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History

ETHIOPIA  CRADLE OF MAN KIND

ede5b097Reconstruction of the fossil skeleton of Lucy the Australopithecus afarensisEthiopia, historically also known as Abyssinia, is Africa's oldest independent country. It served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period, and was a founder member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organizations. Ethiopia has as many as 80 ethnic groups, each with its own language. Ethiopia is one of the most fascinating lands in the world with a rich and varied history that began long before Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire existed.

Ethiopia is a sovereign state located in the Horn of Africa. It shares a border with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With nearly 100 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populous nation on the African continent after Nigeria. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometers (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.

Scientists believe that Ethiopia is the cradle of mankind. Research shows that modern human beings and their hominid ancestors evolved in the eastern zone of the Rift Valley. “Lucy”, one of our most distant ancestors, lived around 3.2 million years ago and was found in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia. Most recently, an even older hominid fossil called “Ardi” was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia and is believed to be 4.4 million years old.

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Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, has a heritage dating back to first century AD. Traders from Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt knew of the riches of what is now Ethiopia, and by the first century AD, Axum was the capital of a great Empire. This realm became one of the first Christian lands of Africa. Late in the 10th Century, Axum declined and a new Zagwe dynasty, centred what is now Lalibela, ruled the land. Axum, Lalibela and Gonder now provide our greatest historical legacy. It was in the 16th Century that the son of the great explorer Vasco Da Gama came to Ethiopia, but then found a land of many kingdoms and provinces beset by feuds and War.

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Legend has it that Emperor Menelik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum, where he settled and established one of the world’s longest known, uninterrupted monarchical dynasties.

This is only one example of Ethiopia’s magnificent history, which encompasses legend and tradition, mystery and fact, from a powerful and religious ancient civilization. The well -trodden path through Ethiopia’s famous and fascinating historic places takes you through a scenically magnificent world of fairy -tale names, such as Lalibela, Gondar, Deber Damo and Bahar Dar.

In the 19th Century the great Emperor Menelik led us towards the modern state of Ethiopia, and the country's passage to modernization began. Some of the oldest evidence for anatomically modern humans has been found in Ethiopia, which is widely considered the region from which modern humans first set out for the Middle East and places beyond. According to linguists, the first Afro-asiatic-speaking populations settled in the Horn region during the ensuing Neolithic era. Tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history. During the first centuries AD, the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region, followed by the Ethiopian Empire circa 1137.

Ethiopia derived prestige with its uniquely successful military resistance during the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, becoming the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty. Subsequently, many African nations adopted the colors of Ethiopia's flag following their independence. It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the United Nations. In 1974, at the end of Haile Selassie's reign, power fell to a communist military dictatorship known as the Derg, backed by the Soviet Union, until it was defeated by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has ruled since about the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic groups, the three largest of which are the Tigrayans, Oromo and Amhara. Most people in the country speak Afroasiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches. Additionally, Omotic languages are spoken by ethnic minority groups inhabiting the southern regions. Nilo-Saharan languages are also spoken by the nation's Nilotic ethnic minorities.

Ethiopia is the place of origin for the coffee bean. It is a land of natural contrasts, with its vast fertile West, jungles, and numerous rivers, and the world's hottest settlement of Dallol in its north. The Ethiopian Highlands are Africa's largest continuous mountain ranges, and Sof Omar Caves contain Africa's largest cave. Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.

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Ethiopia's ancient Ge'ez script, also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. The Ethiopian calendar, which is approximately seven years and three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Borana calendar. A slight majority of the population adheres to Christianity (mainly the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and P'ent'ay), while around a third follows Islam (primarily Sunni Islam). The country is the site of the Migration to Abyssinia and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israel, resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s, but most of them have since gradually immigrated to Israel.

Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77 and the Organization of African Unity. Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa serves as the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Aviation Training HQ, the African Standby Force, and much of the global NGOs focused on Africa. Despite being the main source of the Nile–the longest river on Earth–Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s, which was exacerbated by civil wars and adverse geopolitics. The country has begun to recover recently, and now has the largest economy (by GDP) in East Africa and Central Africa.

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