Addis Ababa is the capital (and has been so since late 19th century) and the largest city of Ethiopia. It is also spelled as Addis Abeba. It is strategically located in the center of the country. Its precursor, Entoto, was unsuitable because of very cold temperatures and scant supply of firewood. The Empress Taitu, wife of Emperor Menilek II (reigned 1889-1913), talked the emperor into constructing a house near hot springs. The city was consequently founded in 1887 and was called Addis Ababa ('New Flower') by the empress. The city was the capital of Italian East Africa during the brief occupation from 1935-1941.
The Addis Ababa University (1950) and some other training colleges and technical schools are located here. Places of interest are the Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, the National School of Music, the National Library and Archives, mansions of previous emperors, and governmental bureaus. International organizations such as the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa have their headquarters here.
The Mercato, located in west Addis Ababa, is a huge open-air market. The Piazza, in the central part of Addis Ababa, contains European-style shopping centers. A little zoo is positioned near the university. One can go boating, waterskiing, bathing, and can bird-watch in the lake region in the south. Football (soccer_ is very popular here. The city supports a population of over 1.7 million.
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