grass that is grown for its grain and is a staple of the region. Traditionally, Amhara social structure was dominated by strong personalized ties between patrons and clients, superiors and inferiors.

Generally, a man’s importance was in direct proportion to the amount of land he owned. A man of wealth who owned no land, such as a merchant, had little influence. Under the imperial system, land was granted to titled nobles in return for military service to the emperor.

The land was farmed by tenant clients. Even in family life all privilege and authority devolved from the patriarch.



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