Ethiopia is located in north-eastern Africa, very near the Gulf of Aden which separates Africa and the Middle East. However, it’s actually land-locked: by Eritrea and Djibouti to the north, Somalia to the east, Kenya and South Sudan to the south, and Sudan to the west.
Ethiopia’s climate is highly variable. In the Ethiopian Highlands and the Mount Entoto region, the average annual temperature is in the mid teens, with a maximum of around 25 degrees Celsius. Low-lying regions are much hotter—a region of Ethiopia called the Danakil Depression has an annual average temperature of 34 degrees, which is the highest in the world. In the Danakil Desert, temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees during the day.
To many people in the western world, Ethiopia is a place of famine and poverty, but the truth is there is much more to Ethiopia than this. The country is home to many wildlife areas that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, due to the diversity of African wildlife that is found there.
Ethiopia is also part of the region from which modern humans began to migrate to new continents. Some of the earliest remains of modern humans, millions of years old, have been found here. Ethiopia is also Africa’s oldest independent country, and one of the oldest in the world.
While coffee is associated with South America, coffee cultivation actually originated in Ethiopia. According to an Ethiopian legend, the drink was discovered by a 9th-century goat-herder who discovered the plant’s effects after noticing that his flock was particularly energetic after eating it!
The first unified kingdom of Ethiopia was D’mt, which existed from the 10th to the 5th centuries BCE. Later, smaller kingdoms grew up as D’mt fell.
Starting around the 15th century a more unified Ethiopia began to establish relations with European countries, but by 1755 Ethiopia entered into a long period of isolationism. Modern Ethiopia emerged onto the world stage when the country’s full independence was established under Emperor Menelik II at the end of the 19th century.
In the 20th century, Emperor Haile Selassie—known in Ethiopia as the Lion of Judah—changed the country significantly by outlawing slavery, introducing a constitution, and creating a parliament and courts system. Emperor Selassie reigned until he was deposed in 1974 by a military socialist government, which instigated a brutal 17-year regime. In 1991, years of insurrections forced the regime to an end, allowing for the formation of a democracy and elections for a new parliament.
Ethiopia has more than two dozen native mammal species, including the Ethiopian wolf, an endangered animal that is the best-known of the country’s threatened species. Several other native animals are critically endangered, including the black rhinoceros, of which only a few thousand still exist. Other native animals include many species of shrew, rats, and other rodents, along with several colourful frogs and birds.
The country has an abundance of plants and trees, particularly in the mountains and the Great Rift Valley region. The mountains are heavily covered in shrubs and trees, as are the Ethiopian Highlands. Natives include species of aster, grasses, succulents, and Rosa abyssinica, a tall native rose bush that produces small white flowers.
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