About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is waiting for you…

Offering a diverse geography, varied flora and fauna, a wide range of historical attractions, numerous different ethnicities, and many vibrant aspects off the beaten track, Ethiopia is truly striking for its diversity. However, it is a diversity that is little known by many. In contrast to its international image shaped by years of conflict and recurrent drought, Ethiopia is a country more interesting and richer in physical, natural and cultural facets than most people might imagine.

 

 

 
   

A combination of history & culture

Ethiopia's rich historical heritage is unique in sub-Saharan Africa. The country looks back on a history of more than 3,000 years when the city of Axum became the centre of an empire stretching from the Nile River across the Red Sea to the Yemen. Even today, ruins of palaces and monuments, old inscriptions and underground catacombs demonstrate the city’s ancient magnitude. While the medieval capital of Lalibela is home to a cluster of monolithic rock-hewn churches built in the 12th and 13th century, the imperial city of Gondar is best known for its 17th century castles built by Emperor Fasiladas and his successors and the beautifully decorated church of Debre Birhan Selassie. In the east of the country lies the old walled city of Harar with its numerous mosques and shrines, considered a holy city among Muslims. Or would you like to discover the ancient and secluded island monasteries of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile? Or be one of the few visitors to Ethiopia’s remote rock-hewn churches, testimonies to the country’s centuries-old Christian legacy?

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A  Wonderland for nature lovers

Apart from its historical sites, Ethiopia offers exceptional natural features and a rich bio-diversity. The country’s scenery varies from high mountain ranges with alpine flora and fauna, like the Simien and Bale Mountains, to deep gorges, wide valleys, volcanic lakes, savannahs, and semitropical forests, to the lowlands of the Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression (Dallol), one of the earth’s hottest places. Connected with Ethiopia’s extraordinary geography are its diverse ecosystems, placing the country among the foremost in the world for its numerous endemic mammals, birds and plants. While the Rift Valley Lakes are famous for bird-watching, the Awash and Nechisar National Parks are fine places for game drives. Not far from its origin in Lake Tana, on the outskirts of the city of Bahirdar, the Blue Nile River turns into the spectacular Blue Nile Falls. A paradise for birds and definitely a must for every ornithologist! Indulge in trekking or horse-back riding in the national parks, marvel at the fascinating endemic animals and revel in the breathtaking scenery!

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A unique ethnic mosaic

Ethiopia is also a country of great cultural diversity, with a population made up of more than 80 different ethnicities and as many languages and customs. The country’s virtual isolation over centuries and its unique political independence (Ethiopia was never colonized) have substantially shaped people’s traditions and ways of life, some of which seem remarkably untouched by outside influences. The southwest in particular  is inhabited by a variety of distinctive ethnic groups, who have largely maintained their traditional cultures and are surely among the most fascinating tribal groups on the African continent. Meet the Konso (known for their terracing systems), the Hamer (famous for their elaborate body decoration), or the Mursi (renowned for the lip plates worn by their women), just to name a few! Or get acquainted with the Oromos, Amharas and Tigreans in the central and northern highlands! The Ethiopia of today is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious mosaic, waiting for you to discover its magnificent diversity!