Harrar or spelled Harar, capital of Harar region, E central Ethiopia, at an altitude of c.6,000 ft (1,830 m). It is the trade center for a region where coffee, cereals, and cotton are produced. Harar was probably founded in the 7th cent. A walled city, Harar was long a center of Islamic learning. Today it is the site of a military academy and of teacher-training and agricultural schools.
The town of Harar dates from before the thirteenth century. Its strategic location between the coastal lowlands and central highlands led to its development as an important centre of Islamic culture and commerce. A period of instability led to a loss of its traditional power between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries but it regained its importance in the following century.Until the present century, all development took place inside the sixteenth-century walls, where even now the population is growing.
Although the modern town slowly expanded outside the walls, Harar has preserved generally a harmonious appearance with nearly a hundred mosques. Old Harar is one of the few towns in Ethiopia that owe their overall aspect to Islamic building traditions. At the same time, it preserves an exotic mixture of different Ethiopian cultures.
Having rested from this by no means arduous journey, the traveler will be ready to enter the Old City, which for most of its long history was closed to foreigners from other lands.
Harar is remarkable in that it has its own special tongue, Adare, which is known only to the people of the city. This language, which must once have been used much more widely, is one of the offshoots of Ge,ez, the classical Semitic language of Ethiopia. It was the language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as well as the root of Amharic, Ethiopias modern official language, and of Tigrinya, the language spoken in the north of the country.
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