Geography Now! Ethiopia
Hey everybody say hi to Samri. She is a real Ethiopian. [Samri]: Hi everyone! [Paul]: Samri, are you ready to
make Ethiopia proud? [Samri]: So ready
[Paul]: Let’s do it! [Paul]: Hey everybody I’m your
host “Barby” and we have reached Ethiopia! This is a big one, okay? Ethiopia
is like one of the big shots of Africa.
[Samri]: You won’t find any place like this anywhere else on Earth.
[Paul]: No, you will not. There’s so much to cover in so little time
so let’s get started. Okay so you guys know how
much I love administrative subdivisions. I felt like I was a kid in a candy store when I was
doing the China episode. That being said, with Ethiopia it’s like we won the golden ticket to
the chocolate factory. Let’s dive in! As it borders six other countries, Ethiopia is the world’s most populous
landlocked sovereign state located in the Horn of Africa. Back in 1996 the country used to have thirteen provinces, but then after a bunch of
internal drama and conflict, they redrew the lines and now Ethiopia is divided into nine ethnic-based regions, each with their own autonomy and
extended legislative power under the constitution. [Samri]: Technically, under Article 39,
the east reserved the right to succeed from Ethiopia as they desire. [Paul]: However, it’s a little debatable as to how much this clause actually applies to them. The capital Addis Ababa, which
translates to “New Flower” lies in the central heart of the country and acts as its own separate entity apart from any region, as does the second largest city, Dire Dawa. [Samri]: These are what you call “charter cities”. They bypass the regional level and govern themselves independently, only under the Ethiopian constitution. [Paul]: Which is strange, because Harari
is considered a region even though area-wise it’s smaller than the charter cities
and has the smallest population as well at only around 212,000 people. [Samri]: Which is even stranger because ethnic regions are further divided into zones, which
are further divided into “Woredas”. [Paul]: And some of these woredas refuse to be affiliated with the certain region that they lie in,
and have decided to go…rogue. They’re called “Special Woredas” and have a second
tier level of autonomy, and there are ten of them, half of which lie in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region,
sometimes referred to as the SNNPR. [Samri]: Which brings us to that place. [Paul]: As the third most populous region,
this aptly named area of Ethiopia has more tribes and people groups than anywhere else. Most regions have less than ten main
people groups that inhabit their boundaries, this place has about 45. And, I think that’s about it with
administrative divisions. [Samri]: Oh wait, land disputes.
[Paul]: Ah, yeah okay, here we go. [Samri]: There’s Ilemi Triangle all the way in
the south by Kenya and Sudan. [Paul]: Then there’s the Ogaden dispute
with Somalia, and finally technically there’s that Jabal al-Tair Island
dispute with Eritrea and Yemen in the Red Sea, even though Yemen kind of took it over, but that volcano exploded and destroyed
half of everything… Look it up guys I’m on a time crunch. [Samri]: Oh oh, very quickly, the largest airports are of course the capital Addis Ababa Bole International, Dire Dawa, and Mek’ele in the north. [Paul]: One thing that definitely makes Ethiopia
stick out though would have to be the fact that they are the only African country to successfully avoid ever being colonized by
any European outside forces. The Italians tried but then they held their ground
and fought back relentlessly. [Samri]: Forgot about Libya. [Paul]: Oh, and Libya tried too, oh yeah. But they’re not European.
[Samri]: That’s true. This is unexpectedly unprecedented, but
in return, it kind of gave them a little respect.
[Paul]: Yeah, Ethiopia held their ground, right? There isn’t a single place that embodies the entire soul of Ethiopia, but rather the country is
speckled with unique sites that each tell their own distinct piece
of the Ethiopian story. They have more UNESCO Heritage Sites than
any other country in Africa. Gunfire round, just to name a few notable spots!… [Samri]: The Harar hyena town, where you can
feed wild hyenas, the mysterious Tiya Stelae stone carvings, the Bete Giyorgis of Lalibela church,
hewn out of single rock, the Chapel of the Tablet, where it’s believed to
hold the incredible ancient Ark of the Covenent… [Paul]: Guarded by virgins who cannot leave the building! [Samri]: The Obelisk of Axum from the ancient
Axum Kingdom, the indigenous tribal villages of Omo Valley, and the famous Castle of Gondar. [Paul]: Yeah, and we haven’t even mentioned
what the landscape looks like yet! [Samri]: This is where the real adventure begins. [Paul]: Oh, wow, yes! Ethiopia’s land is shrouded with extremes on so many levels, and to really get a good look at it, you kind of have to understand the tectonic makeup. Like mentioned in the Eritrea episode, the Horn
of Africa is located on the tri-point convergence of the Arabian, African, and Somali plates, and Ethiopia is caught right in the middle of all of it. The Somali plate isn’t so much of a plate but rather a crack that didn’t finish cracking, and today grinds across the African plate
horizontally in what is called a transform motion. [Samri]: This essentially splits the country
into two portions: the western and eastern Ethiopian highlands, also known as the Ethiopian plateau, and
the Amhar mountains. [Paul]: The Ethiopian highlands are the largest continuous mountain range in Africa, which stretch north to south and comprise a great diversity
of terrain depending on the region. [Samri]: Climate-wise, it basically goes like this:
the east is hot and the west is cool. [Paul]: Huh, that’s simple. As mentioned before, the northeast corner by the border of Eritrea contains the Danakil Depression where you find Dallol, the hottest human
settlement on Earth, with average annual temperatures holding
around 41 degrees Celsius. Most of this hauntingly beautiful area is uninhabitable with some areas fuming with toxic gasses coming from the boiling geothermal salt ponds. [Samri]: Nonetheless, people still come here to mine
for salt on a regular basis. Oh, and if you’re lucky, you can witness blue lava flowing from some of the minor volcanoes in the area. [Paul]: Blue lava!?
[Samri]: Yeah, blue!
[Paul]: I didn’t even know that existed. Close by, you can also find Erta Ale, the most active volcano in Ethiopia with two lava lakes
continuously shining orange, sometimes referred to as “The gates of hell”. [Turkmenistan Paul]: Nope I have the real one and mine is better! [Samri]: Head inland and we hit the breathtaking Simien mountains, where the tallest peak,
Ras Dashen, is found. [Paul]: Here you can find Lake Tana, the largest
lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile which makes up a little loop-de-loop and then flows northward into the White Nile in Sudan. [Samri]: Head more south and the landscape suddenly becomes dramatically more lush and green, with the highest concentration of vegetation
in the country. [Paul]: The west and south are home to the largest portions of agricultural plots where various grains, vegetables, spices, and herbs are grown, including once again teff, the national grain of Ethiopia, which is used to make the same injera bread I talked
about in the Eritrea video and this is what it looks like, and it’s SO GOOD! Alright crew, come on over. Alright, lunch break,
we’re eating right now. Lunch break, come on, yes, yes.
[Samri]: If you’ve never had Ethiopian food, you’re missing out on life. [Paul]: The land is also teeming with numerous species of animals like gazelles, antelope, kudu, cheetahs, ibex, baboons, and a hotbed for over 500 species of birds that either
inhabit or migrate through the plateaus year-round. However, the national animal is the lion. It was even put on the former flag of Ethiopia when
it was under the last emperor, which has a pretty interesting story behind it. Which we will cover in… Okay, let’s just dispel the myth already. When you hear the word “Ethiopia” everyone still
kind of thinks of this: [Samri]: And yes, during the conflict years this was
more prevalent, however mainstream Ethiopia is nothing like that!
[Paul]: Mmm, no.
[Samri]: No. [Paul]: One thing you have to understand is that
Ethiopia not only has ancient history, but prehistoric history. [Samri]: Yes! As in like some of the oldest specimens in modern day humans have been found in Ethiopia. [Paul]: Yeah, labeling as one of the origin regions of human emergence. [Samri]: Remember Lucy? Yeah. [Both]: Ethiopia. [Paul]: First of all, now Ethiopia is incredibly diverse with over eighty different ethnic groups and tribes living in the country, however a few of them stand out and dominate the rest. About a third of the population is Oromo, and about 30% are Amharic. At less than 10% each, are other groups like Somali, Tigrayan, Sidama, and the rest are huge conglomerations of over seventy different people groups. As mentioned in the Eritrea video, Ethiopia is unique, that along with Eritrea they have an Habesha population. [Samri]: In a nutshell, Habeshas are Africans that have Semitic routes down the line to their ancestry, as they inhabited the ancient land of Cush. [Paul]: As the story goes, Ethiopians claim that they are descendants of the historical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who gets a quick shoutout in the Bible… [Samri]: Long story short, she had a son from Solomon named Menelik, who became the first emperor of Ethiopia. [Paul]: DNA tests have shown that most Habesha identified individuals have partial genetic markers and traces that come from the same ones that are typically found in Jews and Arabs. [Samri]: This is partially the reason why Habesha people look a little different from the rest of what most presumed sub-Saharan African individual is portrayed as. [Paul]: Oh, and they love their hair, right Samri? They have one of the most intriguing unique designs in the world that can’t be found anywhere else, and they just flash their natural follicles. [Samri]: Amharic women even have a fascinating hair-whipping dance that looks like this: Nonetheless, that is only the Habesha Ethiopia.
[Paul]: Yeah, once again there are over eighty ethnic groups that are radically different from the others. Oh, and once again, just like Eritrea, the Amharic peoples also use the only indigenous African script, the Fidal, or the Fidal, or Ge’ez alphasyllabary.
[Samri]: Otherwise, almost all the other people groups in Ethiopia write with the Latin based script like Oromo and Somali.
[Paul]: Speaking of which, the Oromo, which are slightly the largest group, speak a Cushitic-based language closer to Somali and Afar, which is completely unintelligible to Amharic. The country has ties to all three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. [Samri]: About 63% are Christians, mostly Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant, Muslims make up about a third, and the rest are either Jew and other indigenous faiths.
[Paul]: Yeah you hear that right, JEWS! Ethiopia is home to one of the only black Jewish populations. There’s a dispute that the Lemba of South Africa are also black Jews but that’s another story. [Samri]: Back when it was a kingdom of Axum, Ethiopia became one of the first nations to accept Christianity. [Paul]: And as tradition holds, Jesus’s disciple Matthew traveled there to share the gospel and Phillip the Evangelist baptized the first Ethiopian. [Samri]: The Harari region of Ethiopia is also regarded as the fourth holiest site in Islam, as it has 82 mosques and over a hundred shrines.
[Paul]: But one thing Samri that really sticks out would have to be the Ethiopian calendar, right? [Samri]: Yeah.
[Paul]: It’s pretty weird.
[Samri]: The Ethiopian calendar is about seven years and three months behind the standard Gregorian calendar
that most other nations follow. As of right now in 2016, the year is
2008 in Ethiopia! [Paul]: Really? It’s like, 2008 in Ethiopia
right now? Weird.
[Samri]: Yeah. [Paul]: Very similar to the Coptic one, the calendar uses twelve months with
thirty days each and a thirteenth epigomenal month made
up of either five or six days depending on the year. New Years day typically lands on September 11… …or the twelfth depending on the year. [Samri]: Throughout most of their history,
Ethiopia was under kingdoms and empires. The last one ending with emperor Haile Selassie. [Paul]: However, his son, Amha, kind of ruled
technically for like one year until the communists Derg community came in and then they ended
the monarchy. [Samri]: Side note, this is where the tension
with Eritrea pretty much started. [Paul]: The Derg was deposed and now they operate under a federal parliamentary republic. [Samri]: Fun side note, emperor Haile Selassie
is still to this day revered by Rastafarians as their messiah, even though he was
quoted for saying, “I am not God.”
[Paul]: Samri, I’m just curious, like, what do Ethiopians think about the whole
Rastafarian thing and Haile Selassie and all that stuff. What do they think about it?
[Samri]: They think they’re pretty cool. I mean, they love our country and they
have a portion of land there, and so they provide to our economy.
[Paul]: Yeah, you can imagine how they felt when he actually visited the
country in the sixties. Speaking of outside relations… Ethiopia is kind of a big shot. They’ve
earned their prestige on the world stage, and now they have a lot of people to connect with. No surprise, the U.S. and China are the biggest overseas investors in Ethiopia. The U.S. gives the most aid and has
military alliances, and China is the largest importer. They have both relations with Israel and Palestine. After Israel became a state, thousands
of Ethiopians flocked over and today there are more Ethiopian black Jews living in Israel than in Ethiopia. Palestine is also recognized as a state and both have their own embassies. Turkey has ties from way back in the
Ottoman Empire times, and Russia used to be a really good friend back when the communist Derg committee took
over for about twenty years. Now things are kind of like ‘eh’ between them. Their best friends, however, will probably be Egypt, Djibouti, and to a lesser extent, maybe Sudan. Egypt shares an ancient history with Ethiopia for thousands of years, and the Nile Basin plays a major role in their cooperation. Djibouti is kind of like their only way out
to the Red Sea, and business between them is crucial for
Ethiopia’s trade sector. Sudan is kind of like a major oil provider
and gateway to the Mediterranean for them. Despite the border conflict, they still have relatively
good relationships. In conclusion, Ethiopia is kind of like a big deal. I mean, some of the earliest peoples ever
recorded came from here, let alone communities and civilizations. They avoided European colonization, and have a unique vibrant, diverse background found
nowhere else, and yet, somehow, they’re able to hold onto every region together, and become one proud
people of rich heritage. [Samri]: Yes.
[Paul]: What do you think Samri? Was that accurate?
[Samri]: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. [Paul]: Alright, yes. Stay tuned, after nearly two years
of doing Geography Now, we finally go back to Oceania, and Fiji, is coming up next!