The Afar are a people group originating in the rocky dessert area of Ethiopia and Djibouti. They number about 1,500,000 in population, a nomadic, poorer people the Afar live on bread and milk. Almost all water must be shipped in because of the lack of natural water in the area. They are able to trade for products they cannot get by salt which they dig from the dessert. Right now there are many government programs aimed at trying to transform the lifestyle of the Afar people so they are better able to settle into a less nomadic life and education and modernization is able to take place. Traditionally the Afar have accumulated cattle and livestock for prestige, similar to a bank account, however now the government is strongly encouraging the Afar to learn to become agriculturalists and to breed their cattle and sell.
The Afar are strict Muslims with some base in their traditional religious beliefs, which include worship of a dominant sky god.
Even though education is minimal, religion is very important and Afar are very careful to instruct their children in the Koran and Muslim orthodoxy. Prior to the 19th Century the Afar had a very well developed governmental system with an extensive set of poems, stories, and proverbs as well as extraordinary records of plants and animals. Right now they struggle for government recognition and independence as many do not feel like they should be under Ethiopian rule.
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