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A map of EthiopiaA map of EthiopiaAround 200,000 years ago, Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, was home to the earliest known modern humans. Today it is the second most populous country in Africa with one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. Much of the country is made up of the Ethiopian Highlands, a region of forested plateaus and steep-sided river valleys. The Great Rift Valley cuts through this area. The climate in the Highlands is warm and humid; most of the country’s farmland and people are found here. East of the Highlands, the land slopes down to dry grassland and desert, where the climate is hot and dry all year round. 

A map of EthiopiaA map of Ethiopia
Welcome to EthiopiaA street in central Addis AbabaA street in central Addis Ababa


Ethiopia is home to around 80 ethnic groups and as many languages, although Amharic is the official language. The Amhara live in central Ethiopia, and the Tigray in the north. Together, they make up around a third of Ethiopia’s population. Their languages both come from an ancient Semitic language, Ge’ez, which originated in the Middle East. Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo people, live mainly in the southwest. They speak a Cushitic language (a language group from the Horn of Africa), related to the language of the Somalis in the southeast. In secondary schools, lessons are taught in English.

The market in Bati, north-central EthiopiaThe market in Bati, north-central Ethiopia

During the First Italo-Abyssinian War (1895–96), Abyssinia, as Ethiopia was then called, defeated Italy’s attempts to establish control over the country. This made it the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and remain an independent nation.

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