Gurage and Silte Research Group

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The Gurage people of Ethiopia inhabit an area of land approx. 150km south/south-west of Addis Ababa. They speak a collection of Semitic languages and dialects, collectively known as Gurage, but divided into at least three subgroups known as Northern, Eastern and Western Gurage. The Silte people were considered Eastern Gurage, but this designation is no longer preferred by many Silte people.

The term Sebat Bet or 'Seven Houses' is also a common term, and refers to a confederation of seven Western Gurage tribes. The Gurage group are the southernmost Semitic languages, and present a complex array of linguistic features and dialectal variation.

The Gurage are known for their extensive cultivation of the ensete ventricosum or false banana plant, known as asat, although this is a practice they share with other southern and southwestern Ethiopians.

The Gurageland is densely populated, and many Gurage migrate to urban areas for work. Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Catholicism and traditional religions co-exist, and there are local political institutions such as the Yajoka (council of elders) and the Gurage Peoples Self-help and Development Organisation (GPSDO).


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Last updated: 10/15/03.