City Profile of Gondar

The current city of Gondar geographically, is situated in Northwestern highlands of Ethiopia, Amhara Regional State at about 1203’ N latitude and 37028’ E. It is located at a distance of 727 km. from Addis Ababa, which is the capital of Ethiopia, and 120 km from Bahir Dar, main city of Amhara National Regional State. The main road from Addis Ababa (from the south) via Bahir Dar continues to Gondar northwards to Adwa and Aksum, and westwards to Metema and Sudan. In the northwest direction, Semien National Park, a world heritage site registered by UNESCO is situated at about 120km. Gondar has a total area of 192.3 km2 with undulating mountainous topography. Gondar can be characterized by three major land use types namely agriculture, built up and green areas with paved, asphalted and all weather roads.

Rainfall of Gondar city is erratic and characterized by fluctuations. Under normal condition, it deviates from mean value. The mean annual rainfall in Gondar city has been 1025mm in the past 26 years. However, there were great variations in between years. For example, the annual rainfall between 1980-1992 was 977.3mm while it was 1073.6mm between 1993-2005. The highest rainfall record of the past 26 years was in 1980with1312.7mm value while the lowest rainfall value was observed in 1992 and accounted for 719.9mm.


According to the 2007 National Population and Housing Census, Gondar consists of a total of 50, 817 housing units. Gondar is the center of political and economic activities of the North Amhara region and it is main city of the North Gondar Zone. The city is classified into 12 administrative sub-cites, which have their own legislative, executive and judiciary organs.

Gondar has one of the largest urban populations in Ethiopia. According to the Central Statistics Agency (CSA) population projection (2013), the population of Gondar was estimated to be 323,875 by 2015 and to be increased to 360,600 in 2017. Since Gondar is a major destination for urban-rural migrants in North West Ethiopia, migration contributed to population growth in the city.


Gondar is a major tourist and business hub in North-West Ethiopia. Among many tourist attraction sites of Gondar, Fasiledes Castles within the city and the Semen National Park, located 120 Km to the north west of Gondar can be found. The city earns a significant amount of money from hotel and tourism. Trade is also a key economic activity in Gondar. The city’s success in trade is attributable to the surrounding areas, for instance, Metema, and Humera that produce cotton and sesame. In com- parison, manufacturing has not only contributed the least to its GDP (only 7%) but also generates a little number of jobs (EMUDHC, 2015:24).


The city of Gondar’s development and expansion followed axial pattern with a generally slow urban growth rate especially in the late 20th and the beginning of 21st centuries. Unemployment in the city remains high especially amongst the youth, including those with a university degree. An informal settlement has expanded. The number of orphan and vulnerable children is unacceptably high (SOS, 2016).


Gondar is one of the few urban centers that still exist as attested by the available literature on the history of urbanization in Ethiopia. Although urbanization processes took place prior to the 20th century, most of the towns vanished due to geographical, political, and economic factors availed in the country.


As an important turning point, Gondar rose in the late 17th century and witnessed a notable renaissance of Ethiopian civilization, which had an impact in and around the city and the lifestyles of its people. Emperor Fasiledes established Gondar by succeeding to the throne of a country in turmoil induced by popular protests against Emperor Susneyos’s acceptance of the Roman Catholic faith. Emperor Fasiledes took prompt steps and almost immediately restored Orthodox Christianity as an official State religion, and fired the Portuguese Catholic Patriarch Afonso Mendez into exile in Goa, India.


As a tourist destination with historical, natural, and cultural heritages Gondar’s service sector expanded enormously with several hotels, resorts, travel agencies, etc. established recently. They have also created employment opportunities especially for in Tourism, Marketing Management and other graduates in hospitality fields.

Gondar city has a 10 year future development plan (2015-2025) that aims at bringing about efficient and effective urban development and transformation, satellite towns, hinterland through integrated and balanced development. According to Gondar City Administration (2015), the plan set five major intervention strategies:

  • Change: re/usage, re/vitalization, renewal, healing and mending of the existing settlements
  • New: expansion, inclusion, integration, linking of new and rural developments and satellite towns and the city region:
  • Urban region interface planning:
  • Self-realization: new spirit and new re/thinking:
  • Good Governance and urban management and institutional capacity building


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