Addis Ababa

With a population of more than two million people, Addis Ababa is not only the political capital but also the economic and social nerve-centre of Ethiopia. Founded by Emperor Menelik in 1887, this big, sprawling, hospitable city still bears the stamp of his exuberant personality. More than 21,000 hectares in area, Addis Ababa is situated in the foothills of the 3,000 meters Entoto Mountains and rambles pleasantly across many wooded hillsides and gullies cut through with fast flowing streams.

Tall office buildings, elegant villas, and fashionable hotels, rise up alongside traditional homes of wattle and daub, surrounded by cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens. There is no designated ‘city centre’ because, until very recently, there was no urban planning. Addis Ababa simply grew in a natural, organic way, and its present appearance reflects this unforced and unstructured evolution.

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