It is true that even with the end of the famine more than a decade ago, Ethiopia remains as one of the poorest in the world, with $110 GDP per capita. We are not told, however, that Ethiopia is a country with extraordinary richness - in terms of history, culture and natural resources. Being the cradle of humanity, it is the home of the earliest known human ancestor, Lucy. 3.2 millions years later, the land has developed to a country inhabited by a population more than that of Great Britain or France, along with great ethnic and cultural diversity.
According to legends, the biblical Queen of Sheba began to rule ancient Ethiopia in her capital near Axum in tenth century BC. In quest of knowledge and wisdom, the inquiring Queen travelled overland to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon of Israel, gave birth a child of his, who later became the first king of Ethiopia. Since then, the Solomonic line of generations of rulers has become the foundation of Ethiopia history.
A thousand years later, a powerful kingdom comparable to Rome, Persia and China began to thrive here. In its heyday, the Kingdom of Axum stretched from the southern Arabia to the Nile Valley in Sudan, and grew rich by trading with not only countries nearby but also as far as Rome and Gaul. Today, the sky-piercing stelae serve as testimony of the glorious past.
However, the most significant impact to the Ethiopian culture by the Kingdom is perhaps its transformation by King Ezana in the fourth century into one of the first Christian State in the world. From then on, Christianity has stayed, and deeply entrenched in many Ethiopians’ daily life.
With the rise of Islam in seventh century, the centre of Christian spirit was forced to Roha to the south. But it was not until the twelfth century during the reign of King Lalibela, Roha transformed itself into a world-renowned architectural marvel. Being impressed by the buildings in Jerusalem, King Lalibela was determined to create a new Jerusalem on African soil, accessible to all Ethiopians. He realised his dream, with the help of angels. A large cluster of churches with exceptional architectural style and craftsmanship was finally chiselled out from the rock in Roha. To commemorate his achievement, Roha was named Lalibela ever since.
Today, Ethiopia is a country accessible to all types of travellers. Not only are they able to walk through the time line of the Ethiopian history by visiting relics in Axum and Lalibela, but also experience the modern day diversity of culture in areas such as Omo River Valley and Harar. Nature lovers would find a paradise of wildlife and landscape in this country, where the Simien Mountains offer a breathtaking scenery of the Ethiopian Highland, and the Lake Tana sources the legendary Blue Nile and provides homes for numerous seclusive orthodox Christian monasteries.
For those who have not had an opportunity to visit the country, it is my wish that this web page would lead you into the land of wonder, as well as refresh your images about this country.J.-L. G