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Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is the capital of and largest city in Ethiopia. It is unusual among cities in that it is considered both a city and a state. It is one of the world's most diverse cities, with over 80 recognized languages and major Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities.

Parts of Addis Ababa are situated at altitudes above 9,000 feet! The city was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II. Today, the city is home to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as well as the African Union. The Ethiopian Natural Museum, located in Addis Ababa, is home to the fossilized skeleton of Lucy, a famous Australopithecus found in Ethiopia that is thought to be 3.2 million years old.

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Mek'ele, also called Mekelle, is a rapidly growing city in northern Ethiopia and the second largest population of center of Ethiopia. Located at nearly 7,400 feet above sea level, Mek'ele is the center of Ethiopia's ages-old salt trade. Surrounding the city are numerous pre-historic ruins and centuries-old churches built among the rocks. The city is home to Mek'ele University, which specializes in dryland agricultural education.

The Yohannes Castle is one of the city's principal landmarks. The well-preserved castle was the 19th century home of Emperor Yohannes, who ruled over the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and brought Mek'ele into prominence.

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Omo National Park

Omo National Park is widely considered Ethiopia's most remote national park. In 1980, the oldest known (at the time) fossil fragments of Homo Sapiens were found in the lower reaches of the Omo River, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bones found included parts of skulls, jaws, a leg bone, and at least 200 teeth. The bones were estimated to have been about 195,000 years old and the tool remnants found dated to the Middle Stone Age.

The park itself, however, provides no support for would-be visitors. The existence of the park is controversial as some of the indigenous people in the region may have been displaced or will be displaced by government zoning of the park.

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Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountain National Park is located in northern Ethiopia and is home to the nation's highest peak - Ras Dashan, which rises to an altitude of 14,930 feet. The park is characterized by deep valleys, towering cliffs, and jagged mountains. The park also gives refuge to several endangered species such as the Ethiopian wolf and waila ibex. 400 species of birds are thought to inhabit the lands inside park boundaries.

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Gambella National Park

Located near the South Sudan border, Gambella is Ethiopia's largest national park. The park is famous for its wildlife, that includes signature African species such as hyenas, leopards, lions, cheetahs, warthogs, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and others. Efforts to reduce poaching within park borders have resulted in major increases in population for many species, although these increases have been offset by a loss of habitat to agriculture within the park, and deforestation.

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Blue Nile River

The Blue Nile is one of the two main tributaries of the Nile River. It originates in Lake Tana and empties into the Nile River. When it empties into the Nile, it carries vast amounts of water from the summer monsoons. The soil that mixes in with the water causes it to turn black in color. By some accounts, the water from the Blue Nile makes up 70-80 percent of the water in the Nile River.

The Blue Nile flows for about 900 miles, a portion of which is through "the Grand Canyon of the Nile," a huge canyon that extends for about 250 miles. The canyon is so remote and foreboding that travel and communication through the area are nearly impossible.


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Great Rift Valley

The Great Rift Valley stretches over 6000 kilometers across the Middle East and Africa. Geologists are currently studying the East African Rift System (EARS), have discovered that the Great Rift Valley is the result of two tectonic plates moving away from each other, resulting in a widening crack in the earth's surface. The Ethiopian rift is thought to be about fifty miles wide. This rift is full of alkaline lakes with no outlet. The largest of these lake is Called Lake Abaya.


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Simien Mountains National Park

Fast Facts About Ethiopia

Population: 104,000,000
Area: 426,400 sq. miles
Capital City: Addis Ababa
Largest City: Addis Ababa
Currency: Birr
Official Language: English, Arabic, Italian
GDP (Gross Domestic Product) $90 Billion

Nine Interesting Facts About Ethiopia

  • Addis Ababa is the highest capital city in Africa (about 7,726 feet above sea level).
  • Over 80 languages are spoken in Ethiopia.
  • Ethiopia is the second most populated nation in Africa. Only Nigeria has more people.
  • Coffee was thought to be originally discovered in Ethiopia.
  • Ethiopian Abebe Bakila became the first African to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games (1960).
  • Ethiopia is the only country in Africa never to be completely under the control of a foreign nation.
  • The Ethiopian calendar has 13 rather than 12 months.
  • Ethiopia's Danakil Depression is a desolate place of heat and salt deposits. Temperatures can rise to 145 degrees here!
  • Lucy, the famous Australopithecus Afarensis fossil thought to be over three million years old, was found in Ethiopia's Afar Depression in 1974. Her skeleton was 40 percent complete and provided insight to scientists on how humans came to be.


Ethiopia Flag

The Ethiopia flag was adopted in 1996. The blue circle in the middle of the flag represents peace and the emblem represents Ethiopia's unity and diversity. The sun's rays represent prosperity. The green in the flag represents the land, the yellow represents hope and peace, and the red represents the strength of the people.