Ambo (also known as Hagere Hiwot) is a spa town in central Ethiopia. Located in the Mirab Shewa Zone of the Oromia Region, west of Addis Ababa, this town has a latitude and longitude of and an elevation of 2101 meters.
Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, Ambo has an estimated total population of 49,421 of whom 24,671 were males and 24,750 were females. The 1994 census reported this town had a total population of 27,636 of whom 13,380 were males and 14,256 were females. It is both the largest town and the administrative center of Ambo woreda. Its market day is Saturday.
Ambo is known for its mineral water, which is bottled outside of town; it is reportedly the most popular brand in Ethiopia. Nearby attractions include Mount Wenchi to the south with its crater lake, and the Guder and Huluka Falls.
By 1938, the Guida described improvements to Ambo which included a post office, telephone service, a clinic for outpatients, restaurants, and a hotel under construction. Two Italian forts were constructed, and in a cave the Italians had erected a monument for casualties of the Pusteria Division. The approach to Ambo was still over an old bridge, and below it a natural bridge used by caravans.
When the Allies reached Ambo with a South African armoured car patrol in early 1941, they had to evacuate 140 "utterly panicked Italians". The British had an improvised camp for prisoners-of-war at Ambo until 1942.
At least as early as 1955, there was a 170 kW hydro-electric power station in the town; by 1965 the installed electrical capacity was 210 kVA, with annual production of 132,000 kWh. In 1958 Ambo was one of 27 places in Ethiopia ranked as First Class Township. That same year, the Ambo Agricultural School and Ambo Forestry School had 150 students. A light earth tremor was felt in the evening of 23 January 1968. Its epicenter was somewhere near Ambo but no damage occurred.
In the last weeks of the Ethiopian Civil War, the EPRDF broadcasteded on 25 April 1991 that they had captured Ambo from the Derg. This was part of their strategy to avoid a direct assault on the capital, Addis Ababa, and instead surround the city and isolate it from the rest of the country.
Upon learning in 1994 that a local group of Amhara had formed a group called Galla-geday ("Oromo killers"), the local people voiced their objection to this group, and demanded its dissolution. When their pleas fell on deaf ears, the people had to take the necessary action in self-defense. Then a prominent Oromo businessman, Daraaraa Kafani, was murdered in front of his home; eye witnesses said he was slain by a man wearing a military uniform. His funeral was attended by thousands of Oromos in Ambo; police arrested more than 37 people, stating that they were supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) on 3 September. In the following February, 70-year old Oromo elder Dandana Gurmu was arrested on suspicions of supporting the OLF.