Global Politics

Obama is visiting Addis Ababa, but do you know where it is?

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Now that you know exactly where Addis Ababa is, let's find out more about the city. 

It is the capital and the buzzing hub of economic, social and political activities of Ethiopia, which President Barack Obama will visit this week, along with Kenya. Despite being home to the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and many other international organizations, it is less known outside of Africa. The African Union is part of why Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Ethiopia. He's expected to have bilateral meetings with both Ethiopia's government and the African leadership while in Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa means "new flower" in the Semitic language of Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and one of the 88 languages spoken in Ethiopia, according to Ethnologue. The city was founded in 1886 by an Ethiopian emperor named Menelik II whose wife initially built a house for her and friends to take mineral baths there. The vacation house was later expanded to become the Imperial Place, which today still houses the office and residence of Ethiopian prime minister.

Ethiopia has a highly diverse population comprised of more than 80 different ethnic groups. The Oromo are the largest at around one-third of the total population. While a majority of Ethiopians are Christians, Muslims make up a third of the population. There was separatist movement in the Muslim-majority northern region of Afar but it is no longer active. The region is one of the nine autonomous regional states with its own state constitution.

For caffeine freaks who venerate coffee as a religion, Ethiopia is the holy land. According to Metasebia Yoseph, an Ethiopian American who authored "A Culture of Coffee," Ethiopia is not only the birthplace of coffee and the world’s biodiversity source for Arabica coffee, it is also the origin of what Yoseph calls the collective coffee culture — where coffee was once an integral part of spiritual worship, complete with elaborate rituals. Today, some Ethiopians still perform the traditional coffee ceremony for visiting guests, which may take up to a few hours. Here’s a short video about the ceremony from food blog Migrationology:

Now it’s your turn to brag about the new facts you learned about Addis Ababa and get your friends to try the quiz.

UPDATE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that there is an Islamic separatist movement in the Afar region struggling to build an Islamic state. We regret the error.

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