27 June 2007

somewhere no one's expecting.

A little background on my future home:

1. Amharic looks hard. But it's Semitic (the second most widely spoken member of the family), and I've already put three years into learning the most common Semitic language, so perhaps that will prove helpful.

2. Ethiopia is the oldest independent African nation (some 2000 years, save a brief Italian occupation in World War II).

3. The flag is pretty. But more importantly, the three main colors (red, yellow, and green for my colorblind readers) may appear familiar. They were adopted by pan-African supporters because of fact #2, and that's why so many African states used some combination of those colors when they gained independence from colonial rule.

4. The population of Ethiopia is approximately 76 million people, the second largest in Africa (after Nigeria).

5. On a sadder note, there are 1.5 million people living with AIDS in Ethiopia, a 4.4% prevalence rate. Ethiopia ranks sixth in the world and fifth in Africa (India is second globally) for number of AIDS infections and 25th for prevalence rate.

6. Ethiopia shares borders with Sudan, Eritrea, Djbouti, Somalia, and Kenya. Four of its neighbors have State Department travel warnings - any guesses as to who's the lucky one out? The capital and largest city is Addis Ababa in the center of the country. Although the Ethiopia is landlocked, it is home to the headwaters of the Nile River. As a result of the ongoing conflicts in Sudan and Somalia, Ethiopia is home to a sizable population of refugees.

7. The national literacy rate is 42.7%, with a 15% differential between men and women. 38.7% of the population live below the poverty line.

8. Life expectancy is 49.2 years, ranking Ethiopia 199th in the world. The birth rate is 5.1 children per woman. 43.4% of the population is under 14, compared to approximately 20% in the United States and Western Europe.

Photos that changed the world. This is why I've always loved photography.

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