Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. What are believed to be the oldest remains of a human ancestor ever found, which have been dated as being some five million years old, were discovered in the Awash Valley in Ethiopia. This beats the discovery of "Lucy", a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton, who was unearthed in the same area in 1974.
The Greek historian Herodotus, of the fifth century BC, describes ancient Ethiopia in his writings, while the Bible's Old Testament records the Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem, remains of the Queen of Sheba’s palace can still be seen today in Axum, in the province of Tigray, northern Ethiopia. The Axumite kingdom was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world and has left behind the mystery giant stele found at Axum. Axum is also home to many other extensive historical sites, including the home of the Ark of the Covenant. In the middle, Ages great religious civilization flourished in many parts of the country particularly at Lalibela where churches hewn out of massif monolithic reveal great faith and architectural skills. The Walled city of Harar (Jugol) and the 17th-century castles of Gondar are the most visible expressions of the relatively near past history of Ethiopia.