Addis Ababa (the name means 'new flower') was a city founded by Ethiopia's famous King Menelik II during 19th C. Situated in the foothills of the Entoto Mountains and standing 2,500 metres above sea level it is the third highest capital in the world.
Perched on the Abyssinian plateau, Addis boasts a climate classed as'tropical highland' – in other words, balmy and temperate, with cloudless blue skies for about eight months of the year.
Before moving to the present site of Addis Ababa, Menelik had established temporary capitals at six different locations caused by exhausting the fuel wood at each of these sites. Addis itself was in danger of being abandoned until the introduction of fast-growing eucalyptus trees from Australia provided the city with a regular source of fuel.
The city is populated by about 5 million people who come from different regions of Ethiopia – the country has as many as 80 nationalities speaking 80 languages and belonging to a wide variety of religious communities.
As a chartered city, Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. It is where the African Union and its predecessor the OAU are based. It also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and numerous other continental and international organizations. Even, the smallest city state of the world Vatican has established an embassy in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa is, therefore, often referred to as "the political capital of Africa" due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.
Like few other capitals in the world, there is more than enough for anybody to see and do in Addis.
It's well-endowed with museums, including the culturally stimulating Ethnological Museum, set within emperor Haile Selassie's former palace, which gives a great insight into Ethiopia's many rich cultures. Another highlight is the National Museum, the collection of which ranks among the finest in sub-Saharan Africa; its star attraction is Lucy, the oldest hominid ever be found by archaeologists. Relics of the early city in the Addis Ababa Museum will give you an insight about the city.
It is also home to the largest open air market in Africa, has gorgeous churches, cathedrals, mosques and zoo to see.
It is also worth keeping your eyes open for the numerous concrete Soviet statues and buildings that dot the city.
Addis also gets rave reviews for its restaurant scene and an incredible nightlife (there is salsa in Addis Ababa!). Bole Road – the avenue that connects the airport to the centre – is the fashionable district, with plenty of fancy bars, eateries, galleries and clubs.
Having a perfect combination of safety, great people, and cheap living, Addis will be one of your favorite places to visit or live while living overseas. Generally, Addis has lots of great surprises up its sleeve, – it's time to delve in!