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Ethiopia is an important country for all the three book- religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 
Since the Ark of the Covenant had arrived in the Axumite Empire the country was believed to be a chosen land from the beginning amongst the early Jewish settlers. As one of the first countries in the world, Ethiopia got Christianity as a state religion around 340 A.D.

Two Syrian Christians influenced on King Ezana who converted to Christianity then. He built the first church in Axum and minted coins with a cross instead of other symbols. In the fifth century nine monks from different parts of the Roman Empire came to Ethiopia and built a lot of churches and monasteries. They are still known as the nine saints. The Christian emperors took over the legend of the Ark of the Covenant and therefore referred to their descent of King Solomon. So the Jewish David Star became almost as important as a symbol as the Christian cross, thus the combination of both symbols were used as a royal badge. Also most ceremonies, the cult around the Ark (The heart of every church is a copy of the Ark called “Tabot”, hidden in the holy of holies) and the whole Christian tradition are strongly influenced by the earlier Jewish practices and believes.

The geographic isolation of the Ethiopian highlands and the custom to built churches out of the rock might have been a reason why the Christian Church has resisted all attempts to be destroyed and has been cemented and inseparable chained with the country’s leaders and daily life. In the 11th to 12th century, after decades of terror towards the Christians by Queen Yudit, the Zagwe dynasty, probably from Jewish origin, came to power. The emperors were no descendants of Solomon but they strongly promoted Christian faith by building up a strong new capital with 11 marvelous rock-hewn churches, designed as a “New Jerusalem”. The town was later called after the most productive king, “Lalibela”. The period of reign was relatively short. In 1270 the Solomonic dynasty took over again, created important and mythic books like the “Kebra Negast” (Glory of Kings), paintings, crosses, church music etc. At the same time Islam became stronger and the two religions clashed various times in the following centuries.

The prophet Mohammed himself had sent some of his closest friends and his wife to Ethiopia in 615 A.D., because they were persecuted in Arabia. The Ethiopian king protected them and allowed them to settle in peace at Negash (Tigray region near Wukro). Mohamed was very grateful and excluded Ethiopia explicitly from the holy war. Negash and Harar are still under the most important Muslim pilgrimage places. Nevertheless Ahmed the left handed attacked and destroyed big parts of Christian Ethiopia until he was killed in 1543 with the help of Portuguese Jesuits. Several battles had to be fought with Muslims of the east and pagans of the south and west until Christianity could be re- established. The later Emperors tried often to maintain peace by intermarriage with Muslims and concessions. Today the eastern parts around Harar, Bale Mountains and Afar are mainly Muslim while the rest of the Ethiopian highland is mainly Christian in the north and mixed in the southern and western part.

A big group of Ethiopian Jews, called “Falasha”, descendents of the early Jewish immigrants, has lived since millennia in the north- western Amhara Region. Between 1985 and 1991 most of them were airlifted to Israel. Nowadays only a handful of Jewish women and children remain around the village of Woleka, north of Gondar.



accordion1 Ethiopia, as large as France and Spain combined, has an area of 1,235,000 sq. k. About 65% of the land is arable, with 15% cultivated.


accordion2There are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September.


accordion3Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and center of the country there are some 25 mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 meters. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile(or Abbay), Which runs a distance of 1,450 km from the source in Lake Tana, to join the white Nile at Khartoum.


Roads: there are some 4,100 km of asphalt roads with a further 19,000 km of gravel and dry-weather roads.
Railways: A778 km long railway line links Addis Ababa with Djibouti, and carries both freight and passengers.
Air: Ethiopia Airlines has an extensive domestic network flying to 43 airfields and an additional 21 landing strips.



Electric supply

About 90% of the population earns their living from the land, mainly as subsistence farms. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy and the principle exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There is also a thriving livestock sector, exporting cattle on the hoof and hides and skinks.


Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. The main three languages are Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also widely spoken. 



There are several foreign-language newspapers published in Ethiopia including the dayily Ethiopian Herald, printed in English. 



Ethiopia is in the GMT +3 hours’ time zone, Ethiopia follows the Julian Calendar, which consists of twelve months of 30 days each and a thirteenth month of five or six days. 


The population is estimated at 55 million, over 50% of who are under 20 years old. The average number of inhabitants per square kilometer is 49.


The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr, Made up of 100 cents. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency, providing declaration of such currency (on the appropriate blue colored form) is made to customs on arrival. Foreign currency may only be changed at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form must be attained as this will be required by customs on departure, visitors, however, will be able to change back any excess Ethiopian birr to foreign currency at the airport, you must, in addition to the currency declaration from, bring with you all the receipts for exchange transaction. 


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