Harar (Harari: ሐረር ; Oromo : Adare Biyyo),[a] and known to its inhabitants as Gēy (Harari: ጌይ), is a walled city in eastern Ethiopia. It is the capital of east Hararghe and the capital of the Harari Region of Ethiopia. The city is located on a hilltop in the eastern extension of the Oromia, about five hundred kilometers from the national capital Addis Ababa at an elevation of 1,885 meters. Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, Harar had an estimated total population of 122,000, of whom 60,000 were males and 62,000 were females. According to the census of 1994, on which this estimate is based, the city had a population of 76,378.
Harar (in Oromo)
Old Harar enclosed by the jugol (defensive wall)
City of Saints
|Zone||East Hararghe Zone|
|• President||Ordin Bedri|
|Elevation||1,885 m (6,184 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (EAT)|
|Official name||Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iii, iv, v|
|Inscription||2006 (30th Session)|
For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial center, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world. Harar Jugol, the old walled city, was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its cultural heritage. It is sometimes known in Arabic as "the City of Saints" (مدينة الأَوْلِيَاء, madinat al-awliyaʾ). According to UNESCO, it is "considered 'the fourth holy city' of Islam" with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.
The Fath Madinat Harar records that the cleric Abadir Umar ar-Rida and several other religious leaders settled in Harar circa 1216 (612 AH). Harar was later made the new capital of the Adal Sultanate in 1520 by the Somali Sultan Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad. The city saw a political decline during the ensuing Emirate of Harar, only regaining some significance in the Khedivate of Egypt period. During the Ethiopian Empire, the city decayed while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the Harari Region.
It is likely the original inhabitants of the region were the Harla people. In its early history, the city was under an alliance called the Zeila confederate states. According to twelfth century Jewish traveler Benjamin Tudela, Zeila region was the land of the Havilah, confined by Al-Habash in the west. In the ninth century, Harar was under the Makhzumi dynasty. Harar Called Gēy ("the City") by its inhabitants Harari people, Harar emerged as the center of Islamic culture and religion in the Horn of Africa during end of the Middle Ages.
According to the Fath Madinat Harar, an unpublished history of the city in the 13th century, the cleric Abadir Umar ar-Rida, along with several other religious leaders, came from the Arabian Peninsula to settle in Harar circa 612H (1216 CE). Abadir was met by the Harla (Harari people) , Gaturi and Argobba. Abadir's brother Fakr ad-Din subsequently founded the Sultanate of Mogadishu.
According to the 14th century chronicles of Amda Seyon I, Gēt (Gēy) was an Arab colony in Harla country. During the Middle Ages, Harar was part of the Adal Sultanate, becoming its capital in 1520 under Sultan Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad. The sixteenth century was the city's Golden Age. The local culture flourished, and many poets lived and wrote there. It also became known for coffee, weaving, basketry and bookbinding.
From Harar, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi, also known as "Gurey" and "Grañ" (both meaning "the Left-handed"), launched a war of conquest in the sixteenth century that extended the polity's territory and threatened the existence of the neighboring Christian Ethiopian Empire. His successor, Emir Nur ibn Mujahid, built a protective wall around the city. Four meters in height with five gates, this structure, called Jugol, is still intact and is a symbol of the town to the inhabitants. Silt'e, Wolane, Halaba and Harari, lived in Harar while the former three moved to the Gurage region.
The Emirate of Harar also struck its own currency, the earliest possible issues bearing a date that may be read as AH 615 (= AD 1218/19); but definitely by AD 1789 the first coins were issued, and more were issued into the nineteenth century.
Following the death of Emir Nur, Harar began a steady decline in wealth and power. A later ruler, Imam Muhammed Jasa, a kinsman of Ahmad Gragn, yielded to the pressures of increasing Oromo raids and in 1577 abandoned the city, relocating to Aussa and making his brother ruler of Harar. The new base not only failed to provide more security from the Oromos, it attracted the hostile attention of the neighboring Afars who raided caravans traveling between Harar and the coast. The Imams of Aussa declined over the next century while Harar regained its independence under `Ali ibn Da`ud, the founder of a dynasty that ruled the city from 1647 until 1875, when it was conquered by Egypt.
Harar was very dependent on Berbera for trade since the Middle Ages. According to Sir Richard Burton, who visited both Berbera and Harar during his travels, he repeated a famous Harari saying he heard in 1854: "He who commands at Berbera, holds the beard of Harar in his hands." Much of the trade between the two historic towns was controlled by merchants belonging to the Habar Awal Somali clan, who also partook in the trade of the renowned Harari coffee beans which was named Berbera Coffee in the international market.
During the period of Egyptian rule (1875-1884), Arthur Rimbaud lived in the city as the local functionary of several different commercial companies based in Aden; he returned in 1888 to resume trading in coffee, musk, and skins until a fatal disease forced him to return to France. A house said to have been his residence is now a museum.
In 1885, Harar regained its independence, but this lasted only two years until 6 January 1887 when the Battle of Chelenqo led to Harar's incorporation into the Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia's growing Empire based in Shewa.
Harar lost some of its commercial importance with the creation of the French-built Addis Ababa - Djibouti Railway, initially intended to run via the city but diverted north of the mountains between Harar and the Awash River to save money. As a result of this, Dire Dawa was founded in 1902 as New Harar. The British planned to revitalise the historic Berbera - Harar trade route by connecting the two cities via rail as a means to counter French influence in the region; however, the major infrastructure project was later abandoned.
Harar was captured by Italian troops under Marshall Rodolfo Graziani during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War on 8 May 1937. The 1st battalion of the Nigeria Regiment, advancing from Jijiga by way of the Marda Pass, captured the city for the allies 29 March 1941. Following the conclusion of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in 1944, the government of the United Kingdom were granted permission to establish a consulate in Harar, although the British refused to reciprocate by allowing an Ethiopian one at Hargeisa. After numerous reports of British activities in the Haud that violated the London Agreement of 1954, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered the consulate closed March 1960.
Throughout the year, afternoon temperatures are warm to very warm, whilst mornings are cool to mild. Rain falls between March and October with a peak in August, whilst November to February is usually dry.
|Climate data for Harar|
|Average high °C (°F)||25.3
|Average low °C (°F)||11.9
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||17
In 1855 Richard Francis Burton described Harar as having an approximately 8,000 inhabitants; 2,500 Somalis, 2,500 Hararis, and 3,000 seasonal nomads. Burton further reported a large Oromo presence leading to the town.
During his visit in the Khedivate of Egypt occupation of the Emirate of Harar, researcher Paultischke describes Harar as having roughly 40,000 inhabitants with 25,000 of these being Hararis, 6,000 Oromo, 5,000 Somalis, 3,000 Abyssinians as well as a minority of Europeans and Asians.
After the conquest of the Emirate of Harar by Ethiopian Empire, an influx of Amhara settled in Harar and its surroundings. The Somali population of the town was decimated following the overthrow of Iyasu V by Abyssinian militias.
Today the ethnic make up of the town consists of Amhara 40.5%, Oromo 28.1%, Harari 11.8% Gurage 7.9% and Somali 6.8%. The religion with the most believers in Harar is Ethiopian Orthodox with 48.5%, 44.5% are Muslim, 6.1% Protestant. The indigenous Harari and Somali natives who once were majority within the walled city are merely 18.6%, due to ethnic cleansing by the Haile Selassie regime. According to Feener, the Harari have not recovered from the 1948 government crackdown on their population.
Besides the stone wall surrounding the city, the old town is home to 110 mosques and many more shrines, centered on Feres Magala square. Notable buildings include Medhane Alem Cathedral, the house of Ras Mekonnen, the house of Arthur Rimbaud, the sixteenth century Jami Mosque and historic Great Five Gates of Harar. Harrar Bira Stadium is the home stadium for the Harrar Beer Bottling FC. One can also visit the market.
Other places of interest include the highest amba overlooking the city, the Kondudo or "W" mountain, which hosts an ancient population of feral horses. A 2008 scientific mission has unleashed efforts for their conservation, as the animals are greatly endangered.
Intercity bus service is provided by the Selam Bus Line Share Company.
- 'Abd Allah II ibn 'Ali 'Abd ash-Shakur, last emir of Harar
- Abadir Umar ar-Rida, Muslim cleric
- Amha Selassie, Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire (Designate)
- Mahfuz, Imam and General of the Adal Sultanate
- Bati del Wambara, wife of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi
- Nur ibn Mujahid, Emir of Harar
- Abdullah al-Harari, leader of al-Ahbash
- Malik Ambar, Leader of Ahmadnagar Sultanate
- `Ali ibn Da`ud, Founder of Emirate of Harar
- Haboba, First Emir of Harar
- Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet, settled as a merchant in Harar between 1880 and 1891
- Formerly written as Harrar,  other variants include Hārer and Harer.
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It is considered 'the fourth holy city' of Islam, having been founded by a holy missionary from the Arabic Peninsula.
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Harar Jugol, seen as the fourth holiest city of Islam, includes 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th Century, and 102 shrines.
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