Ethiopia has a proud and long history extending to the known beginnings of human kind. The Axumite kingdom was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world and has left behind the mystery of the great Stellae found at Axum.
In the late middle Ages, great religious civilizations flourished in many parts of the country, particularly at Lalibela where churches hand carved out of massive monolithic red rock testify not only to great faith but also to great architectural skills. And in the former capital of Gondar, many significant castles speak of the same.
Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, has a heritage dating back to the first century AD. Traders from Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt knew the riches of what is now Ethiopia, and by the first century AD, Axum was the capital of a great empire. This realm became one of the first Christian lands of Africa.
Late in the 10th Century, Axum declined and a new Zagwe dynasty, centered in what is now Lalibela, ruled the land. Axum, Lalibela and Gonder now provide the greatest historical legacy.
It was in the 16th Century that the son of the great explorer Vasco Da Gama came to Ethiopia. He found a land of many kingdoms and provinces beset by feuds and war. In the 19th Century, under the leadership of the great Emperor Menelik, the country’s passage to modernization began.
As a result of its cultural wealth, Ethiopia is known as a country of mosaic of cultures. More than 80 languages and 200 dialects are spoken throughout the country. These ethnic groups, with their own way of clothing, hair styles, songs, dances and arts, have lived in harmony for centuries. They also have their own calendar, way of time counting and a unique alphabet.