Ethiopia is one of the most mesmerizing land and an extraordinary country, and the only one in Africa, except for Egypt, with such a rich history and with an original culture, the lifespan of which encompasses hundreds of years.
Ethiopia is very heterogeneous. The North of it is the mainstay of Christianity, thanks to which fact Ethiopia is sometimes referred to as the Island of Black Christianity, surrounded by the Sea of Islam. Travelling south, one will find themselves in real Black Africa, in which the passage of time came to a standstill several centuries ago. For several centuries, the Muslim East has been under the influence of nations from the Arabian Peninsula. In Axum, the legendary Ark of the Covenant, which contains the tables which Moses received from God, is stored. However, no one is ever permitted to see it, except for the appointed guardian, who then serves in this capacity throughout their entire life.
Ethiopia is a large country offering an incredible variety of natural, cultural and historical attractions. It’s uniquely diversified climatic and landscape conditions makes it a habitat for numerous animals. Especially the population of birds, many of which can only be found in Ethiopia, is very big. After rain, the soil in Ethiopia is ornamented with a ‘carpet’ of colorful flowers. Also the amount of endemic plants is bigger than in most African countries.
Culture & Religion
Ethiopian culture is very multi-faced, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the country;
Religion in Ethiopia
Religion is a secure and accepted element of everyday life in Ethiopia and the language is full of references to God. Yet there is not the ever-present feel that one can experience in a totally Muslim country for example.
On the central plateau, the Ethiopian Orthodox church holds sway, again an individual and fascinating feature of this unusual country. Priests and deacons abound in their often colorful robes, carrying their staffs and ornate crosses that people frequently kiss as they pass.
Christianity came to Ethiopia in ancient times and became the official Ethiopian religion in the 4th century. The Orthodox Church has many connections with ancient Judaism. Fasting and detailed food restrictions, the specific ways of slaughtering animals, circumcision and the layout of the churches, all these things make for a very particular religious culture.
Islam is also very strong in many parts of Ethiopia, frequently existing peaceably alongside Christianity. The city of Harar, in the east of the country, is officially the fourth most holy Muslim site in the world.
The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, a Semitic language which is spoken by about 27 million people. Amharic is written with the Ge’ez script, which derives its name from the ancient Semitic Ge’ez language. Ge’ez is largely extinct as a productive language but is still in liturgical use by the Beta Israel Jewish community and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The second largest language in Ethiopia is the Oromo language, a Cushitic language spoken by about 30% of the population. The third largest language in Ethiopia is the Tigrinya language, related to Amharic but mostly spoken in northern Ethiopia in the state of Tigray. Additionally, most villagers are accustomed to their ethnical languages over the official Amharic language.
Ethiopia offers several untouched historical and natural sites. Every site has got its uniqueness depending upon the interest of the tourist. However, the most famous sites are Danakil depression, Lalibela, rock-hewn churches of Tigray and Axum steles. Other famous sites include: Lake Tana in Bahr Dar, the ancient cities of Gondar, as well as the southeastern peoples’ of Omo valley. The Jimma area is also interesting for those who wish to know the origin of Coffee.
The local currency is the Ethiopian birr. Money can be exchanged in the airport, in hotels and banks. There is no limitation to the amount of foreign currency visitors can import into the country but it must be declared on the currency declaration form on arrival. This form must be presented to the Customs authority at the time of departure. Visitors may change back any excess Ethiopian birr to foreign currency at the airport before departure.US dollars are generally the best currency to bring.
Telephone, Internet, postal and fax services are available in the capital, major cities and towns. Ethio-Telecom is the sole provider of phone, mobile and Internet services. SIM cards are easy to obtain and are cheap. The dialing code is +251.