Monday, May 5, 2014


 "Africa Imports - African Culture - The Afar People." Africa Imports - African Culture - The Afar People. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2014.

"Ethiopia Afar Depression | Danakil Desert." Ethiopia Afar Depression | Danakil Desert. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2014.

 Morell, Virginia. "Africa's Danakil Desert, Cruelest Place on Earth - National Geographic Magazine." Africa's Danakil Desert, Cruelest Place on Earth(2008): n. pag. Web. <>.

Tenu. "Afeget Tours and Travels - Afeget Tours and Travels." Afar Region. N.p., 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 05 May 2014.

 Hubbard, Nyla. "Doctors Without Borders in Ethiopia." Google Books. Algora Publishing, n.d. Web. 06 May 2014


an Imperial Eagle spreading its wings

Even though Afar is located in the Danakil desert there are several birds that inhabit the land. Most of the bird sightings happen in the southern part of the area due to more water sources. There are just under 500 different species of birds that have been sited in the region. Some of the more common ones are the Yellow-Throated Serin, Imperial Eagle, and several types of larger birds such as the Ostrich, Arabian Bustards, Kori, and Secretary birds. There are several prey and culture birds in the area like the Bat Hawk, the Imperial Eagle as stated before, and various other snake-eagles.

Secretary bird eating a snake in the grasslands
Photo: Portrait of an ostrich
An Ostrich on the plains 


An Afari woman wearing a ceremonial vale 

The people in the Afar region are predominantly Muslims today. Out of the 1.6 million people 99.9% are Muslims, and 0.01% are either Christians or Evangelical. Even though the Afar people are allowed to have four wives they usually remain monogamous depending on their herd size. Girls may be married as early as ten years old. Marriages between first cousins are preferred, especially between a man and his father's sister's daughter. They also like to have their weddings on a night of a full moon. Also, someone who is able to read the Koran is required.
An Islamic Afari woman
To keep with the Islamic customs the Afari people do not eat pork and rarely drink alcohol. Many pre-Islamic traditions are seen mixed in with Islamic traditions today. They believe that certain trees and places hold spiritual powers. Spirits of the dead are also thought to be very powerful. A feast for the dead is held called Rabena each year to pay tribute to the departed. They also believe in a dominant sky god.

History and Diaspora

Today the Afar people are mostly nomadic, a way of living they have sustained for thousands of years. Some of the oldest humanoid skeletons have been found in the region. Middle Awash has been the home of many of these bones. Gona is the site of the oldest found stone tools in the world, and Hadar is the site from which Lucy was found. Lucy is a fossilized human specimen thought to have lived in the region 3.2 million years ago.
File:Lucy Skeleton.jpg
A Reconstruction of Lucy's remains
Along with Lucy there was another fossilized remains found in the region several years after her. This time the skeleton was thought to be 4.5 million years old showing that the region was one of the first places humans inhabited. Both finds were located near the river basin of the Awash river.

The word Africa and African are believed to have derived from the word Afar since the beginning of people were from the region. The Egyptians also started their trades with the people in the Afar region, importing incenses, teas, and salts from the region. Along with the Egyptians the Afar people traded with the Romans, Phoenicians, and the Persians. By the 10th century the region was starting to see well organized kingdoms take place. Each kingdom was ruled by a Sultan.
An old map depicting the boundaries in Ethiopia 
The region along with much of the Horn of Africa was victims of colonization from many European countries. In the 13th century the Portuguese attacked and during the following centuries the area was attacked by the Turkish, Egyptians, and the Abyssinian forces up until the 20th century when the country of Ethiopia was formed. During this time France and Italy sent in forces to reach an agreement with the semi-independent Sultans of Afar. They agreed to give military assistance in exchange for being allowed to use ports along the Red Sea. The Sultans trusted that the agreement would hold but France and Italy ended up splitting the region between themselves. The Afari people overtook their lands back in 1942 with the help of the Allies during WW2.
Today many Afar people love within the region of Afar in Ethiopia. Some live in the capital Addis Ababa working in government jobs. Outside of the country some of the people live in the neighboring country Djibouti. These people live in a similar life style as those in Afar. 

Landscape, World, and Cultural Survival

The highlighted area is the region of Afar within the country Ethiopia.
The majority of the Afar region is located in the Danakil Desert. So for the most part the region is dry and airy. The temperatures have been recorded as high as 148 degrees Fahrenheit, but the temperatures are regularly around 77 degrees in the rainy season of September to March and temperatures around 118 degrees in the dry season, March to September. The people are known for being able to withstand the harsh environment of the desert. The deepest point in the desert is 500 feet below sea level in the Danakil Depression. there are many different salt mines within the desert that allows for many job opportunities. The salt is still cut by hand by the Afari people and then loaded onto camels for transport. This process has lasted so long due to the remote and harsh conditions of the desert. 

Salt mining process
Erta Ale
View above Erta Ale looking into the Danakil Desert
Along with the Danakil Depression and the salt flats there are several volcanoes within the region as well. Two of them are Erta Ale and Dabbahu. National Geographic named the region the "Cruelest Place on Earth." Erta Ale is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano. It is the most active volcano within all of Ethiopia. The volcano stands 2,011 feet above sea level with the low lying Danakil Depression surrounding it making it a visible object in the horizon for several miles. Erta Ale has erupted as recently as 2008 with several serious eruptions as recently as 2005. Each eruption killed several hundreds of live stock, mostly cattle. The eruptions also dispersed several hundred of nearby villages. The people who live within the region always have the risk of the volcano erupting. 

 Water is a precious life source for the people in the region due to living in a desert. There is only one river that flows through the region, the Awash River. This river feeds several lakes, Lake Shala and Lake Zway are the largest two. The water, however, evaporates rapidly due to the dry conditions. The water occasionally evaporates as quickly as it is supplied. This process of evaporation helps build up the salt mines. 

For work the Afari people work by mining the salt flats. As stated before they cut them by hand and then transport them by camel. Along with salt mining the people are herders. They use their cattle as a currency. The more cattle a man has the more they are seen as rich. Due to the small amount of water sources available the men will sometimes leave the women for days while they take their herds to water. The women are in charge of the house hold duties. Their houses are mostly made of leather and sticks making it easily movable to suit their semi-nomadic life style.
An Afari man in front of a traditional hut
With the majority of people living in the Danakil Desert the culture of the people has not been impeded on. Their neighbors do not look to invade the lands. The only trouble the people see is the changing boundaries due to water. There is an increasing need for water and the boundaries may change yearly so the Afari people do not know where to get water always. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Overview-Afar Poeple

In a northern region of Ethiopia there is the area of the Afar people. The region itself is called Afar after the majority of people that live there. Although most of the Afar people live within this region of Afar there are a large number of people that live in the near by area of Djibouti. the region has its own language, which is one of the nine national languages of Ethiopia. There are roughly 1.8 million Afar people that live within and out northern Ethiopia. These people are largely nomadic herders that move to different water sources in the Danakil desert. The Afarian people have a full and rich history which played large rules in developing the area to what it is today.