The Great Rift Valley (known for discoveries of early hominids such as Lucy, whose bones reside in the Ethiopian National Museum) bisects the central plateau.
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English is the most widely spoken foreign language and the language in which secondary school and university classes are taught.
French is heard occasionally in parts of the country near Djibouti, formerly French Somaliland.
The bulk of the rain in the highlands falls in the major rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, with an average of forty inches of rain during that season.
A minor rainy season occurs from February to April. In the year 2000, the population was approximately 61 million, with over eighty different ethnic groups.
The nomadic peoples seasonally graze livestock, while the seminomadic peoples are subsistence farmers.
The rural highlands economy is based on agriculture and livestock raising. There are eighty-six known indigenous languages in Ethiopia: eighty-two spoken and four extinct.
Some peaks in the Simyen Mountains receive periodic snowfall, while the average temperature of the Danakil is 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the day time.
The high central plateau is mild, with a mean average temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
These conceptions of Ethiopia were geographically vague.
In the late nineteenth century, Emperor Menelik II expanded the country's borders to their present configuration.
The spread of Amharic has been strongly linked to Ethiopian nationalism.