Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia. Located in Amhara Region in the north-western Ethiopian Highlands, the lake is 84 kilometres long and 66 kilometres wide, with a maximum depth of 15 metres, an elevation of 1,788 metres. Lake Tana is fed by the Lesser Abay and Gumara rivers, its surface area ranges depending on season and rainfall. The lake level has been regulated since the construction of the control weir where the lake discharges into the Blue Nile; this controls the flow to hydro-power station. In 2015, the Lake Tana region was nominated as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve recognizing its national and international natural and cultural importance. Lake Tana was formed by volcanic activity, blocking the course of inflowing rivers in the early Pleistocene epoch, about 5 million years ago; the lake was much larger than it is today. Seven large permanent rivers feed the lake as well as 40 small seasonal rivers; the main tributaries to the lake are Gilgel Abbay, the Megech and Rib rivers.
Lake Tana has a number of islands. It has fallen about 6 feet in the last 400 years. According to Manoel de Almeida, there were 21 islands, seven to eight of which had monasteries on them "formerly large, but now much diminished." When James Bruce visited the area in the 18th century, he noted that the locals counted 45 inhabited islands, but stated he believed that "the number may be about eleven." A 20th-century geographer named 37 islands, of which he believed 19 have or had monasteries or churches on them. Remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Church are kept in the isolated island monasteries. On the island of Tana Qirqos is a rock shown to Paul B. Henze, on which he was told the Virgin Mary had rested on her journey back from Egypt; the body of Yekuno Amlak is interred in the monastery of St. Stephen on Daga Island. Emperors whose tombs are on Daga include Dawit I, Zara Yaqob, Za Dengel, Fasilides. Other important islands in Lake Tana include Dek, Gelila Zakarias and Briguida.
The monasteries are believed to have been built over earlier religious sites. They include the fourteenth-century Debre Maryam, the eighteenth-century Narga Selassie, Tana Qirqos, Ura Kidane Mehret, known for its regalia. A ferry service links Bahir Dar with Gorgora via various lakeshore villages. There is Zege Peninsula on the southwest portion of the lake. Zege is the site of the Azwa Maryam monastery. Since there are no inflows that link the lake to other large waterways and the main outflow, the Blue Nile, is obstructed by the Blue Nile Falls, the lake supports a distinctive fish fauna, related to species from the Nile Basin. About 70% of the fish species in the lake are endemic; this includes one of only two known cyprinid species flocks, which consists of fifteen large, up to 1 m long, Labeobarbus barbs. Eight of these are piscivorous and an important prey is the small Barbus tanapelagius, another endemic of the lake. Other noteworthy endemic species are Afronemacheilus abyssinicus, one of only two African stone loaches, the tana subspecies of the Nile tilapia.
Lake Tana supports a large fishing industry based on the Labeobarbus barbs, Nile tilapia and sharptooth catfish. According to the Ethiopian Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 1,454 tons of fish are landed each year at Bahir Dar, which the department estimates are 15% of its sustainable amount. Among other fauna, the lake supports few invertebrates: There are fifteen species of molluscs, including one endemic, an endemic freshwater sponge. Numerous wetland birds, such as the great white pelican and African darter, reside at Lake Tana, it is an important resting and feeding ground for many Palearctic migrant waterbirds. There are no crocodiles, but the African softshell turtle has been recorded near the Blue Nile outflow from the lake. Homepage of Lake Tana Biosphere Reserve Lake Tana project webpage of The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union Lake Tana project at Aberystwyth University Photographs of the lake Unesco plan for Lake T'ana LakeNet Profile Pictures from Lake Tana and the Monasteries
Lalibela is a town in Amhara Region, Ethiopia famous for its rock-cut monolithic churches. The whole of Lalibela is a large antiquity of the medieval and post-medieval civilization of Ethiopia. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Axum, a center of pilgrimage. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Ethiopia was one of the earliest nations to adopt Christianity in the first half of the fourth century, its historical roots date to the time of the Apostles; the churches themselves date from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, are traditionally dated to the reign of the Zagwe king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela. The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are accepted by local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem; this has led some experts to date the current church forms to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by the Muslim leader Saladin. Lalibela is located in the North Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, at 2,500 metres above sea level.
It is the main town in Lasta woreda, part of Bugna woreda. The Rock-Hewn Churches were declared a World Heritage site in 1978. During the reign of Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, a member of the Zagwe dynasty who ruled Ethiopia in the late 12th century and early 13th century, the current town of Lalibela was known as Roha; the saint-king was named because a swarm of bees is said to have surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as emperor of Ethiopia. The names of several places in the modern town and the general layout of the rock-cut churches themselves are said to mimic names and patterns observed by Lalibela during the time he spent as a youth in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Lalibela, revered as a saint, is said to have seen Jerusalem, attempted to build a new Jerusalem as his capital in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by Muslims in 1187; each church was carved from a single piece of rock to symbolize humility. Christian faith inspires many features with Biblical names – Lalibela's river is known as the River Jordan.
Lalibela remained the capital of Ethiopia from the late 12th into the 13th century. The first European to see these churches was the Portuguese explorer Pêro da Covilhã. Portuguese priest Francisco Álvares, accompanied the Portuguese Ambassador on his visit to Dawit II in the 1520s, he describes the unique church structures as follows: "I weary of writing more about these buildings, because it seems to me that I shall not be believed if I write more... I swear by God, in Whose power I am, that all I have written is the truth" Although Ramuso included plans of several of these churches in his 1550 printing of Álvares' book, who supplied the drawings remains a mystery; the next reported European visitor to Lalibela was Miguel de Castanhoso, who served as a soldier under Cristóvão da Gama and left Ethiopia in 1544. After de Castanhoso, more than 300 years passed until the next European, Gerhard Rohlfs, visited Lalibela some time between 1865 and 1870. According to the Futuh al-Habaša of Sihab ad-Din Ahmad, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi burned one of the churches of Lalibela during his invasion of Ethiopia.
However, Richard Pankhurst has expressed his skepticism about this event, pointing out that although Sihab ad-Din Ahmad provides a detailed description of a rock-hewn church, only one church is mentioned. He concludes by stating that had Ahmad al-Ghazi burned a church at Lalibela, it was most Biete Medhane Alem; this rural town is known around the world for its churches carved from within the earth from "living rock," which play an important part in the history of rock-cut architecture. Though the dating of the churches is not well established, most are thought to have been built during the reign of Lalibela, namely during the 12th and 13th centuries. Unesco identifies 11 churches, assembled in four groups: The Northern Group: Biete Medhane Alem, home to the Lalibela Cross. Biete Maryam the oldest of the churches, a replica of the Tombs of Adam and Christ. Biete Golgotha Mikael, known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela) Biete Meskel Biete Denagel The Western Group: Church of Saint George, thought to be the most finely executed and best preserved churchThe Eastern Group: Biete Amanuel the former royal chapel Biete Qeddus Mercoreus, which may be a former prison Biete Abba Libanos Biete Gabriel-Rufael a former royal palace, linked to a holy bakery.
Biete Lehem. Farther lie the monastery of Ashetan Maryam and Yemrehana Krestos Church. There is some controvers
The Agaw are an ethnic Cushitic peoples inhabiting Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. They speak Agaw languages; the Agaw are first mentioned in the third-century Monumentum Adulitanum, an Aksumite inscription recorded by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth century. The inscription refers to a people called "Athagaus" from ʿAd Agaw, meaning "sons of Agaw." The Athagaous first turn up as one of the peoples conquered by the unknown king who inscribed the Monumentum Adulitanum. The Agaw are mentioned in an inscription of the fourth century emperor Ezana of Axum and the sixth-century emperor Kaleb of Axum. Based on this evidence, a number of experts embrace a theory first stated by Edward Ullendorff and Carlo Conti Rossini that they are the original inhabitants of much of the northern Ethiopian Highlands, were either forced out of their original settlements or assimilated by Semitic-speaking Tigrayans and Amharas. Cosmas Indicopleustes noted in his Christian Topography that a major gold trade route passed through the region "Agau".
The area referred to seems to be an area east of the Tekezé River and just south of the Semien Mountains around Lake Tana. They exist in a number of scattered enclaves, which include the Bilen in and around Keren, Eritrea; the Cushitic speaking Agaw people ruled during the Zagwe dynasty of Ethiopia from about 900 to 1270. The name of the dynasty itself comes from the Ge'ez phrase Ze-Agaw, refers to the Agaw people; the Agaw speak Agaw languages. They are a part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Many speak Amharic, Tigrinya and/or Tigre, which are Afro-Asiatic languages, but of the Semitic branch; the Northern Agaw are known as Bilen, capital Keren The Western Agaw are known as Qemant, capital TekelDengay The Eastern Agaw are known as Xamta, capital Soqota The Southern Agaw are known as Awi, capital Injibara Mara Takla Haymanot - Emperor of Ethiopia who founded the Zagwe dynasty by 1137 Gebre Mesqel Lalibela - Emperor of Ethiopia Who is credited with having constructed the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela Yetbarak - Emperor of Ethiopia the last ruler from the Zagwe dynasty who reigned up to 1270 Zagwe dynasty Bilen people
2005 Ethiopian general election
Ethiopia held general elections on May 15, 2005, for seats in both its national House of Peoples' Representatives and in four regional government councils. Under pressure from the international community, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi promised that this election would be proof that more democracy would come in this multi-ethnic nation. S.-based Carter Center were present to observe the results. This election succeeded in attracting about 90% of the registered voters to the polls. A government ban on protests was imposed throughout the election period. EU observers remarked on the "significantly enlarged freedoms for political campaigning in comparison to previous elections". Political parties campaigned and opposition parties appeared to be active in the rural areas; the observer mission described the atmosphere "during the campaign was calm, culminating in two massive, peaceful rallies in Addis Ababa, one by the EPRDF and one by the opposition."Despite this, opposition parties alleged numerous cases of intimidation, arrests of its supporters.
While the EU observers could not investigate all of the alleged cases, it did confirm those it investigated. International human rights groups cataloged a number of cases of human rights violations. However, the EU observers wrote in their final report, they "recorded no arrests of EPRDF supporters for campaign offences."Towards the close of the campaigning, the language became more vicious, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations of the campaigning rules. "Campaign rhetoric became insulting," the EU observer's report noted continued: The most extreme example of this came from the Deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, who, in a public debate on 15 April, compared the opposition parties with the Interhamwe militia, which perpetrated the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Prime Minister made the same comparison on 5 May in relation to the CUD; the EPRDF made the same associations during its free slots on radio and TV. The opposition coalition UEDF used the comparison against the government in a TV spot showing footage of the movie "Hotel Rwanda".
Such rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic election. Early results showed the opposition with a big lead, sweeping all of the contested seats in the capital Addis both in the race for parliamentary as well as local government. By the afternoon of 16 May, the opposition claimed it was halfway towards winning a majority in the national parliament with only about a third of the constituencies reporting complete results; that day, trailing badly in the preliminary report covering just under 200 seats released by the National Election Board, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front announced that it had won more than 317 seats out of 547, while conceding that opposition parties won all 23 seats in the capital city Addis Ababa. The two major opposition parties, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces claimed on that same day that they had won 185 of the 200 seats for which the National Election Board of Ethiopia had released preliminary results.
That was a significant improvement over the 12 seats. By law, the NEBE was required to announce the official results on 8 June. However, the vote tallying process was jeopardized when the opposition claimed that the Addis Ababa vote was rigged and during the evening of 16 May, the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency, outlawed any public gathering, assumed direct command of the security forces, replaced the capital city police with federal police and special forces drawn from elite army units; the NEBE ordered the vote tallying process to stop, an order, not rescinded for nearly a week, yet another action against which the opposition and the independent election monitors objected. The next official report from the NEBE, released on 27 May, showed that the EPRDF had won 209 seats, affiliated parties 12 more; the report indicated. "These results are provisional, these results could change because we are looking into complaints by some of the parties," said NEBE spokesman Getahun Amogne.
Observers from the European Union afterwards "assessed the closing and counting processes negatively in half of urban polling stations observed, a high figure for international observers to record, worse in rural polling stations observed." Counting was slow, a remarkably high number of ballots were ruled invalid, there was a lack of transparency in the results. "Result sheets were only displayed at 29 per cent of rural polling stations observed and 36 per cent of urban polling stations observed at the completion of counting. In 25 per cent of polling stations observed, political party representatives were not provided with a copy of the results."The situation only deteriorated with the following day, according to the observers, starting with a blanket ban, issued after the end of voting, on freedom of assembly in the capital. Media coverage worsened. State media published statements by government/EPRDF personnel claiming victory in the elections, despite the fact that counting was still underway, but refused to publish opposition statements.
Incidents involving students started on the night of 5 June and extended on 6 and 7 June with hundreds being arrested. During a demonstration in Addis Ababa on 8 June, security forces killed at least 36 citizens and in the aftermath arrested thousands of persons linked to the opposition, who were accused of spreading "political unrest"; the CUD lodged complaints in 139 constituencies, the UEDF lodged 89 complaints, while the E
The birr is the unit of currency in Ethiopia. Before 1976, dollar was the official English translation of birr. Today, it is birr in English as well. In 1931, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, formally requested that the international community use the name Ethiopia instead of Abyssinia, the issuing Bank of Abyssinia became the Bank of Ethiopia. Thus, the pre-1931 currency could be considered the Abyssinian birr and the post-1931 currency the Ethiopian birr, although it was the same country and the same currency before and after. 186 billion birr were in circulation in 2008. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Maria Theresa thalers and blocks of salt called "amole tchew" served as currency in Ethiopia; the thaler was known locally as the ታላሪ taleri. The Maria Theresa thaler was adopted as the standard coin in 1855, although the Indian rupee and the Mexican dollar were used in foreign trade; the talari became the standard unit on 9 February 1893 and 200,000 dollars were produced at the Paris Mint in 1894 for Menelik II.
The talari, equivalent to the Maria Theresa thaler, was divided into 40 bessa. A new Ethiopian coinage appeared about 1903; the new silver birr maintained the same weight and fineness as the old, but there was now a quarter-birr and a silver ghersh, the latter 1/16 the weight of the birr. The money of account now became 1 birr' = 16 ghersh = 32 bessa; the Bank of Abyssinia was established in 1905 by Emperor Menelik and the European banking group behind the National Bank of Egypt. The Ethiopian coinage gained acceptance only and Bank of Abyssinia imported Maria Theresa thalers. By the time World War I broke out, the bank was still importing about 1,200,000 of these coins annually. Bank of Abyssinia put banknotes into circulation in 1915; these notes were denominated thaler in English. They were used by merchants and by foreigners but were not accepted generally. However, Note circulation increased after 1925. Emperor Haile Selassie bought out the Bank of Abyssinia in 1931 for £235,000 in order to make it a purely Ethiopian institution.
It was reorganized as Bank of Ethiopia. At the same time, the currency was decimalized and token nickel and copper coins were introduced, the birr becoming equal to 100 metonnyas; the text on the bank's notes appeared in French. By the mid-1930s circulation consisted chiefly of Maria Theresa and Menelik talari. Not long after the Italian occupation and the attempted transformation of Ethiopia into Italian East Africa, the Italian lira was introduced and Ethiopian banknotes were withdrawn from circulation at 3 lire per talar. In an effort to increase the use of Italian paper money, the exchange rate for silver coin was raised to 4.50 lire to 5.00, in stages, to 13.50. Still, many people kept their Ethiopian banknotes. Regular Italian coins and banknotes of Banca d'Italia circulated after 15 July 1936. Special notes with a red overprint were authorized for Italian East Africa on 12 September 1938, a large quantity was printed, it is not clear, when, to what extent these special notes circulated. During the East African Campaign of 1941, British forces brought with them Indian, Egyptian and British East African currency, all were received in official payments.
Italian coins and notes of up to 50 lire were allowed to continue in circulation to serve as small change. Maria Theresa thalers were allowed to circulate with a value of 1s 10½d; the East African shilling became the money of account on 1 July 1942. Regular notes of the East African Currency Board were used for circulation in Ethiopia; the birr was reintroduced in 1945 at a rate of 1 birr. The name Ethiopian dollar was used in the English text on the banknotes, it was divided into 100 santim. The name birr became the official name, used in all languages, in 1976. Between 1894 and 1897 copper coins were introduced in denominations of 1⁄100 and 1⁄32 birr, together with silver 1 ghersh, 1⁄8, 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 birr, gold 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 werk. In 1931, a new series of coins was introduced consisting of copper 1 and 5 metonnyas, nickel 10, 20 and 50 metonnyas. In 1944, coins were reintroduced, with copper 1, 5, 10 and 25 silver 50 santim. A second series was issued in 1977, it consisted of aluminium 1 santim, brass 5 and 10 santim, cupro-nickel 25 and 50 santim.
The most recent issues are: 5 santim EE1998 10 santim EE1996 25 santim EE1996 50 santim EE1996 1 Birr EE2003 The dates, like the rest of the legend, appear in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. Besides having all the legends in Amharic, there are two features that help to identify an Ethiopian birr. Early dated coins, those dated before EE1969, feature a crowned rampant lion holding a cross; this can be seen in the adjacent picture. Dated coins, those dated EE1969 or after, picture the head of a roaring lion, with a flowing mane. Coins were struck at several mints, including Paris and Addis Ababa. Coins without mintmarks were struck at Addis Ababa; the coins st
A monolithic church or rock-hewn church is a church made from a single block of stone. Because freestanding rocks of sufficient size are rare, such edifices are hewn into the ground or into the side of a hill or mountain, they can be of comparable architectural complexity to constructed buildings. The term monolithic church is most used to refer to the complex of eleven churches in Lalibela, believed to have been created in the 12th century. A series of eleven monolithic churches in Lalibela are the Church of the Redeemer, of Saint Mary, of Mount Sinai, of Golgotha, of the House of the Cross, of the House of the Virgins, of Saint Gabriel, of Abba Matta, of Saint Mercurius, of Immanuel; the most famous of the edifices is the cross-shaped Church of St. George. Tradition credits its construction to the Zagwe dynasty King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, a devout Orthodox Tewahedo Christian; the medieval monolithic churches of this 12th-century'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village.
Lalibela is an important center of Ethiopian Christianity, today is a place of pilgrimage and devotion. Lalibela is one of the world's heritage sites registered by UNESCO. Many other churches were hewn from rock in Ethiopia, outside of Lalibela; this practice was common in Tigray, where the outside world knew of only a few such churches until the Catholic priest Abba Tewelde Medhin Josief presented a paper to the Third International Conference of Ethiopian Studies in which he announced the existence of over 120 churches, 90 of which were still in use. Despite Dr. Josief's death soon after his presentation, research over the next few years raised the total number of these rock-hewn churches to 153. There are a number of monolithic churches elsewhere in the world. However, none have the free-standing external walls of the Lalibela churches, they instead more resemble cave monasteries in that they consist of tunnels converging into a single rock. Examples include: The Geghard monastery, Kotayk Province, Armenia The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Bulgaria near Ruse The subterranean St. Jean Church in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, France Church in Saint-Émilion, France Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki, Finland The subterranean rock churches in Cappadocia, Turkey which number beyond one thousand and contain some superb examples of Byzantine wall-paintings, representing both the academic classicizing trend in Byzantine art, some archaic popular styles Rock-cut architecture Monolithic architecture Bochnia Salt Mine List of cave monasteries Petra Ellora Caves Saint-Roman abbey website Website about monolithic monuments