Ethiopia 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
Its name is
derived from the Greek Aithiopia, which means “Land of the burnt
face.” In antiquity, this name referred to the territories south of
the empire of the pharaohs. It was also known in Europe as
Abyssinia, a term coming from the Arabic Habashat, which referred to
one of the tribes South of Arabia that emigrated to Ethiopia at the
beginning of its history.
Ethiopia is a land of plenty with a long and noble history giving
rise to ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. It is the only
African country never to have been colonized. It has more than 80
unique rich ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups.
Ethiopia is renowned for its distinctive Christian tradition and
association with the Ark of the Covenant. It offers the most
dramatic scenery of unsurpassed grandeur (i.e. Simien Mountains
National Park), unique rock-hewn churches, the spectacular Blue Nile
Falls, the Great Rift Valley, the Danakil Depression, imperial
castles, monuments of an ancient civilization linked with the legend
of the Queen of Sheba.
Its dominant feature, diversity, can be observed in the ethnic
groups, languages, religious, geography, climate, fauna and flora.
This diversity may be due to Ethiopia’s isolation, a possible result
of the characteristics of its great central massif.
Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa with a surface area
of 1,194,000 square kilometres (461,003 sq.miles). It lies in
eastern Africa, between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, in a
region known as the Horn of Africa. Bordered by five countries, it
is landlocked (due to the separation from Eritrea).
Ethiopia has their own way of telling time: the first
hour of the day corresponds with the rising of the sun
and the last hour is around sunset. The day is divided
into two parts, each lasting twelve hours. Six o’clock
in the morning international time is actually twelve
o’clock Ethiopian time. Internationally Ethiopian is
considered three hours from the Greenwich meridian,
and does not undergo any time changes throughout the
year. Its location near the equator allows Ethiopia
nearly twelve hours of sunlight during any season.
The calendar is another unique feature – it has
13months. Using the Julian calendar, Ethiopia has
twelve lunar months of thirty days plus one month of
five or six days, depending on the leap year. The
Julian calendar began 7 years and 113 days after the
Christian age, making the first day of the New Year
This land of contrasts boasts snow-capped peaks and
torrid deserts, fresh and saltwater lakes, high
plateau and plains, lush green landscapes and barren
ones, with such rivers as the ABay with lovely blue
waters trumling over impressive waterfalls or earth-coloured
rivers as the Omo, whose banks are bordered by dense
forests of acacias.