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Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, with one of the longest recorded histories in the world. It has long been an intersection between the civilizations of Romans, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Palaeontologists believe that East Africa's Great Rift Valley is the site of humankind's origins. (The valley traverses Ethiopia from southwest to northeast.) Ethiopia is seen as the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today, having yielded human habitation for longer than almost anywhere else in the world; perhaps modern homo sapiens evolved there. It was in 1974 archaeologists excavating sites in the Awash River valley, so called the Hadar archaeological region on the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, discovered 3.2-million-year- old fossil skeletons, which they named Australopithecus Afarensis the nearly complete skeleton so far discovered for the species. These earliest known hominids stood upright, lived in groups, and had adapted to living in open areas rather than in forests.
Ethiopia houses the most significant discoveries of stone tools, fossil evidences of early hominid species among which a 3.2 million years old fossil nick named LUCY or DENKINESH(in Amharic, the Ethiopian national language.) is the most famous and other animals found from the rift valley and other animals found from the rift valley and other major archaeological sites (Hadar, Middle Awash, Omo basin, Melka Kunture etc) dating back to millions of years. These dating back to millions of years; these discoveries attest to the presence of a sophisticated way of life of our ancestors.
Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history, the very ancient civilization existed on earth, having its culture and traditions dating back to 3000 years and is famed for its age old mysterious archeological findings and ancient civilizations which are supposed to have commenced during the pre-Axumite kingdom of today’s Axum. This kingdom was supposed to have ruled including Arab countries crossing the red sea, having its main port of Adulis. It was through this port that people of that time used to make trade contacts with foreign countries such as Arabia and Greece, the influence of which is still found on the ancient inscriptions of Axumite kingdom. People of the pre-axumite kingdom were believed to have come from Arabia across the red sea along with their civilizations.
Ethiopian Dynasty traces its roots to the 5th century BC. The founding of the Empire of Axum in the 5th century BC is often taken as the starting point of the Ethiopian civilisation. The Kingdom maintained trading relations both with the Greec-Roman world and with India and China during it's most prosperous times. During the Axumite times the old Ge-ez became the official language and it is still used in the Ethiopian church. The origin of this language can be found with the South-Arabic that groups of people spoke, who came from Yemen long before Axumite times. Axum had a rich architecture as appears from the big obelisks, still to be seen, and still a inspiration for modern builders. Axum continued to be the crowning place for the Royals up until Ras Tafari, Emperor Haile Selassie. The church St Mary of Zion is the place where, according to tradition, and later researched by the journalist Graham Hancock in the book 'The Sign and the Seal', the Ark of the Covenant resides. The decline of the Axum started with the rising of Islam in Arabia and the growth of it in Africa and Asia. Axum got shut off from her trading partners and populations in the region revolted against a weakening centre. About the history between the 8th and the 12th century barely anything is known. They call it the dark ages of Ethiopia. 'This tells more about the ignorance then about the significance. The growing apart of the Semitic peoples apparently appeared during this period and the existence of two interchanging dominate ethnic groups in the Abessinic politics, the Amharinya and Tigriniya speaking groups, goes back to this period.
In the 12th century the Zagwe dynasty developed in the highlands. A remaining of it are the monolithic churches of Lalibela, a city named Roha but later on was renamed after the Zagwe King Lalibela. With these six Kings and one Queen this dynasty only ruled for 150 years but left us these imposing monuments. Lalibela is considered to be a new Jerusalem. Because a pilgrimage to the real Jerusalem wasn't possible they build a replica with the eleven out of rock hewn churches. It's sometimes called the 8th world wonder. This dynasty is overthrown by a Amharic chief Yekunno-Amlak, who claimed to be a direct descendant of Menelik 1st, the child of Queen Sheba and King Solomon. This legend appeared at the end of the Axumite period but was written down in the Kebra Naghast in the 14th century. The period between 1270 and the 16th century is considered as the Ethiopian middle ages, to distinguish it from the old periods of Axum and Zagwe.
Between 1528 and 1540 armies of Muslims, under the Imam Ahmad Ibn Ibrihim Al –Ghazi(Ahmed Gragn “Left handed Ahmed”), entered Ethiopia from the low lowland to the southeast, invaded the country with firearms which he got from Ottomanian Turks. and over ran the kingdom that left a lot of destruction in the churches and there treasuries, and drove the Emperor back to take refuge in the mountain fastnesses., and converted the people to the Islam. It was in 1542 with the help of Portuguese under the leadership of Christovao da Gama ( the son of Vasco Da Gama, the famous seaman ) and Christians highlander defeated the Islamic Imam Ahmed Gragn era was brought to an end. With the Portuguese army, missionary's appeared and for a while it looked like that with the conversion of Emperor Susenyos (1607-1632), Catholicism could be imposed to the population, but it led to a revolt among the people. The Emperor had to decline in favour of his son Fasilidas, whose first concern it was get rid of the Portuguese and Jesuits. Up until then the Emperors and there court lived in tents of military camps, which if necessary were replaced from one place to another. Fasilidas broke with that tradition and established himself in Gondar. Still the European style castles and the churches are architectonic and artistic wonders. Also he was the founder of a new foreign policy aimed at friendly relations with Moslem neighbours on both sides of the Red Sea. Gondar remained a centre for Culture and trade for two centuries. Around the shore and on the islands of lake Tana, new monasteries flourished, with their own theological schools, which still exists.
During the scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was one of only two countries that retained its independence and one of only four African members of the League of Nations. After a brief period of Italian occupation, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. When other African nations received their independence following World War II, many of them adopted the colors of Ethiopia's flag, and Addis Ababa became the location of several international organizations focused on Africa. Modern Ethiopia and its current borders are a result of significant territorial reduction in the north and expansion in the south toward its present borders, owing to several migrations and commercial integration as well as conquests, particularly by Emperor Minelik II and Ras Gobena. Ever since before history started, human creativities of different arts which are today’s great mystery of the world were erected, carved out and constructed with diversified motives and reasons. Though the exact reasons and motives are not yet fully identified. This is only one example of Ethiopia’s magnificent history, which encompasses legend and tradition, mystery and fact, from a powerful and religious ancient civilization. The well -trodden path through Ethiopia’s famous and fascinating historic places takes you through a scenically magnificent world of fairy -tale names, such as Lalibella, Gondar, Deber Damo and Bahir Dar.
Ethiopia has close historical ties to all three of the world's major Abrahamic religions. It was one of the first Christian countries in the world, having officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century. It has a Christian majority and a third of the population is Muslim. Ethiopia is the site of the first hijra in Islamic history and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. Until the 1980s, a substantial population of Ethiopia Jews resided in Ethiopia. The country is also the spiritual homeland of the Rastafarian Religious Movement.
Ethiopia, like many other African countries, is a multi-ethnic state. Many distinctions have been blurred by intermarriage over the years but many also remain. The differences may be observed in the number of languages spoken - an astonishing 83, falling into four main language groups: Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan. With over 200 different dialects.