Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa. It’s a rugged, landlocked country that’s split by the Great Rift Valley. With archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million years, it’s a place of ancient culture. Among its important sites are Lalibela with its rock-cut Christian churches from the 12th and 13th centuries, to Aksum, which are the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, bastles and an Our Lady Mary of Zion church. Take a look below for 30 more fun and fascinating facts about Ethiopia.
1. Ethiopia and Ethiopians are mentioney many times both in the Holy Bible and the Qur-an.
2. The very first and oldest illustrated book on Christianity was found in Ethiopia. It’s in the form of a gospel that was written in 494 A.D.
3. More than 70% of Africa’s mountains are found in Ethiopia.
4. The Great Rift Valley, which is the only geographical feature of planet Earth visible from the Moon, cut Ethiopia in two, crossing the country from top to bottom.
5. The single tallest monument ever erected by humanity in the B.C. is found in Axum.
6. Erta Ale is one of the few places on the planet where one can see active, live, continued and dramatic volcanic eruption.
7. Ethiopia is the only African country with its own spoken and written language.
8. It’s believed to be home of the Arc of the Covenant and a piece of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified.
9. Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, which running the marathon barefoot. He repeated the feat four years later, this time while wearing shoes.
10. Some of the traditional societies in Ethiopia view having twins as “mingi,” or a sign of bad luck. They believe that twins may be cursed or invite evil spirits.
11. The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months and t’s 7 or 8 years behind the Western calendar.
12. The earliest instance of human ancestors using tools has been traced back to Ethiopia.
13. The name “Ethiopia” comes from the Greek words “aitho” and “ops,” which together mean “burnt face.” This was how the Ancient Greeks referred to the dark skinned people of Eastern Africa.
14. Even though child marriage is illegal in Ethiopia, 49% of girls marry before the age of 18 and nearly 1 in 5 Ethiopian girls are married before they’re 15 years old. Almost half of 15 to 19 year old girls in the Amhara region have been or are currently married.
15. On average, Ethiopians consume only 1,850 calories per day, making Ethiopia one of the least calorie consuming countries in the world.
16. Coffee was first discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder called Kaldi in the Kaffa region, from which the word “coffee” may have derived from. He discovered it when he noticed his goats “dancing” after eating the berries off the coffee plant. Today, it’s estimated that 4 out of 5 Americans drink coffee at least once per day.
17. Ethiopian emperor Menelik II was the first African to drive a car, in 1907.
18. Ethiopia ranks as the fifth poorest country in the world. Almost two thirds of the Ethiopian population lives on less than $1 per day.
19. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been formally colonized. However, it had to defeat the Italians twice to remain independent.
20. Tewahedo, or the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, is one of the oldest forms of Christianity in the world. It came to Ethiopia from Egypt, where Egyptians belonged to the Coptic Church. Around 330 A.D., Frumentius, the Apostle of Ethiopia, converted the Axumite king Ezana, who made Christianity the empire’s official religion. Today, about 40% of Ethiopians practice Christianity.
21. It was the birthplace of Pan-Africanism. Hailed by Emperor Haile Selassie I, it led to the birth of the African Union.
22. It’s home to the source of the Blue Nile, which together with the White Nile makes up the Nile River, which is the longest river in the world.
23. Traditionally, Ethiopian parents and children don’t share a last name. Most children take their father’s first name as their last name.
24. Ethiopia’s national language is Amhairc, but there are over 82 languages and 200 dialects, or variations, spoken in the country.
25. Except for the Arabs, the Ethiopians are the only people in Africa with their own indigenous written alphabet.
26. It briefly had a Jewish queen, Queen Gudit, who ruled parts of Ethiopia in the 10th century. She burned down many churches in the country.
27. The first globally recognized female African head of state was Ethiopian Queen Zewditu, who was the empress of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930.
28. Female Ethiopian captain Aster Tolossa is allegedly the first female pilot to shoot down an enemy fighter jet, near Asmara, in Eritrean airspace, in 2000, in the history of aerial warfare.
29. Ethiopia was the first country to accept Islam as a religion and it sheltered the Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his followers when they were being persecuted and killed by pagan Arabians. Today, about 35% of Ethiopia is Muslim.
30. Emperor ruled Ethiopia until 1974 and all claimed to be descendants of King Solomon of the Bible and Makeda, the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba. Haile Selassie I was the last Ethiopian emperor.