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Volunteer Overseas

10 Fun Facts About Ethiopia


December 11th, 2013Travel, Africa, Culture
By Jemma Dicks

Fun Facts About Ethiopia

Image courtesy of Sarah Bradford

Projects Abroad has been running volunteer projects in Ethiopia for over 5 years. Even after all this time we’re still discovering new things about this amazing country.

Did you know, for example, that there are areas of Ethiopia covered in snow? No? Well here are 10 other fun facts about Ethiopia that you probably didn’t know:

1. Ethiopia is about 7.5 years behind the United Kingdom. This is because Ethiopia is the only country in the world to have 13 months in a year. Ethiopians also celebrate New Year in September, meaning that they are currently only a couple of months into the year 2006, whilst we near the end of 2013.

2. Ethiopians measure time from when the sun rises and count time on the opposite side of the clock. When the sun rises at 6 o’clock it is said to be 12 o’clock – the start of the day in Ethiopia. Confused? Don’t worry, you get used to it after a few days!

3. There are over 80 different languages spoken in Ethiopia. The most widely spoken of these are Oromo and Amharic. Luckily for foreign travellers, English and Arabic are also widely spoken.

4. Ethiopian children must learn both their tribal language and the country’s official language of Amharic. They must also have a good grasp of English by the time they start secondary school. From the age of 12 onwards, all school lessons are carried out in English.

5. The legendary Ark of the Covenant, the relic said to hold the 10 Commandments, is claimed to be housed in a church in Ethiopia. Only one man, the guardian, is actually allowed to see the ark, so whether or not it is actually there remains a mystery.

6. Ethiopia is one of only two nations in the world never to have been occupied. This is despite the Italians twice trying and failing to take the country. In case you were wondering, Russia is the other country.

7. Ever heard Rastafarians talking about Haile Selassie? He was an Ethiopian Emperor, born in 1892 and is worshipped by followers of the Rastafarian movement. He is not to be confused with legendary distance runner Haile Gebre Selassie!

8. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with its own alphabet. Actually it uses an abugida, also known as an alpha-syllabary, which consists of 209 symbols and 25 letter variants.

9. The oldest fossil skeleton of a human was discovered in Ethiopia. So too was coffee, making Ethiopia the home of mankind and mankind’s favourite wake-up drink.

10. Ethiopian Abebe Bikila was the first African to win gold in the Olympic Games. He finished the marathon in first place after running the whole race barefoot.

Do you know any other fun facts about Ethiopia? Tell us about them using the comments box below.

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