City Profile of Bishoftu

Bishoftu is located in East Shewa Zone of Oromia Regional State, 47 km south-east of Addis Ababa, the capital city. The city was founded in 1917 with the coming of Ethio-Djibouti railway.  Bishoftu is a large place in the region of Oromiya in Ethiopia with a population of approximately 197,557 people and is one of the largest places in Ethiopia. Its topography is undulating and characterized by flat land on the north and east parts of the city, locked by several lakes, while the south is dominated by hills (BCP, 2015). The geographical area of the city is about 15,273 ha, and it lies at an altitude in the range of 1900 m. to 1995 m. 

Bishoftu is a resort city which is known for having seven crater lakes that are enclosed by steep escarpment which gives the lakes panoramic views: Lake Bishoftu , Lake Hora Arsedi (the largest lake of the town), Lake Bishoftu Guda, Lake Kuriftu, Lake Babogaya (located in the outskirt of the city and convenient for many sporting activities), Lake Kilole (also called Green Lake “Arenguade Haike” because of presence of Green algae) and Lake Chelelaka.

Lake Balbala is an artificial or manmade lake situated in the town. These lakes are places where the majority of resort hotels are located and different recreational activities are taking place. Like all of the volcanic crater lakes in this area, Bishoftu is a closed system, surrounded by very steep and rocky hills and cliffs. The lake is fed directly by rain and by water flowing down from the crater rims. The maximum and minimum depths are 87 m and 55 m respectively.

Bishoftu is an importantcity, with a local agriculture-based economy. The market is a major feeder market for Addis Ababa. The city has a number of training and research centres, with the Air Force, the Ethiopian Management Institute Conference Centre, National Veterinary Institute, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Addis Ababa University, and Alemaya University of Agriculture all represented. A flourmill, a tannery, and a number of modern agricultural enterprises, particularly for chicken and egg production, have been established, and the area is a popular weekend resort for people from Addis Ababa.

The city also hosts large institutions such as the Great Ethiopian Air Force, different higher institutions, Agricultural research centers, art galleries and the likes. Ethiopian Air Force has a history which is tightly woven with the history of Bishoftu. It is established in 1946 following assigning of Bole Airport to Ethiopian Airlines, the civilcCivil Aviation of the country. The Air force base is constructed by Swedish Instructors and Ethiopian Cadets. The first 6 saab 91 safir training airplanes were bought from Sweden and flown to the air base in 24th of Dec, 1947 to start the training career.  Currently, Bishoftu Air Force base plays significant role in the social, economic and political activities of the town. Bishoftu was a favored weekend destination for his majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie. Consequently, he built his palace which is named ‘Fairfield’ in the town, after his wartime home in exile in the town of Bath, England. The palace was constructed at the shore of Lake Hora.

It’s close proximity to the capital city, Addis Ababa, and it’s position on the road to Djibouti, makes it a hub for industrial development. The industries that are established in Bishoftu Town includes Bishoftu Automotive and Locomotive Industry, Bishoftu Motorization Engineering Complex, Gafat Armament Engineering Complex, and other business include Elfora Agroindustry Export Abattoir, Adda Flour and Pasta Factory, Pasqua Giuseppe Aluminum and Metal Works, Salmida Leather Product Manufacturing and Win rock International Ethiopia.

With its increasing distinction as a recreational center which is located an hour drive from the capital city, Bishoftu town’s tourism activity has been showing promising growth in recent years. Moreover, the development of within town hotels, gust houses and pensions, and lake side resort hotels and lodges with encouraging conference facilities, makes the town more and more preferred for mix of visitors; Ethiopian week-enders, foreign resident week-enders, business and conference travelers as well as international leisure tourists. 

Bishoftu is a rapidly growing city both in terms of population and economy. One can also see the dynamisms of the city in various aspects. The city has been experiencing a high population growth compared to other cities of the region. Various studies have indicated that rural-urban and urban-urban migration accounts to the high increase in population of the city than the fertility.

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