Ethereum is a decentralized blockchain platform that enables the development and execution of smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). It was proposed by Vitalik Buterin in late 2013 and launched in July 2015.

Unlike Bitcoin, which primarily serves as a digital currency, Ethereum offers a more versatile platform. It operates as a decentralized virtual machine, known as the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), that executes code called smart contracts. These contracts are self-executing agreements with predefined rules and conditions. They automatically execute transactions or perform actions when certain conditions are met, without the need for intermediaries.

Ethereum has its native cryptocurrency called Ether (ETH), which is used to facilitate transactions and incentivize participants in the network. ETH is also used to pay for computational services on the Ethereum platform, such as executing smart contracts and interacting with DApps.

One of the key features of Ethereum is its ability to create and deploy decentralized applications. DApps are built on the Ethereum blockchain and leverage its decentralized nature, security, and transparency. They can be used for various purposes, including decentralized finance (DeFi), digital identity systems, supply chain management, gaming, and more.

Ethereum has gained significant popularity and has become one of the most widely used blockchain platforms. Its open-source nature allows developers to create and innovate, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of projects and tokens. However, it is worth noting that Ethereum is undergoing a transition from its current proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism to a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism called Ethereum 2.0, which aims to improve scalability, security, and energy efficiency.