Ethiopia may not actually have been the domain of the Queen of Sheba, as legend has it. And it may not be the final resting place of the lost Ark of the Covenant, either. But it's the home of some of the most remarkable ancient civilizations in the world—and the land where the fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors have been uncovered. The country's mountainous landscape is covered with old ruins, remains and wonders—ancient sculpted obelisks, walled Islamic towns and thousand-year-old churches carved out of solid rock. It also has its share of wild places—with lions and hippos and untamed rivers. As English novelist Evelyn Waugh once observed, Ethiopia is a country of "crazy enchantment."

Unfortunately, the country is still recovering from its border war with Eritrea. Most of the population is desperately poor, and parts of the country are prone to periodic droughts and famines. Ethiopia's amazing attractions come with plenty of flies and starving beggars. Tourist infrastructure is growing, but slowly. Travelers with a flexible and adventurous temperament will be enchanted, but others will find traveling in Ethiopia too stressful to enjoy.

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