Country - Ethiopia
Ethiopia Country Information
Ethiopia was once known as Abyssinia. The present official name is Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Its capital and the largest city is Addis Ababa. Amharic is the official language of the country. Christianity is the main religion followed by 62.8% of the population, Islam by 33.9% and the local/other religions by the remaining people. Ethiopia is the second most populous country with a population of 10.38 crores in the African continent after Nigeria whose population count is at 18.15 crores.
Ethiopia lies near the horn of Eastern Africa. It is a landlocked country from all sides. Eritrea lies to its north, North Sudan to the northwest, South Sudan to the west, Somalia to the East and South East and Kenya to the South.
The exports of the country are dominated by coffee which is of 65% of the total exports. More than 25% of the population is engaged in coffee production. In addition to coffee, the other components of exports include raw leather, livestock, leather products, gold and oil seeds. Imports comprise petroleum, food, animals, machinery, transport equipment, vehicles and textiles. Import of large quantities of petrol has been keeping the balance of trade in unfavorable position. By liberalizing the trade practices, Ethiopia is trying to increase the quantum of exports in future.
Ethiopia has the off-the-world attractions for international tourists. The construction of the underground Church The Bete Giyorgis was the single rock-carving by the king of Lalibela in 1220 A.D. The church is also connected by a series of elaborate tunnels to other sunken stone churches. The roof top of the church is in the shape of Greek Cross * and seems for an aerial viewer as almost co-planar with the ground people can walk on; the apex of the church seems surrounded by the walls of a rectangle shaped ditch. The building is 40 feet below the ground level with its apex sculpted as a block of crucifix lying flat in a supine position horizontally, facing skywards.
(* Greek Cross is in the shape of the symbol + in which all the four spikes are of equal length, unlike the traditional Christian crucifix which has the vertical bar quite longer than the horizontal bar).
A distant aerial view of the ground, say from a helicopter, does not raise any suspicion in the mind of observers about the existence of the church below the ground, except the stone block of Greek Cross lying flat like a giant concrete brick in a ditch. Visitors are surprised to find the monument of its size underground carved out of a single rock. Eleven more churches built of a single rock in the same fashion can be found in the vicinity of the town. Such edifices are a rarity in themselves, perhaps in the entire world.
An extremely hot terrain in the Danakil depression called Dallol is the most uninhabitable area in the country. Vast amounts of salt deposits are formed on account of the composition of soil as well as the skin-scalding temperature of the natural furnace. Molten minerals and toxic gas bubbles rise to surface of the boiling semi-liquid matter. Hot water springs too can be found in the surroundings.
Erta Ale is one of the hottest volcanoes on earth, spewing out lava into two individual streams.
Ben Abeba is the most picturesque restaurant situated on the top of a green hill. The ground below the hotel is precisely sufficient to accommodate just the hotel and cannot accommodate any other building, making the hotel as the sole occupier of the top of the hill. The hotel seems precariously perched on the stone stop of the hill and the edges of the hotel building descend immediately into deep declivities. As a single occupier of the hill-top, the hotel flaunts a special attraction to visitors.
The Obelisks of Axum stir out the curiosity of tourists to know more about them when they happen to cast a glance on the vertical metallic stem-poles of 80 feet erected in an open area. The most powerful Kingdom of Axum ruled the Ethiopian territory for a lengthy period of 1400 years commencing from 400 B.C. Metallic obelisks were planted as headstones on the graves of brave kings of its dynasty. Archaeologists believed that a powerful earthquake or a massive natural disaster must have uprooted the stelea which went further buried deep in the ground and lay unnoticed for hundreds of years till the Italian invasion in 1935. All the broken pieces of the metal pole, weighing 160 tonnes, were taken to Italy as loot from the invaded country. On tenacious insistence of UN, the detached accessories of the pole were brought back to Ethiopia in 2007 amid protests in Italy. The greatest obelisk of 108 feet stands up majestically among its other smaller counterparts and compels the curious visitors to learn more about their history.
The Ark of the Covenant is a monument that is considered sanctimonious by the worshippers. The chapel is guarded round-the-clock by a staunch devotee who is ordered to follow strict celibacy till his death and a similar successor imposed with the same stringent rules is selected before the death of predecessor. Life-long virginity is the basic pre-requisite for anyone to be selected as the sentinel to the chapel. Every year thousands of pilgrims throng at the red fence to view the chapel; some of them gather at the barricade for confessing the sinful acts committed by them in the past as well as seeking help from God for their unsolved personal miseries.
Ethiopia is the right place for having a taste of genuine coffee flavour since the native soil is most suitable and fertile to raise coffee plantations which not only cater to the domestic needs but are a strong source of export revenue for the country.