With the conversion to Christianity of King Ezana in 340 A.D. Ethiopia became one of the first Christian states.
In the seventh century, the first followers of Prophet Muhammad who were being persecuted in Arabia, sought refuge in Ethiopia and were granted asylum by the then Christian Axumite ruler.
After the decline of the Axumite Empire, the Zagwe dynasty established its reign over big parts of the country, with the center of power in Lasta, the area around Lalibela. King Lalibela was the most appreciated king of the Zagwe dynasty and it was he who ordered the construction of the sacred town, considered as a “New Jerusalem” with 11 rock-hewn churches, all carved out of the red mountain rock. Until today, Lalibela is considered to be a holy place for Orthodox Christians and a world heritage site. When the Zagwe dynasty declined, several years of changing rulers, coalitions, conflicts and wars followed, until the reign of Emperor Fasilidas in the 17th century, who turned the small village of Gondar in the north into the new capital city and a great religious and artistic center.
In recent history, there were other great kings who were able to unify and enlarge the country and oppose foreign invasions and interference. Menelik II, who extended the country to its current size, defeated the Italian colonial invaders in the historical battle of Adwa in 1896 and founded the current capital Addis Ababa. Haile Selassie, the last Solomonic emperor crowned in 1930, reigned for half a century until he was overthrown by a revolution in 1974. The military regime called the “Derg” ruled Ethiopia since then until it was overthrown in 1991 and the first democratic republic was installed.