Judging by the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon recounted in the Old Testament and elaborated at great length in the Ethiopian epic, The Kebre Negest (Glory of the Kings); the rest of the world commonly acknowledges 3000 years of Ethiopian civilization. Comparing the history of most of the countries of the world, a national legacy of even 3000 years is quite remarkable. This is especially so when that means an uninterrupted and independent march of the history of a people, organized as a polity, answering to very much the same set of self-identifying values and symbols, and occupying more or less the same geographical area.
Visitors who hope to find a mirror image of their own countries, either as a result of colonisation or through the trend towards cultural standardisation imposed by globalisation, will be disappointed: Ethiopia remains stubbornly Ethiopian, distinct and different from its neighbours.
People and Culture
over 80 linguistic groups exist in Ethiopia, representing four of the five Afro-Asiatic families of languages, including the Omotic language family found exclusively within the confines of Ethiopia. The mystical symbols, myths and ritual practices found in Ethiopia are linked with the mysteries and traditional beliefs of the ancient civilizations of Asia, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. The customs, body decorations and celebrations of Ethiopia's traditional people mirror Africa's exotic cultural heritage. The current population is about 85 million, making it the second most populated country in Africa.
Three of the world's major religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam have had their followers here since they were founded and thus have grown with indigenous expressions that are distinctly Ethiopian. Both Christianity and Islam became state sponsored and protected in Ethiopia before anywhere else. The Prophet Mohammed's earliest followers (the "Asshaba") were able to escape persecution in Arabia by fleeing to Ethiopia, where they were accepted and allowed to flourish under the protection of the king of Axum. In appreciation of this, there is an injunction in the Koran against violence by Muslims directed at Ethiopia. Today, almost 95% of Ethiopians are adherents of one of these three main religions with the rest being followers of animist traditional spirit or ancestral worship of one kind or another.
Ethiopia is the only civilization on the continent with its own alphabet, chronology and calendar system and medieval religious art.
Handicrafts and Souvenirs
It has been ascertained that the gold with a platinum content used in Tutankhamen's statue could have only come from either Ethiopia or South Africa. Indeed, the legendary King Solomon's mines may have their origins in the Horn of Africa. The oldest traditional gold mine in the world is supposed to be in the Nejo area of Western Ethiopia. The Dorze people of the Omo Basin still carry out the ancient iron working industry by melting iron from iron ore.
The Cross in Ethiopia and other Icons
the cross is a universal Christian symbol associated with the crucifixion of Jesus. As is evident from the prolific and triumphant representation in over 3,000 styles of dome, processional, hand and neck crosses, the Ethiopian cross has an ancient and elaborate heritage and is reminiscent of the Egyptian Ankh and the Tau cross of Tibet.
Gift articles: When it comes to shopping for rare gift articles and genuine souvenirs from Ethiopia there are an amazing selection of religious icons, crosses, antique jewelry made from various metals, gold and silver jewelry, leather goods of all kinds and pure cotton textiles to choose from.