Ethiopia is one very surprising travel destination with a few staggering diversity of landscapes, kaleidoscope of cultures and history that tracks back to when our species first raised itself up onto two legs.
Here are 5 facts about Ethiopia which could come to you as a surprise.
- Thirteen months to the year
Sure, plenty of cultures have their own calendars that they prefer to follow over the Western Gregorian one, but most still abide by the unspoken ’12 months to a year’ rule. Not Ethiopia.
Ever looking to buck a trend, the Ethiopians cottoned on several thousand years ago to Spinal Tap’s belief that one more is always better – and have been counting 13 months to their year ever since.
What does this mean? Well, that 2014 is still 2006 there. And that canny tourism boards can legitimately claim that the country really does boast ’13 months of sunshine’.
- The birthplace of the Rastafarian movement
Thought it was Jamaica? Nope. While much of the Rastafarian movement did evolve in Jamaica, the spiritual homeland of it is in actual fact, Ethiopia.
In Amharic, ‘ras’ is a title similar to chief, and ‘tafari’ the first name of Emperor Haile Selassie I – essentially the movement posits Selassie as an incarnation of God.
Need further evidence? Just check out the colours on the Ethiopian flag.
- The birthplace of coffee
You know your morning caffeine shot? Well you’ve got some goats from Ethiopia to thank for that. As the story goes, a goat herder way back when noticed his flock’s fondness for a certain bush and decided to give one of the fruits a nibble himself. His day’s herding was notably more efficient for it – and the coffee industry took off from there.
- Ethiopia is for vegetarians
Food in Ethiopia is some of the tastiest, healthiest and most diverse cuisine on the continent. And, unlike many African countries, it’s a haven for vegetarians. The simple reason for this is that most Ethiopians follow a particular strand of Orthodox Christianity that prohibits the eating of any animal products on Wednesdays and Fridays.
And the happy by-product of this for herbivores is that restaurants tend to always have a few deliciously spicy vegan stews on the menu. It also means that when you say that you don’t eat meat they’ll actually understand the idea, instead of replacing the beef you requested be left off your pizza with, say, chicken.
- Home To The Oldest Airline:
Home to Africa’s oldest airline – Ethiopia Airlines. Serving 57 international destinations, with 34 in Africa, 6 in Asia, 10 in the Middle East and 7 in Europe and America, the carrier flies to more destinations in Africa than any other airline.
Images culled from google