Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

Region: Dire Dawa

Geographic Coordinates: 9.600000, 41.866700
Temperature Range: 15.0°C to 35.0°C (59°F to 95°F)
Climate: Dry and hot climate with occasional rainfall in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
Population: 277000
Language: Amharic

Dire Dawa is a city located in the eastern part of Ethiopia, Approximately 515 km from the capital city Addis Ababa. The city has a population of over 500, 000 people and is renowned for its vibrant culture and history. It was established in 1902 as a railway town during the construction of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway. The city’s diverse population consists of various ethnic groups such as Oromo, Somali, Amhara, Harari among others. This diversity has contributed to Dire Dawa’s rich culture which is reflected in its food, Music and art.

One notable feature of Dire Dawa is its architecture which displays influences from different cultures. The Harar style houses with intricate wooden carvings are particularly noteworthy. Visitors can also explore several historical sites such as Kezira Compound where Emperor Haile Selassie was imprisoned during his exile in 1936. Dire Dawa boasts numerous natural attractions like Babille Elephant Sanctuary which houses over 300 elephants along with other wildlife species like lions and hyenas. Awash National Park is another popular destination for nature lovers with stunning landscapes including waterfalls and hot springs.

Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy of Dire Dawa with crops like coffee, Maize, Sorghum being major contributors to the local economy. The Ethio-Djibouti railway still serves an important role in transportation for goods coming into Ethiopia through Djibouti port. In recent times, Dire Dawa has undergone significant growth with new infrastructure projects aimed at improving living standards for residents such as improved road networks, Water supply systems and sanitation facilities among others.

Overall, Dire Dawa offers visitors an opportunity to experience Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage while enjoying its natural beauty and modern amenities making it deserving recognition not just within Ethiopia but internationally too!

Important Landmarks

  1. Kezira Cultural Center
  2. Dire Dawa Market
  3. Kefira Mosque
  4. Awedai Mosque
  5. Dire Dawa Railway Station Museum
  6. Harar Gate (Babile Elephant Sanctuary)
  7. Bati Market
  8. Chat Market
  9. Tog Wajaale Park
  10. Awash National Park

Primary Industries

  1. Textile manufacturing
  2. Food processing
  3. Cement production
  4. Construction materials manufacturing
  5. Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  6. Leather tanning and processing
  7. Transportation and logistics
  8. Banking and finance
  9. Education services
  10. Healthcare services

Noteable History

  1. The city of Dire Dawa was established in 1902 by the Ethiopian government as a railway town.
  2. During World War II, Dire Dawa was occupied by Italian forces from 1936 to 1941.
  3. The city played a significant role in Ethiopia’s railway development, with the construction of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway passing through it.
  4. Emperor Haile Selassie had a summer palace in Dire Dawa, which is now a museum.
  5. Dire Dawa is home to one of Ethiopia’s major airports and served as the headquarters for Ethiopian Airlines until it moved to Addis Ababa.
  6. Notable people from Dire Dawa include Alemayehu Eshete and Ali Birra, both musicians; Yohannes Gebregeorgis, founder of Ethiopia Reads; Ahmed Gragn, Somali general who conquered parts of Ethiopia and ruled from Harar; and Dr. Tilahun Yilma, scientist who developed vaccines for livestock diseases.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Dechatu Market: This bustling marketplace is a must-visit for anyone interested in local culture and cuisine.
  2. Harar Jugol: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this walled city is home to over 80 mosques and shrines, as well as traditional houses with unique architectural features.
  3. Dire Dawa Railway Station: Built in the early 1900s by the French, this historic railway station is now a museum showcasing the history of Ethiopia’s railway system.
  4. Kefira Palace: Once the residence of Emperor Haile Selassie, this palace now serves as a museum displaying artifacts from his reign.
  5. Aweday Hot Springs: Located just outside Dire Dawa, these natural hot springs are said to have healing properties and are popular among locals and tourists alike.
  6. Kezira Cultural Center: This center hosts cultural events and exhibitions showcasing traditional Ethiopian music, dance, art, and more.
  7. Dire Dawa Art Center: A hub for contemporary art in the city featuring exhibitions from local artists as well as workshops and events for aspiring creatives.
  8. Ras Mekonnen Bridge: Built during the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s, this bridge spans across Awash River offering scenic views of its surroundings.
  9. Babile Elephant Sanctuary: Located about an hour’s drive from Dire Dawa town center lies Babile Elephant Sanctuary which offers stunning scenery with its rock formations that resemble elephants’ backs.
  10. Dire-Dawa University Museum – The university has a museum that showcases various artefacts including fossils found within Ethiopia which visitors can explore.

Cultural Events

  1. Ethiopian New Year: Dire Dawa celebrates the Ethiopian New Year on September 11th with colorful parades, traditional music and dance performances, and feasting.
  2. Eid al-Fitr: This Muslim festival marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated with special prayers, family gatherings, and delicious food.
  3. Meskel: This religious festival marks the discovery of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. It is celebrated with bonfires, processions, and traditional dances.
  4. Timket: This religious festival celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River with colorful parades, music and dance performances, and feasting.
  5. The Dire Dawa International Film Festival: An annual event showcasing films from around Ethiopia as well as international films from various countries.
  6. The Dire Dawa Food Festival: A celebration of local cuisine featuring traditional dishes from different regions in Ethiopia.
  7. The Dire Dawa Trade Fair: An annual event for businesses to showcase their products to potential customers in an expo-like setting.


  1. Kitfo: a traditional Ethiopian dish made from raw minced beef seasoned with spices.
    • Restaurant recommendation: Yeshi Buna Restaurant.
  2. Injera: a sourdough flatbread that is a staple food in Ethiopia.
    • Restaurant recommendation: Awash Ethiopian Restaurant.
  3. Tibs: grilled or sautéed meat (usually beef) served with injera and vegetables.
    • Restaurant recommendation: Karamara Hotel & Resort.
  4. Shiro Wot: a spicy stew made from ground chickpeas or lentils, served with injera.
    • Restaurant recommendation: Kefetew Guest House & Bar.
  5. Coffee ceremony: an important part of Ethiopian culture where coffee is roasted, brewed, and served to guests.
    • Cafe recommendation: Cafe Dire Dawa.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Kezira Park is a scenic recreational area in the heart of Dire Dawa that provides visitors with various outdoor activities such as picnicking, jogging, and playing games.
  2. Awash National Park, situated approximately 200 km away from Dire Dawa, is a wildlife reserve where visitors can spot baboons, gazelles, and warthogs.
  3. Harar Jugol is an ancient walled city located about 50 km from Dire Dawa that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical significance. Visitors can wander through the narrow streets and alleys of this fascinating city.
  4. Kefira Stadium hosts local soccer matches and other sporting events for enthusiasts to enjoy.
  5. Babile Elephant Sanctuary is located around 100 km from Dire Dawa and offers tourists the opportunity to observe elephants in their natural habitat.
  6. Filtu Hot Springs are thermal springs situated approximately 120 km away from Dire Dawa that provide visitors with a chance to unwind in therapeutic waters surrounded by stunning scenery.
  7. Aweday Hot Springs are also thermal springs located around 120 km from Dire Dawa that offer similar relaxation opportunities as Filtu Hot Springs.
  8. Sofi Mountain Forest Reserve lies just outside of Dire Dawa and features hiking trails through beautiful landscapes with breathtaking views of the surrounding area below.


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