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Ethiopia – "the land of a thousand smiles", riven by many deep and stupendous gorges, crowned by sky-scraping and splendid mountains, necklaced by a chain of lakes, watered by grandiose rivers, studded with burning deserts and enormous escarpments that plunge down from its highlands, curator of some of the world’s oldest civilizations, Ethiopia remains a land of incomparable beauty- this is Ethiopia.

It is not only the steep range of its corporeal exquisiteness which portrays this land where the Blue Nile has carved one of the world’s utmost and most overwhelming gorges.

Its ancient and medieval monuments, its proud and colorful cultures, and its varied and often unique wildlife set it apart from all else. 

Prehistory and Axum

Ethiopia is one of the oldest incessant civilizations in the world. The first records of Ethiopia proper come from Egyptian traders from about 3000 BC, who refer to lands south of Nubia or Cush as Punt and Yam.

The word Ethiopia in ancient times and the modern country is often used in confusion. The ancient Greeks used the word Αιθιοπία to refer to the peoples living immediately to the south of ancient Egypt. 

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Ethiopia is located in Eastern Africa or Horn of Africa with the Geographic coordinates 3 o N - 15 o N, 38 o E to 48 oE longitude. The Country covers a total area of 1,127,127 sq km, which is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Out of which 1million Sq km is covered by land while the remaining 104,300 Sq km is covered by water.

The country neither has a coastline nor maritime claims. It is landlocked country. Ethiopia’s borders total 5,328 kilometers. Bordering countries are: Djibouti (349 kilometers), Eritrea (912 kilometers), Kenya (861 kilometers), Somalia (1,600 kilometers), and Sudan (1,606 kilometers).

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Ethiopia is old beyond imaginations, dating back to the very beginnings of mankind. It’s a place of legendary rulers, fabulous kingdoms in ancient histories.

With more than 80 languages and some 200 dialects, each ethnic group, preserves its own unique customs and traditions. You will find all the major religions of the world in Ethiopia. But for all the exotic variety, the people of Ethiopia are as one for their friendliness and hospitality.

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Religion has always been a major influence in Ethiopia. Certainly no other Country in sub-Saharan Africa can trace its origins as far back.

Legend has it that the emperor Menilik I, the son of 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.

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The national dish for most Ethiopians is ingera, a flat, sour dough pancake made from a cereal grain that is unique known as Teff. Though t'eff is unique to Ethiopia it is diverse in color and habitat. Teff is a member of the grass genus Eragrostis or lovegrass. T'eff will grow in many areas it is not an easy crop to farm. One problem in particular is that the weight of the grain bends the stem to the ground.

Fortunately for the Ethiopian Jews (and all Ethiopians) depends on Teff Ingera, as a staple of their diet.

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The story of coffee has its beginnings in Ethiopia, the original home of the coffee plant, coffee arabica, which still grows wild in the forest of the highlands. While nobody is sure exactly how coffee was originally discovered as a beverage,it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century. Some authorities claim that it was cultivated in the Yemen earlier, around AD 575. The only thing that seems certain is that it originated in Ethiopia, from where it traveled to the Yemen about 600 years ago, and from Arabia it began its journey around the world.

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The people of Ethiopia wear many different types of clothing. Highlanders use heavy cloth capes and wrap around blankets to combat the night chill. In the heart of the lowland plains, light cotton clothes are all that is required by men and women alike. The traditional cloth of Christian highland peasantry has traditionally been of white cotton cloth; men have worn long, Jodhpur like trousers, a tight – fitting shirt and a Shamma (loose wrap).

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The Tigrigna and Amharic speaking people of the north are mainly agriculturalists, tilling the soil with ox-drawn plows and growing teff(a local millet). The most southerly of the Semitic speakers, the Gurage, are also farmers and herders, but many are also crafts men.

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The basis of the economy is rain-fed agriculture, which means that crop production fluctuates widely according to yearly rainfall patterns. Services, including retail trade, public administration, defense, and transportation, constitute the second largest component of the economy. Manufacturing and mining are a distant third and fourth.

Agriculture is the most important sector of Ethiopia’s economy, constituting nearly 40 percent of gross domestic product. The sector provides by far the largest percentage of exports and employs up to 80 percent of the population.

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flagThree equal horizontal bands of green (top), Yellow, and Red, with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centered on the three bands; Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa.

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The Ethiopian government is best explained as a federal republic. Its recent constitution was promulgated in December 1994.

Nine regional member states and two administrative cities make up the federal government of Ethiopia.

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Every national except Kenyans need a visa to enter Ethiopia. Single-entry 1 -3 month tourist visas can be issued upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa for most European, US, Australian and Canadian nationals. You'll need 2 passport size photographs. To get the most current visa information, for business visas and multiple-entry tourist visas, contact your local Ethiopian Embassy.

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