Some of the highest and most stunning views on the African continent are found in Ethiopia. The spiked peaks of the Simien Mountains are one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The hot and fascinating Danakil Depression, with its sulfur fumaroles and lunar-like landscape, is one of the lowest points on the continent. The Afro-Alpine highland moors and mountains reach about 4,300 metres. Who can deny the splendor of the Great Rift Valley that was carved across the country?
Ethiopia’s population of 82 million is the second largest in Africa, bested only by Nigeria. It is, however, only the tenth largest in area on the continent. The capital Addis Ababa is by far its largest city (3 million), followed by Dire Dawa (250,000) and Nazret (200,000). Ethiopia has some unique attributes. She is one of only two African countries that was never a colony of some foreign power. Liberia is the other. Some archeologists claim that Ethiopia is the seat of the origins of the human race. The Coptic (or Ethioptic) church is one of the oldest Christian faithson the planet and continues to practice ceremonies that have not changed for more than a thousand years. Ethiopia has her own calendar and has an indigenous alphabet that remains in use. The New Testament book of Acts refers to Ethiopia as the home of one of the first non-Jewish converts to Christianity, a eunuch servant of Candace or the Kentakes, probably from the ancient region of Meroe.
The country has one of the most powerful militaries in Africa and Addis Ababa is headquarters for the continental African Standby Force (ASF). Tourist come to Ethiopia to see the East African plains animals. Giraffe and cape buffalo are present. Ethiopia has a large number of species listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to global extinction.
The official languages of Ethiopia are Amharic, English, and Tigrigna. English is the medium of instruction in secondary schools. There are more than 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The Oromo, Amhara, Tigray and Somali make up close to three-quarters of the population. Ethiopia has slowly made strides toward recovering from devastating famines and a vicious, civil war. She has the largest economy in East Africa and is one of the fastest growing in the world. This regional economic powerhouse is open to foreign investors and entrepreneurs. Agriculture accounts for almost 41 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Eighty percent of the exports and 80 percent of the labor force are involved in this industry. Major crops include coffee, pulses beans, oilseeds, cereals, potatoes, and sugarcane.