Jigjiga) is a city in eastern Ethiopia and the capital of the Somali Region (or kilil) of that country. Located in the Jijiga Zone approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of Harar and 60 km (37 mi) west of the border with Somalia, this city has a latitude and longitude of 9°21′N 42°48′E / 9.35°N 42.8°E / 9.35; 42.8 with an elevation of 1609 meters above sea level.

The city is located on the main road between Harar and the Somali city of Hargeisa, and is known for incense production. It has enjoyed postal service since 1923, and had telephone service by 1956.[1] An asphalt and concrete road 170 kilometers in length connecting Jijiga with Degehabur was completed 14 November 2008 at a cost of over 230 million Birr.[2] Jijiga is served by Jijiga Airport (IATA: JIJ, ICAO: HAJJ).

Jijiga was a city of Hararghe province, but with the adoption of the 1995 Ethiopian constitution, it became the capital

[1]View of Jijiga at night

JijigaLocation within Ethiopia

Coordinates: 9°21′N 42°48′E / 9.35°N 42.8°E / 9.35; 42.8
Country Ethiopia
Region Somali
Zone Jijiga
Elevation 1,609 m (5,279 ft)
Population (2005)
- Total 98,076
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)


Jijiga was mentioned by W.C. Barker in 1842 as one of the mahalla or halting-places of the caravan route between Zeila and Harar.[3] [3][4]Street scene in Jijiga British hunter Colonel Swayne passed through Jijiga in February 1893, which he described as a stockaded fort with a garrison of 25 men next to a group of wells.[4] According to I. M. Lewis, Jijiga was attacked by the followers of Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan in March 1900. Although the attackers suffered heavy losses which allowed the Ethiopian government to declare a victory, Siyyid Mohammed's men recovered livestock the Ethiopians had taken from the Somalis and proved that Siyyid Mohammed was a force to be reckoned with.[5] However, Richard Pankhurst states that Jijiga was founded in 1916 by Fitawrari Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariyam, who had the town methodically organized in a square grid of streets.[6]

During the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, Jijiga served for some time as Dejazmach Nasibu Emmanual's headquarters and a supply center for the Ethiopian army. An Italian force under Colonel Navarra occupied the city on the evening of 5 May 1936.[1] Two days later, while inspecting a ruined Ethiopian Orthodox church in the city, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani fell into a concealed hole, which he was afterwards convinced was a mantrap; Anthony Mockler suggests this mishap contributed to his murderously paranoid mindset which led to the atrocities that followed the attempt on Graziani's life 19 February 1937.[7]

On 17 March 1941, during the East African Campaign of World war II, Jijiga was occupied by the 23rd Nigerian Brigade of the British 1st African Division. This was after the Italian garrison had already abandoned the city.[8]

Once they had possession of Jijiga, however, the British were slow in returning the city to the Ethiopians. At first, it was included as part of The Reserved Area, as defined in the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement of 31 January 1942, which also included much of the Haud. Only after patient pressure from Emperor Haile Selassie, in 1948 the two countries began to discuss an agreement for the evacuation of the British from this territory. Although Ethiopian officers began to take over the administration from British officers in May-July, the protocol agreeing to the transfer was not signed until 24 July of that year. A brief demonstration of overt Somali nationalism occurred in Jijiga when the Somali Youth League (SYL) raised their flag before their headquarters in defiance of the law and the new Ethiopian administrators. Major Demeka, the governor-designate of the Ogaden Province, requested the British military administration, which was still in charge, to remove the flag. When the leaders refused to pull down their flag, the police brought it down with a machine gun mounted on an armored car. In the disturbances that followed, one policeman was killed and another wounded while the police opened fire on the crowd and killed 25 of them. The SYL was proscribed shortly afterwards in Ethiopia.[1]

Germame Neway, one of the leaders of the unsuccessful 1960 coup, served as governor over Jijiga in 1959. He had been transferred there for his civic responsibility and concern for the underprivileged while administering a district in Sidamo Province. The obstruction he encountered, not only in Sidamo but in Jijiga, convinced him of the need for radical measures.[9] In the early stage of the Ethiopian Revolution individual units from the Third Division put the local governor under house arrest around 13 April 1974.[1] During the Ogaden War, Jijiga was occupied by the Western Somali Liberation Front's Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi division led by Col. Yusuf Dheere, later with the Somali National Army, from September 1977 to February 1978.

The Regional government held a conference in this city to promote peace and development between 10 - 13 March 1996, which was attended by 535 from the local woredas, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Ethiopia, Tamirat Layne, the Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, the presidents of the Tigray and Harari Regional states and representatives from Amhara and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Regions.[10] On 28 May 2007, during the celebration of Ginbot 20 (celebrating the downfall of the Derg), Jijiga and Degehabur were the scenes of attacks on civilians and government officials. At least 16 people were killed and 67 injured, including Abdulahi Hassan Mohammed, president of the Somali Region, who was speaking at the ceremony. The Ethiopian government blamed the attack on the Ogaden National Liberation Front.[11]

On 29 May 2008, following a heavy downpour the Jijiga River broke its banks and flooded several kebeles in the town and the vicinity. The flooding killed 29 people and displaced 350 households.[12] On 27 September of that year, a bomb exploded outside a hotel in Jijiga killing four and wounding 20. Local police apprehended a suspect whom they claimed was a member of Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya.[13] {UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia, field trip report: Jijiga 22-29 April 1994.


Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, Jijiga has an estimated total population of 98,076 of whom 50,355 are men and 47,721 are women.[14] The 1997 census reported this town had a total population of 65,795 of whom 33,266 were men and 32,529 women. The four largest ethnic groups reported in this town were the Somali (61.58%), the Amhara (23.25%), the Oromo (7.32%), and the Gurage (4.37%); all other ethnic groups made up 3.48% of the population.[15] This city is the largest settlement in Jijiga woreda.


Although there is sparse vegetation in the vicinity, there is some history of animal life in the past. For example, the area was earlier a habitat for the African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus,[16] although this canid is likely extirpated at present in the local area, due to an expanding human population.

In his memoirs of his homeland, Nega Mezlekia describes Jijiga as sitting "on a vast, unmitigated plain, with no greenery in sight except for the occasional cactus bush used as shelter by the wandering hyena, and the inevitable sacred tree in every compound. The city is surrounded by rocky mountains on all sides save the north, which is open as far as the eye can see."[17]