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Jimma is located in Ethiopia
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 7°40′N 36°50′E / 7.667°N 36.833°E / 7.667; 36.833
Country Ethiopia
Region Oromia
Zone Jimma
Population (2005)
 - Total 159,009
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
Area code(s) 47

Jimma, also Jima, is the largest city in southwestern Ethiopia. Located in the Jimma Zone of the Oromia Region, this city has a latitude and longitude of 7°40′N 36°50′E / 7.667°N 36.833°E / 7.667; 36.833. It was the capital of Kaffa Province until the province was dissolved.

Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, this town has an estimated total population of 159,009 of whom 80,897 were males and 78,112 were females.[1] According to the 1994 national census, it had a population of 88,867 people. The 1994 census reported this town had a total population of 88,867 of whom 43,874 were males and 44,993 were females. Herbert S. Lewis states that in the early 1960s it was "the greatest market in all of southwestern Ethiopia. On a good day in the dry season it attracts up to thirty thousand people."[2]



Its northern suburb of Jiren was the capital of a large Oromo kingdom until the late nineteenth century. Originally named Hirmata, the city owed its importance in the 19th century to being located on the caravan route between Shewa and the Kingdom of Kaffa, as well as being only six miles from the palace of the king of Jimma. According to Donald Levine, in the early 1800s the market attracted thousands of people from neighboring regions: "Amhara from Gojjam and Shoa, Oromo from all the Gibe Kingdoms and numerous representatives of the Lacustrine and Omotic groups, including Timbaro, Qabena, Kefa, Janjero, Welamo, Konta and several others".[3]

The present town was developed on the Awetu River by Italian colonialists in the 1930s. At that time, with the goal of weakening the native Ethiopian Church, the Italians intended to make Jimma an important center of Islamic learning, and founded an academy to teach fiqh.[4]

Jimma was the scene of a violent encounter which started in April 1975 between radical college students (known as zemacha) sent to organize local peasants, who had benefitted from land reform, and local police, who had sided with local landowners. Students and peasant followers had imprisoned local small landowners, rich peasants and members of the local police force; this action led to further unrest, causing the Derg (the ruling junta) to send a special delegation to Jimma, which sided with the local police. In the end, 24 students were killed, more arrested, and the local zemacha camps closed.[5] Days before the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in May 1991, the city was captured by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

On 13 December 2006, the Ethiopian government announced that it had secured a loan of US$ 98 million from the African Development Bank to pave the 227 kilometers of highway between Jimma and Mizan Teferi to the southwest. The loan would cover 64% of the 1270.97 million Birr budgetted for this project.[6]

Points of interest

Some buildings survive from the time of the Jimma Kingdom, including the Palace of Abba Jiffar. The city is home to a museum, Jimma University, several markets, and an airport (ICAO code HAJM, IATA JIM). Also of note in the Jimma Research Center, founded in 1968, which is run by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. The Center speciales in agricultural research, which includes serving as the national center for research to improve the yield of coffee, and spices.[7]


  1. ^ CSA 2005 National Statistics, Table B.3
  2. ^ Herbert S. Lewis, A Galla Monarchy: Jimma Abba Jifar, Ethiopia, 1830-1932 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), p. 56.
  3. ^ Donald N. Levine, Greater Ethiopia, second edition (Chicago: University Press, 1974)
  4. ^ J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), p. 137.
  5. ^ Marina and David Ottaway, Ethiopia: Empire in Revolution (New York: Africana, 1978), p. 73f
  6. ^ "Ethiopian Embassy Newsletter", Nov/Dec 2006, p.2, Ethiopian Embassy to the UK website (accessed 11 January 2007)
  7. ^ EARI list of research centers (accessed 30 April 2009)

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