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Ethiopia

 

 
 
Bete Giyorgis, Lalibela
Location
Ethiopia in its region.svg
Flag
Flag of Ethiopia.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Addis Ababa
Government Federal Parliamentary Republic
Currency Birr (ETB)
Area 1,127,127km²
Water: 7,444km²
Land: 1,119,683km²
Population 74,777,981 (July 2006 est.)
Language Amharic (official), Oromo, Tigrinya Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic (official), other local languages, English (official, major foreign language taught in schools)
Religion Ethiopian Orthodox, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Animism, Baha'i
Electricity 220V, 50Hz (European & Italian plugs)
Country code +251
Internet TLD .et
Time Zone UTC+3
 

Ethiopia (Amharic: ኢትዮጵያ ʾĪtyōṗṗyā) is a fascinating country in the Horn of Africa and the second-most populous nation in this continent (after Nigeria). It's bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, and Sudan and South Sudan to the west.

Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and the second-oldest official Christian nation in the world after Armenia. Ethiopia is also the place for the first Hijra (615 AD) in Islamic history where the Christian king of Ethiopia accepted Muslim refugees from Mecca sent by the prophet Mohamed.

Understand[edit]

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world. In the long and disturbed history of the African continent, Ethiopia remains the only country which has never been colonised. Ethiopia was a founding member of the UN and is home to the African Union's headquarters. The Old Testament of the Bible records the Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem.

In fact, historians believe that Ethiopia may well be the beginning of mankind. The fossils of the oldest living mankind or "Lucy" was discovered in the the northern section of Ethiopia. The remains of the fossil are said to be 3.5 million years old.

After a long and difficult period under self-declared "communist" rulers, the country is now back on its feet. The long history assures that there are many historic sites in the country. The natural beauty, with high mountains, lakes, waterfalls as well as arid deserts are among the natural attractions of Ethiopia.

Highlights in Ethiopia include the towns of Axum, Gondar, Harar, as well as the rock churches of Lalibela. Rafting on the Omo River is spectacular too. Beware of crocodiles.

History[edit]

Ethiopia is one of the oldest independent nations in the world. It has long been an intersection between the civilizations of North Africa, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Unique among African countries, Ethiopia was never colonized, maintaining its independence throughout the "Scramble for Africa", except for five years (1936-41) when it was under Italian military occupation. During this period, the Italians occupied only a few key cities and major routes, and faced continuing native resistance until they were finally defeated during the Second World War by a joint Ethiopian-British alliance. Ethiopia has long been a member of international organizations: it became a member of the League of Nations, signed the Declaration by United Nations in 1942, founded the UN headquarters in Africa, was one of the 51 original members of the UN, and is the headquarters for and one of the founding members of the former OAU and current AU. In 1974, its monarchist government was deposed, and replaced with a pro-Soviet military junta, which ruled Ethiopia for 17 years until the end of the Cold War.

Ethiopia was historically called Abyssinia, derived from the Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name ḤBŚT, modern Habesha. In some countries, Ethiopia is still called by names cognate with "Abyssinia", e.g., Turkish Habesistan, meaning land of the Habesha people. The English name "Ethiopia" is thought to be derived from the Greek word Αἰθιοπία Aithiopia, from Αἰθίοψ Aithiops "an Ethiopian", derived from Greek terms meaning "of burnt (αιθ-) visage (ὄψ)".[1] However, this etymology is disputed, since the Book of Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle first composed in the 15th century, states that the name is derived from 'Ityopp'is, a son (unmentioned in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham who according to legend founded the city of Axum.

Climate[edit]

The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. As a highland country, Ethiopia has a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country's major cities are located at elevations of around 2,000-2,500 metres (6,600-8,200 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum.

The modern capital, Addis Ababa, is situated in the foothills of Mount Entoto at an elevation of around 2,400m (8,000 ft), and experiences a healthy and pleasant climate year-round. With fairly uniform year-round temperatures, the seasons in Addis Ababa are largely defined by rainfall, with a dry season from October 'thru February, a light rainy season from March to May, and a heavy rainy season from June to September. The average annual rainfall is around 1200mm (47 in). There are on average 7 hours of sunshine per day, meaning it is sunny for around 60% of the available time. The dry season is the sunniest time of the year, though even at the height of the rainy season in July and August there are still usually several hours per day of bright sunshine.

The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16°C (61°F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20-25°C (68-77°F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5-10°C (41-50°F). A light jacket is recommended for the evenings, though many Ethiopians prefer to dress conservatively and will wear a light jacket even during the day.

Most major cities and tourist sites in Ethiopia lie at a similar elevation to Addis Ababa and have comparable climates, though in less elevated regions, particularly the lower lying regions in the east of the country, the climate can be significantly hotter and drier. The town of Dallol, in the Danakil Depression in this eastern zone, has the world's highest average annual temperature of 34°C (93°F).