Ethiopia and its people
Ethiopia is a very large country with a population of about 80 million. The culture in the different parts of the country is truly unique and interesting.
Welcome to Ethiopia!
Ethiopia is a very large country in the Horn of Africa, bordering to Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya. It is a country of contrast,. Some parts are very fertile, while others are desert areas, most people are poor- others extremely rich. You find doctors, pilots, engineers- as well as nomads who live off their cattle, like the Hamer people in the south. One thing is for sure; Ethiopia is a fascinating country.
Religion has always been important in the lives of Ethiopians. Almost half the country is muslim, but a relaxed form of islam. The other half are Christian, most of them orthodox. In the south there are many areas with protestants, Lutherans and others, where the foreign missionaries have been active. To most people, culture is strongly mixed with religion and often it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. Even tribes that have their own traditional, animist religions have converted to the bigger religious groups, while still holding on to some of the old way of worship.
A developing country
Ethiopia is a country in progress. During the past decade, the capital city has been totally changed. New roads and high-rise buildings have been built everywhere. Even the roads going to the provinces have been (and are being) improved. This helps build up a network which supports trading and export- all of which will benefit the country. A problem some say have come about because of all of this is a lack of energy. At times, even the capital has been without electricity most of the time for months on an end. Needless to say, the sale of generators has sky-rocketed! Again, the gap between rich and poor shows itself. Many women would get up at 1-2 am to prepare food, as electricity and water is usually available during the night.
What about the food?
Did you try Ethiopian food?
There are many restaurants all over Europe and the US- and it is not only Ethiopians who enjoy this African cuisine. Injera is the staple food, made from a grain called teff, and is eaten with almost any meal. Different sauces are put on a piece of injera. You take a piece of injera, scoop up some sauce and enjoy your meal! Eating with your hands might sound strange, but the food does taste better that way. Since the fingers are not supposed to touch your mouth, it is OK even to share plate with others, which is the tradtition. Don't be surprised if an Ethiopian wants to give you a morsel, it is a sign of friendship! Strictly speaking, though, if you accept one you must accept three!
Pork meat is not eaten in Ethiopia, since both the orthodox as well as the muslim religion forbid this. Sheep is widely eaten, as well as beef and chicken. The orthodox church has a system of regular lent, when delicious vegetarian dishes are prepared.