Occupying an area of 1,100,000 km2 Ethiopia or officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is approximately double the size of France. Ethiopia is landlocked between kenya, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea and with over 84,320,000 inhabitants Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second most populated country in Africa.

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is often called the ‘political capital of Africa’ as it houses the head quarters of numerous international organizations. For example the secretariat of the African Union (AU) is situated in Ethiopias capital Addis Ababa. The AU is a union consisting of 54 African states and was established on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

Big church in Addis Ababa
The christian religion is an important part of Ethiopian culture. Here is Bole Medhane Alem church in Addis Ababa.

Weather in Ethiopia

Lightning strikes in Lake Awasa Ethiopia
Lightning strikes over the hills surrounding Lake Awasa in Ethiopia

Despite its geographical location close to the Equator most of Ethiopia is not situated directly in the tropical zone because of the many mountainous areas with high altitudes and therefor cooler climate.

Yet some parts of Ethiopia in the Great Rift Valley situated at about 1,000 to 1,500 meters above the sea level can get exceedingly hot. And in the northern Afar region temperatures easily reach 50 degrees Celcius, making it one of the hottest places on earth. The capital Addis Ababa has average temperature between 21 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius, which can still fall to a chilling temperature of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius during the night on the month of December. Due to hot and dry weather that is mostly experienced in Ethiopia, there can be severe droughts.

As the photograph of lightning over Lake Awasa shows, obviously there are rainy seasons in Africa and they usually appear between March/April to June and again the “short” rains from October to November. Though with the global climate warming, patterns here are also changing – making it all more unpredictable.

History of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is by some scientists believed as the birthplace of human kind. “Lucy” – one of the oldest hominid findings in the world – a skeleton of a female Australopithecus afarensis was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression.

Earliest history of Ethiopia shows monarchial rule with the country being one of the major powers of the world in the 3rd century. With the passage of time, Ethiopia reverted to sovereignty to become an independent country. Italians attempted in 1936 to colonize Ethiopia, and their military occupation lasted six years. In 1941, with an Allies offensive during WWII, British and Ethiopians defeated the would-be colonists and restored Emperor Haile Selassie’s rule.

dramatic history of Ethiopia
At the National Museum in Addis Abeba there are paintings showing historic battles in Ethiopia

Governance and regions

Market day in Chencha is every Tuesday and Saturday
Market day in Chencha is every Tuesday and Saturday where people come from far away to buy- and sell stuff

Ethiopia is a federal parliamentary republic. The Prime Minister is the head of the government. The parliament consists of two houses with 547 representations. The first parliament general election was held in 1995. This effort to choose a popular government did not succeed as the major opposition parties boycotted the election.

This decision was much maligned by the national and international agencies who felt that the opposition participation could have been beneficial in the long run. Naturally, this led to the unilateral winning of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. The government, which was installed as a result of this election, was headed by Negasso Gidada as the President. The new government perpetrated ethnic federalism through which of power and authority were handed over to the ethnic powers in the country.

Presently, Ethiopia is divided into 9 administrative regions, which have semi-autonomous powers. The constitution also gives them the power to raise their own finances and spend it as per their wishes. The 9 regions or killoch are based on ethnic territoriality; Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Harari, Oromia, Somali, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region and finally Tigray.

The post Zenawi Ethiopia

With Meles Zenawi’s death, the path has been cleared for a much needed change. The successor to Zenawi, Hailemariam Dessalegn seems to lack the political clout that his predecessor enjoyed. Hence an immediate change for the better would be too much to ask for. Factionalism is bound to increase with the absence of a strong leader. The immediate need of the hour is an attempt to alleviate the economic disparity between the Tigreans and the non-Tigreans, which if not carried out, could worsen an already tense situation.

Despite the relatively unstable political situation, travelling in Ethiopia is usually without much hassles, as the Ethiopians are most welcoming people with a culture and history that give them good reasons to celebrate their country. And celebrating their beloved country can be seen on almost every TV, on which music videos showing Ethiopians singing and dancing in the countryside. And every Ethiopia love their songs and dances, the coffee ceremonies with incence from glowing coals. All these things shine through the Ethiopians and forms a unique Ethiopian or Habeshian identity.

Poverty in Addis Ababa
A poor man in Piassa begging for some money

A real adventure

Women waiting to dance at the hamer bull jump ritual - photo © Mikkel Grabowski
Women waiting to dance at the hamer bull jump ritual - photo © Mikkel Grabowski

Ethiopia is easily one of the most fascinating countries in Africa to visit due to the extremely dramatic landscapes and incredible cultural diversity. In the Simien Mountains National Park and Bale Mountains National Park tremendous trekking can be done and in many places you can have innumerable interactions with dozens of animals and birds seen nowhere else on earth.

And when travelling to the Danakil Depression in Northern Ethiopia you will be met by an enchanting and unforgivingly hostile environment offering extreme adventure and striking natural beauty like active vulcanic lava lakes.

In Lalibela you can wade through incense into a medieval world hewn from stone and watch the line between past and present blur while taking part in striking Christian ceremonies that haven’t changed in more than 1000 years. And in Ethiopia’s fertile highlands there are historical treasures like the ancient tombs and obelisks of Aksum to 17th-century castles.

The remote Omo valley in the southwest is also home to untold adventures and house some of Africa’s most fascinating tribes like the Hamer, Mursi, Dasanech and many more.