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About Ethiopia

Mandril tours ethiopia

About Ethiopia

People & Culture

With a history stretching to three millennia back and with different people speaking over 83 languages and 200 dialects, it is no wonder that the mosaic of cultural diversity of Ethiopia is a major attraction and enchantment. Ethiopia is rich medley of people of different religions and customs with distinctive life styles. There are many interesting cultural traditions in Ethiopia including the nomadic culture of the people of the Omo Valley. The life style of the people has hardly changed for centuries. People still dress in animal skins, drink from calabashes and decorate with clay. It is unique, undisturbed, wild and considered to be among the most fascinating in the African continent. Traveling through this area is like traveling thousands of years back in time, providing an insight in to an Africa of a bygone age.

Ethiopian History

Conventionally, Ethiopian history began with the visit of queen of Sheba, allegedly from Ethiopia, to Solomon, king of Israel in the tenth century BC: hence the reference to Ethiopia’s “3000 years history that we claim so often. Aside from the fact that this association has scarcely any scientific basis, it represents too short a view of the Ethiopia past. Archaeological and linguistic research in recent years has made possible and necessary the adoption of a longer and more scientific perspective. The discovery in 1974 of the earliest hominid in the Afar desert, named LUCY can be a very good example. This female ancestor of the human race was dated to 3.5 million years ago. As a proof of its long history Ethiopia has many historical places. Axum is Ethiopia’s most ancient city and the site of many remarkable monolithic stone steel. At Lalibela there are 11 remarkable rock-hewn monolithic churches. The 17th century city of Gondar and the 9th century city of Harar are the other historical attractions. In addition to these there are many age-old churches, monasteries and mosques with rich collection of relics in different parts of Ethiopia. Many colorful festivals are also additional attractions.


Ethiopian Month Gregorian Month Gregorian Equivalent Dates

  1. Meskerem (month 1) September (month 9) September 11 – October 10 (begins September 12, during leap years)
  2. Tikimt (month 2) October (month 10) October 11 – November 9
  3. Hidar (month 3) November (month 11) November 10 – December 9
  4. Tahsas (month 4) December (month 12) December 10 – January 8
  5. Tir (month 5) January (month 1) January 9 – February 7
  6. Yakatit (month 6) Febuary (month 2) February 8 – March 9
  7. Magabit (month 7) March (month 3) March 10 – April 8
  8. Miyazya (month 8) April (month 4) April 9 – May 8
  9. Ginbot (month 9) May (month 5) May 9 – June 7
  10. Sene (month 10) June (month 6) June 8 – July 7
  11. Hamle (month 11) July (month 7) July 8 – August 6
  12. Nehasae (month 12) August (month 8)August 7 – September 5
  13. Pagumiene (month 13) September 6 – September 10 (ends September 11, during leap years


Injera (sourdough flatbread)
Injera is a type of flatbread made in Ethiopia and several other East African nations. The bread is a staple food in Ethiopia, where it is served with almost every meal. True injera is made with teff flour, a gluten free flour produced from teff, a popular African grain. Injera has a distinctive sour flavor and spongy texture which makes it ideally suited to sopping up curries, stews, and other wet dishes.

Tibs (sautéed meat chunks)
The country’s “go-to meat dish,” as Curtis describes it, is usually made from beef cut into small chunks and sautéed in butter or oil with onions, garlic, hot pepper and rosemary. You’ll find this on most general Ethiopian menus, served with injera, naturally.

Shiro be Kibbe (legume stew)
Says Richman, “This is Ethiopia’s peasant dish, although it’s eaten by all classes and is the most popular dish in the country.” In Addis, Richman and Curtis took my group to a hole-in-the-wall specializing in shiro. (It was Friday, a fasting day, so this was in lieu of visiting a butcher shop with an attached restaurant.) The reddish, saucy dish is made by combining a flour of ground split peas and chickpeas with kibbe, or spiced clarified butter. “It’s an incredibly rich and delicious dish,” Richman says. “This is our favorite thing to eat in Ethiopia.”

Berbere (typical spice blend)
“Berbere is the name of the chili pepper and also the name of Ethiopia’s most prominent spice mix,” explains Curtis. “Everyone has a different recipe and these variations are often highly guarded family secrets, containing a minimum of 12 ingredients and a maximum of 25,” commonly including garlic, ginger, cardamom and fenugreek. “Typically, an individual or a restaurant will buy large sacks of berbere peppers once a year and dry them in the hot sun with the other dried spices,” says Richman. “The peppers and all the other spices are then brought to a local mill to be ground into a powder.”

Kitfo (Ethiopian beef tartare)
Tartare fans, this might be your favorite new Ethiopian dish. Kitfo is ground raw beef that’s been mixed with kibbe, the spiced clarified butter. It can be accompanied by mitmita, another popular Ethiopian spice blend. The result melts in your mouth and tastes great with the typical accompaniments of gomen (cooked greens) and a soft fresh cheese. A special flatbread called kocho usually accompanies the dish, along with injera. Says Curtis, “It is one of the dishes Ethiopians are most proud of, and it’s always served at parties, holidays, et cetera. We know of people who break the 55-day Easter fast with kitfo.”Short Description


Favorite drink
The favorite drink of many Ethiopians is bunna (coffee). Bunna is drunk in Ethiopia in a unique and traditional way known as a “coffee ceremony”. First the coffee is roasted, then ground and placed in a Jebena (coffee pot) with boiling water. When ready it is then served to people in little cups, up to three times per ceremony.
Other locally produced beverages are tella and tej, which are served and drunk on major religious festivals, Saints Days and weddings. Tella and tej are also sold by numerous designated commercial houses all over the country.


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