Landlocked within the horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a nation of remarkable diversity with an ancient Christian heritage, surprising wildlife, vibrant cultures and jaw-dropping scenery.
The country is bordered to the north by Eritrea, to the east by Somalia and Djibouti, to the west by Sudan and South Sudan and to the south by Kenya.
Formerly known as Abyssinia, Ethiopia appears to be one of the earliest cradles of mankind and has produced some of our oldest hominid skeletal remains, including those of “Lucy” which date back 3.2 million years and are on display in the National Museum of the capital, Addis Ababa.
With 3.3 million people, Addis Ababa has the largest share of Ethiopia’s 102 million population. Much of the country is surprisingly fertile with many grains such as teff, wheat, barley, corn and millet grown and exported through the port in Djibouti.
Ethiopia is justifiably famous for its fascinating ancient history and tribal cultures. The spectacular rock-hewn churches of Lalibela dating back to the 12th Century, the ruins of Axum and the impressive monasteries in Bahir Dar are among its best known archaeological sites.
Ethiopia is special within Africa for having truly dramatic mountain scenery: indeed, the Simien Mountains are often referred to as the “The Roof of Africa”. With such breathtaking highland vistas and endemic fauna and flora, Ethiopia contains landscapes and wildlife not often associated with Africa.
Among its most striking species are the graceful Ethiopian wolf, ground-dwelling gelada baboon, sure-footed Walia ibex, majestic lammergeier and magnificent mountain nyala. The avifauna of Ethiopia totals 924 species, of which 23 are endemic and three are rare or accidental. The birdlife is particularly remarkable for its tameness, as birds are rarely persecuted and thus will allow close approach by humans.
Ethiopia also boasts lush primary cloud forests to the south, and vast lakes and more typical African savanna along the Great Rift Valley. All told, Ethiopia is certainly a destination to be savoured.