In the highlands is Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, which supplies the great majority of water to the Nile River Valley in Egypt.Variation in altitude results in dramatic climatic variation.In March 1896, Italian troops attempted to enter Ethiopia forcibly and were routed by Emperor Menelik and his army.The battle of Adwa was the only victory of an African army over a European army during the partitioning of Africa which preserved the country's independence.Unfortunately, however, the country's international standing has declined since the reign of Emperor Selassie, when it was the only African member of the League of Nations and its capital, Addis Ababa, was home to a substantial international community.War, drought, and health problems have left the nation one of the poorest African countries economically, but the people's fierce independence and historical pride account for a people rich in self-determination. Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa, covering 439,580 square miles (1,138,512 square kilometers) and is the major constituent of the landmass known as the Horn of Africa.The Great Rift Valley (known for discoveries of early hominids such as Lucy, whose bones reside in the Ethiopian National Museum) bisects the central plateau.
A socialist government (the Derge) known for its brutality governed the nation until 1991.
The name "Ethiopia" derives from the Greek ethio , meaning "burned" and pia , meaning "face": the land of burned-faced peoples.
Aeschylus described Ethiopia as a "land far off, a nation of black men." Homer depicted Ethiopians as pious and favored by the gods.
English is the most widely spoken foreign language and the language in which secondary school and university classes are taught.
French is heard occasionally in parts of the country near Djibouti, formerly French Somaliland.