Addis Ababa is the largest city in Ethiopia and is also the capital city. It is the seat of the Federal Government of Ethiopia and lies on the central plateau at an altitude of 2,400 metres, 9 degrees north of the equator. Its average temperature is 16° C. Addis Ababa can be dated back to 1887 when Menelik decided to abandon his hill top site and chose the foothills to site his new settlement which his empress had already named Addis Ababa, the 'New Flower'.
With Menelik's drive and energy in the early 1900s, Addis Ababa continued to expand and is still rapidly growing. Today it is host to the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Seven other international organisations have their headquarters and branch offices in the capital, which is also the centre of commerce and industry. Manufacturing plants for steel fabrication, wood, tanneries, textiles, cement, leather goods and breweries are among the activities located in and around Addis Ababa.
Modern Addis Ababa consists of three main areas. The eastern side has many government offices and educational centres and some of the most important buildings, such as the old Menelik Palace. The newer National or Jubilee Palace built in Emperor Haileselassie's early days stands lower down Menelik II Avenue opposite Africa Hall, the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Africa and where summit meetings of heads of the member states of the Organisation of African Unity are held.
Also in the eastern side of the city visitors can find Maskal Square, which was used to hold demonstrations, as well as the University which houses the National Museum and the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. One of Addis Ababa's outstanding landmarks, the Trinity Cathedral, can also be found in eastern Addis Ababa.
The central area of the city consists of the main commercial area, more government departments and City Hall. Other offices include the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines, the main post and telegraph office, the general hospital and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. St. George's Orthodox church, the National Theatre, the sports stadium and Ethiopia, Ras and Harambee hotels can also be found in this area of the city.
The western sector of the city is home to Mercato market, which takes place seven days a week and is one of the largest and most colourful open-air markets in the world. The two mosques, bus station, nearly all the Embassies and lots of traditional handicraft shops are situated in this area.
Addis Ababa has hotels that cater for all pockets, from the luxurious five star Sheraton and Hilton hotels to the tourist-class hotels such as the Ghion, the Ethiopia and the Wabi Shebelle as well as other modern hotels.
For those who find Ethiopian food too spicy, in Addis Ababa there are now Greek, Chinese, Armenian, Indian, Arabic, French, Thai, Turkish and Italian restaurants. Restaurant prices depend on where you eat, but non-Ethiopian food in the private restaurants and the Hilton and Sheraton hotels is considerably more expensive.