Ethiopia (Africa orthographic projection) from

Ethiopia (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia), is an ancient-future nation! It is one of the world's oldest civilizations and yet is also a young country. Nearly 50% of its 90 million people are under the age of 15!

Rich in history and traditions, Ethiopia is mentioned in the Old Testament. The story of an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, is a famous one in the book of Acts. It is said that Ethiopia's Biblical connection goes back to the days of King Solomon.

Flag of Ethiopia (1897-1936; 1941-1974) with the Lion of Judah

More recently, even though the world may associate Ethiopia with its devastating famines in 1980s, the country was once a wealthy kingdom under King Haile Selassie I.

Today, the nation is building itself to become a regional economic power.

The government is emphasizing education. College education is free once students are admitted. A friend of ours tells us that in 2011 alone, the government opened 11 universities. In fact, the country is already experiencing brain-drain. Highly educated Ethiopians are moving to the U.S., EU and Middle East for higher paying professional positions.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam currently being constructed on the Blue Nile River is said to be the Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant once it is completed.

China is investing heavily in Africa today because it recognizes the enormous future potential of the continent. Its presence is felt in Ethiopia as well. Some estimate there are 40,000 Chinese people working in Ethiopia. Each time I visit Addis Ababa, I see the rapid progress on the urban light rail system, a joint venture between China and Ethiopia.

It is said that Ethiopia is rich in natural resources, many of which are still untapped, including petroleum. Its Rift Valley is fertile. Ethiopia is, of course, famous for its coffee, but it's an exporting country of many other crops, including cut flowers and teff, cereal grain gaining popularity as a health food item.

Ethiopia is politically as well economically strategic. Shown the above population density map, it's one of the most populous nations in Africa.

Imagine Ethiopia becoming one of the largest well-educated countries in the world!

Ethiopia also has a unique distinction. It's the only country in Africa that was never colonized by the West. Ethiopians are proud of it and has an independent spirit!

Its capital, Addis Ababa, is the diplomatic capital of Africa and home to the African Union. There are more embassies there than in any city in the world besides Washington D.C., New York and Geneva.

The Ethiopians are historically, linguistically and culturally more similar to the Middle East than their neighboring African nations. Thus the country’s influence can reach well beyond East Africa into Middle East.

Geographically situated on the spiritual "front line" between the Muslim North and Christian South, Ethiopia is also viewed as a spiritually key nation in the region.

Nearly half of the population is Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The third is considered Muslim. About 20% of the population identifies themselves with Protestant Christianity.