Stone megalithic tombs in Ethiopia’s Danakil Desert

An overview of Ethiopia

Hello, hope you are well. In case you are not aware I’ve been doing an ongoing series highlighting locations around the world, many of them which are featured in my novel Eteka: Rise of the Imamba. Today’s post is going to be on a nation with a very colorful history: Ethiopia.

Geography, Language and Economy

Nestled right next to the horn of Africa to the East, Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. The capital of Ethiopia is Addis Ababa, and to date Ethiopia is ranked as the second most populated country in Africa, next to Nigeria. Its currency is the Birr, and as of the time of me writing this, 1 Ethiopian Birr = 0.051 USD, or in reverse, 1 USD = 20 Ethiopian Birr. The country’s economy runs mainly on agriculture (Ethiopia is one of the worlds leading coffee producers) and services (telecommunications, financial, insurance, etc). While English is the most popular foreign language, Amharic is recognized by many as the official national language of Ethiopia. Oromo is also another popular language spoken in Ethiopia.

Note: “Amharic” should not be confused with “Aramaic,” the latter being a Semitic language that is ancestral to both the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets.


Ethiopia is a country with tons of historical relevance, and is one of the oldest countries in the world. Many historians and archaeologists believe Ethiopia to be where human life began, and some of the world’s oldest human fossils ever recorded were found in this country. Ethiopia is also at the center of many spiritual ideologies and religious stories. For example, many followers the Rastafari movement view Emperor Haile Selasie I, Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930–1974, as a divine being.

Emperor Haile Selassie I

Note: “Abyssinia” was the name given to the ancient Ethiopian Empire.

Ethiopia is also frequently mentioned in the Bible (e.g. Jeremiah 13:23, Ezekiel 29:10, Numbers 12:1). The Queen of Sheba, another popular historical figure who has made appearances in many religious books, stories and even film is a key figure in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is also rumored to have in its possession The Ark of the Covenant.

Speaking of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, some of the most unique structures on this planet are tied to Ethiopian Orthodox Church worship. The monolithic rock cut churches found in the northern Ethiopian town of Lalibela perfectly illustrate this point:

St. Georges Church in Lalibela

Fun Fact: Coffee is widely believed to have originated from Ethiopia.

Fun Fact: Ethiopia was one of the first nations to adopt Christianity.

Perhaps what Ethiopia is most famous for is the fact that it is the only African nation that was independent of European control during the infamous “Scramble for Africa” in the 1880s. In other words, Ethiopia is one of only two African nations that was never colonized (the other being Liberia), and Ethiopia is the only African nation that successfully resisted foreign occupation by means of war. Perhaps that is why quite a few African and Caribbean nations adopted Ethiopia’s flag colors after they received independence:

Many African and Caribbean nations adopted Ethiopia’s flag colors

Fun Fact: Ethiopia, under King Menelik II, successfully defeated the invading Italians at the battle of Adowa on March 1, 1896 (the climax of the First Italo-Ethiopian War). Prior to this, Italy had colonized both Eritrea and Somalia, both neighbors of Ethiopia, and sought to improve its economic position by adding Ethiopia to its “portfolio.” The Italians were defeated, but would succeed in invading Ethiopia years later during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War under dictator Benito Mussolini.

So how does Ethiopia tie into my novel, Eteka: Rise of the Imamba?

Ethiopia is featured within my novel during both the late 1960s and the 1990s. The 1960s was an interesting period, that saw Emperor Haile Selassie in power. It was also a period of economic instability in Ethiopia which in large part led to a coup attempt. There were also border disputes between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea, and Marxism had made its way into the mindsets of many educated and upper class Ethiopians. These events would eventually lead to the downfall of Haile Selassie’s regime in 1974.

The 1990s would see continued tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea that would dramatically weaken Ethiopia’s economy.

There are a couple of great scenes I wrote in Ethiopia, including a great scene in the Danakil Desert. You can view some awesome pictures of the Danakil Desert on my Facebook Fan Page by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE.

I’ll leave you with this video showing Ethiopia at a glance. Enjoy.