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Journeys with Insight

Ethiopia

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When ancient societies thought of Africa, they thought of Ethiopia. As the heart of ancient sub-Saharan Africa, “Ethiopian” became the byword for African people, language, and culture. And, somehow, the country’s modern incarnation seems only slightly removed from its ancient splendor.

As the hub of African trade routes, Ethiopia was the most populated and metropolitan of sub-Saharan Africa’s ancient empires. Not surprisingly, it was the first African nation to officially convert to Christianity (as early as the 4th century). Yet during the European “Scramble for Africa” in the late 19th century, Ethiopia is the one African country that retained its independence. A monarchy tracing its roots back to the 2nd century BC ruled the nation into the 1970s. Its relative stability across the millennia allowed the diversity of tribes in the region to endure into modern times.

Today, Ethiopia exhibits a strange familiarity to Westerners stemming from the early Christian influence. And yet at the same time the country offers unrivaled cultural diversity, with scores of distinct tribes that in large part escaped outside subjugation through the ages.

As home to some Africa’s highest peaks and lowest basins as well as an incredible density of rivers and diversity of topographies, Ethiopia is a safari-goer’s dream. Journeys through the region have the potential to combine game viewing in some of Africa’s premier wildlife hotspots with archaeology at sites yielding some of the oldest traces of mankind with cultural interactions among tribes that seem to have stepped directly out of the ancient past.