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Addis Ababa (New Flower)

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With a increasing population of 4 million people, Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa is located at the geographic center of the nation and is the political and cultural center of Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa, which means “New Flower” in Amharic, is an interestingly indigenous African city. Founded in 1896 by Emperor Menelik II, Addis Ababa is the last in a succession of capitals of the great Abyssinian Empire dating back to the pre-Christian Axum.

For a period between 1936 and 1939, the conquering Italians under Mussolini attempted to Europeanize city. Because their rule was so short-lived, the Italian influence on the geography and society of Addis Ababa was negligible and never amounted to full scale colonization. Growth occurred in three waves following World War II:

• with the largest population boom during the late 60′s
• as rural to urban migration reached its peak
• war and famines in the last 10 years have increased in-migration to the capital

Rural migrants come villages all across the nation and dozens of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Amhara, Oromo and Gurage are the dominant ethnicities in the city.

Addis Ababa was saved in the 1920′s by an determined campaign to plant Eucalyptus trees in and around the city as a fuel wood and construction material. Nowadays, a greenbelt of forests and semi-subsistence cultivated land surrounds the city.

Housing is the major problem of the city. The majority of the population lives in substandard housing and many citizens lack running water or electricity.

The Addis Merkato, situated in the Addis Ketema district of western Addis Ababa, is the primary retail, wholesale and distribution point for the city and the central highlands.

Due to its indigenous character, and the great legacy of the Abyssinian Empire, Ethiopia and its capital city have become a source of pride for the Pan-African movement.

This historical significance and the enchanting, mountainous setting of Addis Ababa has drawn more than tourists in the later part of this century as the secretariats of both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa chose to locate their headquarters here.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is known by African diplomats, tourists, geographers and residents alike as one of the worlds most problematic, yet fascinating and beautiful cities.

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