Looking west in the town centre

Kombolcha (Amharic: ኮምቦልቻ) is a city and woreda in north-central Ethiopia. Located in the Debub Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, it has a latitude and longitude of 11°5′N 39°44′E / 11.083°N 39.733°E / 11.083; 39.733 with an elevation between 1842 and 1915 meters above sea level. Some guide books describe Kombolcha as the twin city of Dessie which lies some 13  km to the northwest.



Tadesse Tamrat records that archeologists discovered "some remains of Christian settlements", dated to the late first millennium of the current era.[1]

19th Century

When the missionary Johann Ludwig Krapf was led as a prisoner from Adare Bille's capital to the Teledere House of the Wollo Amhara in April 1843 he passed Kombolcha, which he described as a village near the source of the Borkana River.[2]

20th Century

Kombolcha was described during the Italian occupation as having postal and telephone service, a clinic, a spaccio ("tobacco shop"), barrack village of the A.A.S.S. as well as other improvements intended for Italians.[3]

Kombolcha was used as a base by the United Nations relief organization and other humanitarian groups during the 1984 famine. On 19 November 1989 the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) claimed to have captured Kombolcha. However, the highway from Kombolcha to Assab was not fully brought under TPLF control until the Derg was expelled from Tigray later that year.[3]


Based on the 2007 national census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), Kombolcha woreda has a total population of 85,367, of whom 41,968 are men and 43,399 women; 58,667 or 68.72% are urban inhabitants living in town of Kombolcha, the rest of population is living at rural kebeles around Kombolcha. The majority of the inhabitants were Muslim, with 73.92% reporting that as their religion, while 23.44% of the population said they practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and 2.32% were Protestants.[4]

The 1994 national census reported a total population for Kombolcha of 39,466 in 8,643 households, of whom 18,995 were men and 20,471 were women. The three largest ethnic groups reported in this town were the Amhara (91.34%), Tigrayan (5.85%), and the Oromo (1.29%); all other ethnic groups made up 1.52% of the population. Amharic was spoken as a first language by 93.02%, 5.2% Tigrinya, and 1.11% spoke Oromiffa; the remaining 0.67% spoke all other primary languages reported. The majority of the inhabitants were Muslim, with 57.42% of the population having reported they practiced that belief, while 41.71% of the population said they professed Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.[5]




Kombolcha is connected with Dessie through Ethiopian Highway 2. This city shares Kombolcha Airport with neighboring Dessie. The city is served by a station on the Awash–Weldiya Railway.


Kombolcha is also home to Kombolcha Steel products, a metalworking factory that is part of MIDROC, a conglomerate owned by businessman Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi.[8] Another industry in this town is the Kombolcha Textile Factory (KTF), which announced 9 March 2009 that it was beginning a 190 million Birr modernization project to improve the quality of its projects. At the time of the announcement, the KTF exported its goods to Italy, Sweden, Belgium and China.[9]

The $90 million Kombolcha Industrial Park was inaugurated by PM Hailemariam Desalegn and has attracted companies from the US, South Korea and Italy.[10]


Wollo University and Kombolcha Institute of Technology offering courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.