Ethiopia

Situated close to the Horn of Africa and split by the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia is a landlocked country surrounded by Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan. It is a beautiful country and the oldest independent nation in Africa. It's topography is a contrasting blend of multiple regions of high mountains, lakes, waterfalls and arid deserts. It was never colonized (other than a short period during WWII), and interestingly it is the second oldest Christian country in the world after Armenia. With a population of over 104 million, it is now ranked second on the continent after Nigeria.

General facts

The discovery of the 3.2 million year old Lucy in 1974 opened speculation that Ethiopia is where mankind originated. Indeed, the country’s motto is “the Land of Origins”. In addition to this it is also, among other things, the source of the the Blue Nile, the birthplace of Coffee, and the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Ethiopia is also Africa’s leading country with the highest number UNESCO World Heritage sites: 11 are already registered heritages, and 7 more are on the tentative list.

Ethiopia is also home to 24 naturally rich national parks, wildlife reserves, and animal sanctuaries, all of which are home to many different indigenous and common animals and plants. Geography, culture, history, wildlife, and all the rest of its treasures make Ethiopia well worth visiting.

Highlights of Ethiopia

The ancient city of Axum is considered the birthplace of Ethiopian civilization. It is here that Christianity became the state religion. During the period 200 BC through 700 AD Axum was part of an empire which extended across the Red Sea to Arabia and traded with India and China. It minted its own coinage, had its own alphabet, constructed great engineering works and dam, and was considered in the 4th century AD to be one of the great powers of the ancient world. Saint Mary Zion is the oldest Christian Church in Africa and is known to be the house of the original Ark of Covenant.

Gondar

Home of castles and churches, Gondar stands north of Lake Tana and south west of the Simien Mountains. It is an imperial city founded by Emperor Fasiladas as his capital in 1636, and at that time it was the most important city of the Empire. The castle is an architectural mixture of Portuguese, Indian and local styles.

Harar

In the center of Ethiopia lies the holy city of Harar, which includes 110 mosques including the Grand Jami Mosque with its tall while minarets. Built on a hilltop, centuries old ramparts surround Harar Ingol, the old walled city, with several gates which give entrance to a maze of busy streets.

Konso Cultural landscape

The Konso Highlands of southern Ethiopia is a rather isolated area where people have experienced little change in their daily lives for the last 400 years. They utilize traditional agriculture methods to cultivate millet in the countryside surrounding their villages, which are comprised of mud and wood houses. Each village is a tight community headed by a local chief whose ‘palace’ is usually built on top of a hill

The Lower Valley of Awash is where the famous Lucy was found in 1974. Traces of the first human ancestors Lucy and Selam have lent credence to the theory that humanity as we know it originated in Ethiopia, Other archaeological fossils found date back 4.4 million years.

The Lower Valley of Omo

This part of South East Ethiopia has become world famous since the late 60s. It expends near Lake Turkana and the discovery of many fossils in the area have been a great help to the study of human evolution.

Lalibela,

Lalibela is a famous location for Orthodox Christian pilgrimages. Its world fame comes from the chain of 11 rock-hewn churches. These monolithic cave churches with their roofs at ground level were carved in the ground. They were built at the turn of the 13th century by King Lalibela of the Zaghwe Dynasty, who named the caves New Jerusalem

Tiya Simien National Park is home to many endemic animals and plants. Trekking is popular in this part of the country, which is often referred to as the Roof of Africa It’s the land of extremes with the highest peak, 15157 feet above sea level at Ras Dashen, and the lowest altitude of minus 328 feet at the Danakil Depression, where you will find the lowest volcanoes on earth and temperatures up to 145 F. Nearby is Erta Ale, a 2011 feet high volcano, known for his lava lake at the bottom of the caldera, which is quite a rare phenomena in volcanology.

Bale Mountains National Park is a paradise for trekkers and is home to high mountains and a high altitude plateau with peaks, lakes, mountain streams, rocky gorges, evergreen forests, and giant bamboo. In this park you will also find the Sheik Hussein and Sof Omar Caves, the largest system of caves in Africa. The caves extend for nearly 10 miles and have 42 entrances.

Yeha (Temple of the Moon) is pending approval as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the far north of the country in the Tigray region This is the oldest construction in Ethiopia, preceding the Axum period and going back probably to 700 BCE. It is quite well preserved due to its original very strong foundations. It was used as a christian church around 600 CE. Archaeologists have also found underground hewn shaft tombs nearby.

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