Perched in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a fascinating country with an extraordinary past and magnificent landscapes. It is widely considered as one of the earliest sites of the emergence of modern humans, Homo sapiens.
Even further back, the oldest hominid discovered to date in Ethiopia is the 4.2 million year old Ardipithicus ramidus (Ardi), however, likely the most famous is still Lucy, Australopithecus afarensis, one of the most complete and best preserved adult Australopithecine fossils ever uncovered. Found in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar region, Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago.
Ethiopia has one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. This, too, is thought to be where our love of the humble coffee bean began. Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and the second-oldest official Christian nation in the world after Armenia. Its medieval rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and Gheralta, palaces and temples date back 3,000 years. It is home to the world’s fourth-holiest Islamic city as well as the oldest continuously occupied town south of the Sahara. Ethiopia also has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.
The Ethiopian Highlands are the largest continuous mountain ranges in Africa, and the Sof Omar Caves contains the longest cave, 9.4 miles, on the continent. Ethiopia is home to some of the wildest and most interesting habitats on the planet. The lakes in the Great Rift Valley region abound with about 262 species of birds, and 277 species of mammal including the Sudan cheetah, Ethiopian lion, civet, serval, African bush elephant, bushpig, gazelle, antelope, ibex, kudu, dik-dik, oribi, reedbuck, Somali wild ass, Grévy’s zebra, hyena, baboon, and numerous species of monkey. Several species are either endangered or vulnerable. There are also some 6,600 species of plants throughout the country, many indigenous.
Culture, history, natural beauty and a variety of adventures make Ethiopia one of the most appealing and exciting evolving destinations today. Ethiopia is that kind of place – a land that offers travelers opportunities to experience striking discoveries, impressive places and welcoming people. As Ethiopia begins to return to the international stage, we at Big Five want to share our enthusiasm for this dynamic re-emerging country.
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