The site of Addis Ababa was chosen by Empress Taytu Betul and the city was founded in 1886 by her husband, Emperor Menelik II. The name of the city Addis Ababa (ኣዲስ ኣበባ) was taken from parts of the city called hora Finfinnee ("hot springs") in Oromo. Another Oromo name of the city is Sheger. Menelik, as initially a King of the Shewa province, 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 in the area prior to the campaigns of Ahmad Gragn. His interest in the area grew when his wife Taytu 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, Taytu built a house for herself near the "Filwoha" hot mineral springs, where she and members of the Showan 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. The name changed to Addis Ababa and became Ethiopia's capital when Menelik II became Emperor of Ethiopia. The town grew by leaps and bounds. One of Emperor Menelik's contributions that is still visible today is the planting of numerous eucalyptus trees along the city streets.
On 5 May 1936, Italian troops invaded Addis Ababa during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, making it the capital of Italian East Africa from 1936 to 1941, and calling it by the Italian rendition of its name, Addis Abeba. After the Italian army in Ethiopia was defeated by the British forces during the East African Campaign, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa on 5 May 1941—five years to the very day after he had departed—and immediately 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 keep its headquarters in the city. The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union (AU), 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.
Ethiopia has often been called the original home of mankind due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy. North eastern Africa, and the Afar region in particular was the central focus of these claims until recent DNA evidence suggested origins in south central Ethiopian regions like present-day Addis Ababa. After analysing the DNA of almost 1,000 people around the world, geneticists and other scientists claimed people spread from what is now Addis Ababa 100,000 years ago. The research indicated that genetic diversity declines steadily the farther one's ancestors traveled from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Addis-Ababa and vicinities (false colors satellite image): it is an urbanization strip connecting Addis Ababa and Debre Zeyit city (at image right bottom corner)
Addis Ababa seen from SPOT satellite
Addis Ababa lies at an altitude of 7,546 feet (2,300 metres) and is a grassland biome, located at 9°1′48″N 38°44′24″ECoordinates: 9°1′48″N 38°44′24″E. The city lies at the foot of Mount Entoto. From its lowest point, around Bole International Airport, at 2,326 metres (7,631 ft) above sea level in the southern periphery, the city rises to over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in the Entoto Mountains to the north.
Addis Ababa has a Subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). The city has a complex mix of highland climate zones, with temperature differences of up to 10°C, depending on elevation and prevailing wind patterns. The high elevation moderates temperatures year-round, and the city's position near the equator means that temperatures are very constant from month to month.
Mid-November to January is the winter season. The Highland Climate regions are characterized by dry winters, and this is the dry season in Addis Ababa. During this season the daily maximum temperatures are usually not more that 23°C, and the night-time minimum temperatures can get to freezing. The short rainy season is from February to May. During this period, the difference between the daytime maximum temperatures and the night-time minimum temperatures are not as great as during other times of the year, with minimum temperatures in the range of 10–15°C. At this time of the year the city experiences warm temperature and a pleasant rainfall. The long wet season is from June to mid-September. This peroid is also the summer season, but the temperatures are much more lower that at other times of year because of the frequent rain and hail and the high amount of cloud cover and fewer hours of sunshine. This time of the year is characterized by dark, chilly and wet days and nights. After that comes the spring season, a transitional period between the wet season and the dry season.
Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), Addis Ababa has a total population of 2,739,551, of whom 1,305,387 are men and 1,434,164 women; all of the population are urban inhabitants. For the capital city 662,728 households were counted living in 628,984 housing units, which results in an average of 4.1 persons to a household. Although all Ethiopian ethnic groups are represented in Addis Ababa due to its position as capital of the country, the largest groups include the Amhara (47.04%%), Oromo (19.51%), Gurage (16.34%), Tigray (6.18%), Silt'e (2.94%), and Gamo (1.68%). Languages spoken include Amharic (71.0%), Oromiffa (10.7%), Gurage (8.37%), Tigrinya (3.60%), Silt'e (1.82%) and Gamo (1.03%). The religion with the most believers in Addis Ababa is Ethiopian Orthodox with 74.7% of the population, while 16.2% are Muslim, 7.77% Protestant, and 0.48% Catholic.
In the previous census, conducted in 1994, the city's population was reported to be 2,112,737, of whom 1,023,452 were men and 1,089,285 were women. At that time not all of the population were urban inhabitants; only 2,084,588 or 98.7% were. For the entire administrative council there were 404,783 households in 376,568 housing units with an average of 5.2 persons per household. The major ethnic groups included the Amhara (48.3%), Oromo (19.2%), Gurage (13.5%; 2.3% Sebat Bet, and 0.8% Sodo), Tigray 7.64%, Silt'e 3.98%, and foreigners from Eritrea 1.33%. Languages spoken included Amharic (72.6%), Oromiffa (10.0%), Gurage (6.54%), Tigrinya (5.41%), and Silt'e 2.29%. In 1994 the predominant religion was also Ethiopian Orthodox with 82.0% of the population, while 12.7% were Muslim, 3.87% Protestant, and 0.78% Catholic.
According to the 2007 national census, 98.64% of the housing units of Addis Ababa had access to safe drinking water, while 14.9% had flush toilets, 70.7% pit toilets (both ventilated and unventilated), and 14.3% had no toilet facilities. Values for other reported common indicators of the standard of living for Addis Ababa as of 2005 include the following: 0.1% of the inhabitants fall into the lowest wealth quintile; adult literacy for men is 93.6% and for women 79.95%, the highest in the nation for both sexes; and the civic infant mortality rate is 45 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, which is less than the nationwide average of 77; at least half of these deaths occurred in the infants’ first month of life.
The City is partially powered by water at the Koka Reservoir Koka Dam Power Plant.