The name “Ethiopia” derives from the Greek ethio , meaning “burned” and pia , meaning “face”: the land of burned-faced peoples. Aeschylus described Ethiopia as a “land far off, a nation of black men.” Homer depicted Ethiopians as pious and favored by the gods. These conceptions of Ethiopia were geographically vague. Amharic is the country’s official language.
Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa, and is located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. Ethiopia has a high central plateau that varies from 1,290 to 3,000 m (4,232 to 9,843 ft) above sea level, with the highest mountain reaching 4,533 m (14,872 ft).
Elevation is generally highest just before the point of descent to the Great Rift Valley, which splits the plateau diagonally. A number of rivers cross the plateau; notably the Blue Nile rising from Lake Tana. The plateau gradually slopes to the lowlands of the Sudan on the west and the Somali-inhabited plains to the east.