The southern part of Ethiopia is characterized by one of earth's most amazing natural wonders - the African Great Rift Valley. The rift that runs through southern Ethiopia has created numerous lakes fringed by forests teeming with birdlife.

Highlights of southern Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Rift Valley region include Omo National Park, Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park, Arba Minch, Hawasa, Lakes Abaya and Chamo, Mago National Park, Nechisar National Park, Senkele Sanctuary, Yabello Sanctuary and Jinka.

The Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes form the northernmost section of the African Rift Valley. In central Ethiopia, the Great Rift Valley splits the Ethiopian highlands into northern and southern halves, and the Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes occupy the floor of the rift valley between the two highlands. Most of the Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes do not have an outlet and as such form small pockets of water in the land which the local people have come to live off.

                                  

Arba Minch, located near the shores of Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya (the longest rift valley lake in Ethiopia), is the biggest town in the region and just outside Netch Sar National Park. The town is very attractive, as is the surrounding geography. Lake Abaya is divided from Lake Chamo with a hill known as “the bridge of heaven”, due to the wonderful views from the top.

Around the rivers and lakes you will find the Ganjulle and Gujji tribes, who live primarily from the resources these lakes provide. Crocodile populations are high and the crocodile market at the mouth of the Kulfo River is an incredible sight to visit, as is the crocodile farm on the shores of Lake Abaya.
This area has a great abundance of bird life and you will find a multitude of species from savannah to water bird species, reflecting the different habitats within the park. Due to the volcanic origin of the region, you also find natural hot springs and spas around Arba Minch.

Netch Sar National Park is ideal for game drives, while Lake Abaya offers excellent boat safaris. There are a number of hiking routes in the region as well.

The southern part of Ethiopia gives a visitor a unique experience different from the northern part of the country. The road to south Ethiopia takes you through the Ethiopian rift valley, which bisects the country into two. Along the rift, there is a string of about seven lakes dotting the floor of the valley and rich in fauna and flora – Zeway, Langano, Abijata, Shalla, Hawassa, Abaya, and Chamo. There are other crater lakes and wet lands as you set out of Addis Ababa along this route and encircling the town of Debre Zeit (also known as Bishoftu). Some of them are Koka, Bishoftu, Hora, Kuriftu, Bishoftu Gudda and Cheleleka.

The south Eastern part of Ethiopia is known for its beautiful parks and a natural network of caves, Sof Omar, believed to be about 15 kilometers long. In the Bale Mountains National park, a visitor can trek through the pretty lowlands and spot the abundant life or search the high plateau for the world’s rarest wildlife such as the Ethiopian wolf and many other big mammals. Along the route to Bale, there is an established trek route at Adaba and Dodolla. It is heaven for horse riders too, and for those who want a greater challenge, the trekking route connects to the Bale Mountains Park.
To the south west of Ethiopia, in what is known as the Lower Omo valley, there are a vast number of ethnic groups living at short distances from one another. The Omo region is believed to be the last great wilderness on the African continent. The Omo River, which waters the region, empties itself into Lake Turkana that is the fourth largest lake in East Africa. Some of tribes that live in the Omo and the surrounding region are the Dorze, the Konso, the Tsemai, the Benna, the Ari, the Mursi, the Hamar, the Erbore, the Geleb (also Known as Dassenech ),the Karo, the Gnangatom and the Surma.

In the south west of Ethiopia the most important National parks include Netch Sar (white grass) National Park and Mago National park.

The People Of Halaba:- (The Pepper and Chilly Producers)

                     

Halaba is a special woreda in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia. It is named after the Halaba people, and covers part of their homeland. Located in the Great Rift Valley, Halaba is bordered on the south by an exclave of Hadiya Zone, on the southwest by the Kembata Tembaro Zone, on the west and north by Hadiya Zone, on the north east by Lake Shala, and on the east by Oromia Region; the Bilate River, which is its major body of water, defines its western boundary. The administrative center is Halaba Kulito.

The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture in the form of dry land farming and raising livestock, with some apiculture. The main cash crops include pepper, maize, teff, sorghum, haricot beans and wheat.

Originally Halaba special woreda was part of the adjacent Kembata Tembaro Zone, which was then known as the Kembata, Alaba and Tembaro Zone, but in 2002 it was separated to become a special woreda.

The history of an illiterate people from its ethno genesis to the present can only be realized when adequate information sources exist. In the case of the Halaba, references in written records (medieval Ethiopian chronicles and Arabic reports) date back as far as the 13th century and sporadically continue up to the 17th century. Most of the materials for this monograph, however, are derived from oral traditions. For the 19th and 20th centuries, there are written reports by European travelers, missionaries and colonialists who refer to the Halaba. The total fund of information sources - written records, oral traditions, and to some extent ethnographic data - enables us to reconstruct a holistic view of the past of this South Ethiopian people.

From the 13th to the 16th centuries the Halaba constituted one of the most important political entities of Northeast Africa. Their coherent territorial block was then shattered by outside forces and its inhabitants were absorbed by peoples of heterogeneous ethnic stock. At present, descendants of the old Halaba can be identified in five different places : in Halaba special woreda, in Bale, in Arsi, in sidama, in wolayta , in Hadiya zone, in silti zone and in Gurage zone.
The whole number of people who can be identified as descendants of the ancient Halaba may amount to 2-3,000,000.

They inhabit a large territory in the central part of South Ethiopia on both sides of the Rift Valley in the provincial divisions of Šawa, Arsi (Arussi), Bale, and Sidamo.

The Halaba traditions concerning their ethnogenesis and their countries of origin will be intentionally analyzed here prior to and apart from the chronological sections, because the exact dating of Halaba origins has proved to be impossible. However, those traditions are important to the feeling of ethnic identity and to value concepts in Northeast African societies, which are well known for their historical consciousness. Most of these traditions are characterized by a distinctive Muslim influence and tell of a migration of Muslim Arabs from the Arabian peninsula and their mixing with autochthonous people in what is now Somalia and East Ethiopia, thus constituting a new ethnos called Halaba.

The first political entity of this name was most probably situated on the Harar plateau. From there it steadily moved westward in the direction of the Lake region and established the westernmost of Islamic states, which were combined in the federation of Zayla. In a written document the name Halaba was first mentioned in the Kebra Nagast ("Glory of the Kings"), an Ethiopian chronicle dating back to the 13th century. The people to whom it referred seemed to have been the hereditary enemies of the Christian Empire. When `Amda Seyon I (1314-44) ruled Ethiopia, the Halaba were conquered and became tributary to the empire, but still maintained a certain degree of political independence. Culturally, as described by' Arabic historiographers, they must have been at a relatively high level, with remarkable agricultural production, one of the biggest armies in the region, and a well-established trading system.

The healing of castrated slaves and their exportation to the markets of the Islamic world was particularly noted. According to topographical data collected mainly by 'Abu'l-Fida, the region of Gadab west of the Bale Mountains could be identified as the center of Halaba territory in the 14th century. `Amda Seyon's successors Dãwit I (1382-1413) and Yeshãk (1414-29) were engaged in permanent wars with their Islamic neighbors which involved heavy losses. After Zar'a Ya'kob (1434-6 mounted to the throne, the Christian Ethiopian empire reached the climax of its power and extended its political and cultural influence over large parts of today's South Ethiopia.. The chronicle dedicated to Zar'a Yãrkob reported extensively the conflict between the Christian empire and the Halaba thise, enabling us to verify the historical continuity of contemporary ethnic group Halaba, up to the 15th century. The facts reported by the chronicle are closely supported by the oral traditions. From the whole fund of information sources it can be concluded that the name Hadiya mainly existed as a political term. A common leadership was lacking, and the population of the state seemed to have been rather heterogeneous, both culturally and linguistically. Parts of the population were Muslim, others apparently were not. In the north an agricultural Semitic (“Adare")-speaking element seems to have predominated, in the south a more pastoral Cushitic-speaking one. These two ethnic components also constituted the population of the neighboring states Dawaro, Šarha, Bale, and Ganz.

Under Zar'a Yà'kob's successors, Bà'eda Màryàm (1468-7, 'Eskender (1478-94) and Nà'od (1494-1508) the position of the Christian empire in its southern dependencies became more and more precarious. A people from the east, the Maya, distantly related to the Halaba, overwhelmed the Ethiopian province of Wag. Emperor Lebna Dengel (1508-40) interfered with a civil war of the Halaba and - for a short period - managed to consolidate the power of his state in the borderlands. This is documented by European travelers, who from now onward started to enter the historical scene.

The 16th century began with an increasing escalation of the Muslim-Christian struggle for domination in Northeast Africa, which culminated in the long-lasting “holy war" (jihad) waged by the Muslims of Adal under the leadership of ' Ahmad b. 'Ibràhìm (nicknamed Gràn) against the Ethiopian empire. The Halaba voluntarily joined the Adalites in 1531, established marriage relations with their leaders and fought the Christians fierce fully until the final collapse of the Muslim offensive in the battle of Wayna Daga by the allied Ethiopian and Portuguese forces in 1543. There is hardly any other personality in Ethiopian history with whom so many legends and fantastic folk-tales are associated as with 'Ahmad Gràñ. One of his generals, Abd an-Nasir, survived in the memory of the Halaba, with whom he had been in close cooperation.

After 'Ahmad Gràns death, the Ethiopian Christians under their emperor Galwdèwos (1540-59) initiated a campaign to re conquer the lost territories in the south, such as Halaba and Dawaro. However, their success remained limited because the people of Adal proclaimed 'amir Núr b. Mugahid as leader of a new jihàd a ndagain invaded the Christian state after 1551. The Halaba apparently played an important role in the Muslim armies and provoked far-reaching changes in the ethnic situation. Segments of the Halaba migrated southward to what is now Sidama land, while other groups crossed the lowlands of the Lake region and occupied a territory east of Kambata.

The long-lasting military action of the “holy war", which did not come to an end before the death of 'Emir Núr in 1568, deeply affected the demographic and cultural situation in Northeast Africa. Among the territories which had been devastated to the utmost degree was that of the Halaba, and in the course of the military campaigns many of its inhabitants had moved westward to Kambata, Gurage and Wag, thus leaving a vacuum in certain areas east of the Rift Valley. These conditions proved to be favorable for the Oromo people who - as neighbors of the Halaba - occupied a highland area south of the upper Ganale. We can only speculate about reasons why they began to expand so violently beyond the boundaries of their original country. They first invaded the region of Dallo, where the Halaba were completely assimilated but managed to assert a leading position within the continually enlarging ethnic body of the Oromo. From 1537 onward, they began to overwhelm the Ethiopian province of Bale, partly inhabited by Christian settlers and partly by people of Halaba /Sidama stock. Since both groups were decimated by the Adalite wars, it was easy for the Oromo to take over political control and to absorb the autochthons within a short period. A certain dualism, however, continued to exist, opposing the clans of the “true Oromo" to those of the mogâsa (assimilated), generally called Halaba. In the second half of the 16th century the conquering nation crossed the Wabi Šebeli, and the,”Galla storms" pushed as far as Harar and the borderland of Šawa. The Halaba were confronted with the alternatives either of submitting to the Oromo leaders or of being expelled. Thus, Halaba groups who maintained their ethnic identity were forced to move westward to the lowlands of the Lake region. Having been semi-nomads before, they often gave up agriculture in their new habitat in favor of a purely pastoral way of life.

During the turbulent decades of the Oromo expansion, the ancestors of the Sidama people also left their original domiciles in two different areas - the Maldea group came from Dawaro north of the Wabi Šebeli bend, (lie Bucce group abandoned their territory Dawa west of the tipper Ganale - and settled in present Sidama land. Mixing with the native Hofa they began to constitute a new ethnos, called Sidama, after 1600.

Emperor Sarsa Dengel (1563-97) tried in vain to stop the advance of the Oromo, but he successfully fought the Halaba and established Ethiopian supremacy in their country. Apparently, the fate of the Hadiya was that of being caught in the vice of two opposing ethnic-political expansions; from the south they were overrun by the steam-roller of the steadily enlarging Oromo nation, from the north the Christian forces invaded their area in order to defend the empire from an advanced position. This is also true for the time of the emperors Susenyos (1607-32) and Fâsiladas (1632-67): In the middle of the 17th century, the Oromo occupation of large parts of central Ethiopia finally cut off those areas between the upper Awaš and the Sidama country, where the Halaba had preserved their ethnic identity, from the Christian state.

This fact, as well as the expulsion of the Portuguese by emperor Fâsiladas (1633), resulted in the discontinuation of written records concerning the peoples south of Šawa. For about two centuries oral traditions remain the only information sources to reconstruct the past in that area. During this period of ethnic disturbances and migratory dynamics the formerly coherent block of the Halaba split and dispersed. For unknown reasons the Halaba left their homes in Sidama land about 1720, crossed the Bilate and settled in the vicinity of the Tembaro. More than half a century of close contact with this people made them abandon their Semitic (Adare) language in favor of the Cushitic Kambata-Tembaro idiom. C. 1790 the Halaba preceded northward to the region of Wacamo and Guna south of the Gurage Mountains. They were chased from there by the immigration of the Lemo about 1815, fled from the Lemo invasion to the east, to the country of Ulbarag. After a short stay there, they struck southward about 1825 and joined their kinsmen, the Ull' Alaba (derived from ulla = earth; i. e. the homesteading people, in contrast to the roaming segment called Hasan Alaba after an ancestor), who had occupied a territory east of the Bilate since the second half of the 16th century. Another part of the Halaba had mixed with Oromo groups in the area of Duro south of Lake Langano and constituted a new ethnos named Alabdu. About 1800, evidently pushed by the Arsi, they left for a region in present Gugi land east of Lake Abbaya and were fully oromized.

 Things to visit in Halaba Special Woreda

Ø Arto Hot spring

Ø Fama Falls

Ø Sifame Cave

Ø Belate River

Ø Halaba Cultural Center which has different Traditional Clothes, Materials and others …….

Ø Their beautiful Villages