For the modern day region, see Tigray Region. For other uses of Tigray, see Tigray.
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Location of Tigray within the Ethiopian Empire
Tigray Province (Amharic and Tigrinya: ትግራይ), also known as Tigre (Amharic: ትግሬ tigrē), was a historical province of northern Ethiopia that overlayed the present day Afar and Tigray regions. Akele Guzai borders with the Tigray province. It encompassed most of the territories of Tigrinya-speakers (and a few minority groups) in Ethiopia. Tigray was separated from the northern Tigrinya speaking territories by the Mareb River, now serving as the state border to Eritrea (formerly Eritrea Province), with the Tekezé River separating it from the Amhara dominated south.
The great majority of inhabitants were Orthodox Christians (95.5% in 1994), with the exception of a small, but important Muslim subgroup (Jeberti) and a few Catholics (mainly Irob). Protestantism is only a very recent urban phenomenon. Despite a general impression of ethnic and cultural homogeneity, there were a few ethnic minorities, especially at the borders of Tigray, belonging to a non-Tigrinya groups, such as the Saho-speaking Irob at the north-eastern border to Eritrea, the Raya Oromo in the south-east, the Agaw-speaking H̬amta in Abergele north of Wag, a few Kunama in the Habesha Kunama woreda east of Humera, and scattered peripheral groups in the western lowlands across the tekeze, such as the Chare of the Sellim Bet (related with the Gumuz) and Tukrir in the Humera area.
Tigray went through numerous administrative changes in the course of its history. In 1991 Tigray was radically reshaped. During the reign of Haile Selassie I and also the following Derg period, Tigray did not yet encompass Wolkait (until 1991 having been part of Begemder), while Enderta in eastern Tigray extended over large Afar areas including the salt plains, which were given to the Afar Region. Still, in the 1930s the regions south of Enderta, i.e. Wajjarat and Angot, formed the separate governorate called "Southern Tigray". Tigray is the result of a merger of diverse historical northern provinces (with Tigrinya and Agaw speakers), which were often independent from each other.[clarification needed]
^Smidt, Wolbert (2010). "Təgray". In Uhlig, Siegbert (ed.). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. Vol. O–X. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 888–895.