Why visit Ethiopia?


Reasons to visit Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a unique country and unlike any other in Africa. Let’s see in this post some peculiarities of this country of the Horn of Africa that make it so special. It includes historical facts, geography, culture, people, activities and so on.


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The only country that resisted colonization in Africa

Among more than 50 African countries, Ethiopia is the only one to have resisted submission by settlers. Italy occupied the territory for 5 years, but in vain. In fact, it has never managed to get control of all the land, demonstrating that Ethiopia has undeniable strength. Its culture, therefore, has been very little or not influenced at all. The settlements left almost no trace of their passage into Ethiopia, unlike the overwhelming majority of the rest of the continent.

Other country that was never colonized in Africa

Liberia is also a country that has never been colonized but its case is very different since it was created in 1822 by the United States specifically to integrate several thousand African-Americans liberated by the American Colonization Society.

Ethiopia is considered one of the cradles of humanity

The Afar region is known to be the place where the oldest hominid fossils have been found to date. At present, research suggests that Homo erectus was born in this Ethiopian region before reaching other continents. It is also here that “Lucy”, a hominid fossil preserved at 40% and estimated to be about 3.2 million years old, was discovered. A major discovery in the history of humanity.

The country with the highest plateaus in Africa

It is not for nothing that Ethiopia is considered “the roof of Africa”. The highest plateaus of the continent are located there, as well as the majority of volcanoes and nearly 3/4 of African mountains. The capital, Addis Ababa, is the highest on the continent: 2,355 meters above sea level.

One of the hottest places on the continent

These hot spots are put on the podiums in different ways: either by record temperature or by average annual temperatures. For this reason, according to sources, the hottest places never have the same positions. The Danakil depression in Ethiopia is among the hottest places on the continent on an annual basis, behind Al Zizia in Libya and Kebili in Tunisia.

Also one of the lowest places on the continent

The Danakil depression is also one of the lowest levels on the continent ( below the sea), calculated at -126 meters, just behind the Qattara depression ( Egypt ) located at -133 m and Lake Assal (Djibouti) located at -156 m.

Ethiopia has more than 90 ethnic groups

Just that. The country has a very important ethnic and cultural diversity. The 2 largest groups are the Oromos and Amharas (about 60% of Ethiopian ethnic groups) followed by Somalis and Tigrayans.

Ethiopia has more than 80 languages spoken

And that’s not to mention the many local dialects. The official language is Amharic : አማርኛ. It is the second most spoken language in the country ( 29 per cent), followed by Oromo (34 per cent), followed by Somali and Tigrinya.

Second most populous country in Africa

Just behind Nigeria, Ethiopia is the country with the most inhabitants in Africa, but not in terms of density (118.3 million inhabitants per 115 inhabitants / km²). The most densely populated African country is Mauritius (626 inhabitants per km² in 2021)*.

Time and calendar are different in Ethiopia

1. Time

The day begins when the sun rises. It is therefore considered that it is about one o’clock in Ethiopia on the strokes of 6 a.m. to Western time. The hand completes its clock turn at 12 o’clock when the sun begins to set and then begins a new 12-hour cycle during the night period.


This particularity is due to the proximity of the country with Ecuador because the sunshine remains more or less constant all year round. If this time is still used, I think it tends to disappear in cities with the appearance of smartphones but it is still very well anchored.

2. The calendar

The Ethiopian calendar has a thirteenth month of 5 or 6 days (depending on the leap year). The country is 7 years apart from our Gregorian calendar, which means that they are now in 2014. They follow the Julian calendar. This is a peculiarity due to the different calculation of the birth of Jesus about 1500 years ago.

The date among uncontacted tribes

Another surprising fact, but one that concerns the tribes of the Omo and surely other isolated tribes, is that of counting the days by tying knots on the stem of a plant. I have seen that they use it for market days for example, but I don’t know anything about their calendars.

Cradle of Rastafarianism

For various reasons, the eyes of the descendants of Jamaican slaves turned to Ethiopia at a certain time. A movement back to African roots was in turmoil in the 1920s. A Jamaican nationalist leader, Marcus Garvey had announced in this period that a black king would be crowned in Africa. This prophecy came true 10 years later in Ethiopia and the movement gained momentum.

The Ethiopian emperor of the time Haile Selassie, whose real name is Ras ( social distinction similar to “chief”) Tafari Makonnen is then unwittingly assigned the designation of Messiah (or incarnation of God) by the Jamaicans, which will lead people of African origin to their ” promised land” : Rastafarianism was born.

🔎 Read more about the birth of Rastafarianism

World’s largest khat producer

Khat is a psychotropic drug illegal in Europe but perfectly legal in Ethiopia. It suppresses hunger, stimulates, gives energy and causes a “high” in higher doses. It is ubiquitous and consumed throughout Ethiopia and in many countries of the Horn of Africa such as Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti or neighboring countries such as Yemen or Saudi Arabia. But Ethiopia remains the country that produces the most khat in the world!

Ethiopians eat raw meat

A typical Ethiopian dish, tere siga. Raw beef served on the injera! It is accompanied by a complex blend of spices and hot pepper called berber. Having eaten it several times, I never got sick. Always choose a place where the meat is still fresh, and do not take it when there is almost nothing left to cut, because it has probably been exposed for a while now!

The largest number of UNESCO sites in Africa

With a total of 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ethiopia is the leading country in all of Africa. Not to mention everything that has been classified as intangible heritage.

🔎 The Best Things to Do in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has many gems

Although it is not the only one in Africa, Ethiopia has a large quantity of remarkable precious stones such as safir, emerald and diamond or other stones such as opal.


*Source: worldometers.info ( Back)

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About the author

Picture of Tom Spirit
Tom Spirit
Hey, it's Tom! Welcolme to Spirit Travelers. I'm a nomad traveler for several years and I share my experiences by publishing content and travel guides on this blog. Find some of the most popular countries to visit but also off the beaten track destinations.

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