Flying south into Ethiopia from Europe, travelers will see the Ethiopian Highlands, the largest continuous elevated area in Africa, called the Roof of Africa. The Simien Mountain National Park is highlighted by the majestic 14,928 foot Ras Dashan, sometimes snow covered.
Another plane route will go over the Danakil Depression, a sand dune desert near the Eritrean and Djibouti border. This is one of the hottest and lowest places in the world, where camels still bring salt to market and acid pools cover the landscape. At night, the continuous lava filled cones will light the sky from the Erte Ale volcano, active since 1967. Explorers say this remote and rugged terrain is like being on another planet. Lucy fossils, dating back 3.2 million years, were located in this region.
The Rift Valley has eight major alkaline, mountain lakes were crocodiles, hippopotamus and fish thrive. One might ask how they came to this isolated elevation.
Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake is located at 6000 feet above sea level in a vast depression of a North West plateau. Fed by several rivers, the water finally goes over the Blue Nile Falls and ultimately flows into the Nile. Medieval monasteries were built on many lake islands. Beautiful hotels overlook the lake and charter boats are available.
Addis Ababa is the capital and home to about 4 million active residents. It is also the headquarters for the United Nations System in Ethiopia (25 UN Agencies); plus it is regarded as the "political capital" of Africa. Addis Ababa is a growing, exciting and captivating city.
Ethiopia is returning to prominence after dark and sad days with two invasions and the Communist Derg revolt. National leadership is dedicated to rapid renewal, while keeping Ethiopia the safest nation in Africa.
Most recently, Ethiopia is known for its progressive leadership in renewable energy with installation or plans for wind turbines, solar, geothermal and a mega-dam. As a safe haven for political refugees, over 500,000 individuals have crossed over their borders seeking assistance. Their leaders are active in the fight against terrorism and work to assist peace for their neighboring nations. Ethiopia is pushing aggressively in transportation with modern highways and a rail connection between Addis Ababa and Djibouti. Its long distance running, Olympic gold medalists are part of their national pride as are their soccer athletes. Ethiopia is one of the few countries not colonized.
The intense and historic religious heritage will discussed in another section. Billions of coffee lovers enjoy the fruits of the coffee bean that originated in Ethiopia in 850 A.D. Much pride is realized with Lucy, the most complete human ancestor skeletal remains over 3.2 million years old, indicating that Ethiopia is the beginning location of civilization. Ethiopians call her “dinknesh” or “wonderful.”
Axum is a city in northern Ethiopia that was the original capital of the kingdom of Axum. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 B.C. into the 10th century. The kingdom was also arbitrarily identified as Abyssinia, Ethiopia. In 1980, UNESCO added Aksum's archaeological sites and obelisks to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historical value. Ethiopia continues to use the Julian calendar.
Healthcare is a major issue in Ethiopia, eclipsing the United States. According to the head of the World Bank's Global HIV/AIDS Program, Ethiopia has 1 medical doctor for every 100,000 people. The majority of the communicable diseases originates from poor sanitation and malnutrition.
Ethiopia has 84 indigenous languages. The quality of education varies. Today, rural education is regionlized, having the children learn their regional language. Some children may never progress from elementary school.
Although the statistics may sound grim, the reality is the people of Ethiopia are a positive group recovering from civil war. Furthermore, its potential energy is becoming kinetic; industry and productivity is increasing every day. There is no other place that is as dynamic as Ethiopia. With the future execution of H.A.P.P.Y.'s goal to bring water treatment facilities to all 11 regions, Ethiopia will soon be noticed as a world-class nation.
About 96,000,000 citizens call Ethiopia their home and 90% live in rural areas earning a meager income. Rural farmers are totally dependant on precipitation and natural events. Almost 44% are under 14 years old and tend to gravitate to urban areas to seek jobs. In rural areas, about 66% have impure water and about 81% have unimproved sanitation.
Historical language groupings often isolate groups both geographically and socially. The three environmental zones...cool, temperate and hot...correlate with elevation and precipitation. With a land mass about twice the size of Texas, these extremes create management problems for leadership, especially in the areas of water, medicine and education.
Ethiopia's neighbors place constraints and another set of problems needed for leadership to solve. Developing transportation, power, water, sanitation, communication and education networks will pull diverse ethnic groups together and promote agriculture and trade with solid economic growth. As job and income opportunities improve, the young, educated and isolated groups will identify with Ethiopia's great potential in Africa.
The huge mixture of dreams and ethnic groups in America proved to become one of its key successful foundations. As Ethiopia competes and joins in the world community, its resources will also prove to become its strength. The old saying "Rome was not built in a day" must apply to Ethiopia as leadership needs mega-funds and time to build their dreams and unite their nation.
Ethiopia’s population of about 96,000,000 ranks it 14th in the world. Located in the Horn of Africa, its "land locked" territory is the 27th largest in the world, slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Its terrain has a high plateau with a central mountain range divided by the Great Rift Valley.
With only 13% arable land and agriculture representing 90% of total employment, the H.A.P.P.Y. foundation will blend its focus on water and education especially for rural programs. Our schools will teach basic crop farming, animal husbandry, nutrition, sanitation and household management in addition to typical studies. Adult education classes will provide more advanced studies as the children impress their parents with ideas and excitement. It is more ideal to have students and farmers come to one central location rather than ask educators to travel to individual farm homesteads.
The H.A.P.P.Y. team will use water to bring farmers and herdsmen together. Rural cooperatives to manage sharing of water, raw material costs, equipment, processing, marketing and financial resources will become implied agricultural extension teams that can also use school facilities. The land must become optimized with terraces in the hills, productive trees on rocky soil, irrigated pastures and mechanized multi-crop per year regions. Labor intensive agriculture is appropriate. A dairy cattle industry seems naturally ideal for hilly pasture locations and aquaculture has great potential in lowlands.
As agriculture becomes more productive, agro-industry will develop to process and transport products into urban areas and then expand into needed exports. Well-nourished families have fewer health issues and the children tend to obtain better grades. Progress in one area will support progress in other areas.
Ethiopia's highway, rail, electrical and water projects are the perfect foundation and complement for the development of rural agriculture in many sectors. With 44% of the population under 14 years of age, rapid job creation in agriculture is needed for both employment potential and low food costs.
Ethiopia is a holy land. Their national motto is “Ethiopia Stretches Her Hands unto God”. Religion is a major influence in Ethiopian life. Nearly 65% the population are Christians, about 34% are Muslims and others adhere to an ancient form of Judaism. Harar is the fourth most holy Muslim site in the world.
Almost 3000 years ago, the Queen of Sheba, in intriguing woman famed for her beauty and wealth, arrived in Jerusalem with camels bringing gold, spices and precious stones to give to King Solomon. Hers is one of the world’s oldest love stories. King Solomon wooed the Queen and descendants of their child, Menelik-son of the wise-became future kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopian Empire).
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is proud of its origins. The country embraced Christianity in the 4th century, long before Europe. The Orthodox Church dominates the political, cultural, and social life of the population. It was the official religion of the imperial court. The Solomonic Dynasty was founded and ruled by the Habesha from 1270 until Haile Selassie was assassinated in 1975 by the Derg Communists. The feast of the Epiphany ("Timkat") is the largest festival of the year.
Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant, one of the holiest relics known, containing the Ten Commandments, Aaron's rod, and other remains of Moses, is stored underground at St. Mary Church in Aksum.
The UNESCO World Heritage List of Lalibela is a marvel at any time of the year - as is most of Ethiopia, an East African nation rich in culture and diverse natural wonders.
Lalibela, Ethiopia is a small and quite poor mountain town. It is also one of the most prominent pilgrimage spots in Ethiopia, and it houses the jewel in the crown - an incredible labyrinth of 11 monolithic churches, tunnels and catacombs carved out of the red volcanic rock... one of the most amazing man-made rock-hewn church structures in the world.
The fact that the churches are still religiously important, also adds a lot of atmosphere... pilgrims, priests and other clergy are abundant.
The extended family remains the focus of the social system. It includes relatives on both sides of the family as well as close friends. Quite often the husband’s parents will live with the nuclear family when they get older and can no longer care for themselves. When people marry, they join their families, thus ensuring that there will always be a group to turn to in times of need. Individuals achieve recognition or social standing through their extended family. A family's honor is influenced by the actions of its members. Family needs are put before all other obligations, including business. Social etiquette is polite and respects elders and customs.
Food maintains its important position with the family and for entertainment. The national dish is mostly 'injera' and 'wat'. No pork is consumed and sourdough bread with vegetable or meat side dishes are traditional. Diets follow religious codes during special days and holidays. Utensils are not used, but the right hand serves the purpose. Coffee, the national drink, is a customary and proud social tradition.
Ge'ez is the ancient language, and was introduced as an official written language during the first Aksumite kingdom when the Sabeans sought refuge in Aksum. The Aksumites developed Ge'ez, a unique script derived from the Sabean and Hebrew alphabet which has 300 letters. It is still used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church today.
Tigrigna and Amharigna (Amharic) are the modern languages which are derived from Ge'ez. Amharic is the official national language of Ethiopia. English, Arabic, Italian and French are widely spoken by many Ethiopians.
The Ethiopian languages are divided into four major language groups. These are Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic, and Nilo-Saharan. Ethiopia has 83 different languages with up to 200 different dialects spoken. The largest ethnic and linguistic groups are the Oromos, Amharas and Tigrayans.
In 1994, Paulos Milkias, PhD and contributing editor of the Ethiopian Review wrote an astounding article, “The Dergue Era”, about the Communist Derg’s reign of gruesome terror from 1974-1991.
Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, dictator, was reported to have killed over 2,000,000 citizens and exacerbated famine with another 1,000,000 citizens! He was an ally of the Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea. (He is still “hiding” in Africa)
In 1991, the Derg regime was toppled by a rebel coalition—the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. A constitution was adopted in 1994 and multi-party elections were held in 1995. A bicameral Parliament, with a 108 seat Houses of Federation and a 547 seat House of People’s Representatives, serves the nation. The Supreme Imperial Court has 11 judges. The Abyssian Lion is the national symbol.
In September 2013, Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing airline in Africa, won the Passenger Choice awards for “Best Regional Airline in Africa”.
In October 2013, Ethiopia’s Ashegoda Wind Farm of 84 turbines started to generate electricity. Just days before, Ethiopia signed agreements to build a 1000 megawatt Corbetti geothermal facility—the largest in Africa.
In November 2013, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation approved a 300 megawatt solar project in the Eastern region. This news presents a comprehensive plan to integrate power with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a 6000 megawatt project on the Blue Nile. This new energy can facilitate pumps and desalination plants to push sea water, now purified, over the Kenyan mountains and into other arid North African locations. Many new jobs and abundant food will be the result for several nations.