The Ethiopia Portal
Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ኢትዮጵያ ʾĪtyōṗṗyā), a landlocked state in the Horn of Africa, is one of the most ancient countries in the world. Officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, it is the second most populous nation in Africa with over 80.2 million people and the tenth largest by area. The capital is Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is bordered by Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, Eritrea to the north, and Sudan and South Sudan to the west.
Though most African countries are far less than a century old, Ethiopia has been an independent country since ancient times. A monarchical state for most of its history, the Ethiopian dynasty traces its roots to the 10th century BC. Besides being an ancient country, Ethiopia is one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today—having yielded some of humanity's oldest traces, it might be the place where Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond. When Africa was divided up by European powers at the Berlin Conference, Ethiopia was one of only two countries that retained its independence. It was one of only three African members of the League of Nations, and after a brief period of Italian occupation, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. When other African nations received their independence following World War II, many of them adopted the colors of Ethiopia's flag, and Addis Ababa became the location of several international organizations focused on Africa.
The Modern Ethiopian state, and its current borders, are a result of significant territorial reduction in the north and expansion in the south, toward its present borders, owing to several migrations and commercial integration as well as conquests, particularly by Emperor Menelik II
and Ras Gobena
. In 1974, the dynasty led by Haile Selassie
was overthrown as civil wars intensified. Since then, Ethiopia has been a secular state
with a variety of governmental systems. Today, Addis Ababa is still the site of the headquarters of the African Union
. The country has arguably one of the most powerful militaries in Africa. Eritrea and Ethiopia are the only African countries with their own alphabet. Ethiopia also has its own time system and unique calendar, seven to eight years behind the Gregorian Calendar. It has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (also "w'et", "wot"), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 50 centimeters (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. No utensils are used.
Traditional Ethiopian cuisine employs no pork of any kind, as most Ethiopians are either Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, Muslims or Jews, and are thus prohibited from eating pork. Furthermore, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes a number of fasting (tsom Ge'ez: ጾም tṣōm) periods, including Wednesdays, Fridays, and the entire Lenten season, so Ethiopian cuisine contains many dishes that are vegetarian (Amharic: ye-tsom? የጾም ye-ṣōm, Tigrinya: nay-tsom? ናይጾም nāy-ṣōm). This has also led Ethiopian cooks to develop a rich array of cooking oil sources: besides sesame and safflower, Ethiopian cuisine also uses nug (also spelled noog, known also as niger seed). Ethiopian restaurants are a popular choice for vegetarians living in Western countries. (Read more...)
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Haile Selassie I (Ge'ez: ኃይለ፡ ሥላሴ, "Power of the Trinity") (23 July 1892 – 27 August 1975), born Tafari Makonnen, was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Haile Selassie is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history.
At the League of Nations in 1936, the Emperor condemned the use of chemical weapons by Italy against his people. His internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security have proved seminal and enduring. His suppression of rebellions among the nobles (mekwannint), as well as what some perceived to be Ethiopia's failure to modernize adequately, earned him criticism among some contemporaries and historians.
Haile Selassie is revered as God incarnate among the Rastafari movement, the number of followers is estimated between 200,000 and 800,000. Begun in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafarian movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora to a golden age of peace, righteousness, and prosperity.
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