Tigrai State, The open-air Museum
Tigrai is the Northernmost of Ethiopias federal states located at 12o15 -4o57 longitude and 36o27- 39o59 latitude. The State of Tigrai shares common borders with Eritrea in the north, the State of Afar in the east, the State of Amhara in the south, and the Republic of the Sudan in the west. Excluding Mekelle town, the state capital, there are five administrative zones: comprising a total of 47 weredas (districts) and 673 tabias (sub-districts).
Most Tigraians speak Tigringya but there are small minorities that speak other languages. Saho, Afar, Kunam and Agew are also spoken by the respective communities. Tigringya has its own alphabet which is derived from Geez. It is spoken mostly in Tigrai but it is also spoken in southern Eritrea. Tigringya became the official language of the state of Tigrai when the derg regime colapsed in the 1990s. Tigrinya has been suppressed in Ethiopia until the country changed rulers in 1991. The Tigraians were not allowed to use their language in their local school system or judicial system prior to 1991. Amharic was forcebly taught in schools throughout Tigrai as a subject as well as a medium of instruction for all subjects until seventh grade. Today Tigraians are using the newly gotten freedom to use their own language to improve Tigringya as a written language.