Axum or Aksum is a city and separate woreda in northern Ethiopia that was the original capital of the kingdom of Axum. It has a population of 56,500 (2010). Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BC into the 10th century. The kingdom was also arbitrarily identified as Abyssinia, Ethiopia, and India in medieval writings. In 1980 UNESCO added Aksum's archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historical value.
Located in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region near the base of the Adwa mountains, Axum has an elevation of 2,131 meters. Axum is surrounded by La'ilay Maychew woreda.
It is served by Aksum Airport (ICAO code HAAX, IATA AXU).
The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire, was an important trading nation in the area which is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, existing from approximately 100–940 AD. It grew from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD, and was a major player in the commerce between the Roman Empire and Ancient India. The Aksumite rulers facilitated trade by minting their own currency, the state established its hegemony over the declining Kingdom of Kush and regularly entered the politics of the kingdoms on the Arabian peninsula, eventually extending its rule over the region with the conquest of the Himyarite Kingdom.
Under Ezana (fl. 320–360), Aksum became the first major empire to convert to Christianity, and was named by Mani (216–276) as one of the four great powers of his time along with Persia, Rome, and China. In the 7th century the Muslims, who originated in Mecca, sought refuge from Quraysh persecution by travelling to Aksum (Abyssinia), a journey famous in Islamic history as the First Hijra. Aksum's ancient capital, also called Aksum, is in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name "Ethiopia" as early as the 4th century. It is also the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba.