Addis Ababa (sometimes spelled Addis Abeba, the spelling used by the official Ethiopian Mapping Authority) is the capital city of Ethiopia. (In Ethiopian languages: Amharic, Addis Abäba [adːiːs aβəβa] "new flower"; Oromo, Finfinne; Ge'ez ኣዲስ ኣበባ) It is the largest city in Ethiopia, with a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2007 population census.
As a chartered city (ras gez astedader), Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. It is where the African Union and its predecessor the OAU are based. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as "the political capital of Africa", due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent. The city is populated by people from different regions of Ethiopia – the country has as many as 80 nationalities speaking 80 languages and belonging to a wide variety of religious communities. It is home to Addis Ababa University. The Federation of African Societies of Chemistry (FASC) and Horn of Africa Press Institute (HAPI) are also headquartered in Addis Ababa.
The site of Addis Ababa was chosen by Empress Taytu Betul and the city was founded in 1886 by her husband, Emperor Menelik II. The name of the city (ኣዲስ ኣበባ) was taken from parts of the city called hora Finfinnee ("hot springs") in Oromo. Another Oromo name of the city is Sheger. Menelik, as initially a King of the Shewa province, had found Mount Entoto a useful base for military operations in the south of his realm, and in 1879 visited the reputed ruins of a medieval town, and an unfinished rock church that showed proof of an Ethiopian presence in the area prior to the campaigns of Ahmad Gragn. His interest in the area grew when his wife Taytu began work on a church on Entoto, and Menelik endowed a second church in the area.
However the immediate area did not encourage the founding of a town due to the lack of firewood and water, so settlement actually began in the valley south of the mountain in 1886. Initially, Taytu built a house for herself near the "Filwoha" hot mineral springs, where she and members of the Showan Royal Court liked to take mineral baths. Other nobility and their staffs and households settled the vicinity, and Menelik expanded his wife's house to become the Imperial Palace which remains the seat of government in Addis Ababa today. The name changed to Addis Ababa and became Ethiopia's capital when Menelik II became Emperor of Ethiopia. The town grew by leaps and bounds. One of Emperor Menelik's contributions that is still visible today is the planting of numerous eucalyptus trees along the city streets.
On 5 May 1936, Italian troops invaded Addis Ababa during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, making it the capital of Italian East Africa from 1936 to 1941 after killing about a million Ethiopians with mustard gas. After the Italian army in Ethiopia was defeated by the British forces during the East African Campaign, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa on 5 May 1941—five years to the very day after he had departed—and immediately began the work of re-establishing his capital.
Emperor Haile Selassie helped form the Organization of African Unity in 1963, and invited the new organization to keep its headquarters in the city. The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union (AU), also headquartered in Addis Ababa. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also has its headquarters in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa was also the site of the Council of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in 1965.
Ethiopia has often been called the original home of humankind due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy. North eastern Africa, and the Afar region in particular was the central focus of these claims until recent DNA evidence suggested origins in south central Ethiopian regions like present-day Addis Ababa. After analysing the DNA of almost 1,000 people around the world, geneticists and other scientists claimed humans spread from what is now Addis Ababa 100,000 years ago. The research indicated that genetic diversity declines steadily the farther one's ancestors traveled from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.