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Wukro is located in Ethiopia
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 13°48′N 39°36′E / 13.8°N 39.6°E / 13.8; 39.6
Country Ethiopia
Region Tigray
Zone Misraqawi (Eastern)
Elevation 1,972 m (6,470 ft)
Population (2005)
 - Total 28,583
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Wukro (also transliterated Ugoro;[1] formerly known as Dongolo) is a town in northern Ethiopia. Located in the Misraqawi (Eastern) Zone of the Tigray Region on the Asmara-Addis Ababa highway, it has a longitude and latitude of 13°48′N 39°36′E / 13.8°N 39.6°E / 13.8; 39.6 with an elevation of 1972 meters above sea level.

The rock-hewn churches around Wukro are the town's most distinctive landmarks; in the early twentieth century the town's name was changed from "Dongolo" to the Tigrigna word for a structure carved from the living rock, Wukro.[2]

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah announced in July 2009, during a 3-day visit to Ethiopia, that his country would provide a $63 million loan to Ethiopia, part of which would be used to build a road between Wukro and Zalambessa near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.[3]


Francisco Álvares was the first European recorded to have visited Wukro, when in 1521 he stayed at the royal inn or Betenegush. His account also includes a description of Maryam Wukro church "made in a rock, hewn and wrought with the pickaxe, with three aisles and their supports made of the rock itself."[4] The next important European visit was in 1868 when Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier passed through the village on his way to Magdela where he defeated the Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II.[5] During their march through Wukro, members of the British army saw one of the Tigrayan rock-hewn churches, most likely Wukro Chirkos, and were afterwards thought to be the first Europeans to see these unusual structures;[6] another notable landmark is the church Wukro Giyorgis Bete.

During the Italian occupation, one Francesco Baldassare started a mill in Wukro, but abandoned it when the Italians were defeated in 1941.[7] Wukro was used as his headquarters by Blatta Haile Mariam Redda during the Woyane rebellion, until Ras Abebe Aregai captured the town 17 October 1943.[8] Dawit W. Girgis reports in his memoirs that in 1964, with the permission of Emperor Haile Selassie, the Israelis operated a secret base outside Wukro where members of the Anyanya (a Sudanese rebel group) were trained in guerrila warfare.[7]

During the Ethiopian Civil War, Wukro was repeatedly attacked by Derg aircraft in 1988, resulting in the deaths of a total of 175 residents.[9]


Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, this town has an estimated total population of 28,583, of whom 13,947 are men and 14,636 are women.[10] The 1994 census reported it had a total population of 16,421 of whom 7,427 were males and 8,994 were females. It is the largest settlement in Wukro woreda.


  1. ^ Like many proper names in Ethiopia, there are a number of transliterations of this name into English. David Buxton lists the many ways Wukro "has been variously spelt: Agroo, Corou, Oucro, Ouquo, Ucro, Ouaqero, Oukero, Ouogro, Uogro, Woghuro, Wogro, Waqro, and Weqro. Some of these forms...are influenced by French or Italian spelling conventions" The Abyssinians (New York: Praeger, 1970), p. 16
  2. ^ David W. Phillipson, Ancient Churches of Ethiopia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 94
  3. ^ "Kuwait Loans Ethiopia EUR45 Million For Electricity, Roads - Report", Addis Live website, 21 July 2009 (accessed 19 August 2009)
  4. ^ Francisco Alvarez, The Prester John of the Indies, translated by C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford (Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1961), pp. 176ff
  5. ^ Philip Briggs, Ethiopia: The Bradt Travel Guide, 3rd edition (Chalfont St Peters: Bradt, 2002), p. 239
  6. ^ David Buxton, Travels in Ethiopia, second edition (London: Benn, 1957), p. 126; David Phillipson, Ancient Churches, p. 94
  7. ^ a b "Local History in Ethiopia" (pdf) The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 6 December 2007)
  8. ^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 250f
  9. ^ Africa Watch, Ethiopia: "Mengistu has Decided to Burn Us like Wood": Bombing of Civilians and Civilian Targets by the Air Force, 24 July 1990, p. 10
  10. ^ CSA 2005 National Statistics, Table B.3


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