Ethiopia The Land of Thousand Smiles
Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
7/50-G, Satya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
Tel +91 11 2611 9513/14, Fax +91 11 2687 5731
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.ethiopiaembassy.in
Ethiopia - The Land
Ethiopia is strategically located in the horn of Africa bordered by the Sudan and South Sudan on the west, Somalia and Djibouti on the east, Eritrea on the north and Kenya on the south. It covers an area of 1.14 million square kilometres (444,000 square miles). The varied topography of the country generally features rugged mountains, flat-topped plateaux, deep river canyons, rolling plains and low lands. The major river basins include; The Abbay (Blue Nile), Awash, Baro, Omo, Tekeze arid Wabe Shabele, The Great Valley divides the Ethiopian high lands, as it traverses the country from north to south.With a population of over 80 million, Ethiopia represents a melting pot of ancient Middle Eastern and African cultures evident in the religious, ethnic an language compositions of its Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilotic peoples. The Ethiopian people comprise about seventy eight nationalities of which the Amhara and the Oromo constitute the majority, with about 60 percent of the total population.
Most Ethiopians are farmers and herdsmen, but there are also many craftsmen. Fishing is another activity prevalent on the lakes and rivers of the Rift Valley. Literate and forward-looking urban residents of Addis Ababa and other main cities participate in practically every profession known to the modern world.
Culture of Ethiopia
In the north of the country followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith, one of the oldest denominations of Christianity makes up the majority of the population. Their churches and monasteries are highly respected religious sanctuaries and are storehouses of priceless religious and historical treasures. Ethiopian Christians have a deep belief that the Biblical Ark of the Covenant was removed from Jerusalem during the reign of King Solomon and is now resting in a chapel in the town of Axum.
Ethiopia's Islamic community are settled, particularly in the eastern and southern parts of the country. In fact, there were Muslims in Ethiopia during the life of the Prophet Mohammed. This rich religious history is especially brought to life in the romantic walled city of Harar, considered by many Muslims to be a 'holy city' of Islam and an important centre of the Islamic faith on the continent of Africa since the tenth or eleventh century AD.
Ethiopia is strategically located in north-eastern part of Africa known as the 'Horn of Africa', which lies at crossroads between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It is bordered by Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Eritrea to the north, the Sudan and South Sudan to the west and Kenya to the south, extending 3° to 15° north of the equator and 33° to 48° east of the Greenwich meridian. It is situated within easy reach of the Horn's major ports, which connect it with the rest of the world. Access to these ports has played a prominent role in enhancing the country's international trade.
Geographically, Ethiopia is a country of immense contrasts. It has high and rugged mountains, flat topped plateaus called Ambas, deep gorges, incised river valleys and vast rolling plains. Its altitude ranges from 148 meters below sea level at the Dallol Depression (the lowest depression in the, world), in the northeast, to the highest peak at Ras Dashen, which is 4620 meters above sea level on the Seimen Mountains in the northwest. Surrounding the highlands, which constitute 56% of the total area of the country, are extensive low lands with altitudes of less than 1,000 meters.
Ethiopia enjoys a pleasant climate varying from cold to temperate and from sub-tropical to tropical. Much of the country has, however, a climate tempered by high altitude though it lies just within 15° north of the equator. There are two rainy seasons in the country, namely, the 'small' rains in February and March, and the 'big' rains from June to September. Two extreme cases are hot arid climate with a mean annual rainfall of less than 450mm, and mean annual temperature of 27°C – 32°C; and a cool highland climate where the mean temperature of the warmest month is less than 10°C with a mean annual rainfall of 800 – 2000mm. Thus, arid areas and areas of plentiful moisture, hot lowlands and cool highlands are found in the country.
People of Ethiopia
Ethiopia has a population of over 80 million ranking the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria. The people are ethnically and culturally diverse. It is a multi-ethnic state with a variety of languages, out of which 83 have over 200 dialects, constituting Cushitic, Omotic, Nilo-Saharan and Semitic languages. Amharic is the working language of the Federal Government. English is the medium of instructions, and it is widely used in business transaction, particularly in banking and insurance.
Ethiopians are generally considered as courteous and hospitable. They are also regarded as trustworthy, sincere, friendly and hardworking. Homer in his book “Iliad” wrote that Ethiopians are blameless race with whom the gods have dined. The Italian historian, Conti Rossini, wrote that, “Ethiopians are people of never failing good will and kindness and exceedingly polite.”
As regards Ethiopian culture and tradition, Christianity and Islam have exerted much influence on the development of complex and diverse culture traits. While the lives and day-to-day activities of the people are influenced by their respective religions, topographic and climatic variations also had impact on the natural, historical and cultural heritages of the Ethiopian peoples.
Ethiopia, the land that was once known as Abyssinia and that was one of the great kingdoms of the ancient world, is old beyond what most people could imagine. Its culture and tradition dates back over 3,000 years. In fact, the 3.5 million-year-old skeleton of “Lucy” or Australopithecus at Hadar, in the Afar Region; the 4.4 million-year-old remains of Australopithecus “Remides” which is considered to be man’s anthropoid ancestor, and the earliest hand tools of humans unearthed in the Omo Valley make the country the oldest home of mankind on the planet.
Moreover, the country, which has never been colonized, is one of and is perhaps the richest histories on the African continent and has a wealth of castles, palaces, ancient churches, monasteries and mosques as well as unique wild life, bird life and breath taking vistas.
Traditional cuisine is unique with different parts of the country having their own special delicacies. Ethiopia’s national dish is wot, a type of spicy stew accompanied by injera, a fermented pancake-like bread made from teff, a locally grown grain. The most common drink is tej, a type of mead or honey wine, or tella, a light home-brewed beer made from malted barley. An Ethiopian meal is rounded off in traditional fashion with the coffee ceremony. Coffee is originated in Ethiopia. Kaffa was the place where coffee plants were discovered.
Music and Dance
Music and dances have distinctive characteristics and are tremendously varies in style and content. Music has always played a prominent role in Ethiopia’s history.
From religious services and festivities to preparations for war, from rites of passages to communal agricultural work music has always been a natural accompaniment to the rhythms of Ethiopian life. Besides popular music there is the formal music of the church – hymn singing and chanting, which goes back to the beginning of Ethiopian Christianity in the early fourth century.
Jewellery and Crafts
The Ethiopians love ornament, design and aesthetic art band this is reflected not only in the dress of the people but also in their personal adornment. The monasteries of Ethiopia produced some of the earliest illuminated parchments. Church decorations are another medium of artistic expression. The potter’s craft in Ethiopia is over 3,000 years old. Carving, basket weaving, hand weaving and other handicrafts are part of the tradition in Ethiopia.
Addis Ababa, which literally means new flower, is a city of surprises characterized by remarkable diversity and contrast. Abundant eucalyptus trees and crisp clear mountain air endow the Ethiopian capital city with the bracing atmosphere of a highland summer resort.
Its cosy espresso bars and patisseries are reminiscent of Rome or the Mediterranean, whereas its bustling outdoor markets are colourful reminders of more traditional ways of life such as those found in Delhi or Bombay.
Addis Abba is as vibrant and cosmopolitan as any of the world's great metropolises. The architecture is as varied as the city itself. Tall office buildings, elegant villas, functional bungalows, flats, fashionable hotels, conference centres, and theatres vie for space alongside traditional homes surrounded by cattle, sheep, goats and chickens.
Each of Ethiopia's multitude of ethnic groups is represented somewhere in the capital, as are large numbers of foreign residents from all parts of the world. One central spot to experience the ethnicity of Ethiopia is the sprawling Merkato Market - the largest outdoor market in Africa.
Ethiopia has one of the lowest crime rates in Africa. Its capital, Addis Ababa, unlike other developing state capitals has a record of few common crimes. The city is considered as one of the safest capital in Africa.
Being more than just a gateway to other regions of the country, Addis Abba is rich in attractions and is worthy of insertion on the travel itinerary. Splendid monuments and world-class museums portray a glorious past. Skyscrapers, steeples of churches and minarets of mosques adorn the skyline. One can partake a magnificent view of the city from the top of Entoto Mountain. The Piassa area with a pronouncedly Italian flavour is located at the centre of the city. Here gold and silversmiths, cake shops, espresso houses, electronic retailers and such are set in modern establishments.
Addis Ababa, the Federal Capital, lies in the central plateau at an altitude of 2,400 meters, 9° north of the equator. Its average annual temperature is 16°C (60°F). Average annual rainfall is 122.1 millimetres.
Addis Ababa was founded in 1887, and has a population of about 3 million. It is the seat of the Federal Government, the African Union (AU), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Several other regional and international organizations have their headquarters and branch offices in the capital. It is also the centre of commercial activities and industry. Manufacturing plants for steel fabrication, wool, tanneries, textiles, cement, tiers, leather goods and breweries are some of the factories located in and around the capital.
Reputable tour operators and travel agents are found in or adjacent to most major hotels. Many provide tailor-made tours of the city, conducted by experienced multilingual guides. This is the recommended method to get the best out of a visit to Addis Ababa - a city referred to as Africa's New Flower.
Resort centres with hot springs and lakes as well as national parks which lie to the south and east of the capital, Addis Ababa, are easily accessible by road. Among those resort areas are Sodere, Langano, Awassa, Wondo Genet and Awash Park. They are adorned and frequented by both locals and foreigners.
The other important centres of trade and industry in the country are Awassa, Dire Dawa, Gonder, Dessie, Nazareth, Jimma, Harar, Bahir Dar, Mekele, Debre Markos and Kombolcha. They are all connected to Addis Ababa by asphalt roads. They have good infrastructure facilities such as water, electricity, telephone, internet service, hotels, and most of them have also airports.
Ethiopian Airlines has an excellent safety records in its 67 years of service. It links the country with over 63 destinations worldwide and has 17 destinations across the country. There are regular flights to and from Mumbai and New Delhi to Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia - Historical Places
Bahar Dar, located on the southern most shore of Lake Tana has remained an important commercial centre of the region. One can observe men in tankwa (papyrus canoes) bringing their wares to market as their ancestors have done for centuries. The town has several attractions such as the Hippopotamus may be seen from the bridge where the Blue Nile starts its 800-kilometre journey to the Nile River. Bahar Dar is a convenient base for trips on Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, and excursion to the roaring Blue Nile Falls.
Lake TanaOf the thirty-seven islands of Lake Tana, some twenty shelter churches and monasteries of significant historical and cultural interest. Many of the churches were founded in the late 16th or early 17th century and their buildings date back over two hundred years. Some are closed to women, but Ura Kidane Mehert (Saint Mary Church) is open to both genders and is located only a short boat-ride out of Bahar Dar. With walls constructed of mud and straw, and a thatched roof, the church contains. Colourful frescoes depicting scenes from biblical lore and from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The Blue Nile Falls Known locally as Tis Isat (Smoke of Fire), is the most spectacular sight on the whole Nile system. Located thirty-five kilometres from Bahar Dar, this torrent of gushing water plunges four hundred meters over a sheer chasm more than forty-five metres deep, throwing up a continuous spray that drenches onlookers more than half a kilometre away. The twenty-minute trek to the vantage point from the parking area is an experience in its own class. One will pass through green fields and meadows, descend into the gorge, cross a seventeenth century bridge, interact with residents of a traditional village and then walk a path that meanders over a grassy hillside before being treated to the moat spectacular climax - Tis Isat.
Lalibela: Rock of Ages
Lalibela is not much more than a village, scarcely visible against the horizon dominated by the 4,200 metre peak of Mount Abune Yosef. Formerly known as Roha, it now bears the name of King Lalibela (1181-1221), whose legacy to Ethiopia and indeed the world was eleven rock-hewn churches - often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Said to be the work of angels, these towering edifices were hewn out of the solid, red volcanic tuff on which they stand. In consequence, they seem to be of superhuman creation - in scale, in workmanship and in concept. Some lie almost completely hidden in deep trenches, while others stand in open quarried caves. A complex of bewildering labyrinth of tunnels and narrow passageways with offsets crypts, grottoes and galleries connects them all - a cool, lichen-enshrouded. Subterranean world, shaded and damp, silent but for the faint echoes of distant footfalls as priests and deacons go about their timeless business.
Although the individual dimensions and configurations of the five freestanding structures differ immensely, these churches are all built from great blocks of stone, sculptured to resemble normal buildings and wholly isolated within deep courtyards. One is amazed at the technical skill, the material resources and the continuity of effort, which such vast undertakings imply. A deep square pool in the courtyard of Bete Medhane Alem, the House of the Lord, is said to have miraculous properties, and infertile women dip themselves in the algae-covered waters at certain times of the year.
One day is not enough to experience all the wonders of Lalibela. Those who are physically fit may wish to trek to the top of the nearby mountain to view another rock-hewn church called Asheton Mariam, another trek is to Na'akuto church, built in a cave on the far side of the same mountain. The less fit may opt for the back of mule as a means of transportation. These churches are wonderful and whatever the transportation mode maybe, the journey up the mountain and back is a true adventure.
Gondar: Camelot of Africa
Once the Ethiopian capital, Gondar has been the home to emperors and warlords, courtiers and kings - and many have left their footprints behind in the form of castle-like palaces, beautiful churches and a peaceful bathing palace.
The oldest and most impressive of Gondar's imperial structures is the two-storied palace of Emperor Fasilidas, which is built of roughly hewn brown basalt stones, held together with mortar. The building's Indian architect applied a flat roof, and magnificent towers that remind the viewer of the legendary tales of Camelot.
Perhaps the finest of Gondar's churches is Debre Birhan Selassie or 'Trinity at the Mount of Light'. The outside may look quite normal but upon entry the visitor will certainly be stunned by the beauty of the wall paintings depicting biblical events and especially the ceiling with over a hundred winged angles looking down from heaven.
Several notable Gondarine Structures are to be found outside of town. The most impressive is a well-preserved 'bathing palace'. It is filled with water once a year during Timkat (Epiphany) celebrations.
Axum: Mysterious Monoliths
Ethiopian legend makes Axum the capital of the Queen of Sheba in the tenth century BC. According to recorded history, the town was also capital of the far-reaching Axumite Empire around the time of Christ, which dominated the vital cross roads of Africa and Asia for a thousand years.
Axum is best known for its giant obelisks, or monolithic stelae, which seem to reach for the sky in all their glory. The largest stelae is 33 metres in length and weighs 500 tonnes, lays stretched out on the ground, having fallen at some point in the distant past. The largest perpendicular stalae stands 23 metres tall and proud with several smaller companions. All stalae are carved out of single pieces of granite and are identically decorated. One can only imagine the flow of blood, sweat and tears during the raising of these masterpieces to their magnificent stances.
In the courtyard of the 400 - year old St. Mary's Church is a chapel where the Ethiopian faithful and others believe is the last resting place of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant.
The Rift Valley and Bale Mountain One of Africa's most striking geographical features is a giant tear across the earth’s surface. The Great Rift Valley, extending from the Middle East to Mozambique, the Rift Valley passes from the northeast to the southwest right through Ethiopia, endowing the country with some spectacular sights that range from hot, dry, and barren places to a string of beautiful lakes.
Volcanic activity which greatly contributed to the formation of the Rift Valley continues up to the present time. In Ethiopia, it finds expression in the presence of hot springs in many parts of the country, as well as volcanic cones in the Danakil Depression in the north-east.
The Danakil, or Afar Depression, which encompasses a good portion of the Afar region, is one of the earth's hottest place, with many points more than 100 metre (330 feet) below sea level and noon-time temperatures soaring above 50°C (122°F). It is the site of a dry salt lake from which Ethiopians since time immemorial have obtained their amoles, or bars of salt, used both for consumption and, not long ago, as a regular currency. Mined by the Afar people for at least a millennium and a half, the salt is loaded on camels and taken to the highlands, where it is still in considerable demand and fetches a good price.
The landscape of the Danakil seems carved from the inferno of hell with volcanic cones rising above the scabs of black lava. Earth tremors are frequent, and there are several still-active volcanoes in the area. Amazingly, there is also wildlife to be seen here, and particularly zebra and wild ass.
The Bale Mountains are characterized by their vast moorlands, lower reaches covered with St. John's wort, extensive heath, virgin woodlands, pristine mountain streams and alpine climate. The Bale Mountains are found 425 kilometres from Addis Ababa. The mountains raise to a height of over 4,000 metres, with Mount Batu, the second highest peak in Ethiopia, rising to 4,307 metres high.
The Bale Mountains National Park, which covers an area of 2,470 square kilometres, and through which one can either walk or drive, is one of the best places to see the endemic Simien red wolf, the Mountain Nyala and Menilek's bushbuck. Amongst a profusion of birds, other animals to be seen include Anubis baboons, colobus monkeys, giant forest hog, lions and leopards. The creeks of the park, which become important rivers further down, offer some of Africa’s finest fishing for both rainbow and brown trout.
The two southernmost of the chain of Ethiopia's Rift Valley lakes, Abaya and Chamo, are rich in vegetation and wildlife. The Nech Sar National Park embraces the eastern shores of the lakes and was established as a sanctuary for the endemic Swayne's hartebeest. The lakes support many species of fish including the Nile perch and the tiger fish, as well as hordes of hippos and crocodiles. The bluff between the lakes has numerous springs after which the nearest town, Arba Minch, the local name for 'forty springs', is named.
Sof Omar - Mythical Caves
Not far from the Bale Mountains is one of the world's most spectacular and extensive underground caverns: the Sof Omar cave system. It is formed by the Web River as it changed its course in the distant past and carved a new channel through limestone foothills, Sof Omar is an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty.
A highlight of any visit to Bale Mountains is time spent exploring the Sof Omar Caves, where the Web River vanishes into a giant underground world of arched portals, high eroded ceilings and deep vaulted echo chambers. The caves now an important Islamic shrine, named after Sheikh Sof Omar, have a religious history that predates the arrival of Muslims in Bale region.
The approach to the caves is made through a tiny village, behind which is a footpath leading to a realm of soaring pillars, flying buttresses, fluted archways and tall airy vaults. Finally the river itself is reached and by torchlight it can be seen gushing along its course below. A spectacular sight is the 'Chamber of Columns', called after its colossal limestone pillars that are its dominant feature.
The countryside around the caves abounds with wildlife, namely, kudu, serval cats, rock hyrax, giant tortoises, snakes, lizards, as well as more than 50 species of birds.
Harar came into formal existence in 1520 when a local Amir, Abu Beker Mohamed, moved his capital there from Dakar, site of an older nearby settlement.
The walled city of Harar with its seven gates and distinctive islamic character is considered by muslims worldwide to be a 'holy city'. In its past the town served as the Islamic Gateway to Africa.
A local guide (recommended) will navigate the visitor through the interesting narrow alleys. Arrangements are often made with local residents for visits to private homes, where Quti a local brew made from coffee leafs is served in traditional fashion.
Of the two small markets, the Muslim Market is the most photogenic with its white buildings and colourfully dressed women, vendors of fruit, grain baskets and other items. Also at interest in Harar, besides the unique architecture and about old walls are Ras Makonnen's palace and Jani Mosque.
Haran women have been known for their basketwork and Harar is the place to obtain these colourful mementoes at bargain prices. Harar is also famous for its 'Hyena Men' who are found nightly outside the city-proper summoning hyena from the surrounding hills and then feed them by either hand or mouth.
The Rift Valley and its shimmering lakes offer unique scenic attraction. It contains exotic flora and fauna, and several thermal springs and spas which are known for their curative and relaxing qualities. The seven lakes that dangle lustrously like shining beads are Zeway, Langano, Awassa, Abiyata, Shala, Abaya and Chamo. Zcway is noted for its aquatic vegetation and the island monasteries, the golden Langano for its swimming and camping facilities. Abiyata and Shala are famous for their white sand and colourful army of birds. Beautiful scenery, a chain of sparkling lakes, abundant wildlife and bird life, and a kaleidoscope of colourful cultures all combine to make the Rift Valley a memorable experience. Lake Shala has a depth of 250 metres and is considered the deepest lake in Africa. Lake Awassa lies 270 kilometres south of Addis Ababa and glitters like a ruby.
The Southern lakes, Abaya and Chamo teem with crocodiles and different types of fish including the famous Nile Perch known for its delicacy. The two are separated by a chunk of land which local people fondly refer to as Ye Egzer Dildiy or the Bridge of God.
Omo National Park is situated on the west bank of the Omo River, and many of the river's tributaries and other rivers run through the park. The park is large at 4,068 square kilometres and is best suited for weeklong camping excursions.
Prolific wildlife of the park includes practically every common species of wildlife of Africa as well as 306 species of birds. Lions are most commonly seen near Lilibai hot springs, where many animals come to drink in the dry season. Parts of the park area are populated by interesting small tribal groups.
Mayo National Park is bisected by the Mayo River and its tributaries and consists mainly of savannah and grassland near the rivers. The park was set up to preserve the large numbers of plains animals in its midst, particularly buffalo, giraffe, and elephant among other species of mammal are lion, cheetah, leopard, burchell, zebra and kudu. Bird life is typical of the dry savannah habitat, featuring bustards, hornbills, weavers, and starlings.
Awash National Park is situated in the low lands to the east of Addis Ababa on the main Addis-Assab highway, which bisects the park. Besides many wild animals and birds the park is the home of Swayne's hartebeest an endemic subspecies.
Abiyatta-Shalla Lakes National Park was established for the many species of aquatic birds that use its lakes, particularly the great white pelicans and great and lesser flamingo. Other species include white-necked cormorant, African fish eagle, Egyptian geese, various plover species and heron. Mammals are not seen in great numbers, but include Grant's gazelle, greater kudu, oribi, warthog and golden jackal.
Nech Sar National Park links two of the Rift Valley lakes, Abaya which is the longest and largest of the valley, and Chamo. Apart from their crocodiles and bird life, Lakes Abaya and Chamo are famous for their sport fishing, especially for Nile perch, often weighing more than 100 kilo, and for the fighting tiger fish.
Lake Chamo in particular has an excellent viewing point for crocodiles known as Azo Gabaya, the Crocodile Market. Another interesting attraction on the lakes is the people traversing their surfaces in precarious-looking am batch boats made from reeds.
Ethiopia - Adventure
Road towns have acceptable local hotels, so camping is really a choice, except for those travelling to the more remote parts of the country. Many National Parks are suitable for camping and will remain so as long as visitors adhere to the eco-tourism motto, ‘take nothing but a photo’, and ‘leave nothing but a footprint’.
Blessed with a temperate climate, grand mountain scenery and a tradition of generous hospitality, the Ethiopian highlands offer superb trekking opportunities. Horses, mules and donkeys are universal means of transport, so horse trekking has been a natural development.
Conditions for sport fishing in Ethiopian lakes and rivers couldn't be more ideal as they are full of a wide variety of fish, some of extraordinary size. A day of fishing may have added bonuses such as the sighting of crocodiles, families of hippo and clouds of pink flamingo. Trout fishing is also popular in mountain streams situated quite close to the equator.
River rafting along the Omo and other white water Ethiopian rivers such as the Awash features prominently in the itineraries of international travel agencies. The Omo River tumbles its way some 350 kilometres through a steep, inaccessible valley and mellows its pace as it nears the lowlands, finishing up as a torpid meander through flat, semi-desert bush where it finally feeds Lake Turkana.
Hippo Alley, Rinse and Agitate, Henderson's Hydraulic, Potamns Plunge, Double Trouble, Haystack, Keeper Hole, Roller-coasterThese are nicknames given to some of the more significant challenges of the Omo River experience, which seasoned enthusiasts have described as better than that of the Zambezi River and those of Peru, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.
Ethiopia - Festivals
Ethiopia has a number of festivals throughout the year starting with, Tseday, which is the time of the Ethiopian New Year which falls on Maskaram 1 or September 11. This is also the beginning of the harvest season which is a time of parties and weddings.
The most unusual of the country's festivals are Kulubi Gabriel, Sheikh Hussein, Gishen Mariam and Sof Umar. Huge crowds arrive to pray for their health, for a new baby, for a special favour, for a good harvest or to give thanks for wishes already granted.
One important festival is Meskai which falls on September 27th and which celebrates the discovery of the true cross by St. Helena, the wife of Constantine the Great. Vast bonfires are lit countrywide the night before the celebration and on the day itself, there are dances and feasts for everybody present.
Ethiopia's most celebrated festival is Timket, the Epiphany, which falls on January 19th and is the easiest for visitors to witness and enjoy. The holy Tabot, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, is removed from each church around the country the day before the celebration and taken to a central area where the ceremony will take place. The following morning the church officials, resplendent in their gorgeous regalia, assemble around the Tabot and sprinkle holy water over all the Christians present and receive the renewals of their vows. After this is done the congregation follows the bishops, elders and clergy as the Tabot is carried back to the church from whence it came.
The most solemn of Ethiopia's festivals is at Easter when the celebrations include the sacred music and dance which is unique to the church, and which are later accompanied by the most solemn and moving rituals during the midnight Mass.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
1. Rock-hewn Churches, Lalibela, 1978
Lalibela is famous for its 11 rock hewn church dating back to the 12thcentury. The church is chipped out of solid rock.
2. Simen National Park, 1978
It is found in the northern Ethiopia and is home to the rarest animals on earth, including the Simien fox, the Gelada baboon and the Walia Ibex.
3. Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar, 1979
It is a unique 17th century fortress city located in the northern town of Gondar. It had served as the royal residence of Ethiopian emperor Fasilidas and his successors at a time when Gondar was the country’s capital.
4. Axum, 1980
Axum is renowned for world’s tallest monoliths, or obelisks, which experts say were erected to mark the passing of some ancient royal personages. Axum has a history that goes back more than 2,000 years. Axum was a centre of one of the first civilisations to adopt Christianity as a state religion.
5. Lower Awash Valley, 1980
One of the world’s most famous hominid fossils, known as ‘Lucy’, was discovered in the Lower Awash Valley in the searing heat of the eastern Afar region. The area contains some of the most important paleontological remains on the African continent.
6. Lower Omo Valley, 1980
This area in south western Ethiopia close to Lake Turkana, is another haven of prehistoric finds which have been essential in the study of human evolution. Ancient tools and hominid fossils dating back 2.4 million years ago have been discovered there.
7. Tiya, 1980
The prehistoric site of Tiya in southern Ethiopia houses a collection of some 30 intricately carved stelae and is probably an ancient burial ground.
8. Harar Jigol, 2006
The historic walled city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia was a major trading crossroads and a centre of Islamic learning. It was built as a protective wall from invaders between 13th and 16th centuries. The wall is about four metre high and pierced by five gates.
9.Konso Cultural Landscape
It is a 55km2 arid property of stone walled terraces and fortified settlements in the Konso highlands of Ethiopia. It constitutes as pectacular example of a living cultural
tradition stretching back 21 generations (more than 400 years) adapted to its dry hostile environment. The landscape demonstrates the shared values, social cohesion and engineering knowledge of its communities. Stone steles in the towns express a complex system of marking the passing of generations of leaders.
For Further information please contact:
Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Mrs. Jerusalem Amdemariam, Business Counsellor, email@example.com
7/50-G, Satya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
Tel +91 11 2611 9513/14, Fax +91 11 2687 5731