40+ Interesting Facts About Ethiopia

  1. Ethiopia is a landlocked African country in the area known as the Horn of Africa. It is the 13th most populous country in the world.
  2. Ethiopia is the world’s most populous landlocked country. It has a population of more than 110 million. (Source)
  3. Ethiopia is the 2nd most populous country in Africa. Only Nigeria has more inhabitants than Ethiopia in the continent. (Source)
  4. Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee. The coffee plant was initially cultivated in Ethiopian highlands around 1,200 years ago. It constitutes more than 24% of Ethiopian export. The country is the 5th largest exporter of coffee in the world and the largest in Africa. Around 15 million households in Ethiopia are, directly or indirectly, dependent on coffee for their livelihoods. (Source)
  5. Sof Omar Cave in Ethiopia is the longest cave in Africa and the 306th longest in the world. It has a length of 16 km. (Source)
  6. Ethiopia was one of two African countries, along with Liberia, that remained sovereign during the Scramble for Africa.
  7. Ethiopia defeated invading Italian forces in 1862. However, the African country lost its independence to Italy in 1936. The Allies liberated Ethiopia from Italy in 1941 during WW2.
  8. Ethiopian resistance against Western colonialism inspired other African nations. Therefore, many African countries adopted the Ethiopian flag color after their independence. These include Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, and many others. (Source)
    A human fossil from Ethiopia
    Ethiopia is a discovery place for many old human fossils

  9. The oldest complete skull of a human ancestor was discovered in Ethiopia in 2019. This skull is 3.8 million years old. Human-related fossils around 7 million years old have been discovered in Ethiopia’s Afar region. (Source)
  10. Ethiopia annexed Eritrea in 1962. This occupation lasted for more than 30 years, and Eritrea regained its independence in 1993.
  11. Ethiopia became a socialist state after the military overthrew the monarchy in 1974. The socialist regime, which turned to communism in 1987, lasted by 1991.
  12. Ethiopians follow the Ethiopian calendar. There are 13 months in this calendar, 12 months of 30 days each, and the 13th month of 5 or 6 days. The day in Ethiopia starts at 6 am (sunrise) and ends at 6 pm (sunset).
  13. People in Ethiopia speak around 100 languages. All these languages have official state recognition.
  14. Omoro and Amhara are the largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. They constitute more than 60% of the country’s population.
  15. More than 60% of Ethiopians are Christians. Most of them follow the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which remained the official religion from the 4th Century till the overthrow of the monarchy in 1974.
  16. Around 35% of Ethiopians are Muslims. Islam arrived in the country during the 7th Century. Ethiopia was also the place for the First Muslim migration.
  17. The modern Ethiopian state was established during the reign of Emperor Tewodros II between 1855 and 1868. 
  18. Ethiopia was one of the initial independent countries to sign the charter of the United Nations.
  19. The headquarters of the African Union and the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa are in Addis Ababa (Ethiopian capital).
  20. Thousands of Ethiopians lost their lives to Marxist dictators between 1977 and 1979. It is known as the “Red Terror.”
  21. Ethiopia faced the worst famine in a century between 1983 and 1985. It resulted in the deaths of around 1 million people.
  22. Marriages by bride kidnapping is a common practice in rural Ethiopia. It usually happens if a person cannot pay the necessary dowry for marriage. This practice is now illegal in Ethiopia.
  23. Ethiopia has the fastest-growing economy in Africa. Its GDP growth rate in 2018 was 8.5%, primarily due to privatization of state-owned companies and increase in trade relations. (Source)
  24. Ethiopia has constructed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. Its main source is the Ethiopian highlands that supply more than 85% of water to the river. However, the construction and filling of the dam have started a dispute between Ethiopia and the downstream countries: Egypt and Sudan. (Source)
  25. In Ethiopia, people eat raw meat as a delicacy at weddings and festive occasions. This traditional custom is still strong in the country despite health risks. (Source)
    Raw lamb meat
    Raw meat is considered a delicacy in Ethiopia

  26. Ethiopia contains the 5th highest number of cattle in the world. The cattle inventory in Ethiopia is the largest in Africa. (Source)
  27. Ethiopia has one of the best Olympic records in Africa. The country won 22 gold, 11 silver, and 21 bronze medals in Olympic Games between 1960 and 2016. It received all these medals in athletics.
  28. Rastafarian was a religious and political movement that originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. They got inspiration from Ethiopia and believed that the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I was the second coming of Christ. Ras Tafari was the pre-coronation name of the emperor. (Source)
  29. Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, was the first athlete to win two Olympic marathons. He achieved this fate in the 1960 Rome Olympics and 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He ran the marathon barefoot in the 1960 Olympics. (Source)
  30. Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is the hottest place on earth thanks to geothermal heat caused by volcanic activity. The rotten-egg smell of sulfur is from lava lakes and hot springs in this area. It is also one of the lowest places on earth due to its location of 100 meters below sea level. Life in this place consists of unique microbes that can survive in extreme environments. (Source)
  31. Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is the highest capital city in Africa and the 5th highest in the world. It is situated at an altitude of 7,726 feet. (Source)
  32. The oldest known Christian church in sub-Saharan Africa is present in Ethiopia. It was built in the 4th Century A.D. (Source)
  33. Ethiopia developed its script during the 2nd Century. It is the only African country with its individual script. 
  34. The Church authorities of the St. Mary of Zion cathedral in Aksum claim the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in this church. However, they do not allow anyone to see the ark, and the claim is considered inauthentic. (Source)
  35. There are 9 UNESCO world heritage sites in Ethiopia. Eight of these are cultural sites, while Simien National Park is the only natural site in the country. (Source)
  36. Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia. It has a surface area of 2,156 km and a depth of 14 meters. This lake is also the main reservoir for Blue Nile River. (Source)
  37. Brown teff is the world’s smallest grain, originating in Ethiopia between 4,000 BC and 10,000 BC. One hundred seeds of teff are the size of a kernel of wheat.
  38. The Beta Israel (House of Israel) community settled in Ethiopia when they arrived from various countries in the region between the 1st and 6th Centuries. They have unique religious practices compared to other Jewish communities. (Source)
  39. Mercato in Addis Ababa is the largest open-air market in Africa. It gives business opportunities to numerous traders in thousands of business entities. 
  40. Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline in Africa. It was declared the best African airline in 2018. It was founded in 1945, and has 111 planes in its fleet. (Source)
  41. The Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 was awarded to Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to resolve the border dispute with Eritrea. (Source)
  42. Ethiopia has the lowest income inequality in sub-Saharan Africa. The Gini Index in Ethiopia is 33.6. Comparatively, it is 68.6 for Botswana, the highest income inequality in the region. (Source)


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