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Location of Begemder within the Ethiopian Empire Ethiopia - Begmender (1943-1987).svg
Location of Begemder within the Ethiopian Empire

Begemder (Amharic: በጌምድር) (also Gondar or Gonder after its 20th century capital) was a province in the northwestern part of Ethiopia.

Gondar City in Amhara, Ethiopia

Gondar or Gonder is a city and separate woreda in Ethiopia. Located in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, Gondar is north of Tana Lake on the Lesser Angereb River and southwest of the Simien Mountains. It has a latitude and longitude of 12°36′N37°28′E with an elevation of 2133 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by the Gondar Zuria woreda. Gondar served as a strong Christian kingdom for many years.

Ethiopia Country in East Africa

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country in the northeastern part of Africa, known as the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, the de facto state of Somaliland and Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest. With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent with a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa, which lies a few miles west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the Nubian and Somali tectonic plates.



There are several proposed etymologies for the name Begemder. One is that it came from Bega (Beja) plus meder (land) (meaning land of the Bega or Beja), as an inscription of Emperor Ezana of Aksum describes his movement of 4,400 conquered Beja to a not yet located province named Matlia. [1]

Beja people ethnic group found mostly in Sudan, but also in parts of Eritrea and Egypt

The Beja people are ethnic Cushitic peoples inhabiting Sudan, Egypt, and Eritrea. In recent history, they have lived primarily in the Eastern Desert. They number around 1,237,000 people. Majority of Beja people speak the Beja language as a mother tongue, which belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. In Eritrea and southeastern Sudan, many members of the Beni Amer grouping speak Tigre. While many secondary sources identify the Ababda as an Arabic-speaking Beja tribe due to their cultural links with the Bishaari, this is a misconception: The Ababda do not consider themselves Beja, nor are they so considered by other Beja peoples.

Emperor of Ethiopia Hereditary rulers of the Ethiopian Empire

The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of the Ethiopian Empire, until the abolition of the monarchy in 1975. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country. A National Geographic article called imperial Ethiopia "nominally a constitutional monarchy; in fact [it was] a benevolent autocracy".

Kingdom of Aksum Trading nation in the Horn of Africa

The Kingdom of Aksum, also known as the Kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient kingdom centered in what is now Eritrea and the Tigray Region of northern Ethiopia. Axumite Emperors were powerful sovereigns, styling themselves King of kings, king of Aksum, Himyar, Raydan, Saba, Salhen, Tsiyamo, Beja and of Kush. Ruled by the Aksumites, it existed from approximately 100 AD to 940 AD. The polity was centered in the city of Axum and grew from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period around the 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD. Aksum became a major player on the commercial route between the Roman Empire and Ancient India. The Aksumite rulers facilitated trade by minting their own Aksumite currency, with the state establishing its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush. It also regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian Peninsula and eventually extended its rule over the region with the conquest of the Himyarite Kingdom. The Manichaei prophet Mani regarded Axum as one of the four great powers of his time, the others being Persia, Rome, and China.

A perhaps more plausible source for the name Bega is the self-name of the word Bega which means dry in the local language or another possible interpretation could be "sheep" where rearing of sheep which is beg in Amharic. Thus, Begemder likely refers to 'land of that rear sheep or The land of Dry area". [2]

Another etymology is that the first two syllables come from the Ge'ez language baggi` for sheep (Amharic: beg), although Beke claimed that sheep have never been pastured there, nor could they be raised there. Beckingham and Huntingford note that Begemder originally applied to the country east of Lake Tana, where water is scarce, and conclude, "The allusion to the lack of water suggests Amharic baga, "dry season", as a possible source of the name." [3]

Amharic is one of the Ethiopian Semitic languages, which are a subgrouping within the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. It is spoken as a first language by the Amharas and as a lingua franca by other populations residing in major cities and towns of Ethiopia.

Charles Tilstone Beke was an English traveller, geographer and Biblical critic.

Lake Tana lake in Ethiopia

Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia. Located in Amhara Region in the north-western Ethiopian Highlands, the lake is approximately 84 kilometres long and 66 kilometres wide, with a maximum depth of 15 metres, and an elevation of 1,788 metres. Lake Tana is fed by the Lesser Abay, Reb and Gumara rivers. Its surface area ranges from 3,000 to 3,500 square kilometres, depending on season and rainfall. The lake level has been regulated since the construction of the control weir where the lake discharges into the Blue Nile. This controls the flow to the Blue Nile Falls and hydro-power station.


The earliest recorded mention of Begemder was on the Fra Mauro map, (c.1460), where it is described as a kingdom. While Emperor Lebna Dengel, in his letter to the King of Portugal (1526), also described Begemder as a kingdom, he included it as a subdivision of his empire. During the later 18th century, its capital was at Filakit Gereger, where Ras Ali died in 1788. [4]

Fra Mauro map map made 1459 by the Italian monk Fra Mauro

The Fra Mauro map, "considered the greatest memorial of medieval cartography", is a map of the world made around 1450 by the Italian cartographer Fra Mauro. It is a circular planisphere drawn on parchment and set in a wooden frame that measures over two by two meters. It includes Asia, the Indian Ocean, Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic. It is oriented with south at the top.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Filakit Geregera is a town in northern Ethiopia. Located in the Semien Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, it has a latitude and longitude of 11°40′N38°48′E and an elevation of 2865 meters above sea level. The town is the administrative center of Meket woreda.

Begemder's boundaries were revised as a result of Proclamation 1943/1, which created 12 taklai ghizats from the existing 42 provinces of varying sizes. [5] With the adoption of the new constitution in 1995, Begemder was divided between two new ethnic regions (or kilil ): Wolqayt province became part of the Mi'irabawi Zone and Tselemti district became part of the Semien Mi'irabawi Zone, both in the Tigray Region, while the remainder became the Semien and Debub Gondar Zones of the Amhara Region.[ citation needed ]

1995 Constitution of Ethiopia Current constitution of Ethiopia since August 21, 1995

The current Constitution of Ethiopia, which is the supreme law of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, came into force on 21 August 1995. The constitution was drawn up by the Constituent Assembly that was elected in June 1994. It was adopted by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia in December 1994 and came into force following the general election held in May–June 1995.

Miirabawi Zone Zone in Tigray Region, Ethiopia

Mi'irabawi is the westernmost Zone of the Tigray Region in Ethiopia. It is subdivided into three woredas (districts); from north to south they are Kafta Humera, Wolqayt and Tsegede. Major towns and cities include Humera. Mi'irabawi is bordered on the east by the Semien Mi'irabawi Zone, the south by the Amhara Region, the west by Sudan and on the north by Eritrea.

Tselemti Woreda in Tigray

Tselemti is one of the woredas in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia. Part of the Semien Mi'irabawi Zone, Tselemti is bordered on the south by the Amhara Region, on the west by the Mi'irabawi Zone, on the north by Asigede Tsimbela, on the northeast by Medebay Zana, and on the east by the Mehakelegnaw Zone. The Tekezé defines the boundary between Tselemti and both the last two woredas and the Zone; other rivers in this woreda include the Abata, a tributary of the Tekezé. The administrative center of this woreda is Mai Tsebri; other towns in Tselemti include Dima.

See also

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  1. Munro-Hay, Stuart. Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity (Edinburgh: University Press, 1991), pp. 48.
  2. Ahland, Colleen (1920). አዲስ የአማርኛ መዝገበ ቃላት. Addis Abeba, Ethiopia: አርቲስቲክ ማተሚያ ቤት. p. 20.
  3. C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, Some records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1954), pp. 230f
  4. Herbert Weld Blundell, The Royal chronicle of Abyssinia, 1769-1840 (Cambridge: University Press, 1922), pp. 391f
  5. Bereket Habte Selassie, "Constitutional Development in Ethiopia", Journal of African Law, 10 (1966), p. 79.

Coordinates: 12°30′N37°00′E / 12.500°N 37.000°E / 12.500; 37.000