16 things you may not know about Ethiopia


Delightful reading at: Ethiopian Folk Tales

1) In Ethiopia it is now 2006, we use the Julian calendar with 13 months a year. New Year’s Day is on 11th September and theye celebrate Christmas on 7th January. Each of 12 months all have 30 days, the balance of 6 or 7 days depending whether it is a leap year is the 13th month
2) As Ethiopia is near the equator it gets daylight at 6am and dark by 6pm every day all year. We tell the time as 12 hours by day and another 12 hours for night. 7am is then 1 o’clock day, 8pm is 2 o’clock night. Arranging a meeting can be confusing!
3) The oldest humanoid skeleton dated over 6 million years ago, is from Ethiopia.
4) Frankincense comes from Ethiopia. One of the three kings to witness Jesus birth is reputed to have been an Ethiopian, bringing the Frankincense.
5) There were Jews living in Ethiopia centuries before Christ and Christianity came to Ethiopia in the third century AD. The original Ten Commandments or Holy Ark of the Covenant is reputed to be in Axum, Northern Ethiopia – where it is closely guarded.
6) Lalibela, deep in the mountains in the centre of Ethiopia country, has a collection of eleven 13th century underground rock-hewn churches – reputedly built by many angels. A World Heritage site often termed the eighth wonder of the world.
7) Ethiopia was the only African country to defeat an European power (Italy) in the 1896 “Scramble for Africa” . Ethiopia is the oldest independent African state & was never colonised.
8) Ethiopia is as big as France & Spain together, with an estimated population of over 80 million – although reputed to have more livestock.
9) Half of the country is mountainous and over 6,000 feet – that is twice as high as the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis. Other parts are actually below sea level.
10) Before Emperor Haile Selassie was crowned, he was called Duke (Ras) Tafari. This is the source of the name of the Rastafarians, who revere him as the direct descendant of King Solomon. “Haile Selassie” means Holy Trinity. 11) The alphabet used in Ethiopia is derived from Hebrew and Sabean and is called G’eez. It has nearly 300 letters – including seven vowels. All spelling is phonetical.
12) The Queen of Sheba journeyed from Ethiopia in the 9th Century BC to see King Solomon in search of knowledge and is recorded as saying “Learning is better than treasures of silver and gold, better than all that has been created on earth…and afterwards what can be compared to learning?”
13) The Greeks and Persians called Ethiopians the “Habasha” meaning the burnt people. An earlier name for Ethiopia was Abyssinia (said to be derived from Habasha), meaning land of the burnt people.
14) Coffee, grown on trees, originated in Ethiopia – in the region of Kaffa.
15) The Blue Nile rises in NW Ethiopia joining the White Nile (from Uganda) at Khartoum, Sudan and providing over 85% of all the water in the Nile flowing through Egypt.
16) In 14 Nov 1879 Ethiopian Prince Alemayehu, (orphaned son of Emperor Tewodros) died in Leeds, UK allegedly of pneumonia. He was being cared for by Queen Victoria and is the only non British royal to be buried in the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle.