Origin of Addis Ababa

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

Ethiopia was formerly called Abyssinia. Did the capital Addis Ababa also have a previous name?

The Answer:

No. Addis Ababa has always had the same name. It means "New Flower" in the African language of Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The Empress Taitu, wife of Emperor Menilek II, who was away on a military campaign, founded Addis Ababa in 1886. The city is at the site of hot springs. The imperial palace, aristocratic mansions, and military encampments formed the center of the early city.

During the Italian colonial occupation of Ethiopia, from 1935 and 1941, portions of downtown Addis Ababa were rebuilt, constructing a European style central district known as the Piazza.

Today it is a sprawling urban area and commercial center of close to 4 million people. The population has swelled in recent years as refugees from the war-torn countryside of Ethiopia have streamed in, looking for jobs and security. Outside Addis Ababa is the Mercato, one of the largest open-air markets in Africa.

In addition to being the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is also the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa, both located in Africa Hall. The city is linked by rail to the Red Sea port of Djibouti, in the adjacent nation of Djibouti, and by road to Massawa, the leading port city of the nation of Eritrea.

-The Fact Monster

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