When we look at West Ethiopia we are mainly interested in Jimma and Gambella Region which have both their own portion of things that interest visitors. This is the region where the highlands of Ethiopia give way to the Western low lands.Please use the links for more details.
The Omo river, which flows for about 1000 kilometers long, rises in the Shewan highlands more specifically from Mt. Amara and is a perennial river with many tributaries feeding it on its way. The end of the Omo river is discovered as recently as 1896 by the famous Italian explorer Vittorio Bottego-the man who is also responsible for the exploration of the land which is known as the Lower Omo Valley.
330 Kms from Addis Ababa the town of Jimma is the capital of the old province of Kaffa from which the name coffee is belived to have origionated because the region is belived to be the home of coffee. The road from Addis to Jimma passes across the spectacular Gibe river Gorge. The bridge over the river is the point where the name of the river changes form Gibe to Omo. Places of interest in Jimma include the palace of the local King Aba Jiffar and Jimma Museum.
Home of Coffee
Ethiopia produces one of the best highland coffee in the world. The country, known to be original home of coffee Arabica, mainly produces sun-dried unwashed coffee types known in the world market for their flavor, good body, acidity and diversity of taste.
There is no reliable estimate of coffee crop area, yields, total output and domestic consumption. According to the estimates of World Bank (1987), Ethiopia produces about 140,000 tons of coffee in a bad year and up to 180,000 tons in an exceptionally good year; production in a normal year would be about 160,000 ton. The total area under planted coffee is estimated about 450 thousand hectares with additional 150 thousand hectares under wild coffee in natural forests which are only partially exploited. Roughly 50 per cent of the total output is consumed domestically, and the balance is exported.
Coffee grows in almost all regions of Ethiopia, but more than 80 per cent of the marketable production comes from what is known as forest coffee, mostly from the regions of Keffa, Wellega, Gamo Gofa, Sidamo and Illubabor zones. The rest comes from coffee gardens found in Shoa and Hararge. Over 95 per cent is produced by private peasants and the rest by state farms. Ethiopia exported 88,405 MT of coffee in 1980/81. The volume increased to 91,179 MT in 1983-84.
Inhabiting the region of Gambella and belonging to the nilo-saharan linguistic group, Majanger people have a total population of about 16,000. They are the predominant inhabitants of the tropical forests of the highland in the eastern part of Gambella mainly the Godere area.
The Majanger are primarily engaged in bee keeping though hunting is also an important activity.The traditional hunting tools of these people are spears and traps.Recently they have also started using rifle.
The Nuer, like the Annuak, are Nilotic people who live in the Gambela region. They number about 65,000 individuals on the whole and inhabit the low laying plains which stretch to the border with the Sudan. In these plains close to the banks of river Baro and its tributaries, the different families of the Nuer traditionally preferred and enjoyed living together in large settlements rather than in isolated family-based dwellings. In the villages of the Nuer communities, many Nuer huts come under one fence.
The Annuak are Nilotic people who inhabit the Gambela region and even the land across the Ethio-Sudanise border in the Sudan. They depend on fishing, farming, hunting and gathering for subsistence.For the Annuak, while crop production (sorghum & maize) is an important activity of the rainy season, fishing in the Baro& Akobo rivers becomes a vital means of subsistence in the dry season. In this regard, the Annuak are expert fishers and they catch huge number of tilapia, Nile perch and catfish from these rivers.
The town of Gambela is located about 753kms west of Addis Ababa. Perched at an elevation of 526m, Gambela is founded on the banks of the Baro River - Ethiopia's widest & only navigable river. Geographically, the portion of Gambela land is situated in what is known as the western lowlands.