Capital: Addis Ababa
Population (2014): 96.51 million
Surface area: 1,133,380 square kilometres (437,600 square miles)
Languages: Amharic (official language) and Tigrinya, Orominga, Guaraginga, Somali, Arabic. English is also administrative language.
Religion: Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Muslim and Protestant Christianity
Topography: Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height from 2,000 to 3,000 meters above the sea level. There are around 25 mountains whose peaks reach over 4,000 meters in the North and the Centre of the country. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile or Abay, which flows a distance of 1,450 kilometres from its source to join the White Nile in Khartoum.
Currency: Ethiopian Birr
Telephone code: +251
Electric supply: 220 Volts 50 cycles AC (Adapters can be easily found in all major cities)
Life Expectancy (2013): 64
Literacy Percent (2014): 39%
GDP (2014): U.S. $54.8 billion
GDP by sector (2015): Agriculture (47%), Industry (10.8%), Services (42.2%)
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT ETHIOPIA
BECOME 7 YEARS YOUNGER IN THE LAND OF THE 13 MONTH OF SUNSHINE
Ethiopia is the only Christian country that still follows the Julian calendar and consequently it is seven years and eight months behind the rest of the Christian world following the revised Gregorian calendar. Thus, the Ethiopian calendar consists of 13 months: 12 months of 30 days and another month of five (or six days in leap years) days duration. If this can be confusing, you also need to know that Ethiopians measures time in cycles of 12 hours starting when the sun rises at 6 a.m.
THE LARGEST NUMBER OF UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN AFRICA
There are nine places in Ethiopia considered as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Simien Mountains National Park is the only natural site while the others are listed as cultural sites, including the ruins of the city of Axum, the fortified historic route of Harar Jugol, the stonewalled terraces of Konso known as the “natural New York village”, the lower valleys of both the Awash and the Omo River where the evidence of human evolution was found, the eleven rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and Tiya with its 32 carved stelae covered with indecipherable symbols.
FEEL BLESSED BY THE COFFEE CEREMONY
It is believed that the Ethiopian highlands gathered the origin of the coffee plant. According to a legend, Kaldi, an Ethiopian shepherd, once discovered the properties of this stimulating plant after noticing that his goats became very active and awake after eating berries from a certain tree. Nowadays the Ethiopian buna (“coffee” in amharic) is popular worldwide. In fact, Ethiopia is the top coffee-producing country of Africa. The coffee ceremony is one of the most recognisable parts of its culture, offering this peculiar ritual during festivities, visits or as a daily routine for community or family meetings.
SPIRITUAL LAND OF THE RASTAFARI MOVEMENT
If you ever heard Rastafarians imploring Emperor Haile Selassie it is because they believed him to be the God incarnate, both divine and human. In fact, the name of the movement, Rastafarian, comes from Haile Selassie’s birth name: Ras Tafari, meaning “Prince Tafari”. Shashemene, a small town lying more than 250 km from Addis Ababa in the South just before Awassa, holds a peculiar Rastafarian community know as Jamaica.
THE ONLY COUNTRY IN AFRICA WITH ITS OWN ALPHABET
Even though there are more than 80 different languages spoken in Ethiopia, Amharic is the official language, a semiotic language descending from Ge’ez, the language of ancient Axum which is still used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Amharic has its own alphabet, consisting of 209 symbols and 25 letter variants. Other languages as Oromigna, Tigrigna and Arabic are also wide spoken, along with English, used in the administration and for secondary education.
TEFF: ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST CEREALS IN THE WORLD
Teff is the grain cereal used to make the Ethiopian staple dish known as injera. It is believed to be originated between 4,000 and 1,000 years B.C. in Ethiopia. Teff is the smallest grain in the world and is becoming very popular among Western countries for being a great gluten-free option. Injera, the national food, is an unique flatbread with a slightly spongy texture made out of teff flour and accompanied with different sorts of spicy and sometimes chilly wot or stews and its eating ritual consists of taking a piece in your hand and use it to scoop the accompaniment.
A MELTING POT OF RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
Ethiopia is considered as one of the oldest Christian nations in the world adopting Christianity during the 4th century. It is also claimed to be the home to the legendary Ark of the Covenant containing the 10 Commandments. This relic is said to be kept in Axum and only one man is allowed to see it. Also, Ethiopia is the home of the Black Jews, known as Falashas or Beta Israel and Islam also appeared early in Ethiopia when Mohammed’s followers were persecuted and sought refuge in Abyssinia. Despite this melting pot of different religions, the country is known for its peaceful coexistence and respect.
THE HOMELAND OF OUR ANCESTORS
The Afar desert of Ethiopia, in the Middle Awash, is the early home of the human ancestors. According to the latest researches, fossils of the Homo gender have been found buried in the soil of this area where years before were also found the most famous fossil popularly know as Lucy. A visit to the National Museum of Addis Ababa will guide you through the history of the humanity’s birthplace.