Volume 1: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!


Abyssinia, a kingdom of Africa, bounded on the N. by that of Sennar, or Nubia; on the E. partly by the Red Sea, and partly by Dancala; on the W. by Gorham and Gingiro; and on the S. by Alaba and Ommo-Zaidi. It was formerly of greater extent than it is at present, because several provinces have revolted, and the Turks have made encroachments to the east. The land is fertile in many places, and the air is very hot, except in the rainy season, and then it is very temperate. For four months in the year, greater rains fall there than perhaps in any other part of the world, which occasion the swelling of the river Nile, that has its source in this country. It contains mines of all sorts of metal, except tin; but the inhabitants make no great advantage thereof. The fields are watered by several streams, except in the mountainous parts. The emperor, or king, is called Negus; and he has been commonly taken for Prester John. His authority is absolute, and he often dwells with his whole court in tents. However, Abyssinia is not without cities, as some pretend; for Gondar is a large place, where the king commonly resides when he is not in the field. The inhabitants are black, or very near it; but they are not so ugly as the negroes. They make profession of the Christian religion, but it has a mixture of Judaism. The habit of persons of quality is a silken vest, with a sort of scarf; but the common people wear nothing but a pair of drawers.

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