Bahir Dar or Bahar Dar
(Amharic: ባሕር ዳር?, Baḥər Dar, “sea shore”) is a city in north-western Ethiopia. It is the capital of the Amhara Region (kilil).
Administratively, Bahir Dar is a Special Zone, a designation in between a chartered city (astedader akabibi, a first-tier division, like a kilil) such as Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, and cities like Debre Marqos and Dessie, which are organized as districts (woredas).
Bahir Dar is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia, with a variety of attractions in the nearby Lake Tana and Blue Nile river. The city is known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colorful flowers. In 2002 it was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for addressing the challenges of rapid urbanization.
Bahir Dar is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile (or Abay), in what was previously the Gojjam province. The city is located approximately 578 km north-northwest of Addis Ababa, having a latitude and longitude of 11°36′N 37°23′ECoordinates: 11°36′N 37°23′E and an elevation of about 1,800 metres (5,906 feet) above sea level.
Bahir Dar's origins date to at least the sixteenth or seventeenth century; Pedro Páez is credited with erecting several buildings in this city, one of which is "a solid, two-storey stone structure, with an outside staircase" and can be seen in the compound of the present-day Giyorgis church.
The next mention of Bahir Dar is from the mid-19th century, as the camping spot for the army of Emperor Tewodros II. Here his army suffered from cholera, forcing the Emperor to move his troops to Begemder. Despite the loss of life on the journey, by the time they reached Begemder, the army was free of the illness. Arthur J. Hayes spent a few days in Bahir Dar in early February 1903, which he described as a village surrounded by a marsh of papyrus plants; nearby were "two or three huts" inhabited by the Weyto, an ethnic group which were considered outcasts by the Amhara, yet "proud of their isolation." Hayes also visited the local church, dedicated to Saint George, which was decorated with murals of the saint in combat and returned victoriously.
During the Italian invasion, an Italian column moved from Gondar on 23 April 1937 and, after a rapid march, occupied Bahar Dar. The city was bombed by the Royal Air Force on 21–22 October 1940, and although the action made little damage it was a boost to Arbegnoch morale. After months of skirmishing with the British advance, the Italian garrison under the command of Colonel Torelli was recalled to Gondar by General Guglielmo Nasi, and began to evacuate the city on 27 April 1941. One of Emperor Haile Selassie's palaces was located near the city, and the Emperor considered moving the national capital to the town.
On 15 June 1961 the Emperor inaugurated the new 226 meter-long highway bridge over the Abay, situated at about 3 km from Bahir Dar.
A Polytechnic Institute, built by the Soviet Union at a cost of Ethiopian Birr 2.9 million, opened in 1963, with courses in agricultural mechanics, industrial chemistry, electrical technology, wood-working and processing technology, textile technology, and metal technology. Designed to accommodate 1,000 students, at the start in September the school had 21 Ethiopian teachers and 250 students of 8th grade level; by 1968 had 619 students in four grades, with 51 teachers of whom 23 were expatriates.
During the Ethiopian Civil War, May 1988 the 603rd corp of the Third Revolutionary Army (TLA) made its headquarters at Bahir Dar. On 3–4 March 1990, the TLA abandoned Bahir Dar in disarray, blowing up the nearby bridge with several hundred soldiers which stopped the TPLF/EPRDF forces from occupying the city. However, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed they had too few effectives in the area to capture the town at that time, and the Derg army reoccupied Bahir Dar a few days later. The EPRDF gained permanent control of the city around 1810 hours on 23 February 1991, as one of the objectives of Operation Tewodros.
The city, in honor of the Millennium celebrations, hosted a National Investment Bazaar and Trade Fair on 6–9 January 2007. Mulat Gezahegn, head of the Trade, Industry and Investment Promotion Coordination Office, told journalists that more than 150 local and foreign companies participated.