Top 10 Things Ethiopia Is Famous For

ethiopia is famous for
| 5 min read

A landlocked country on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is surrounded by Eritrea (Northern border), Djibouti (Northeast), Somalia (East), Kenya (South), South Sudan (Northwest), and Sudan (West). The second most populous country on the African continent, it has a total area of 420,000 square miles (1090000 sq km). Ethiopia’s capital is Addis Ababa, which is also its largest city. The country is so rich in ancient history that some of the oldest modern human remains have been found there. It is said to be where mankind first began venturing out of Africa. The number of things a country as ancient and expansive as Ethiopia is famous for must surely seem infinite, but we will attempt to cover some of them here. Find out about the things Ethiopia is famous for, below.

1. Lake Tana

Lake Tana, Ethiopia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY 2.0

Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile also known as Abbay. It is a significant tributary of the Nile Basin Watershed and is located in the Amhara Region of the north-western Ethiopian Highlands. This lake is so large that it has numerous islands, many of which are inhabited. Many islands are famous for being the burial places for numerous Ethiopian emperors. One such island, Tana Qirqos, is believed to be the place where the Virgin Mary rested on her journey back from Egypt. Of all the things Ethiopia is famous for, Lake Tana might contain a hundred of them.

Lake Tana

Address: Bahir Dar, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Website: Lake Tana

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2. Coffee

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Steve Evans used under CC BY 2.0

Coffee is said to have originated as a drink in Harar, Ethiopia. Coffee arabica, the coffee plant, has its origins in Ethiopia. Legend has it that a goatherder from the 9th century discovered the plant when he noticed how energetic it made his herd. Unfortunately, this story didn’t appear in writing until the 17th century. Coffee is important to the economy in Ethiopia with 60% of foreign income arising from the sales of coffee. So, when you’re visiting Ethiopia, maybe boating across Lake Tana, be sure to have a truly fresh cup of coffee from its ancient home.

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3. Spices

Spice Market
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Day used under CC BY 2.0

Ethiopia is famous for its spices but, specifically, its spice mixtures such as Berbere. It is true, Ethiopians enjoy many of the same spices that are used throughout Africa and the world, but their spice mixtures are unique and contain many native spices. To be true, Ethiopia owes a lot to foreign visitors over the centuries. Many of the spice mixtures used in Ethiopian cuisines would never have existed without foreign contributions. But, Ethiopian ingenuity created wonderful flavour combinations like Berbere, which is a key ingredient in the famed Ethiopian dish, Wat. Berbere consists of a mixture of such spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and black peppercorns. The spice ingredients vary slightly depending on who is cooking.

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4. Danakil Depression Ethiopia Tours

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sharanbhurke used under CC BY-SA 4.0

In the Horn of Africa, on the northern part of the Afar Triangle, also known as the Afar depression, lies the Danakil Depression. It’s caused by a triple junction of tectonic plates. It’s located on a plain near the border of Eritrea. This feature was formed from a combination of environmental factors like erosion, rising and falling of the ground, and encroachment of the sea. It has been called the “cradle of humanity” where American paleoanthropologist, Donald Johanson, and his peers, discovered the famed “Lucy,” the early, female hominin remains that date back 3.2 million years. If you want to experience this awe-inspiring place in style and comfort without missing anything, you should consider Danakil Depression Ethiopia Tours.

Danakil Depression Ethiopia Tours

Website: Danakil Depression Ethiopia Tours

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5. Lion of Judah Statue

Lion of Judah Statue
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ondřej Žváček used under CC BY 2.5

Located in Addis Ababa, the Lion of Judah Statue is not just something Ethiopia is famous for, it’s a national icon and a symbol for Ethiopian emperors. It was created in the year 1930 by French sculptor Georges Gardet, and it was presented at the coronation of Emperor Hailé Selassié in the same year. The sculpture is located within Addis Ababa railway station and it marks the end of a major thoroughfare in the city of Addis Ababa, Winston Churchill Avenue. There is a long and arduous history associated with the statue and the different aspects it has symbolized over the years. It’s special to Ethiopia and due to its historical significance, it is considered to be one of the things Ethiopia is famous for. A must-see for anyone visiting Ethiopia.

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6. Kitfo (national dish)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user stu_spivack used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Another delicious treat that Ethiopia is famous for is the dish, Kitfo or, as it is sometimes spelt, Ketfo. It’s a traditional and famous dish made from minced raw beef that has been marinated in mitmita, a red-orange spice blend of African chilli peppers, cloves, cardamom, and salt, and clarified butter. It can be slightly cooked, in which case it is called, kitfo leb leb. The dish is sometimes mixed with a mild cheese called ayibe, or cooked greens. The dish is most often served with flatbread made from teff, also known as Williams lovegrass. Kitfo is a generally well-regarded dish that is usually served during the holidays in Ethiopia. It is definitely one of the more intriguing things Ethiopia is famous for! It certainly should be on your list of things to try while in this majestic country.

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7. Honey

Honey for sale in Ethiopia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ShanaliCT used under CC BY 4.0

White honey from Tegray is the most prized honey of Ethiopia. It is often used for cooking but it is most well known for its use for making Tej - a honey wine that Ethiopia is also famous for. It’s been called Ethiopia’s Liquid Gold by African Business Magazine, and it has been an important part of Ethiopian culture for thousands of years. Worth noting, Ethiopia is the largest producer of honey in the entire continent of Africa. It is believed that, when the Queen of Sheba famously journeyed to visit King Solomon, she was carrying honey as one of her gifts. So, like coffee, honey is one of the more important things Ethiopia is famous for.

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8. Lucy

Lucy - Addis National Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Philip Kromer used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Almost everyone in the world has heard of Lucy (Australopithecus), the 3.5 million-year-old hominid remains discovered in Africa in 1974 by paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and his team, but not everyone realizes that she was discovered in Ethiopia. In fact, Ethiopia is often called the Cradle of Humanity precisely because of Lucy. Again, if you want to see what Ethiopia is famous for, Lucy should be on that list. She is currently housed in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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9. Bale Mountains

Harenna Forest and Bale Mountains
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sabine's Sunbird used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Bale Mountains or, as they are also known, Urgoma Mountains, are a mountain range located in Southeast Ethiopia as part of the Ethiopian Highlands. The mountain range is home to the Bale Mountains National Park that includes such mountains as Tullu Demtu, which is the second-highest mountain in Ethiopia, and Mount Batu. This place is a very large and beautiful example of things Ethiopia is famous for. Add it to your agenda!

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10. The Obelisk of Axum

Large obelisk in Axum, Ethiopia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bair175 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Obelisk of Axum, built in the 4th Century of phonolite, is a 79-foot-tall (24-meter) obelisk in the city of Axum, Ethiopia. The obelisk, called hawelt/hawelti in the native tongue, is one of many such stelae in the city of Axum. These stelae are believed to have been markers for tombs. The Obelisk of Axum was toppled in 1937 and subsequently taken as war booty by Italian soldiers. It was then transported to Rome where it stood with the Lion of Judah until its repatriation in 1947. The Obelisk still stands to this day in the city of Axum and is something Ethiopia is famous for.

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Visit this beautiful country

Don’t miss out on the chance to experience life in the Cradle of Humanity. The rich history, animal kingdom, and ancient architecture combined with a relatively modern infrastructure will leave you with a lasting sense of awe and wonder.

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Alexander is a veteran of the United States Navy, an editor-at-large, and a content writer/reviewer. He has written numerous opinion pieces, reality television articles, has taken a few interviews,...Read more

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