The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Shewa (also spelled Shoa) is a historical region of Ethiopia. Formerly an autonomous Kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire, the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is located at its center.

The towns of Debre Birhan , Antsokia , Ankober, Entoto and Addis Ababa have all served as the capital of Shewa at various times. Most of northern Shewa, made up of the districts of Menz , Tegulet , Yifat , Minjar , Bulga are mostly populated by Christian Amhara, while southern and eastern Shewa have large Oromo and Moslem populations. The great monastery of Debre Libanos is located in the district of Selale in northern Shewa.


Shewa first appears in the historical record as a Muslim state, which G.W.B. Huntingford believed was founded in 896, and had its capital at Walalah . This state was absorbed by the Sultanate of Yifat around 1285.

Shewa was governed by a branch of the Ethiopian Imperial Solomonic Dynasty that was founded by Abeto Yaqob , the youngest son of the 16th Century Ethiopian Emperor Lebna Dengel . Yaqob and his decendents ruled Shewa by hereditary right. Yacob's great-grandson, Sebestyanos assumed the title of Merid Azmatch, which was unique to Shewa. His decendents continued to bear this title until Sahle Selassie of Shewa was declared king of Shewa in the 1830s. His grandson Menelik II eventually would succeed as Emperor of all Ethiopia at the end of the century. The title of "King of Shewa" was subsumed into the Imperial title of "Emperor of Ethiopia" when Menelik became Emperor.

In recent times, Shewa was a Governorate-General (Province) under the monarchy, and was then an Administrative Region of Ethiopia under the Derg regime until 1984. In that year, upon the proclamation of "The Peoples Republic" under the now civilianized Derg, Shewa was split into four Administrative Regions, North Shewa, Southern Shewa, Eastern Shewa and Western Shewa. Following the fall of the Derg in 1991, the old historic provinces and regions were abolished, and the present modern regions (based on ethnic and linguistic boundaries) were introduced.

See also: Rulers of Shewa

Last updated: 08-05-2005 11:39:26
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13