A country in north-eastern Africa, an ancient empire, now part of Ethiopia
. The name Abyssinia derives from the Habeshat
, a Semitic
tribe who crossed over from Arabia
somewhere between 750 and 500 BCE. The first major Semitic kingdom
in Abyssinia was at Aksum
). The Abyssinians became Christians and largely retained their own form of Christianity, with only occasional periods of Muslim rule.
Under Emperor Menelik II in the late nineteenth century they took part in the colonialist-led 'Scramble for Africa', the only African country to remain independent and do so. Abyssinia took over neighbouring territories and this formed the basis of what is now known as Ethiopia.
A Voyage to Abyssinia by Father Jerome Lobo was translated into English by Samuel Johnson, published anonymously in 1735. Later he set his own fiction Rasselas in that country.