Mani, a Persian religious figure of the third century, listed Rome, Persia, China and Aksum as the four great powers of his time. Aksum lies in Ethiopia. The name Ethiopia being a Greek term for all those south of Egypt. The word appears in the Illiad and the Odyssey. Homo Sapiens rose up from the area around 200,000 years ago and started spreading out. Emperors of Ethiopia linked their ancestry to Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Ethiopia was the second country after Armenia to declare Christianity its state religion in 333 AD, making the Ethiopian Orthodox one of the few pre-colonial churches in Africa. Europeans of the 12th to 17th century were desperate to make contact with the land of Prester John, a legendary Christian Kingdom lost amongst the dominant Muslims and people of the Orient. Haile Selassie (Regent from 1916, emperor from 1930-1974) is revered by the Jamaican-born Rastafari movement as the returned messiah of the Bible. The colours of the Ethiopian flag were widely used as independence returned to Africa.