Ethiopia is a country with a rich heritage, beautiful people and amazing scenery. The country is fertile, green and spectacular. It is also one of the safest countries in Africa to travel and it has a history of religious and social tolerance. The country is the oldest Christian nation, pre-dating Roman Christianity, and maintains some of the finest Christian sites in the world such as the rock hewn churches of Lalibela, the Ghion Church in Axum (which houses the Ark of the Covenant) and the spectacular Lake Tana monasteries, which are designated as World Heritage Sites. There are Ten World Heritage Sites within Ethiopia, more than in any other African nation.
Ethiopia boasts some of the most amazing scenery on the planet ranging from the arid floor of the East African Rift Valley, to the deep ravines and high peaks of the Abyssinian Highlands. Large tracts of ancient forest remain whilst the volcanic Danakil Depression, below sea level, is the hottest place on earth and one of the most amazing places one could ever visit. To cap it all, due to its mountainous isolation, Ethiopia has numerous endemic mammal and bird species which add a unique experience to any trip.
Facts about Ethiopia
- The Cradle of Mankind- the oldest hominid remains of Selam (3.3 million years), Lucy (3.18 million years), and Ardi ( 4.4 million years)
- It was home to the most ancient kingdom in Africa, one of the first monarchies in the world.
- It is the sole African country to possess an alphabet more than 2,000 years old.
- It is the only country in the continent to have maintained independence in the face of European colonizers.
- It still follows the Julian Calendar, 7 years and 8 month behind the Gregorian Calendar and it has 13- months – It has twelve lunar months of thirty days, plus one month of five or six days, depending on the leap year. It is in GMT+ 3 hours zone; days starting at sunrise; dawn being 12 AM, middy 6 PM, dusk 12 PM Ethiopian time.
- Ethiopians enjoy complete freedom of religion. However, two religions are professed by the great majority: Christianity & Islam. Religion has always been a major influence in Ethiopia. Certainly no country in sub-Saharan Africa can trace its origins as far back. Ethiopia is mentioned thirty-three times in the Bible and many times in the Qur’an.
- It is the resting place of the original Ark of Covenant.
- Ethiopia has been called “The Roof of Africa” for its most outstanding topographical feature: a huge central plateau, the Ethiopian Massif. Formed in the Tertiary era by volcanic activity, this great massif occupies more than half of the total surface area of the country, and has an average elevation of between 1,800 and 2, 400 meters (5,700- 7, 700 feet). Nine peaks rise above 4, 000 meters (12,800 feet) and eleven above 3,000 meters (9,600 feet). The highest peak is Called Ras Dashen, 4520 meters.
- It has been called the “water tower” of Northeast Africa. The combination of its high altitude, 14 large rivers (many of them international), numerous lakes and other sources of fresh water, has created an extensive natural irrigation system to various regions of the Horn.
- Ethiopia is a paradise for bird watchers. More than 800 different species have been counted, of which 21 are endemic, and 12 semi-endemic because they are shared with Eritrea.
- Ethiopia’s population is estimated around 95 million. Ethiopia is composed of about 83 ethnic groups with 200 dialects. Based on the language they speak, they can be divided into Semitic, Cushitic, Nilotic and Omotic stocks. The Semitic Languages are spoken in northern, central and eastern Ethiopia (mainly in Tigray, Amhara, Harar and northern part of the Southern Peoples’ State regions). They use the Ge’ez script that is unique to the country, which consists of 33 letters, each of which denotes 7 characters, making a total of 231 characters.The Cushitic Languages are mostly spoken in central, southern and eastern Ethiopia (mainly in Afar, Oromia and Somali regions). The Cushitic Languages use the Roman alphabet and Ge’ez script.The Omotic Languages are predominantly spoken between the Lakes of southern Rift Valley and the Omo River.The Nilo-Saharan Languages are largely spoken in the western part of the country along the border with Sudan (mainly in Gambella and Benshangul regions).
- Ethiopia is the seat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (AU). At an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,000 ft) Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world, after La Paz and Quito in South America. Its clear, invigorating highland air makes for a pleasant, temperate climate (average temperature 260 C (610 F), except for the main rainy season from July to September when it is cool and damp.
- The Cradle of Coffee Arabica.
- Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest sheet of water covering 3,600 sq. Kilometers (1,389 Sq. miles) forms the headwaters of the Blue Nile, or Abbay as it is known in Ethiopia, the longest river in the world.
- The people in the country are very friendly, polite, and helpful. This enables tourists develop confidence to visit the destination.
- Throughout most of the country there are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September. Temperate in the highlands; hot in the lowlands.
- A country with three- in- one Tourism Commodities (Nature, culture, History and religious festivals) and it is the home of 10 UNESCO registered by UNESCO as world Heritage sites and cultural activities.