About Ethiopia

This part includes; General Ethiopia, Ethiopia history [Axum, Lalibela, Medieval, Gonder, Important historical dates], Geography and climate, People, population and culture.

Ethiopia is old and old more than one can imagine. It was also renowned and prestigious state in the world as Historian mentioned . Its history dates back 3000yrs back as Abyssinia to the time of the legend of queen of Sheba and her birth King Menelik from King Solomon of Jerusalem and the god of moon of Temple of Yeha.
Far earlier the 1st hominid Lucy known as Dinknesh dates 3.2million yrs old found, makes Ethiopia the cradle of mankind.

The people of are diversified ;more than 83 ethnic groups with 200 dialects living together for many centuries with different culture and religion.

The land of Ethiopia is the largest land mass in the horn of Africa with an area of 1.098million kms square. It is the land of extreme contrast with an altitude difference 4620mts above sea level the peak of mount ras Dashen and 120mts below sea level Danakil depression gives variety of culture and nature to the nation.
Ethiopia is also a land of endemic; more 1000 species of plants, 16 species of birds and 7big mammals are endemic to Ethiopia.

It’s very early history is unknown, the beginning goes back 3000yrs to the legend of queen of Sheba but the historian argue 1c.BC the beginning, both shows us its oldness.

This civilization refers the first millennia and the empire was known as Axumite kingdom. The kingdom established by the sabean immigrants[ Habeshat tribe] from south Arabia and the seat for the kingdom were the town of Axum. this immigrants has brought their way of life like archicture , farming,sabean religion, language and scripts [mother language to the now a days semitic language] .

Even before the rise of Axum there was settlements around Axum like Yeha, matara, kaskase, Melkzo, hawelti and others as the ruin palace, monuments, grave stories, temples and statues found with its resemblance.
In the1st C.AD. Axum was well-known to Greek traders as a fine city and considerable empire. As Arab traveler Mani writes in his travel document referring the 2nd C.AD. Ethiopia was among the world powerful kingdom of the ancient world. Elaborated steles, grave stories, minted coins, inscription and other historical remnants are material witnesses left for this day.

They were trading using the port of Adulise with Greek, Egypt, Arabia, India and other parts of the world exporting gold, incenses, ivory, animal skin, rhino horn, spices, apes and imports clocks, glassware ,iron and wine was among some. They were using gold coins for foreign exchange.

From 2nd C.Ad. to 7th C.Ad.it was high time of Axum civilization; wide territory east upto Yemen, west up to south sudan, east Djibouti and up to port of Zeila in Somalia, north beyond Eritrea was part of the empire. Trade was flourished [mint coin] technology advancement in masonry, pottery and other hand crafts, literature and art was among some.

In cultural aspect Christianity reached in 4th C and spread to the central part during this period. Islam came during the life of prophet Mohammed in the 7th C. and live in harmony and patience between to now a days.
From 7th C.AD. Due to succession problem followed by internal conflict and destructive civil war, the rise of Islam and interest over the red sea Axum start to decline and at last in the 11th C due to the immediate cause of the war brought by yodit gudit [lady ruler] Axum fall dawn and power shifted to south to Lalibela.

For this time period Lalibela was capital of Ethiopia. The name Zagwe means the dynasty of the agawe the place where the dynasty come from. And Lalibela former name was Roha and after king Lalibela who built cluster of rock hewn churches in the town retain his name.

The rulers of the dynasty were engaged constructing rock hewn churches and all of them have built at least one church around Lalibela but the most magnificent and cluster of churches are built by king Lalibela in the town.
Later time succession problem appear in the dynasty which leads to civil war. Axum descendant SOLOMONIC dynasty claim power and could get church support and at last power shifted to the center to showa province.

This period was the beginning of one of the greatest period of Ethiopia; territorial unity achieved, civil and religious institution performed, literature and art began to flourish and feudal administration system well established. Church and state allied together, even the land grant was 1/3 for church, 1/3 for royaliyt and novelity, and 1/3 was for peasants. Trade and craft was for non-agriculturists muslim and other minority.
During this period there was mobile capital instead of fixed capital to ease collecting of tax and revenue. The kingdom was Christian but under his power there was Muslim emirates in the eastand south and pagan kings in south. At the beginning of 16th C Muslim emirates and the Christian kingdom went to conflict control over the vital trade route to the east port of Zeila. After many raids one to the other from 1520-1543 muslims leader Ahmed gragn took power and reach to central and north but the Christian kingdom get back the power after destructive and bloody war. Even European took interest in the war and Portuguese Jesuits were supporting Christian and Turks was by the Muslims sides.

Following this Cushitic tribe, Oromo peoples migrated from south to east, west and central fertile lands, so that Christian kingdom was restricted to north and north west by making their seat around Gonder.

GONDER [1632-1855]
Emperor Fasiledes found Gonder as the seat of his throne and make capital of Ethiopia. Before this period Portuguese Jesuits who came to help the Christian kingdom succeeded in converting from Orthodox to catholic the state religion to some emperors before him including his father and this leads to bloody civil war. So in fever of this Fasiledes came to power as revivalist and Jesuits Obliged to leave the country even he decide to block the country not let in any European.

He built a number of castle like palaces and established a tradition followed by his successors and beautiful churches in the town and the monastery Island of lake Tana, which could be seen to this day.
Gonder rose to prominence after Ethiopia has passed long without fixed capital and it was the largest settlement in the 17th C. It was an important administrative, commercial, religious, cultural and hand craft center.

In the 18th C Gonder went into succession problems and leads to assassination, murder and plotting until 1775 A.D. Later power full provincial leader took the power by putting puppet king on the seat and continued until mid of 19th C.

In 1855 emperor Tewodros came to power and shift the seat to Debre Tabour. He tried to unify and modernize the country and open the door for foreigners.

1855-emperor tewodros crowned and ruled 1868
1868- emperor tewodros defeated by Britain and committed suicide
1872-emperor Yohannes crowned
1889-emperor Yohannes killed in battle with Sudanese dervish
-emperor Menelik crowned
1895-Italy invade Ethiopia
1896-Italy defeated at the battle of Adwa
1913-Menelik died and his daughter Zewditu succeeded him and ras Teferi became regent
1930-empress Zewditu died and ras Teferi coroneted as Hailessie
1935-italy invade Ethiopia
1941-Ethiopian patriots with British assistant defeat Italy forces, liberty Ethiopia.
1952-UNfederates Eritrea with Ethiopia
1960-coup to overthrow Haileselassie
1962-Ethiopia annexes Eritrea
1963-1st conference of organization of African unity held in Addis Ababa
1974-Military socialist government Mengistu came to power
1977-Somalia invade Ethiopia and defeated in1978
1991-Ethiopian people Democratic front came to power and fall dawn of socialist government
1993-eritrea independency
1994-new constitution application

Ethiopia is located in the north eastern horn of Africa with an area of 1.098 million km square measures five times the size of Britain or France and Spain together. It’s a land locked country bounded by east by Djibouti and Somalia, north Eritrea, west Sudan and south by Kenya.

The great African Rift valley dissects Ethiopia into south eastern and western highlands. 60% of the total land mass is high land with is high, ragged, and massive land future inter woven by big boarder passing rivers gorges and valleys. 40% of the land is low land which includes rift valley itself and eastern and western coastal areas. Its altitude difference from the highest ras Dashen [4620mts above sea level] to the depressed land of Danakil depression [120mts below sea level] resulted in great diversity terrain, climate, soil, flora and fauna.
Ethiopia because of high mountain and upliftedness , it’s the source for big rivers and gorges and gives water for all neighboring countries.

In Ethiopia there are three climate zones; tropical rainy climate, dry climate, and temperate rainy climate. In it could be classified dray and wet season. The dry season prevail from October to may and the wet season will be may to September.

The population of Ethiopia is estimated around 80million [2nd populated in Africa next to Nigeria] and it embraces four main language group which is Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic, and Nilo Sahra. Ethiopian people speaks more than 83 languages with 200 dialects. Amharic is official language and is Educational media. 80% of the population live in countryside, their life is depend on Agriculture.

Ethiopia, like many other African countries, is a multi-ethnic state. Many distinctions have been blurred by intermarriage over the years but many also remain. The differences may be observed in the number of languages spoken - an astonishing 83, falling into four main language groups: Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan. There are 200 different dialects.
The Semitic languages of Ethiopia are related to both Hebrew and Arabic, and derive from Ge'ez, the ecclesiastical language.
The principle Semitic language spoken in the north-western and central part of the country is Amharic, which is also the official language of the modern state. Other main languages are Tigrigna, Guraginya, Adarinya, Afan Oromo, Somalinya, Sidaminya, Afarinya, Gumuz, Berta and Anuak.

The Tigrigna - and Amharic-speaking people of the north and centre of the country are mainly agriculturalists, tilling the soil with ox-drawn ploughs and growing teff (a local millet), wheat, barley, maize and sorghum. The most southerly of the Semitic speakers, the Gurage, are also farmers and herders, but many are also craftsmen. The Gurage grow enset, 'false banana', whose root, stem and leaf stalks provide a carbohydrate which, after lengthy preparation, can be made into porridge or unleavened bread.
The Cushitic Oromo, formerly nomadic pastoralists, are now mainly engaged in agriculture and, in the more arid areas, cattle-breeding. The Somali, also pastoral nomads, forge a living in hot and arid bush country, while the Afar, semi-nomadic pastoralists and fishermen, are the only people who can survive in the hostile environment of the Danakil Depression. Living near the Omo River are the Mursi, well-known for the large clay discs that the women wear inserted in a slit in their lower lips.

The people of Ethiopia wear many different types of clothing. The traditional dress of the Christian highland peasantry has traditionally been of white cotton cloth. Since the time of Emperor Tewodros 11 (mid-1800s), men have worn long, jodhpur-like trousers, a tight-fitting shirt and a shamma (loose wrap).

The Muslims of Harar, by contrast, wear very colourful dress, the men in shortish trousers and a coloured wrap and the women in fine dresses of red, purple and black. The lowland Somali and Afar wear long, brightly coloured cotton wraps, and the Oromo and Bale people are to be seen in the bead decorated leather garments that reflect their economy, which is based on livestock. Costumes to some extent reflect the climates where the different groups live - highlanders, for instance, -use heavy cloth capes and wraparound blankets to combat the night chill. In the heat of the lowland plains, light cotton cloths are all that is required by men and women alike.
Traditional dress, though often now supplanted by Western attire, may still be seen throughout much of the countryside. National dress is usually worn for festivals, when streets and meeting-places are transformed into a sea of white as finely woven cotton dresses, wraps decorated with coloured woven borders, and suits are donned. A distinctive style of dress is found among the Oromo horsemen of the central highlands, who, on ceremonial days such as Maskal, attire themselves in lions' manes or baboon-skin headdresses and, carrying hippo-hide spears and shields, ride down to the main city squares to participate in the parades.

We Ethiopians are justifiably proud of the range of our traditional costumes. The most obvious identification of the different groups is in the jewellery, the hair styles and the embroidery of the dresses. The women of Amhara and Tigray wear dozens of plaits (sheruba), tightly braided to the head and billowing out at the shoulders. The women of Harar part their hair in the middle and make a bun behind each ear. Hamer, Geleb, Bume and Karo men form a ridge of plaited hair and clay to hold their feathered headwear in place. Arsi women have fringes and short, bobbed hair. Bale girls have the same, but cover it with a black headcloth, while young children often have their heads shaved.

Jewellery in silver and gold is worn by both Muslims and Christians, often with amber or glass beads incorporated. Heavy brass, copper and ivory bracelets and anklets are also worn.
Ethiopia also has a rich tradition of both secular and religious music, singing and dancing, and these together constitute an important part of Ethiopian cultural life. Singing accompanies many agricultural activities, as well as religious festivals and ceremonies surrounding life's milestones - birth, marriage and for other social activities.

Basic Economy
The economy is based on agriculture, in which 85 percent of the population participates. Ecological problems such as periodic drought, soil degradation, deforestation, and a high population density negatively affect the agricultural industry. Most agricultural producers are subsistence farmers living in the highlands, while the population in the lowland peripheries is nomadic and engages in livestock raising. Gold, marble, limestone, and small amounts of tantalum are mined. : Cuisine of Ethiopia

Ethiopian Cuisine
consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrees, often prepared as a wat or thick stew. One or more servings of wat are placed upon a piece of injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera (always with the right hand) to scoop up the entrees and side dishes. Traditional Ethiopian food does not use any pork or seafood (aside from fish), as most Ethiopians have historically adhered to Islam, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, or Judaism, all of which prohibit eating pork. Additionally, throughout a given year, Orthodox Christians observe numerous fasts (such as Lent), during which food is prepared without any meat or dairy products. Another food eaten in Ethiopia is Doro Wat which is chicken stew with hard boiled eggs.

Ethiopia's most popular sport is track and field, in which they have won many medals in the Olympic Games. Soccer, despite lack of success by the national team, is loved by a significant part of the population.

The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, a Semitic language spoken by about 27 million people (2.7 million expatriate). Amharic is written with the Ge'ez script, the name drives from the ancient Semitic language of the same name. The Ge'ez language is extinct 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 (Tigrayna language) mostly spoken in northern Ethiopia the state of Tigray. Tigray is no longer a state of Ethiopia but a whole different country. Additionally, most villagers are accustomed to their ethnical languages over the official Amharic language.

Main articles: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Islam in Ethiopia

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