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Discovering Ethiopian Culture

Ethiopia has a diverse mix of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, and cultural uniqueness. Its mosaic culture offers wonderful discovery for visitors. Cultural traditions are found from over 3000 years of history. Touring through Ethiopian culture brings beautiful pictures of monuments, as well as edifices, built in centuries past. The area is breathtaking and full of life along with discovery.

Over 80 spoken languages have been used in Ethiopia. Several of the main language groups include Omotic, Semitic, Nilo-Saharan, as well as Cushitic. The main Semitic language within Ethiopia – Amharic -  has Hebrew and Arabic roots.

Agricultural practice is strongly seen within the history of Ethiopian culture. Sorghum, wheat, maize and barley are produced. People in the South such as the Gurage farmers routinely grow enset plant, also known as “false banana.” Carbohydrate-rich food is used from the plant to make unleavened bread or porridge. Herdsmen and craftsmen are also a part of the Ethiopian culture.

Wonderful culture is also seen in the many types of clothing worn by the various ethnic groups of Ethiopia. Traditional dress made from white cotton is commonly seen among rural women. Men wear long trousers, snug fitting shirts, along with shamma (loose wrap).

Many Harar Muslims wear colorful attire within the region. Men generally wear short trousers, along with a colored wrap. Fine dresses in red, black, and purple are worn by the women. Oroma people wear leather, beaded dress representing their culture in working with livestock.

Festivals and ceremonies surround Ethiopian lifestyles, and showcase national dress styles. It is a beautiful sight to see when people wear finely woven dresses made of cotton, along with decorated wraps. Rural people within different Ethiopian groups wear distinctive jewelry, various hairstyles, and carry unique embroidery styles of dress.

Ethiopian culture is also rich in singing and dancing. Secular music can be heard, along with spiritual music. 

In discovering delightful Ethiopian culture, traditional instruments are used to make music. They include the massinko (violin of one string), the krar (lyre, six strings), washint (flute), as well as Ethiopian drums. Generally, three types of drums are seen: the negarit, the kebero, and the begena. 

Not only can you explore the wonderful colors in dress and attire, surrounded by traditional Ethiopian music, but you have the opportunity to discover the delightful scenery of animals and landscaping. The area is full of ancient history and archaeological sites.