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Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa (Amharic አዲስ አበባ, "new flower") is the capital of Ethiopia. As a chartered city (astedader akabibi), Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. The city has as many as 80 nationalities speaking 80 languages, and Christian and Muslim communities.

The site was chosen by Empress Taytu Betul and the city was founded in 1886 by her husband, Emperor Menelik II, and now has a has a population of around four million, and an eight per cent annual growth rate.

The city lies at the foot of Mount Entoto, and is home to Addis Ababa University. Addis Ababa University was formerly known as Haile Selassie I University, after the former Emperor of Ethiopia.

The city is served by Bole International Airport, where a new terminal opened in 2003. Addis Ababa has a railway connection with Djibouti.

The fossilized skeleton, and a plaster replica of the early hominid Lucy (known in Ethiopia as Dinkinesh) is preserved at the national Museum in Addis Ababa.

Recent History

One of the recent changes to the city’s history started with the appointment of Arkebe Oqubay, a top-level member of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), as mayor since early 2003. Though his appointment was initially criticized as being politically motivated, many of those critics and city residents now welcome the changes he has implemented, citing improved services.

While he is not unanimously popular, the mayor has made many changes including reducing the number of civil servants and levels of bureaucracy, which in the past had been a big complaint by residents. Following these changes, Addis Ababa now consists of 10 municipalities, each representing around 400,000 inhabitants; 90 percent of services are provided at the municipality level or lower.

In recent years, the city has also seen the streamlining of its bureaucracy. The waiting time for birth and marriage certificates, for example, has been cut from three weeks to a one-stop service of thirty minutes; tax registration, from six months to one hour; land registration from three years to eight days. Residents of the city have welcomed these changes.

Unemployment is still the biggest economic challenge of the city, with the current rate standing at 42 per cent, and 60 per cent of employment classified "informal." Similar to efforts made at the federal level, tax revenue has risen from $100 million to $200 million, but is still short of the $500 million target. This is widely blamed on corruption and, in part, to the lack of tax collection systems in the city.


Addis Ababa was founded by the Ethiopian emperor Menelik II. Menelik, as King of Shewa, had found Mount Entoto a useful base for military operations in the south of his realm, and in 1879 visited the reputed ruins of a medieval town, and an unfinished rock church that showed proof of an Ethiopian presence prior to the campaigns of Mohammed Gran . His interest in the area grew when his wife Taitu began work on a church on Entoto, and Menelik endowed a second church in the area. However the immediate area did not encourage the founding of a town due to the lack of firewood and water, so settlement actually began in the valley south of the mountain in 1886. Initially, Taitu built a house for herself near the "Filwoha" hot mineral springs (known to the local Oromo people as Finfine), where she and members of the Shewan Royal Court liked to take mineral baths. Other nobility and their staffs and households settled the vicinity, and Menelik expanded his wife's house to become the Imperial Palace which remains the seat of government in Addis Ababa today. Addis Ababa became Ethiopia's capital when Menelik II became Emperor of Ethiopia The town grew by leaps and bounds.

In 1936, Italian troops occupied Addis Ababa, making it the capital of Italian East Africa. After the Italian army in Ethiopia was largely defeated by the British, emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa on May 5, 1941, and began the work of re-establishing his capital.

Emperor Haile Selassie helped form the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and invited the new organization to maintain its headquarters in the city. The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union, also headquartered in Addis Ababa. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also has its headquarters in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa was also the site of the Council of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in 1965.

External links

overhaul of Addis Ababa]

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