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Tadjoura is located in Djibouti
Location in Djibouti
Coordinates: 11°47′N 42°53′E / 11.783°N 42.883°E / 11.783; 42.883
Country Flag of Djibouti.svg Djibouti
Region Tadjoura Region
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - Total 22,193

Tadjoura (Afar: Tagórri; Arabic: تجورة‎, tağūrrah, tuğūrrah) is the oldest town in Djibouti, and is the capital of the Tadjourah Region. Lying on the Gulf of Tadjoura, it is home to a population of around 25,000 people.

Tadjoura is home to an airstrip and is linked by ferry with Djibouti City. It is also known for its whitewashed buildings and nearby beaches.



The Afar name Tagórri derives from the noun tágor or tógor, (pl. tágar meaning "outre à puiser" ("goatskin flask for drawing water"). The name Tagórri is specifically derived from *tagór-li, which means "qui a des outre à puiser" ("that which has goatskin flasks to draw water"), in effect meaning "abondante en eau" ("abundant with water").[1]


Tadjoura originally was the seat of the Afar Ad-Ali Abli Sultanate as well as a port. This ruler, known as the Dardar according to Mordechai Abir, "claimed authority over all of the northern Adoimara Afar to the borders of Showa. However, although it was true that some sub-clans of the Ad-Ali and Abli Adoimara roamed as far as the borders of Yifat, even the staunchest supporters of the Sultan agreed that his actual authority did not stretch beyond Lake Assal, a short distance from Tajura."[2] Richard Pankhurst notes that it differed from neighboring ports by handling almost entirely the trade of Shewa and Aussa, "rather than that of Harar or the Ogaden." He quotes William Cornwallis Harris' description of an annual bazaar that started each September, when "for two months the beach is piled with merchandise, and the suburbs are crowded with camels, mules and donkeys." Pankhurst also cites C.T. Beke that the trade with the inhabitants of the Afar Depression was handled entirely by women, "who loaded the camels, bought and sold while the men kept away altogether 'to avoid bloodshed, this country being the scene of constant feuds among the different tribes.'"[3]

While Abir observes that the port is not mentioned in all of the material about the Red Sea in the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries, by the mid-19th century Tadjoura was thriving, "while all the other so-called Afar sultanates along the coast were described ... as small decaying villages of no political or commercial importance."[4] Tajoura owed this success to possessing a major slave market; Pankhurst suggests that a rough estimate of 6,000 people a year left Ethiopia through Tadjoura and Zeila.[5] The other important commodity sold in Tadjoura in the 19th century was ivory, brought by caravan from Aliyu Amba.[6] Other goods exported included wheat, durra, honey, gold, ostrich feathers, senna, madder, and civetone. The value of trade in 1880-1 was estimated at the time as 29,656 rupees in exports and 18,513 rupees in imports.[3]

Once Tadjoura came under French control, the slave trade was abolished by decree on 26 October 1889;[7] however, Noel-Buxton reported that Tajoura still remained a center of the slave trade, but "limited to small though frequent shipments."[8] While during the 1880s the port served as a distribution point for rifles and ammunition to Shewa and Ethiopia (during this period, Arthur Rimbaud lived in the city), Tajoura's importance inevitably declined with the construction of the Franco-Ethiopian railway, which began service on 22 July 1901, extended to Dire Dawa 17 months later, and finally to Addis Ababa on 3 December 1929.[9]

The port of Tadjourah was modernized in 2000, at a cost of US$1.64 million, allowing it to handle cargo vessels and their contents. The work was described as part of the government’s effort to help the economic development of the districts of Tadjourah, Obock, Ali-Sabieh and Dikhil. The new port was formally opened by Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh on 10 October.[10]


  1. ^ Didier Morin, "Tadjoura," in Dictionnaire historique afar (1288-1982). France: 2004, p. 250.
  2. ^ Abir, Mordechai (1968). Ethiopia: The Era of the Princes; The Challenge of Islam and the Re-unification of the Christian Empire (1769-1855). London: Longmans.  
  3. ^ a b Richard K.P. Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Haile Selassie University Press, 1968), pp. 429.
  4. ^ Abir, Era of the Princes, pp. 20f
  5. ^ Pankhurst, p. 83.
  6. ^ Pankhurst, p. 249.
  7. ^ Pankhurst, p. 103.
  8. ^ Pankhurst, p. 123.
  9. ^ Pankhurst, pp. 304-334.
  10. ^ "Horn of Africa, Monthly Review, September - October 2000", UN-OCHA Archive (accessed 23 February 2009)

External links

Coordinates: 11°47′N 42°53′E / 11.783°N 42.883°E / 11.783; 42.883



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