Ethiopia is one of the most popular Wild Frontiers destinations in Africa, but it is still relatively rarely visited.
The country has worked hard to overcome negative perceptions over the years and is slowly gaining a reputation as one of Africa's most diverse and fascinating destinations.
Here are eleven things you may find surprising about Ethiopia:
1. Ethiopia is home to the cruelest place on Earth
National Geographic named the Danakil Depression "The cruelest place on earth". This prohibitive desert basin is in the northeast Ethiopia, and has year-round temperatures of 95 degrees, which sometimes reaches a high of 145 degrees. The salt deposited when the Red Sea flooded in this region for many millennia, it provides a much needed source of income for the Afar people, who are at risk of dangerous conditions to extract the abundant salt.
2. Ethiopia was home to a living God, according to the Rastafarian movement
Emperor Haile Selassie he was the regent of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974, when he was overthrown by the Marxist dictator Mengitsu Haile Mariam. Haile Selassie was heir to a dynasty that allegedly dated Menelik I, the son of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon. As such, he was seen as the messiah returned from the Bible, God incarnate, by the Rastafarian movement. His name is often included in reggae songs, and Bob Marley's "War" was based on a speech by Haile Selassie to the United Nations in 1963.
3. Ethiopia has an extremely diverse music scene
Many The different tribes of Ethiopia are associated with different styles of music. Without a doubt, the most popular musical export is Ethio-Jazz. Traditionally, Ethiopian music is based on five notes, but on the 1970s musician Mulatu Astatke he started to fuse these five tones with the 12 tones of jazz and Ethio-Jazz was born. You can hear Ethio-Jazz today at one of Addis Ababa's many live music venues.
4. One of Ethiopia's most famous residents is 3.2 million years old
AL 288-1 (better known as Lucy) is an Australopithecus Afarensis found in the Afar Depression in 1974. Its skeleton was found 40% complete, an astonishing discovery that animated anthropologists worldwide, providing valuable information on the evolution of modern humans.
Despite having an upright walk similar to that of humans, Lucy has a small cranial capacity similar to that of monkeys, supporting the view that bipedalism preceded the increase in brain size in the first humans. Despite being an adult adult, Lucy was only three and a half feet tall and weighed 63 pounds. After six years traveling through the USA, Lucy returned to Ethiopia in May 2013 and now resides at the National Museum of Addis Ababa.
5. The Omo Valley is one of the most diverse tribal places in Africa
The remote Omo Valley, southwestern Ethiopia it houses some of Ethiopia's most fascinating and diverse ethnic groups, including the Hamers, Banna, Mursi and Surma. Among the Mursi, it is still common for women to wear large ceramic or wooden plates on their lower lips.
6. The queen of Sheba came from Ethiopia
According to legend, the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba traveled to Israel to visit King Solomon. After serving a meal with spicy food, the sneaky king left a glass of water beside the queen's bed, which he woke up at night to drink. In a cunning move, Solomon promised not to take anything from the queen, if she didn't take anything from him.
Solomon then demanded his share in the bargain, and the queen soon returned to Ethiopia carrying Solomon's son, the future King Menelik. It is said later that Menelik visited his father in Israel, where he fled with the Ark of the Covenant, explaining his alleged current location in Axum.
7. Shoulder dance is a popular form of dance
This unique way of dancing has its origins in tribal life in Ethiopia. Eskesta, which means "dancing shoulders", is practiced in a variety of war songs, love songs, hunting songs and shepherd songs.
8. Ethiopia is seven years behind the rest of the world
Ethiopia continues to use the Julian calendar, which most of the rest of the world stopped using in 1582. The Julian calendar consists of 13 months – 12 months lasting 30 days and one lasting 5 days. The country celebrates the New Year on September 11.
9. Ethiopia is home to a unique wildlife
Ethiopia has a unique variety of wildlife, the most famous being the Cold Baboon, who lives in the highlands of Ethiopia. Another famous animal is the Simien Fox, or Ethiopian wolf. Similar to the size and construction of the coyote, it has red and white fur and is the most threatened carnivore in Africa. The best place to see Simian Fox is in the Bale Mountains.
10. Impressive scenery in abundance
Ethiopia has a incredible variety of impressive scenarios, from mountains such as the Bale and Simien mountain ranges, to the volcanic landscape of the Danakil Depression, to the fertile Omo valley. The varied scenarios of the country are one of the biggest surprises for visitors who still associate the country with the hunger appeals of the 80s.
11. Ethiopia is a fortress of Christan
Ethiopia has a fascinating mix of traditional religions and ancient spiritual beliefs. More than 60% of the population is Christian, with the majority Orthodox Ethiopian. The long history of Christianity in Ethiopia can be seen in the fascinating ancient churches of Lalibela, and the church claims to have the Ark of the Covenant in Axum. The most popular festival in the country is the annual Timkat Festival, a noisy and colorful environment, where a model of the Ark is displayed in the streets and the priests use powerful hoses to spray the crowd with holy water.