From its wonderfully beautiful landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a fast-growing economy, Ethiopia is one African country one can simply not ignore. With friendly locals and multiple heritage sites, Ethiopia is a country that will make you want to pack your bags for a cultural escape. In this article, we will share 15 of the most fascinating facts about the largest country in Africa.
Nicknamed the Land of 13 Sunshines, Ethiopia is one of the most enchanting places in the world. After reading more fascinating facts about Ethiopia, you will be itching to plan your next trip to this amazing land.
Here Are Some Intriguing Facts about the Great Country of Ethiopia
1. Ethiopia is the oldest country in Africa
The origins of the country can be traced back to 980 B.C. It is deemed to be the place where humans were born.
Ethiopia holds significant archeological importance in the eyes of scientists worldwide. Many important fossils have been found from the land of Ethiopia. One of the oldest fossil bones found was from the Great Apes, discovered in 1994 near the Awash River. These fossil bones are more than 4.4 million years old.
2. Coffee originates from Ethiopia
The popular caffeine beverage has its origins in Ethiopia. It is rumored that a goat herder noticed his goats getting energized after eating from a certain bush; it was then he decided to try it out himself, and the industry began to grow.
Coffee was first grown and utilized in the fertile plateaus of Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. The export of coffee began from the region in the fifteenth century.
3. Ethiopians have a completely different calendar
Following the old Spinal Tap’s belief that one more is always better, Ethiopians have 13 months in a year instead of the normal 12 months.
This calendar is vastly different from the Gregorian calendar most of the world follows. The year 2017 is considered to be 2009 in the country of Ethiopia. This also allows tourist companies to call foreign tourists to the country, marketing the beautiful country with 13 months of sunshine.
4. Ethiopia is popular for its vegetarian food
Ethiopia is the land of the most delectable vegetarian food in Africa. Most Ethiopians follow a specific way of Orthodox Christianity, which prohibits meat consumption on Wednesdays and Fridays.
This is the reason why Ethiopians have a wide variety of vegetarian options available on their menus with delicious vegetarian soups and tasty stews that you will not be able to keep your hands off.
5. Ethiopia was free from European colonization
During the time when countries were being depleted of their resources from colonizing countries from Europe, Ethiopia stayed free from all of these problems. The country never submitted to colonial rule.
Even when Italians tried to occupy Ethiopia by force in 1935, the entire country never gave in to their attempts at occupying their lands. Italy successfully occupied Ethiopia for six years but had to face extreme pushback from the Ethiopian forces, which made them leave eventually.
6. Almost 80 languages are spoken in Ethiopia
The national language of the country of Ethiopia is Amharic; it is also accepted as the official language of the country as well. The language used for higher educational purposes is English.
The languages most commonly spoken by locals are Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Afar, and Tigrinya. Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is an Amharic word that roughly translates to a new flower or white flower.
7. Ethiopia has a rich history of rulers
Ethiopia has a rich history of being ruled by Kings and Queens. Ethiopian queens in ancient times were uniformly called Candace, pronounced as ‘kan-dah-ke.’ There was a famous Jewish queen who ruled Ethiopia in the 10th century called Queen Gudit, who is popular for cruelly setting fire to several churches.
8. Ethiopia is home to the second-largest population in Africa
The current population of Ethiopia is around 119 million. Ethiopia is the second-largest country in Africa in terms of population. It has the fastest-growing economy in Africa.
Ethiopia ranks number 12 in the list of countries ranked by highest population. The median age in Ethiopia is of the youth, which is around 19.5 years.
9. The national animal of Ethiopia is the Abyssinian Lion
The Abyssinian lions are a distinct breed of lions, easily discernible from their dark black manes. They are a dying breed, as experts predict less than 1000 Abyssinian lions exist in Ethiopia currently.
The lions were kept in captivity, by order of Emperor Haile Selassie, in the Addis Ababa Zoo in order to exhibit the animals as a symbol of his rule.
10. The African Union headquarters are in Ethiopia
Addis Ababa is most commonly called the political capital of Africa. The most politically popular African Union has its headquarters in the capital country of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.
11. Ethiopia celebrates a variety of festivals
The country of Ethiopia has a joyous population that celebrates a variety of festivals. The biggest festival in the country is Timket.
Timket is an Orthodox Christian festival that spans over three days. This festival is celebrated by locals with processions, singing, and dancing. Timket marks the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan.
The tabots are removed by the priests from each church on Timket, after which they march to the nearest water source to perform the communal baptism. Timket is a public holiday in Ethiopia, with a majority of businesses choosing to remain closed.
12. The country has been mentioned in several religious scriptures
The country of Ethiopia has been mentioned several times in the Bible, Islamic Hadith, and even Homer’s Odyssey. The King James Version of the Bible contains the word Ethiopia multiple times.
In Islam, when Mohammad’s followers were subjected to extreme persecution in the city of Mecca, he advised them to migrate to Abyssinia for safety (where they would find a king who does not wrong anyone). It is also believed that Queen Sheba, who visited King Solomon, was the queen of Ethiopia.
13. Ethiopia has a rich Christian history
Tewahedo, one of the oldest forms of Christianity in the world, is found in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church originally came from Egypt. Ethiopians are predominantly Christians, with a population of around 61% in the country. Aksum is a northern city in Ethiopia that is popular for its ancient relics of the Kingdom of Aksum.
Christianity’s oldest illustrated book, the Garima Gospels, can also be found in Ethiopia. The book is rumored to be written by Abba Garima, a monk from Constantinople who came to Ethiopia and wrote the book in one day.
14. The first Olympic gold medal won in Africa was by an Ethiopian
Abebe Bikila won the first gold medal in Africa in 1960. He was an Ethiopian athlete who was selected for the Olympics at the last moment. He outran Moroccan Rhadi Ben Abdesselam barefoot and won the race by a full 25 seconds.
Abebe also became the first African to win the Olympic marathon twice when he conquered the race in the Tokyo Olympics that took place after four years.
15. Some Ethiopian people wear lip discs and scars for beautification purposes
Some parts of Ethiopia have beautification practices that may seem unusual to people from other countries. Surma and Mursi people of the Omo River valley practice the insertion of lip discs and scarification for beauty.
Before marriage, young women are often brought to their mothers or fellow kinswomen for lip piercing. The piercing is about 1 to 2 inches long, where a wooden peg is inserted into the opening. The wound heals after a few weeks, after which a larger-sized wooden peg is inserted.
After the opening has been stretched to 4 cm, a clay lip plate is inserted. The most common diameters range from 8 cm to a little larger than 20 cm. Two lower front teeth are removed in addition to the piercing of the lower lip. Lower Omo Valley regards the raised features of a scar as a sign of bravery and deems it desirable and sensual for bold men and women.
Timket Celebration in Ethiopia
This video shows the beautiful festival of Timket being celebrated throughout the streets of Ethiopia. The procession is full of singing people with colorful and white dresses. More people can be observed dancing and holding flags as well. This is a festival that celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Peaceful processions celebrate the baptism for three days in Ethiopia when most local businesses are closed.
Ethiopia is a country rich in historical and religious importance. From fossil remains to ancient, illustrated scriptures in the lands, Ethiopia holds significant importance that cannot be ignored.
Important to both Christianity and Islam, Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa, comprising 61% Christians and 34% Muslims. Be sure to visit the beautiful country of Ethiopia whenever you think of traveling through Africa.
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.