Amharic is the official language of Amhara, Ethiopia. Amharic is also the most widely spoken language throughout Ethiopia. Many people that live in Amhara's urban centers also speak English, which is the primary foreign language taught in school in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Amhara

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Orthodox Christian

The Weather

  • Most people in the northwestern Amhara region are farmers. Without modern tools and farming techniques, farming is physically demanding work. Ethiopia Man Plowing Field
  • Christian education is an important and regular program activity at each Compassion-assisted child development center. Ethiopia Girls Reading a Pamphlet
  • Some people earn a little money by selling vegetables and other items at local markets. Ethiopia Woman Selling Potatoes
  • This Compassion center has a small library, which is available not only to the children but also to the larger community. Ethiopia Boy and Girl Reading
  • This Compassion center is giving children the opportunity to learn the fun, and challenging, skill of juggling. Ethiopia Girl and Boy Juggling
  • Typical homes in the Amhara region are small mud huts with thatched roofs. Ethiopia Small Round Huts

Overview: Amhara

Amhara lies in northwestern Ethiopia and is the country’s third largest state in square miles. It covers approximately 13 percent of Ethiopia’s total area and is home to the Amhara ethnic group. The state’s capital city is Bahir Dar.

About 17 million people live in the Amhara region, almost 90 percent of whom live in the countryside and engage in subsistence farming. Amharic is the official language of the state, as well as the most widely spoken language throughout Ethiopia. Many people who live in the region’s urban centers also have a working knowledge of English, which is the primary foreign language taught in the schools.

Most people in this region are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Whereas about 17 percent practice Islam, and only a small number are Protestant Christians.

The Amhara region has a diverse landscape. Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest inland body of water and the source of the Blue Nile River, is located here, as is the country’s highest point, Ras Dashan Peak, rising to 15,157 feet. This peak is part of the Simien National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to many unique animal species. Other popular tourist attractions in the region include the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the emperors’ palaces at Gondar, and the ancient monasteries of Bahir Dar.


Culture Corner

Ethiopia Culture


Try this traditional Ethiopian chicken stew.


  • 3 cups onion, chopped finely
  • 3 oz. olive oil (6 tbsp.)
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ginger
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 lbs. chicken cut in 1” pieces
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 8 eggs, hard-boiled


In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or heavy stewpot, brown the onion without oil until quite dark, stirring constantly.

Mix oil, cayenne, paprika, pepper and ginger together. Blend the seasoning into the onions. Add 1 cup water. Soak chicken in 2 cups water and lemon juice for 10 minutes.

Drain water from chicken and add to onion mixture, stirring well. Cover and simmer over low heat until chicken is tender.

Add more water, if necessary, to bring to stew texture. Add peeled hard-boiled eggs and simmer a few more minutes before serving.


Life in Amhara

Amhara, the third-largest of Ethiopia’s nine regional states, lies in the northwest and covers 13 percent of the country’s total area. The state’s capital city is Bihar Dar. Ninety percent of the people in this region are of Amharic ethnicity. They primarily follow Ethiopia’s unique form of Orthodox Christianity, but there is also a significant number of Muslims.

Most of the people of Amhara are engaged in small-scale agriculture. With the region’s abundant rainfall, farmers produce a variety of grains, oilseeds and coffee. Raising cattle is also an important regional enterprise. Many families earn a living by fishing in Lake Tana, the country’s largest, which covers 1,418 square miles. People commonly fish on the lake from traditional tanquas, papyrus reed boats.

Children at Home

In the Amhara region, traditional huts with thatched roofs are giving way to more solid structures with sturdier tin roofs. Typically, rural homes have few furnishings or amenities such as electricity, running water, or sanitation facilities. Rural households average four members, and those in the urban centers typically include three family members.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Ethiopia

According to the latest national statistics, nearly 20 percent of the people in the Amhara region fall into Ethiopia’s level of greatest poverty and need. In addition, less than one-fifth of the population in the region’s countryside has access to safe water. This means that many people, especially young children, are at great risk for water-borne diseases.

More than 15 percent of the region’s adults are unemployed. And the lack of food because of frequent drought is another regional issue. However, the government is making strides in solving this problem by introducing modern irrigation methods. Lake Tana and the many rivers in the region provide great potential and promise for irrigation improvements.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in the Amhara region face daunting challenges. Only 68 percent of primary-age children and 12 percent of secondary-age children attend school. Low school attendance plays a major role in the region’s dismal literacy rate. Fewer than half of the region’s people 10 years and older can read and write. The reason most of these children drop out of school is to work. Children also commonly suffer from a high rate of malnutrition, and more than one-third are underweight.


Schools and Education Education in Ethiopia

The school year in the Amhara region, as throughout Ethiopia, begins in September and ends in June. Primary education is divided into two four-year cycles: grades 1–4 and grades 5–8. Secondary school includes two two-year cycles: grades 9–10 and grades 11–12. Grades 1–10 are considered a basic education, while the final two years would prepare students for college.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At the Compassion child development centers in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion believes that God’s mandate to care for the poor was given to the church. That’s why in Ethiopia, as in every country where we minister, Compassion serves primarily as an instrument of support and empowerment for local churches. Our goal is to enable churches to be what God meant for them to be in serving their communities’ people in need.

Local church staff members intimately understand the needs of the children in their communities. They know the best ways to meet those needs. In fact, in many communities where churches operate our program, people don’t know the name “Compassion.” What they see is a caring, dynamic ministry of the local church for their children.

How Compassion Works in Ethiopia Compassion in Ethiopia

Compassion’s work in Ethiopia began in 1993. Currently, more than 85,200 children participate in 373 child development centers.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Ethiopia’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are an important link between Compassion and the individual church partners that implement our program. In Ethiopia, each Partnership Facilitator oversees several local churches that operate Compassion-assisted child development centers.

Facilitators play a critical role in empowering local church partners to be the best they can be at meeting the needs of their communities’ children. Ethiopians themselves, Partnership Facilitators understand the local reality of the churches they serve and are best able to represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

Ethiopia’s Partnership Facilitators are a team of workers selflessly dedicated to their demanding jobs. And they have a passion for seeing their country’s children in need released from poverty, in Jesus’ name.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that families who depend on agriculture will have abundant harvests.
  • Pray that parents in the urban areas will find adequate employment to care for their children.
  • Pray for the health of children who don’t have access to safe water.
  • Pray that children will stay in school and excel in their education.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.