Ethiopia owes its rich biodiversity to the combination of a tropical location and an altitudinal span ranging from 4,533 metres above sea level to 116 metres below sea level. The country is known for its unusually high level of endemism i.e. plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Among vertebrates alone, at least 140 species are unique to Ethiopia, including more than 40 mammals and 18 birds.
The varied flora embraces the world’s most extensive tracts if Afroalpine moorland, along with a varied mix of forest, savannah, desert and cultivation.
Ethiopia provides refuge to a typical Afro-tropical fauna, ranging from parrot and pelicans to lions and crocodiles, but it is most notable perhaps for endemic species such as the Ethiopian wolf, gelada baboon and Prince Ruspoli’s turaco.
Noted for the singularity of its cultural landscapes, Ethiopia produces food, music and art that bears little resemblance to anywhere else in the world - as well, more familiarly as some of the most delicious coffee you’ll ever taste.
Ethiopia is the original home of coffee and its rich coffee culture is embodied in the aromatic and age-old ‘coffee ceremonies’ held daily all over the country.
Ethiopia’s unique cuisine - dominated by pancake-like injera, heaped with a tantalizingly spiced selection of vegan or meat dishes - will delight visitors with adventurous palates.
A host of colorful Christian and Islamic festivals includes the Meskel Ceremony held in Addis Ababa or Aksum, and Timkat, best experienced in Gondar.
High quality silver and wooden crosses, delicately hand woven fabrics and goatskin ‘picnic baskets’ are among several unique handicrafts produced in Ethiopia.
Homegrown music includes atmospheric 1,500-year-old church liturgies and chants, bright lurching Ethio-pop from the 1970s, and the often mischievous improvised lyrics of bard-like azmari singers.
Best known to scholars for the mediaeval paintings that adorn some of its older churches, Ethiopia also has a lively contemporary artsscene centred on Addis Ababa.