Located in north-eastern Africa, Ethiopia is a rugged mountainous country about twice the size of Texas. The surrounding countries include Kenya, Eritrea, Somalia,Sudan and Djibouti. The country is composed of an elevated central plateau generally varying in height from 6,500 to 10,000 ft. The north-central part of the country includes 25 mountain peaks rising over 13,100 ft, with the tallest being Ras Dashen at 14,905 ft in elevation. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (Abay), which runs from its source at Lake Tana, to join the White Nile in Khartoum.
The ecosystems of Ethiopia are diverse and varied, ranging from arid drylands to extensive rainforests. Ethiopia has a large variety of indigenous plant and animal species. In some areas, the mountains are covered with shrubs such as pyracantha, jasmine, poinsettia, and a varied assortment of evergreens. Caraway, carcade, cardamom, chat, coriander, incense, myrrh, and red pepper are also common.
Most of Ethiopia’s predators have become endangered. This is a result of limited space in the farmer’s constant search for agricultural and grazing lands. It goes without saying that you should not collect or purchase any items made from endangered plant or animal species.
The climate of Ethiopia varies greatly by region. In general,the climate is temperate in the highlands and hot in the lowlands. Much of the country consists of a high plateau, which gives the country a pleasant, moderate climate with minimal seasonal temperature variation with average lows of 43’F and highs of 79’F. Temperature variation in the lowlands are much greater, and the heat in the desert and Red Sea Coastal areas is extreme, with occasional highs of 140˚F! In Addis, the average temperature consistently remains around 59˚F throughout the year; however, you should not underestimate the intensity of the equatorial sun. We advise to bring a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. Heavy rainfall occurs in most of the country during June, July, August and September, with Addis Ababa receiving about 49” of rainfall, which is more than other areas of the country.
Ethiopia is believed to be the origin of mankind, as attested by the finding of Lucy, the earliest Hominid fossil ever to be discovered. Lucy is a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of a bipedal hominin, Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in the regional state of Afar and on display at the National Museum in Addis Ababa. The Afar region has also yielded evidence of the earliest stone tools ever to have been discovered, dating back 2.5 million years and manufactured by a hitherto unknown hominin species. Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule. Ethiopia became prominent in modern world affairs in 1896, when it defeated colonial Italy in the Battle of Adwa. Between 1936 and 1941, Ethiopia was invaded and occupied by the fascist Italian regime. After liberation, Haile Selassie restored his throne and Ethiopia played a prominent role in the liberation of other African countries. Ethiopia was among the first independent nations to sign the Charter of the United Nations. It gave tremendous moral and material support to the decolonization of Africa and to the growth of Pan-African cooperation. These efforts culminated in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, both of which have their headquarters in Addis Ababa.
ECONOMY & RESOURCES
Ethiopia is a county endowed with a vast array of resources. It is a land of great rivers, which flow beyond its boundaries to neighboring countries with billions of cubic meters of water and rich alluvial soil. Its immense and untapped rivers have the potential to produce 60 billion KWH of electricity. Recent projects have begun to tap this huge source of energy. Ethiopia has an agriculture-friendly climate and rich fertile soil. Agriculture is the primary occupation of over 80 percent of the population. It provides 45% of the country GDP and 90% of export items. The county also has the largest number of heads of cattle in Africa along with a vast number of goats sheep and poultry. Studies have shown that Ethiopia has a significant amount of base rare and precious metals. In addition, the country possess vast deposits of construction minerals such as marble, limestone and granite and other important industrial minerals.
FOOD AND DRINK
The Ethiopian national dish consists of Injera, which is made from a grain known as Teff. Originally, Teff used to grow only in Ethiopia. Now, it is gaining worldwide attention for its nutritional value as it is gluten and cholesterol free. After Teff is fermented, it is cooked as a flatbread (similar to a pancake) and called Injera. The Injera is then served with different kinds of cooked meat, vegetables and sauce. The sauces are generally spiced with Berbere, a blend of herbs and spices. Ethiopian food is ideal for vegetarians. There are numerous dishes of vegetables, pulses, and vegetarian sauces devoid of meat and dairy products. Meat lovers can also enjoy many notable Ethiopian dishes made with beef, lamb or chicken. Along with the traditional Ethiopian meal, it is a customary to drink either t’ej, a type of honey wine, or a local beer called t’ella. Ethiopia also produces its own wine. Dukam and Gouder are dry red wines, while Axumite is sweet red wine. Crystal is dry white wine. Bottled beers are also sold throughout Ethiopia, with popular brands being Dashen, Habesha, Castel, Bedele, St. George, Harar, and Heineken.
Ethiopia, with a population of up to 93.8 million, is the second most populous nation in Africa. The Ethiopian people are composed of different ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds ranging from Cushitic and Nilotic, like other East African countries, to Semitic like those found in the Middle East. The population is composed of more than 80 ethnic groups, with Oromo and the Amhara being the largest. Courtesy and hospitality are virtues that have transcended time and generations in Ethiopia. A few words of a local language, no matter how broken they may be, will go a long way in the kind hearts of the people. The day-to-day rituals of the diverse cultures, the traditional ways of eating delicious spicy sauces by hand with injera flatbread, and the wholesome aromas of Ethiopian coffee ceremony can only be fully experienced by indulging oneself in these delights.
The predominant religions in Ethiopia are Ethiopian Orthodox and Islam. The peaceful existence of Christianity and Islam, the two major religions in Ethiopia, which entered the country near their times of founding, demonstrates the tolerance and co-existence of the various groups in the country. Christianity is more common in the northern and central parts.
Few nations, if any, can boast the historic splendor of Ethiopia, evidence of whose extraordinary past is everywhere, from its rock-hewn churches, still places of living worship, to its ancient historical traditions and magnificent cultures. Ethiopia, is a nation of surprises, full of diversity and contrast, from the ancient to the modern. Archeological findings in Ethiopia,covering sites stretching in the Rift Valley from the omo river valley in the south west to the afar depression in the north east.these consist of hominid remains dating up to four million years old,some of the earliest man-made tools.all this has earned Ethiopia "cradle of mankind!"
Legend has it that Emperor Menelik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and king Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum, where he settled and established one of the world’s longest known, uninterrupted monarchical dynasties. This is only one example of Ethiopia’s magnificent history, which encompasses legend and tradition, mystery and fact, from a powerful and religious ancient civilization. The well -trodden path through Ethiopia’s famous and fascinating historic places takes you through a scenically magnificent world of fairy -tale names, such as Lalibela, Gondar, Deber Damo and Bahar Dar.