Ethiopia is officially the world’s best tourist destination

Ethiopia has been voted as 2015’s top tourist destination.

Competition organisers the European Council on Tourism and Trade chose Africa’s second-most populated country for its “excellent preservation of humanity landmarks”.

Ethiopia is home to a cornucopia of UNESCO World Heritage monuments, such as the ruins of the city of Aksum, cynosure of ancient Ethiopia and the powerful Aksumite Kingdom, and Fasil Ghebbi, an imposing fortress city that housed Ethiopian emperors during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Not to mention Harar Jugol – one of Islam’s holiest cities, replete with 82 mosques, 102 shrines and unique architectural treasures – and Lalibela, a sprawling holy site of 11 medieval stone carved churches dating back to the dark ages.

Aside from the myriad heritage sites, Ethiopia is also recognised for its natural parks and reservations, particularly the Simien National Park, where massive erosion of the Ethiopian plateau has created a spectacular landscape of jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 metres.

Tourism has been growing consistently, rising from 468,000 in 2010 to 681,000 in 2013.

Civil society may have been stunted in the land-locked country but economic growth has charged ahead. The country averaged a growth rate of 10.8% between 2003 and 2013, more than twice the regional average of 5.3%. Agriculture is a key tenet of these figures but industrial production and the service industry are also driving the country’s advance, positioning Ethiopia as a rare example of economic diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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