Historical and Geographical Info
Ethiopia (formerly known as Abyssinia) is located in the East of Africa, commonly known as the Horn of Africa. It covers an area about twice the size of France. According to a recent census the population is estimated to be approx. 85 million with 80 different ethnic groups.
It is bounded in the Northeast by Eritrea and Djibouti, in the East and Southeast by Somalia, in the South by Kenya and in the West by Sudan. The Ethiopian landscape is dominated by a volcanic plateau with an average altitude of 2’000 meter above sea level decreasing towards the country’s borders on three sides.
The Great Rift Valley begins in Jordan at the Red Sea and traverses all the way through the Danakil depression, continuing towards the south of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and finally Mozambique. Ethiopia is also known as “Cradle of Humankind”.
It is almost certain that human beings and their hominid ancestors evolved in the Eastern zone of the Rift Valley: Lucy, our most distant ancestor, who lived 3.5 million years ago, was found in the Ethiopian Rift Valley in a place called Hadar. Ethiopia has a very strong cultural identity, which has been preserved thanks to a very long period of independence lasting until present times.