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Addis Ababa Travel Guide

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Addis Ababa © Galen R. Frysinger

Addis Ababa (sometimes spelt Addis Abeba) is a diverse and riotous capital city of nearly three million souls, with roughly 80 different nationalities, and a multitude of religious and language groups making up its colourful population.

Nestled at the foot of Mount Entoto, the city was founded in the late 1800s by Ethiopian emperor Menelik II and was later occupied by the Italians during the second Italo-Abyssinian War. When Ethiopians regained control, Emperor Haile Selassie immediately set about rebuilding the capital and formed the Organisation of African Unity, replaced by today's African Union, which has its headquarters in the city.

Addis Ababa is also home to the world-renowned early hominid Lucy - her fossilised skeleton, as well as a replica, are housed in the Ethiopian National Museum. The city also boasts one of the largest open air markets in Africa (in the Merkato district), several interesting mosques and cathedrals, as well as the world's largest prefabricated building, Shengo Hall, and Menelik's old Imperial Palace, which is the official seat of the Ethiopian government.

Addis Ababa is an interesting mix of poverty and wealth, urbanisation and nature (the city is surrounded by forests and cultivated land). It is a dynamic capital, but has its fair share of unemployment, petty crime and destitution. Addis Ababa, however, is well worth exploring, as there are plenty of 'diamonds in the rough' to be uncovered.

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