Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Tigray Region has
an estimated total population of 4,314,456, of whom 2,124,853 are men and 2,189,603 women; urban inhabitants number 842,723 or 19.53% of the population. With an estimated area of
50,078.64 square kilometers, this region has an estimated density of 86.15 people per square kilometer. For the entire region 985,654 households were counted, which results in an
average for the Region of 4.4 persons to a household, with urban households having on average 3.4 and rural households 4.6 people. At 96.55% of the local population, the region is
predominantly inhabited by people from the Semitic-speaking Tigray ethnic group. Most other residents hail from other Afro-Asiatic communities,
In the previous census, conducted in 1994, the Region's
population was 3,136,267, of whom 1,542,165 were men and 1,594,102 women; urban inhabitants numbered 621,210 or 14% of the population. Ethnic groups present at the time of the
earlier census included Tigrayan (94.98%), 2.6% Amhara (2.6%), Irob (0.7%), and Kunama (0.05%). 95.5% of the population were Orthodox Christians, while 4.1% and 0.4% were
Muslim and Catholics, respectively. Its working language is Tigrinya.
Landmarks of Tigray
A distinctive feature of Tigray are its rock-hewn churches. Similar in design to those of Lalibela, these churches are found in four or five clusters -- Gheralta, Takatisfi, Atsbi and Tembien -- with Wukro sometimes included. Some of the churches are considered earlier than those of Lalibela, perhaps dating from the eighth century.
Mostly monolithic, with designs partly
inspired by classical architecture, they are
often located at the top of cliffs or steep hills, for security. For example,
Tigray's ancient Debre Damo monastery is accessible only by climbing
a rope 25
meters up a sheer cliff.
Looting has become a major issue in the Tigray Region, as
archaeological sites have become sources for construction materials and ancient artifacts used for everyday purposes by local populations.
The area is famous for a single rock sculptured 23 meter long
obelisk in Axum as well as for other fallen obelisks. The Axum treasure site of ancient Tigrayan history is a major landmark. Yeha is another important local landmark that is
little-known outside the region.
Tigrayan People's Liberation Front
The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), known more commonly and sometimes pejoratively in Ethiopia as Woyane or Weyane (Ge'ez: , Tigrinya: ḥizbāwī
weyānē ḥārinet tigrāy, "Popular revolution (for) the freedom of Tigray") is a political party in Ethiopia. At the last legislative elections, the party was the main part of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic
Front, that claimed 499 out of 547 seats.
In the August 2005 Regional assembly elections, the party claimed victory, winning all 152 seats in the Tigray Region
TPLF is organized with a Central
Committee and a politburo. Prior to its victory in the Ethiopian Civil War, TPLF was divided in four regional organization, three in Tigray and the fourth
those who reside outside of Tigray. Each of the regions in Tigray had politburo members coordinating their activities. The foreign committee supervised subdivisions in Sudan, Middle East, Europe and North America.
On 14 September 1974 a group of seven Tigrayan university students in Addis
Ababa formed the Tigrayan National Organization , "Association of Progressives from Tigray Nation"). TNO formed clandestine cells and carried out propaganda work amongst the people. During the 1974 popular uprising, TNO
played an important role in mobilizing the people of Tigray. After the takeover by the Derg junta, TNO claimed that armed struggle
was necessarily to remove the new regime. In February 1975, the TNO was transformed into the TPLF (Tigrai People's Liberation Front). The then newly formed front created the TPLF Manifesto in
which it asserted its primary mission was to secede from the wider Ethiopian state, and create an independent Tigrai state. The Tigrai state map was extended from the Sudan border in the
Northwest to the Northeast of the Afar region.
By establishing their first military base at Dedebit in Tigray, after having conducted political and military preparations.
At first, the TPLF was only one of several rebel groups in Tigray, and only one of their members had any military training. In his history of the TPLF,
Aregawi Berhe readily admits that
had it not been for the mentorship of Gessesew Ayele (better known by his nickname "Sehul"), a member of the Ethiopian parliament and
respected local Tigrayan elder, the nascent TPLF would have come to quick disaster: Sehul had extensive personal contacts in western Tigray who provided support to the tiny group, as well as
the power of personality to intimidate the local shiftas. The TPLF was able to establish their presence with a raid
on the jail in Shire on the morning of 5 August 1975, in which they freed their captured comrade Mehari Tekle ("Mussie") and 60 other prisoners
(including convicted criminals), then a month later on the afternoon of 4 September when they robbed the bank in Axum, in which
four policemen were killed and 175,000 Birr (equivalent to US$ 84,000), and substantial arms and
ammunition were stolen at the cost of one fighter wounded.
Rival anti-government groups in Tigray were the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU, led by Ras
Mengesha Seyoum, commonly seen as a pro-monarchist group), the Tigray Liberation Front (TLF, led by
Haymanot, who advocated Tigray independence just like the TPLF), and the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP, moved to Mount Asimba in eastern Tigray after the Red Terror). According to Aregawi, the TPLF reached out to each of the other groups to form tactical alliances, only to be
disappointed. The first rival group to be eliminated was the TLF, who split into three factions in November 1975; and after an investigation executed its two top leaders for "crimes against
their own colleagues".Next was the EDU, whom Aregawi blames fired the first shot by killing Sehul. After fighting several pitched battles with the EDU (Chiameskebet on 26 September 1976, and
Addi Nebreid in July 1976 and 12
March 1977) which were costly in men and materiel, the TPLF resorted to guerrilla warfare against the
EDU, finally driving them out of western Tigray in the Battle of Quinat-Arbaete in November 1979.The EPRP was the last group engaged; although
Aregawi claims that the EPRP fired the first shots, Gebru Tareke writes that it is impossible to determine which group actually did, noting "the parties have continued to argue the point." In
any case, EPRP units allegedly attacked TPLF units in Agame on 23 February 1978, forcing them to evacuate the province. The TPLF
brought two of its veteran companies from the west, and in a fierce counter-attack forced the EPRP fighters back to Mount Asimba. After a five-day battle, the TPLF captured their mountain
stronghold, and the bulk of the defeated EPRP fled to sanctuary in Eritrean Liberation
Around 1983, the core cadres of TPLF founded the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray in the line of the Albanian Party of Labour. They also incorporated the name Woyane in the title of their organization as an intentional
reference to the Woyane
rebellion, a revolt in Tigray that arose and was crushed in 1943.
Following the success of the TPLF in 1991 in gaining control of Ethiopia, and the collapse of communist regime in Albania, the TPLF dropped all references to Marxism-Leninism. The leadership of the TPLF claims that the MLLT dissolved when the TPLF-backed Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic
Front took power after the collapse of the Derg in 1991.
In March 2010 Martin Plaut of the BBC reported that the TPLF gained large amounts of money by defrauding international aid organizations during the
1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia. Plaut interviewed two people formerly
associated with TPLF, Gebremedhin Araya and Aregawi Berhe, and also quoted a CIA report from the mid 1980s that makes similar claims. 
Aregawi Berhe, who is a high-ranking TPLF commander living in exile in The Netherlands, told Deutsche Welle that "the rebel movement, TPFL, had received the money under false pretences – through its development arm, the so-called
'Aid Association of Tigray' (MARET). But MARET belonged to the party. So after the aid from donors and aid charities was collected, it was made available through the budget of the party's
central committee – for logistics and financing of the resistance."
Members of the TPLF include: Meles Zenawi (party chairman), Seyoum Mesfin, Sebhat Nega, Arkebe
Oqubay, Abay Tsehaye, Abadi Zemo, Tsegay Berhe, Azeb Mesfin, Haftom Abraha, and Weyen (deceased).
Prominent former members include: Siye Abraha, Gebru Asrat, Ghidey Zeratsion, Aregawi Berhe, Tewolde Wolde Mariam, Alemseged Gebreamlak, Hailu Mengesha, Aregash Adane, Awalom Woldu, and
The CSA estimated in 2005 that farmers in Tigray had a total of
2,713,750 cattle (representing 7.0% of Ethiopia's total cattle), 72,640 sheep (0.42%), 208,970 goats (1.61%), 1,200 horses (less than 0.1%), 9,190 mules (6.24%), 386,600 asses
(15.43%), 32,650 camels (7.15%), 3,180,240 poultry of all species (10.3%), and 20,480 beehives (0.47%).
MAJOR ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
About 83% of the population are farmers. Taff, wheat,
corn, sorghum, barely niger seed, flaxseed and sesame are the main crops. Other agricultural
products include pulses, beans, lentils, onions, vegetables and fruits and potatoes. Irrigation and terrace farming are used on the steep slopes. The region is also known for its
export items of cotton, incense, sesame and minerals. 1.5 million hectares of land in the region is cultivable, of which one million hectares is being cultivated, while 420,877
hectares of land is terraced. Handicraft (gold smith, painting and wood sculptures) is another area of activity observed in the historic cities of the state.
Industry is still minimal but growing, some of the
industry include an equipment manufacturing and industrial engineering company called Mesfin Industrial Engineering MIE where a wide range of products is manufactured at its
industrial complex (35,000 m2 covered premises on a 120,000 m2 site), which is fully equipped with the state-of-the art machinery. It employs 600 well-trained industrial workers
including designers, technologists, welders and quality assurance experts.It designs, manufactures and installs equipment and components for the energy, mining, manufacturing
transport and agriculture sectors. With an annual capacity of 3,000 trailers and semi-trailers, MIE is the biggest trailer manufacturer in East Africa. It designs and manufactures vehicle bodies, trailers, as well as
high & low-bed semi-trailers. Heavy-duty trucks are assembled at the Truck Assembly Plant in Mekelle. These trucks are especially suited for the road conditions in
Africa and are competitively priced. MIE's product range includes
inter-city and city buses, skip-loaders, and waste and sewer cleaners for the municipal services.
There are also a pharmaceutical factory , a textiles
factory, a cement factory, a laeser tanning factory, a marble cutting factory, a flour mill factory, a nail factory , a water puerfication factory, and a small shoe factory are
some of them. Most new enterprises are small and medium scale. The industrial including Mining and quarry manufacturing has grown in four years by 24.7%, which incorporates water,
electric and construction activities.
The Tekeze Dam, a curved and arched dam that stands 188
meters tall is located in Tigrai state. It is 99% completed and almost ready to provide service. Ethiopia will gain about 30 percent more power by generating 300 megawatts of
electricity from a reservoir holding 9.3 billion cubic meter of water.
Four 75-megawatts generators and four turbines beneath
the dam will begin service soon. The dam has been gathering the waters of the Tekeze River and its tributaries in northern Ethiopia.
RIVERS AND LAKES
Tekeze and Mereb are international rivers that pass through the state of Tigrai with their sources in the Amhara and Eritrean Mountains, respectively. There are small rivers such as Geba, Worii, Berber, Arqoa and Teter, Seysa which are suitable for irrigation development. Tekeze is a
promising source of hydroelectric power. Lake Ashenge, which is found in the state, is an interesting area for observing birds and for fishing.
Education services are improving since the war ended in
1991. As of 2006 there are 1,725 schools in total of which 113 pre school, 1598 primary, and 64 secondary high schools; 54 Community colleges including 1 teacher training
institute; 2 technical schools; 1 business college; I nursing school , 1 agricultural college and 2 universities.Mekelle University with three campuses Which includes a medical
school at Ayder campus, business school at adi haki campus and the main campus at enda Iyesooss which, can acomodate 15000 students. Axum University is still under constuction but
it has been offcially inaugurated on Feb.16 2007 and has 2400 students enrolled.By the time all the conctruction is completed Axum University would have the capacity to enroll
9000 students. There are 51 primary and 13 secondary private and church schools in the state. Gross and net enrollment rate in primary and secondary schools increased by
Health coverage in Tigrai was one of
the lowest in Ethiopia.
Only 12% of the society was getting some health benefits. Luck of health was used as a systematic tool to keep the people under developed by the central governments in the past.
Health coverage was very minimal or it did not exist in most parts of the State before 1991. Since 1991 after the TPLF took power in Tigrai, the number of health posts or small
clinics increase from 100 to 600, small hospitals from 10 to 40, central hospitals from 4 to 13 and one referral hospitals were built and are giving service to the public. The
health coverage in this state from 1991 to 2006 grew from 12% to 70% and still growing.
TOURISM AND HERITAGE
Tigrai is among the few in the world, frequently
mentioned in civilization and cultural lists of humanity for its universally accepted historic sites. The state has some of the most important historical monuments of the
continent. It is very well known for its pre-Christian monuments. The Axum obelisks or Steles
(2nd century BC), the pre-Axumite Yeha’s "Temple of The Moon" (5th century BC), bath and palace of the Queen Sheba and the Ark
of the Covenant, are among the most prominent. The Ark of the Covenant, is said to have been brought from the Temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, the region has served as entrance of the two world
religions- Christianity in the 4th century AD, and Islam in the 6th century AD into Ethiopia. The mosque of Negash is also another historical site. There are
more than 120 rock hewn churches and caves that serve as monasteries scattered over the mountains of Tigrai, containing gold and silver crosses, glittering crowns, manuscripts and
stones bearing ancient Sabean inscriptions. These and other cultural heritages are priceless assets of the country.
The state of Tigrai has created favourable conditions
and incentives in order to attract investors for more info click
here. So far, until the beginning of
1998, there were 361 projects with a capital of 4 billion Ethiopian Birr. These projects focus mainly on agriculture, industry, hotel and tourism, social services, mining,
construction and transport. About 200,138 persons will benefit from the job opportunity created by these projects. The state also has large farming areas suitable for the
production of cash crops such as cotton and different kinds of oilseeds.