Ethiopia, is truly a land beyond all imaginations, contrasts and extremes; land of remotes and wild places. Some of the largest and most stunning places on the African continent are found here, such as the jaggedly carved Simien Mountains, one of UNESCO’s world heritages sites and some of the lowest point on earth, hottest but fascinating Danakil Depression, with its lunar like landscape. Ethiopia is ancient as equal as prehistory of the earth, far earlier than that lived Lucy or Dinknesh, meaning thou art wonderful, as she is known to the Ethiopians, whose remains were found in a corner of this country. As Abyssinia, its culture and traditions date back over 3000 years.
A country with a Strong Identity
The world looks different when viewed from a mountain plateau at 2,500 meters above sea level: the landscape appears almost upside-down. Since ancient times, this land has been known as a place of mysterious kingdoms and fabulous wealth, as the country of Punt, who, according to the ancient Egyptians, was the progenitor of their gods.
In the north of the country, the kingdom of Axum came into being in the classical era and for almost a thousand years represented a crucial crossroads between Africa and Asia. The legend tells about a mythical queen of Sheba and of king Salomon of Jerusalem, from whose union the first king of Ethiopic dynasty, Menelik, was born. It was not until midway through the fourth century, however, that we have historical records of the first king. King Ezana converted to Christianity following the arrival of Ferremnatos, and founded one of the oldest Christian nations in the world in the midst of Ethiopia’s most inaccessible mountains.
Further south, along the banks of the river Awash, remains have been found of one of the oldest ancestors of mankind: the skeleton of Lucy (“Australopithecus Afarensis”) date back to 3.8 million years ago. These areas, some still isolated from the rest of the world, are the home of tribes and peoples with strong and authentic African traditions. Being nomadic herdsmen with their own traditional rituals. Profoundly artistic by nature, their art is expressed mostly in the adornment of their huts and in the strikingly original decoration of their bodies.
A land of Great Civilization
Do you know that Ethiopia is mentioned in the Bible more than 38 times by both Old and New Testaments? Ethiopia has a proud and long history extending to the known beginnings of humankind. The Axumite kingdom was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world and has left behind the mystery of the great Stellae found at Axum. In the late middle ages great religious civilizations flourished in many parts of the country, particularly at Lalibela where churches hewn out of massive monolithic rock testify not only to great faith but also great architectural skills. In the former capital Gondar many significant castles speak of the same legacy. All these would be enough to make Ethiopia a fascinating place to visit and travel through, but Ethiopia has so much more to offer.
Land of Culture and Home of Diverse People
Ethiopia has culture and traditions way back over 3000 years. With its over 80 different ethnic groups, with their own language, culture and traditions. The strong religious setting, celebrations and festivals play an important part in every ones daily life. Church ceremonies are major feature of Ethiopian life. The events are impressive and unique. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has its own head, follows its own customs and is extremely proud of its fourth century origins
“Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel (Amos 9:7)
Islamic tradition is also strong and offers colorful contrast, particularly in the eastern and south eastern parts of the country. Historical records testify that there were Ethiopian Muslims during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammned. History has it that when the early followers of the Prophet Mohammed were denied the right to pursue their religion, and were harshly persecuted by the mercantile rulers of Makkah. He pointed to the kingdom and said:
“A country wherein no one is wronged: a land of righteousness. Depart there and remain until it pleased the lord to open your way before you.” Prophet Muhammed
This rich religious history is brought to life in the romantic walled city of Harar, considered by many Muslims to be the fourth holy city following Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
Ethiopia is the home of diversified ethnics. The Cushitic, the Semitic, the Nilotic and the Omotic language groups live in harmony side by side. The lower Omo is the home of Omotic, Cushitic and Nilotic linguistic group with their untouched culture. It is situated following the vast Omo River, the sole contributor to the East Africa?s fourth largest lake ?Lake Turkana? in Kenya. Its landscape is diverse that boarders the Mago and Omo rivers. The Omo Valley is unique in that four of Africa?s major linguistic groups including the ?endemic? Omotic languages are represented within one relatively small area. To anthropologists; the Omo Valley is not far from being the ?Living Museum?. The area is home to many diverse and fascinating peoples and cultures.