Living in Addis Ababa is a challenge. Every day. It’s a city full of contrasts that you realize and get to know better every day. On the one side, Addis is the most developed city in Ethiopia and has very modern city-aspects like malls, cinemas, a diverse restaurant scene and gaming centers. On the other hand, however, most of the parts of Addis look more like rural areas with local markets, shanties and no water or energy supply. The population living in Addis is also much divided: into a wealthy, good-educated upper-class and a very poor majority. Something in between – like a wealthy middle class – is hardly existing.
Modern malls & gaming centers
Typical market sites at the streets
Poor areas is Addis Ababa
With an official population of 3,3 million people Addis is the largest city in Ethiopia. Talking to people though, the unofficial number of inhabitants is over 5 million. The site of Addis Ababa was chosen by Empress Taytu Betul whose husband, Emperor Menelik II, founded the city in 1886. Since then Addis has grown rapidly with a huge territorial expansion. How great the demand for housing space is, can be seen from the many many construction sites all over the city with adventurous scaffolds made of nothing else but wooden sticks.
view on Addis Streets
Addis Ababa, which means “new flower” in Amharic, is not what you call a beautiful city. The streets are in a very bad shape, large parts of the city are covered with slum-like houses and the traffic is just crazy. Nevertheless, Addis has its own energy and liveliness, with people on the streets at all times, speaking over 80 different dialects. One aspect of the city, which is always been emphasized, is that it is actually one of the safest cities in Africa with very few crimes. One reason for that could be the presence of many continental & international political organizations like the African Union or the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The African Union Headquarters Building
As said before, living in Addis is definitely a challenge but it is also a big adventure. Seeing more from the city gives us a deeper understanding of the culture and way of living of Ethiopian people and just increases my appreciation of making the best of their opportunities every day.