Facts you might not know about Ethiopia

Ethiopian monarchs and government

Ethiopian monarchs have maintained the legend of the Solomonic dynasty claiming an unbroken bloodline from the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

Ethiopia was never colonised by European colonisers. Along with Liberia in west Africa, Ethiopia is the only African country to be able to claim this distinction.

Ethiopia is now a federal republic with self-governing states distinguished by culture and ethnicity.

Ethiopia is also the diplomatic capital of Africa. The HQ of both the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa are in the capital Addis Ababa.

Facts about Ethiopia's history

Ethiopia has more, nine that is, UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any country in Africa – including Egypt.

In 1896 Ethiopia became the first African country to destroy an attempted colonial invasion by a European power when Emperor Menelik II’s army defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adwa.

The oldest standing structure in Ethiopia dates from about 800 BCE.

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with its own original and ancient written alphabet and script that is still in full use today.

Ethiopia isolated itself from western Europe for about a thousand years opening itself up again in the 15th century.

Facts about Ethiopian Religion

Ethiopia’s main religions are 63% Christian and 34% Muslim.

King Ezana was the first Ethiopian king to convert to Christianity in 356 CE.

Ethiopian wildlife facts

Of the 924 bird species recorded in Ethiopia 23 are endemic.

Of the 279 mammal species in Ethiopia 39 are endemic and 52 are considered critically endangered or vulnerable.

The oldest hominid fossils

The oldest hominid fossils ever discovered were found in Ethiopia and date from 4.2 m years ago. The more well-known fossil remains of “Lucy” date from 3.2 m years ago.

Ethiopian Calendar

Ethiopia’s calendar has 12 months of 30 days and a thirteenth month of 5 – 6 depending on whether it’s a leap year. In the western Gregorian calendar the Ethiopian Julian calendar has New Year’s Day on 11 September or the 12th if it's a leap year.

The Ethiopian Julian calendar runs about 7 years later than the Gregorian. For example, when most of the world celebrated the new millennium on 1 January 2000 it was still 1993 according to the Ethiopian Julian calendar.

Ethiopia time of the clock is stated at 6 hour’s difference to other countries. For example, if you ask an Ethiopian the time at 3 pm, he/ she will tell you it’s 9 o’clock.

Ethiopian Emperor and populations

The last emperor Haile Selassie who was crowned in 1930 was called Ras Tafari Mekonnen. ‘Ras’ is a title like Lord or Duke and Tafari Mekonnen was his name. The term ‘Rastafarian’ comes from this. Ras Tafari changed his name to Haile Selassie when he became emperor.

Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by a Marxist military coup in 1974 and was the last in a line of 253 monarchs.

The population of Ethiopia is just over 101 m (2016) comprising over 80 different ethnic groups and 86 currently spoken languages.

The many landscapes of Ethiopia

The Blue Nile river starts at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and accounts for about 80% of the water flowing through to the Nile outlet in the Mediterranean.

Ethiopia is the most mountainous country in Africa.

There are 12 major rivers flowing from the high rainfall areas of the mountainous north and east known as the Roof of Africa. These rivers bring much needed moisture to many dry areas in the region. For example, the Wabe Shabelle starts in the Bale Mountains and flows south to the Indian ocean Somali coast and the Blue Nile flows north through the deserts of Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean sea.