Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes; a land of remote and wild places. Some of the highest and most stunning places on the African continent are found here, such as the jaggedly carved Simien Mountains, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites - and some of the lowest, such as the hot but fascinating Danakil Depression, with its sulphur fumaroles and lunar-like landscape. Ethiopia is old; old beyond all imaginations. As Abyssinia, its culture and traditions date back over 3,000 years. And far earlier than that lived 'Lucy' or Dinkenesh, meaning 'thou art wonderful', as she is known to the Ethiopians, whose remains were found in a corner of this country of mystery and contrasts.

Many people visit Ethiopia - or hope to do so one day - because of the remarkable manner in which ancient historical traditions have been preserved. And, indeed, the ceremonies and rituals of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, open a window on the authentic world of the Old Testament. In no other country is it possible to find yourself so dramatically transported back in time or to participate with such freedom in the sacred rituals of an archaic faith.

Few if any tourist, looks to Ethiopia as the ideal tourist destination in view of the decades of wars, droughts and all other calamities that had befallen the country in the twenty years from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. Even the few tourists who would have considered Ethiopia as a tourist destination would have expected the typical game park as the only attractions in the country, given EthiopiaЎ¦s location in Africa. Simply put, it will truly take a knowledgeable tourist in order to have the realization that Ethiopia offers a lot more than the typical ЎҐsafariЎ¦ attractions of its African neighbors. Although Ethiopia has numerous other tourist attractions, it still stands Ў§heads-and-shouldersЎЁ above its regional competitors within the typical African tourism niche of safari parks in view of the numerous flora and fauna, which are endemic to Ethiopia. In short, EthiopiaЎ¦s wide selection and variety of tourist attractions offer tremendous opportunities for market differentiation and segmentation. To highlight a few examples,

„X The worldЎ¦s first churches. mosques and temples are found in Ethiopia, which in turn offer opportunities in Religious Tourism

„X Ethiopia is also a land of ancient obelisks, buildings, castles and other structures that rival the famous pyramids of Egypt. These heritages in turn create opportunities in Archaeological Tourism

„X EthiopiaЎ¦s longstanding independence from subjugation has also served as a natural ЎҐincubatorЎ¦ of some 80 ethnic societies and cultures, thus offering opportunities in the creation of Cultural Tourism packages

„X Ethiopia is also blessed with many wonders of nature, from the heights of the Semien Mountains at more than 4,000 meter in altitude to one of the lowest locations on earth, i.e. the Danakil Depression at 300 feet below sea level. Other wonders of nature include the Blue Nile Falls, the cave rivers of Sof Omar and many more natural attractions that are ideal for Nature Tourism, Adventure Tourism and other tourism market niches

„X As the land of Ў§LucyЎЁ and Ў§ArdiЎЁ, Ethiopia again offers tremendous opportunities for launching Paleontological Tourism activities as well

Ethiopian tourism products and services are defined across three (3) major categories. These are: -

„X The traditional Ў§Northern RouteЎЁ, which offers the historical and religious tourism products and services of Lalibela, Axum, Gondar and Bahr Dar. Wildlife tourism products and services are also offered through visits to the Simien Mountain National Park

„X The Ў§Eastern RouteЎЁ, which offers the Awash National Park, caving around the city of Dire Dawa as well as the walled city of Harar and its Muslim religious products and services

The Ў§Southern RouteЎЁ, which is a relatively recent addition to Ethiopian tourism but offers a wide selection of wildlife, cultural and other tourism products and services