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The western highlands

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The western highlands are massive with an average height of 2000-25000m. They slope gradually to the west and terminate in extended lowlands starting from Tigray Administrative Region to the southern part of Gamo Gofa.

The highlands include many sub-divisions or blocks separated by the deep, steep-sided valleys of the major rivers.

For example, the Tekeze separates the Tigray and Gonder massifs; the Blue Nile divides the Gojam, Shewa-Welega massifs; the Omo river separates the Kefa and Shewa-Gamo Gofa massifs. The elevations of the escarpments are lower towards the west, but are high and steep towards the Rift Valley in the east.

Gorges are found along the upper courses of the big rivers such as the Tekeze, Abay (Blue Nile), Omo, Wabe Shebele, which flow in deep canyons but widen out to broad and shallow valleys in their lower courses.

On the Addis Abeba-Debre Markos all-weather road at the Abay bridge, the bed of the Abay River is 1,500 metres below the general level of the plateau.

The general area of the central lava highlands and massifs consists of the Gonder, Welo, Gojam highlands, Shewa plateaus, some higher parts of Welega, and parts of Gamo Gofa and Ilubabor Administrative Regions.

The North Central Massifs (Gonder, Gojam and Welo) generally have a rugged surface with high elevation.

They include basins such as the Tana depression. The Shewa plateaus are dissected on almost all sides and form the watersheds of the Abay, the Awash and the Gibe drainage systems.

The South Western Plateaus (Gamo Gofa, Illubabor and Welega) receive the heaviest rainfall in Ethiopia, and are, as a result, very much dissected by the Gibe, and Baro rivers and the tributaries of the Abay river (Didessa, Dabus, Guder and Anger).

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)


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