Addis Ababa (ăd´Ĭs ăb´əbə) [Amharic,=new flower], city (1994 pop. 2,112,737), capital of Ethiopia. It is situated at c.8,000 ft (2,440 m) on a well-watered plateau surrounded by hills and mountains. Addis Ababa is Ethiopia's largest city and its administrative and communications center. It is the main trade center for coffee, the country's chief export, and for tobacco, grains, and hides. The major industries produce food, beverages, processed tobacco, plastics, chemical products, textiles, and shoes. In addition, the city is the center of the nation's service and finance sectors. Addis Ababa has a large tourist industry. It is the hub of a highway network and a terminus of a railroad that runs to Djibouti, making Addis Ababa an important distribution center. An international airport is near Addis Ababa.
In 1886 the city, then known as Finfinnie, was chosen by Menelik II as the capital of his kingdom of Shoa and was renamed Addis Ababa. In 1889 it was made the capital of Ethiopia. In 1936 (during the Italo-Ethiopian War), Italy captured Addis Ababa and made it the capital of Italian East Africa. The city was recaptured by the Allies in 1941 and returned to Ethiopian rule. After World War II, the city experienced rapid growth.
The African Union (AU; the successor of the Organization of African Unity) and the UN Economic Commission on Africa are headquartered in Addis Ababa, which also hosts numerous international conferences. The Univ. of Addis Ababa, whose Institute of Ethiopian Studies runs an ethnological and traditional arts museum, and Addis Ababa National Theatre are in Addis Ababa. The AU center, the imperial palace, the parliament building, and the Coptic and Roman Catholic cathedrals are notable buildings.