Ethiopia is a land of cultural, historical and ecological depth unrivalled on the African continent. The great plains of Abyssinia sit atop two massive highland plateaus, cloven, as a coffee bean, down the middle, by the Great Rift Valley.
From the sweltering dry deserts of Somali Ogaden in the east, The Sudan in the west and The Danakil in the North (where Africa crashes into Arabia), the land sweeps up, rising through semi-arid lowlands and pockets of tropical jungle, to montane forests and alpine pastures, on the slopes of the Simien, Bale and Ghugi mountain ranges, all of which top 4000m, and all of which are home to numerous endemic species of flora and fauna.
The reality is in stark contradiction to the common western perception of Ethiopia as a barren wasteland riven by poverty and starvation. And yet, being surrounded by deserts on all sides, Ethiopia has always been culturally, politically and ecologically isolated, giving it a unique flavour in every sphere.
From the ancient mystical Orthodox Christian heritage of the north, to the exotic tribal diversity of the south and the vibrantly hospitable Islamic culture of the east, Ethiopia offers a spectacularly unique collage of culture, flora, fauna, language, religion and people, all quite unique and almost completely undiscovered. No fewer than 87 distinct languages are spoken, belonging to four major linguistic groups.
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