Ethiopia is a country located in the horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the
south. With nearly 100 million inhabitants it is the second-most populous nation on the African
continent after Nigeria. Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia was home to some of the earliest hominid populations and possibly the region where
modern human evolved and expanded out of Africa to populate Eurasia 1.8 million years ago. The
most notable paleoanthropological find in the country was "Lucy," in 1974. The rise of sizable
populations with a writing system dates back to at least 800 B.C. Ethiopia's ancient Ge’ez script
also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. The Ethiopian
calendar, which is approximately seven years and three months behind the Gregorian calendar, coexists
alongside the Borana calendar.
People & Culture
Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic groups, the four largest of which
are the Oromiffa, Amhara, Somali and Tigrayans. Smaller ethnic groups include the Somali,
Gurage, Afar, Awi, Welamo, Sidamo, and Beja. The vast majority of the languages spoken in the
country can be classified within three families of the Afro-Asiatic super language family: the
Semitic, Cushitic, and Omotic.
Ethiopia has one of the richest, most well-preserved cultures in the world, with very little influence
from other countries. Most of the population adhere to Ethiopian Orthodox, Islam and some follow
traditional religions and Jewish faith. Traditional Ethiopian music is extremely diverse and the
modern influences come from folk music from all over the world. Hand woven fabrics (often
decorated with intricate patterns) are used to create elegant garments.
Food & Drink
Ethiopian food is served, on a communal platter, is designed for sharing with each other. Food is not
meant to be eaten alone in the culture of Ethiopia. A typical dish consists of injera (a large
sourdough flatbread made out of fermented flour) accompanied by a spicy stew. There are many
varieties of wat (stew) and frequently include beef, lamb, chicken, vegetables and various types of
legumes, such as lentils. To eat Ethiopian food, simply tear off a piece of injera, grab some food
with it, roll it up, pop the whole thing into your mouth and repeat until finished. We will bring you
cutlery if you ask for it, but eating food this way is traditional and shows camaraderie among your
dining companions -- especially as everyone usually eats from the same plate and feeding each
other is part of the Ethiopian custom.
While a coffee ceremony is the traditional way to close out a meal, Tej, is an Ethiopian local
specialty and a drink reserved for special occasions. It is a honey wine featuring varying degrees of
thick sweetness of mead but with an orange blossom lightness to it. Tej is usually served in a
rounded vase-like or beaker-like glass container called a berele.
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