Cultures of Ethiopia
Ethiopia has a fast-growing population of more than 85 million, speaking over 75 different languages (and many more dialects), with numerous unique ethnic groups, beliefs, and traditions. The Oromo and Amhara people are by far the most populous; each makes up almost a third of the population.
Outside of the cities, most Ethiopians work in agriculture – usually as small-scale farmers. Daily life revolves around the seasons, and many of Ethiopia’s festivals and dances refer to the harvest and tending of the fields. Cattle and goats are common – visitors on long car journeys will quickly get used to waiting patiently for the herds and their owners to pass!
Rural villages are arranged into attractive family compounds – with huts for sleeping, livestock, and storage contained within fences or walls. Some compounds also contain a garden, with fruit trees, crops, and ornamental plants providing shade, sustenance, and decoration.
One of the most widely practiced Ethiopian customs is the coffee ceremony. Beans are freshly roasted and ground, and the dark, potent drink is brewed on a small charcoal stove, while burning frankincense fills the air. The coffee is served in a small ceramic cup and a small sprig of the herb rue, known locally as Adam’s Health (Tena Adam), may be added for extra flavor.