Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is a rugged, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. With archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million years, its a place of ancient culture. Among its important sites are Lalibela with its rock-cut Christian churches from the 12th -13th centuries. Aksum is the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, castles and Our Lady Mary of Zion church. Some of the oldest evidence for anatomically modern humans has been found in Ethiopia. It is widely considered as the region from which modern humans first set out for the Middle East and places beyond. According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations settled in the Horn region during the ensuing Neolithic era. Tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history. During the first centuries AD, the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region, followed by the Ethiopian Empire circa 1137. Ethiopia derived prestige with its uniquely successful military resistance during the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, becoming the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty. Subsequently, many African nations adopted the colors of Ethiopias flag following their independence. It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the United Nations. In 1974, at the end of Haile Selassie s reign, power fell to a communist military dictatorship known as the Derg, backed by the Soviet Union, until it was defeated by the Ethiopian People s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has ruled since about the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Ethiopias ancient Geez script, also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. The Ethiopian calendar, which is approximately seven years and three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Borana calendar. A majority of the population adheres to Christianity (mainly the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Pentay), while around a third follows Islam (primarily Sunni Islam). The country is the site of the Migration to Abyssinia and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Bete Israel, resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s, but most of them have since emigrated to Israel. Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic groups, the four largest of which are the Oromiffa, Amhara, Somali, and Tigrayans. Most people in the country speak Afroasiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches. Additionally, Omotic languages are spoken by ethnic minority groups inhabiting the southern regions. Nilo-Saharan languages are also spoken by the nations Nilotic ethnic minorities.
Ethiopia is the place of origin for the coffee bean which originated from the place called Kefa (which was one of the 14 provinces in the old Ethiopian administration). It is a land of natural contrasts, with its vast fertile West, jungles, and numerous rivers, and the worlds hottest settlement of Dallol in its north. The Ethiopian Highlands are Africas largest continuous mountain ranges, and Sof Omar Caves contain Africas largest cave. Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.
Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77 and the Organisation of African Unity. Ethiopias capital city Addis Ababa serves as the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Aviation Training HQ, the African Standby Force, and many of the global NGOs focused on Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ethiopia suffered from civil wars and communist purges which devastated its economy. The country has begun to recover recently however, and now has the largest economy (by GDP) in East and Central Africa. According to Global Fire Power, Ethiopia has the 42nd most powerful military in the world, and the third most powerful in Africa.