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Friday, January 22, 2016

Fun Facts About Ethiopia

Donkeys transport loads through the city

Addis Ababa

Women carry huge bundles of wood down the mountain to sell as firewood.

A building under construction with bamboo scaffolding

Goats for sale

Gorgeous traditional dress
What I love about traveling to a place I have never been to, is this: it is like taking a blank, new coloring picture. The outlines are there but nothing else. You can color it in any way you like... When I go to a country I have an idea of its outline. But the colors come once I see it for myself. Once I get to meet people, taste food, smell the food, see the scenes - then the outlines takes shape and transform themselves into the real picture.

Did You Know This About Ethiopia?
  • The currency is called ‘birr’ (burr)
  • The official language is Amharic
  • More than 70% of Africa's mountains are found in Ethiopia. Probably due to the high altitude in the country, Ethiopians are famous for being great long distance runners. Does the name Abebe Bikila ring a bell? He won gold in the 1960 Olympics when running the marathon barefooted. The female coach at school is a former Olympic athlete.

  • Lucy, the oldest human bones found on earth (3.5 million years old) were unearthed in Hadar. Did you know she was named ‘Lucy’ because the archealogists were listen to ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ that night?
  • Ethiopia is one of the only nations in Africa never to be colonized. It has been occupied by Italy and the Soviet Union but not colonized.
  • Teff, the grain used to make the Ethiopian staple injera, is an ancient grain believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000BC and 1000BC.  It is the smallest grain in the world and rich in calcium and iron, and a good source of protein and fiber. It is a great gluten-free option and making a popularity come-back.

  • About 32% of Ethiopians is Muslim and just over half the population is Orthodox. Most Ethiopians fast for 100 days of the year, including each Wednesday and Friday. When they fast they don’t eat any dairy products, meat or sweets. Perhaps this is why so many people here are slender. An idea for North America?
  • In a previous blog I mentioned the amazing coffee ceremonies. I am told that basically every house has a coffee altar and that each family has a coffee ceremony twice a day. 
  • The Ethiopian lion has black manes. I saw two of them at Born Free, a foundation dedicated to saving rescued and orphaned wildlife and, if possible, releasing them in the wild.
  • Coffee and cut flowers, especially roses, are a huge export item for the country. I’m told that most roses for sale in Europe were grown here.
  • I never knew before that Ethiopians not only have their own time but also their own calendar with 13 months.. (see previous blog about time)

  • Addis Ababa means ‘new flower’. When Empress Taitu first came to the area of what is now the capital city of Ethiopia, she noticed lovely yellow flowers which she had not seen before. This new flower was mimosa.